Thousands of Sikhs join in Wolverhampton Vaisakhi parade
[gallery] Centuries of tradition were marked in colourful style when members of the Sikh community paraded through the streets of the Black Country.
Around 2,000 people – most of them dressed in bright orange clothing – played instruments and sang hymns as they made their annual Vaisakhi procession between Wednesfield and Willenhall.
Dignitaries including the mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Christine Mills, and Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds joined in the community-led event.
The celebrations began at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Well Lane, Wednesfield, at 10am and finished at the Guru Nank Sikh Gurdwara in Walsall Road, Willenhall – around three miles way – at 1.30pm.
Roads were closed along the route as people walked through the streets or travelled on floats for the huge parade yesterday.
The main float carried the Sikh holy book while two other floats contained people singing hymns and playing music.
Councillor Bhupinder Gakhal, of Wednesfield South ward, was among the organisers of the event.
He said it had been a perfect procession full of people enjoying themselves and celebrating Vaisakhi.
"It was a fantastic day," Councillor Gakhal added.
"The mayor started proceedings in Wednesfield and we had beautiful weather which made a big difference.
"Everyone turned out and there were beautiful colours everywhere.
"It's a very important day in the Sikh calendar. We're talking about centuries of tradition here."
The ceremony stems from as far back as 1699 to the founding of the Sikh community. Processions take place throughout April and Councillor Gakhal said it was a perfect way for other communities – as well as Sikhs – to come together.
"The nicest thing about the day was people from other communities opening their doors and being interested in what was happening," he added.
"People were sharing food and we had around 200 people with bin liners picking up litter along the way. It's a family event and you got a big sense of communities coming together. But that's the beauty of Wolverhampton. It is such a diverse city.
The procession was the first to take place in Wolverhampton this year. Another will take place from the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Sedgley Street this Saturday, with the procession starting there at 11am.
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