Baisakhi celebrations were organised on April 30 at Northolt, London that saw enthusiastic participation from all segments of the Indian community.

This was done by the High Commission of India in this special year, as part of the larger celebrations being organised by the Government of India in the 350th year of Guru Gobind Singhji’s Birth Anniversary globally, flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Shri Patna Sahib earlier this year. This event was the first major public event targeted not only at the Punjabi and Sikh population in the UK but also to spread the message of peace, social coherence and valour embodied by the revered 10th guru of Sikhs.


The event, organised with financial assistance of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, was a tremendous success in all its aspects. It saw the participation of 14 gurdwaras from all over London which pitched in with volunteers and a rich array of langar (community meal) items for all visitors. Between 18,000 to 20,000 people turned up throughout the day, a fact illustrated by the fact that at one time, more than 1800 cars were parked at the arrangements made for visitors. The langar alone served more than 15,000 people throughout the day.


What was interesting to note was that the event drew such a tremendous amount of support from Indian community organisations even outside the Sikh community. In true celebration of social harmony during Baisakhi, close to 60 stalls put up catered to India in all its diversity. The predominant theme, of course, remained of the richness and warmth of Punjabi culture traditions.


The cultural programmes, performed at two different stages at the venue, saw some of the best names in the UK and India performing. These included Punjabi Spiritual Music, Bhangra and Giddha performances, and some eminent names like Jasbir Jassi, Channi Singh OBE, Angrez Ali, etc.


The Mission also organised Gatka (Punjabi martial arts) competition in which more than 120 experts participated. This, and kabbadi performance by small children aged 5-7 years, were performed off stage and were witnessed and appreciated by thousands of people. In addition, turban tying, teaching classes for Bhangra and Giddha, face painting, Henna painting, Dhol performance by small children, and many free contests and attractions for children were also arranged. What was also a mark of the popularity of this first-time event was the participation of the Royal Army, Navy, Air Force and the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association (MSPA), Sikh Scouts, as well as many charity organisations at the event.


The event also was attended by Members of Parliament, Lords, Mayors and Councillors from all over the UK. Indian High Commissioner Y. K. Sinha (donning the traditional Sikh turban) greeted the entire Indian community, in particular, the Punjabi and Sikh community, on this historic year. He also thanked all gurdwaras and community organisations that partnered in making this day-long event a great success. He stated that such an event should be conducted every year to celebrate the spirit of Baisakhi together with everyone.


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