Monday, 18 April 2011


From today’s Leicester Mercury:

Colourful and proud day for thousands

By Laura Elvin

An ancient festival brought a huge splash of colour and a taste of Indian culture to the streets of Leicester yesterday.

The sun shone down on thousands of worshippers who took part in a parade to mark Vaisakhi, one of the most important holidays in the Sikh calendar.

The procession started at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara, in Holy Bones, at 11.30am.

Brightly-coloured floats filled with singers and drummers were followed by a procession of worshippers who handed out sweets and treats to crowds who gathered to watch.

Like many onlookers, Manvir Kaur joined the procession as it passed.

The 20-year-old, from Evington, said: "It's so nice to be out there, so many of us all together. It's a day where we can get dressed up, wear our turbans and scarves, and be proud to be a Sikh in Leicester."

A group of friends from City of Leicester College walked in the parade together.

Tharenuir Sawan, 18, from Scraptoft, said: "This day is everything for us. It represents our very existence – physically, mentally and spiritually.

"Just getting out and being part of our community is the best bit, and having the chance to mix and meet new people. It's a very important day for us."

Classmate Parminder Sahib, 18, from Evington said: "It's just nice to be spending time together. Everyone is not at work, not at school, and has the time to enjoy the sun and the celebration."

Vaisakhi fell on Thursday, April 14, this year, but the procession was held over until yesterday so as many people as possible could take part.

Aneeta and Ragbit Hulait, from the Narborough Road area of Leicester, joined in the parade with daughters Amareese and Kira.

Amareese, eight, said: "We like getting chocolate and treats – that's the best bit!"

Sister Kira, six, said: "For me, my favourite part of the day is eating the Indian food on the way round. It's yummy!"

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

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

Resham Singh Sandu, Leicestershire's first Sikh high sheriff and chairman of the county's Interfaith Forum, said: "All the different cultures and faiths in Leicester and Leicestershire came together. It's such a great showcase for the city."

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