Members of Leicester’s Sikh community shared their excitement ahead of this year’s Vaisakhi festival parade, which will take place in the city for the first time since 2019.
Thousands of Sikhs are expected to march through the city center on May Day to mark the Vaisakhi festival, which celebrates the core values of their religion.
Starting at 11am from Leicester’s Holy Bones Road, it’s the first time the parade is due to take place in the city in two years, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Vaisakhi event is celebrated to mark the beginning of spring in India, within the Sikh religion. Vaisakhi time usually signifies the end of the harvest season and is an occasion of immense joy and festivities for farmers.
It was first recognized in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh baptized 5 men for their devotion to religion.
Speaking to Pukaar News, 18-year-old Prabhpreet Minhas said it was exciting for people to be able to come together to celebrate the event, after a two-year hiatus.
“Having Vaisakhi after two years of pandemic is so exciting, because we are finally able to come together as a group – as a collective and spread our joy as we could before, and we can reflect on our cultural ideals and religious as a collective rather than staying at home individually,” she said.
“The young people are so excited because they can finally go back to the Gurdwara and we can help and feel that we are making a difference, not only religiously but also in Leicester,” she added.
7-15,000 people are expected to attend the popular parade, from all over the Midlands.
The parade will follow a set route from Holy Bones Temple near St Nicolas Circle, along High Street then to Gallowtree Gate and Granby Street, before crossing the Inner Ring Road near Leicester Station to Highfields, ending at East Park Road near Spinney Hill Park.
Harminder Singh Jagdev, representative of Gurudwara Council, Leicestershire, said that apart from the cultural and religious significance of the event, he was looking forward to seeing friends and relatives come together in large numbers after a two-year break.
“I think this year it’s going to be pretty exciting for everyone,” he said.
“The energy is going to be really, really good that day because people have been stuck at home.
“The main thing is the religious significance and creation of the Khalsa,” he added. “So it’s a time to reflect on ourselves, are we realizing those ideals that our gurus have set for us – that’s a really, really important part of this festival.”
“I think this Vaisakhi will be particularly poignant for members of the community because we have had two years of confinement and it will be such a wonderful opportunity to come together with the Sikh congregation in the city and beyond, and share this wonderful festival with the diverse communities of Leicester,” said Kartar Singh, chairman of UK Sikh Healthcare Chaplaincy.
“I also think it’s about reflecting on the message of Vaisakhi and what it means to us today.
“We’ve had the ongoing war in Ukraine, the crisis around the cost of living, and I think for many Sikhs, when you think of Vaisakhi and you think of the creation of the Khalsa, the question is know what the responsibility of the Khalsa is today and I think many Sikhs in the community will reflect on their responsibility to make the world a better place”.
Vaisakhi has been celebrated in northern India for many centuries, with the official date for this year falling on April 14.