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Thousands descend on Birmingham for huge Vaisahki procession

Sandwell | News | Published:

[gallery] Thousands of people transformed the streets into a sea of colour as they took part in one of the biggest Vaisakhi celebrations in Europe.

Yesterday families joined a procession starting in Smethwick before the day culminated in a huge gathering in Handsworth Park, Birmingham.

The festival is one of the holiest days in the Sikh faith and is also celebrated across northern India, as well as the rest of the world.

The streets were awash with colour as worshippers arrived at the Gurdwara Baba Sang Ji in St Paul's Road, Smethwick, at around 11am.

Many gathered in ceremonial dress as they walked down Smethwick high street and Booth Street as many hundreds of people came out from their homes to line the route.

Behind them orange flags waved and the sound of music rang in the air as people followed in a loud procession.

Also just behind the front was the Holy Scriptures of Revelation – referred to as the living Guru Granth Sahib.

Worshippers covered their heads with turbans, scarves or handkerchiefs as a mark of respect for the gurus.

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The events have been organised to encourage people of different faiths and communities to come together and enjoy the celebrations.

It is said that the event is the largest open air holy street parade for Sikhs in Europe.

It celebrates the founding of the Sikh faith more than 500 hundred years ago. The Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Sandwell and Birmingham organised the community celebration.

Parmjit Singh Dhillon, who is chairman of the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Sandwell and president of the Gurdwara Baba Sang Ji, said: "It is a vibrant and colourful event which is enjoyed by both Sikhs and non-Sikhs. It was a great occasion that made you feel proud to be Sikh and proud to be British too.

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"We have received many messages from people, some of those from non-Sikhs who say the event is one of their highlights of the year to see the parade come past their door."

Music

The parade finished at Handsworth Park, in Birmingham, were those who went along were able to enjoy live music, entertainment, Punjabi food and craft stalls. The traditional Langar – or free vegetarian feast – was also on offer and Sikh visitors could also use an area for worship. Up to 80,000 visitors attended the annual event which did cause significant congestion on roads around Handsworth as police tried to marshal crowds.

Vaisakhi events are held across the Midlands every year, with some of the biggest in Birmingham and the Black Country.

More than 3,000 Sikhs took part in a parade in Willenhall at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, in Walsall Road, earlier this month.

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