Monday, 8 November 2010


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
15,000 Sikhs in celebration
A rainbow of colours brightened the streets of Leicester yesterday as thousands of Sikhs celebrated the birthday of the religion's founder.
Floats led a parade of up to 15,000 worshippers from the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, in East Park Road, to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, at Holy Bones, near St Nicholas Circle.
The Nagar Kirtan event, which has been held in Leicester for more than 20 years, marks the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
After prayers and hymns at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, the procession took three hours to snake its way through the city.
Worshippers continued the celebration with more prayers and food at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara.
Sukhwinder Kaur, 44, of the East Park Road area, followed the procession with friends.
"I've been in Leicester for 26 years and every year we celebrate," he said. "We all feel proud to take part."
Friend Raman Kaur, of Evington, was there with her ten-year-old son, Onkar Singh.
Onkar said: "I like to walk with everyone and I like the nice food too."
Nagar Kirtan is the second of two religious processions by members of the Sikh community in Leicester every year.
The first is Vaisakhi, the religion's new year, which takes place in April.
Sisters Sonia and Kiran Punia, of Rushey Mead, were among those enjoying the celebrations. Sonia, 23, said: "It's just about celebrating the day and everyone coming together as a community.
"You get a real sense of pride walking through the city with so many people."
Kiran, 24, added: "We do this after the service at the temple in the morning. It's a big celebration all day."
Mohinder Sangha, the former president of the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, also took part in the parade.
He said: "We get people not just from all over Leicester but from outside as well participating in this procession. It is a big celebration."
Ajmer Singh, education secretary at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara, took part in the parade alongside dozens of children from the Khalsa Education Centre Punjabi School, which is based there.
Mr Singh said: "This is about involving all the community in Leicester regardless of religion, it's about celebrating."
Student Jagjit Kaur, 13, from Oadby, said: "It's about celebrating and the food is really nice. You get nice chocolate bars."

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