Vibrant Vaisakhi!

By on 22/04/2013 in Cllr Cotton, News

The largest Vaisakhi celebrations in Europe return to Handsworth Park on Sunday 28 April from 12 noon to 6.30pm.

The celebrations, which mark the Sikh nation's collective birthday, start at 11am 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, Punjabi food and craft stalls. The traditional Langar - free vegetarian feast - 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.

Birmingham City Council cabinet member for Social Cohesion and Equalities Cllr John Cotton said: “Birmingham's Vaisakhi celebrations are yet another vibrant expression of our city's rich culture, heritage and diversity.

“People from neighbourhood across Birmingham and the wider region will be joining together to celebrate Vaisakhi and enjoy the festivities. It is one of many fantastic free community events planned for the coming year and everyone is invited to join in the fun.”

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. 

“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 1pm - from the Ramgarhia Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) in the Jewellery Quarter - and 2pm - from the Bab Sang Gurdwara in Sandwell.  Roads around the park will be closed for the day and residents in the local area have been sent a letter advising of the details.

There will 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/

-ENDS-

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

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