Thousands of Sikhs on streets of Leicester for Vaisakhi

by Leicester Mercury


Parade (197K)

Monday, April 23, 2012: The parade started at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, in Holy Bones, at noon.

Thousands of people – many in orange turbans, scarves and robes – followed the procession, and handed out sweets and treats to onlookers.

For 10-year-old Ruben Benning it was a chance to spend time with friends and family.

The youngster, from Bushby, said: "Mostly I like it because I get to see lots of my friends along the way. It is a lot of fun.

"Also, the free food is really good."

Mum Ami, 41, said: "It is such a lovely, peaceful celebration and a chance to share our religion with each other and the rest of the city – one of the best in the world when it comes to celebrating and accepting other cultures.

"It makes me so happy when I see people from other cultures walking with us."

For Sikhs, Vaisakhi commemorates the founding in 1699 of the Sikh community, the Khalsa.

It is also observed by Hindus, who celebrate it as a harvest festival.

Hardeep Kaur, took part with her mother Amarjit, 52, and sons Dylan, eight, and Aaron, five.

Procession (182K)

Mrs Kaur, 33, from Evington, Leicester, said: "It is really important for me to bring my boys along to learn about their roots. If they do not get involved now, they won't when they are older.

"It is nice to walk around our city, too."

Dylan only had one thing on his mind. "I love the food," he said.

"That's my favourite part. It keeps me going on the long walk."

For De Montfort University students Mani Dhillon and Serina Devi, the festival was a chance to feel at home.

Serina, 19, said: "We like to come along to think about our families.

"The food does remind you of what you are missing from home, though."

Mani, 20, said: "It is also a chance to show we are proud of our values and beliefs."

The procession took several hours to reach Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, in East Park Road, Highfields.

There, many worshippers spent the rest of the day eating, celebrating and praying.

Gallery: Vaisakhi festival in Leicester


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