Monday, 26 November 2012


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:

Thousands join Sikh holy day celebrations in Leicester
Thousands of people lined the streets yesterday to celebrate the birthday of the founder of the Sikh religion.
Brightly-decorated floats led a parade of up to 15,000 worshippers from the Guru Tegh Bahadar Gurdwara, in East Park Road, Leicester, to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara at Holy Bones, near St Nicholas Circle.
The Nagar Kirtan event, which has been staged in Leicester for more than 20 years, marks the birthday of the first Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
For Harbhajan Singh, 70, from Rowley Fields, it was a very important day.
"It is like Christmas day for us," he said. "There is lots of singing and praying all over the world."
The celebration began with prayers and hymns at the Guru Tegh Bahadar Gurdwara, before the procession took three hours to snake its way through the city.
Food stalls lined the route, pumping out songs to the passing crowds.
Manjit Kaur from the Narborough Road area attended the temple with her 10-year-old son, Vikram.
"I think like all celebrations, it has become more commercialised and has become more about coming together and being with family," the 37-year-old said. "But still, it is a very important day because it is the celebration of the first Guru's birthday."
Vikram said: "I think my favourite part is the food."
Worshippers carried on the celebrations with more prayers and food at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara.
Grace and Sharanpal Singh from Braunstone Town, were there with one-year-old daughter Heer.
Dad Sharanpal, 30, said: "Today is very important.
"We will have prayers in the gurdwara and a community meal together."
Wife Grace, 27, said: "It is the one day where you get to see all the people from the community together."
Kabeer Singh, 28, from Oadby, was there with friends, carrying flags as part of the parade.
"It is a bit of a get together with old friends," he said. "A bit of a party."
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, in April.

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