Birmingham’s biggest Vaisakhi celebrations in Europe

By on 11/04/2014 in Culture, Deputy Leader, News

The largest Vaisakhi celebrations in Europe return to Handsworth Park on Sunday 27 April from 11am to 6.30pm.

Cllr Ian Ward

Cllr Ian Ward

The celebrations, which mark the Sikh nation's collective birthday, start at 10.30am as two huge processions set off from Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in the Jewellery Quarter and Sandwell.

At the head of each procession will be the Guru Granth Sahib - the Holy Scriptures of Revelation (The Living Guru) - led by five Sikhs in ceremonial dress to represent the five original Panj Pyare - The Beloved Ones - who founded the order of the Khalsa.  They will be followed by thousands of Sikhs from local congregations.

The processions meet at Handsworth Park where there will be live music, entertainment, sports, arts and crafts exhibitions and an inflatable play area.   The traditional Langar area with free vegetarian food prepared by Gurdwaras across Birmingham and the Black Country will also be on offer.

One of the largest outdoor Vaisakhi celebrations in the world, last year's festival attracted over 90,000 people from the Midlands and beyond.  The event marks the formation of the Sikh nation or Khalsa Panth in 1699.  The five Sikhs leading each procession represent the original Panj Pyare who were the first to join the Sikh order over 300 years ago.

Deputy Leader for Birmingham City Council, Cllr Ian Ward, said: “Birmingham's Vaisakhi celebrations are the biggest in Europe and clearly illustrate the city's rich culture and heritage.  People from across Birmingham and wider region will be coming together to celebrate Vaisakhi and everyone is invited to join in with the festivities and enjoy a full programme of free entertainment at Handsworth Park.”

Dr Pyara Singh Bhogal, Chair of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham, added: “Vaisakhi is a very important event in the Sikh calendar.  The Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham has organised the annual Vaisakhi celebrations in Handsworth Park with the support of the Sikh community, Birmingham City Council, our sponsors and local businesses.

“This year marks 23 years of Vaisakhi Celebrations in Birmingham and we would like to welcome everyone, Sikh and non-Sikh, to join in and share the festivities.”

The event is alcohol free and no smoking, and visitors will only be allowed to bring guide dogs into the festival area.  Car parking will be provided at Handsworth Park via Hinstock Road for disabled Blue Badge holders only.

The processions are due to arrive at the park at approximately 12.30pm from the  Jewellery Quarter and 1.30pm from Sandwell. 

There will be an exclusion zone in operation around Handsworth Park and rolling road also be rolling road closures along the procession routes.  Roads will be closed approximately one hour before the start of the procession and will re-open once the processions have safely passed through and the roads are clear.

For more information call 0121 523 4144 or go to http://www.vaisakhibirmingham.org/

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For more media information contact Debbie Harrison on 0121 303 4476 / 078801 80385

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