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Thousands celebrate Vaisakhi on streets of the Black Country

By Marion Brennan | Attractions | Published:

The streets of the Black Country were turned into a sea of orange as many thousands of Sikhs celebrated a special anniversary in their faith.

The Vaisakhi march in Wolverhampton

In Wolverhampton it was a clash of orange and gold yesterday as the annual Sikh Vaisakhi procession coincided with promotion celebrations at Molineux as Wolves played Birmingham City in a Midlands derby.

While across the region in Sandwell a children's Vaisakhi was held, and in Waslall the community was still talking about the visit by Prime Minister Theresa May days earlier to the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara temple in West Bromwich Street.

The Vaisakhi march in Wolverhampton

Wolverhampton South East MP Pat McFadden, who was a guest at the city's Vaisakhi festival, tweeted: "Wolverhampton is gold today! People gathering at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara Sedgley St for the start of the Nagar Kirtan Vaisakhi procession."

Eleanor Smith, who represents the south-west of the city, wished constituents well via social media, adding she was looking forward to joining them in West Park on May 6 for the annual Vaisakhi Mela.

The University of Wolverhampton also joined in the greetings, wishing 'Happy Vaisakhi to everyone celebrating today!'

The Vaisakhi march in Wolverhampton

Road closures were in operation between 11am – 2pm as the parade processed along Baggott Street, Bromley Street, Dudley Road, Wolverhampton Road East, Dudding Road, Patricia Avenue, Ednam Road, Goldthorn Hill, Upper Villiers Street, Bromley Street and back to Baggott Street

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Worshippers young and old were celebrating the birth of their faith community, known collectively as the Khalsa. This year marks the 319th anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in 1699.

Families joined a prayer service in the main hall of the Sedgley Street temple between 9am and 10.30am before the procession, with many followers bearing flags, left around 11.30am for a two-hour parade through the town with dohl drummers, sword bearers in ceremonial dress and a float carrying the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, in line with Sikh tradition.

The Vaisakhi march in Wolverhampton

Afterwards people enjoyed a packed programme of festivities, including food, a fun fair, stalls, live music performances and speeches from religious leaders.

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In West Bromwich between 3 – 6pm, there were special activities for children, including gatka martial arts and archery. There will also be a procession on Sunday, April 29, from Smethwick to Handsworth Park in Birmingham. The community in Smethwick held their celebrations on Saturday.

The Walsall Vaisakhi procession took place between 10am and 2pm, starting and finishing on West Bromwich Street with an hour wait on Wellington Street along the route.

During her visit on Wednesday, Theresa May turned chef, trying her hand at making chapattis.

After the Wolverhampton celebrations, Pat McFadden said: "This is a big occasion in the life of the city every year. Thousands have attended today at this very important time for the Sikh community.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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