Record turnout as Midlanders celebrate Sikh festival
THOUSANDS of Midlanders turned out in force to celebrate the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi.
A staggering 90,000 people – of all faiths and backgrounds – basked in the glorious sunshine as Birmingham was awash with celebration.
Vaisakhi marks the formation of the Sikh nation or Khalsa Panth in 1699.
One of the largest Vaisakhi festivals in the world, the Birmingham events attracts people from across the Midlands and beyond.
The event – based on a ‘Proud to be Sikh, Proud to be British’ theme – opened with two huge processions setting off from Gurdwaras in Hockley and Smethwick.
The processions were led by five Sikhs in traditional dress who represented the original Panj Pyare (Beloved Ones) who were the first to join the Sikh order over 300 years ago
Thousands of Sikhs followed the group along the streets of Birmingham, arriving at Handsworth Park just hours later where stalls and live music capped a day of festive celebration.
The 90,000 visitors topped last year’s attendance of 80,000.
Cllr Martin Mullaney, Chairman of the Birmingham Cultural Partnership, said: “Once again this was a fantastic event, as I’m sure the many people attending would agree.
“The Vaisakhi festival is one of the many annual cultural highlights here in Birmingham when people from communities across the city come together – in this case to celebrate a very important date for people of the Sikh faith.
“As part of a calendar of diverse community events it is a great example of why Birmingham has been shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2013.”