LONDON, UK—Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Hounslow this Sunday for a procession marking one of the holiest dates in the Sikh calendar.
Worshipers will form a river of orange as they celebrate Vaisakhi with the annual Hounslow parade, now in its 16th year.
The Vaisakhi Nagar Kirtan parade is due to leave from the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, in Hanworth Road, Hounslow, at 1pm.
Participants will wind their way west to the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sweak Jatha, in Martindale Road, Hounslow, where they are due to stop briefly at 3.45pm. They will return to the starting point, where they are due to arrive at 5pm.
Celebrations will begin at the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha at 8am, and are set to continue after the parade until 7.45pm. Drivers have been warned to expect delays in the area during the procession.
The event commemorates the initiation of the first five members of the brotherhood of the Khalsa, which took place on April 13, 1699, and is a key date in the development of the faith. The ceremony took place, according to Sikh history, after worshipers had gathered to celebrate the Sikh New Year.
It is credited as the origin of the five Ks which gives Amritdhari, or initiated, Sikhs their unique look:
- kesh – uncut hair
- kanga – wooden comb
- kachera – special breeches
- kirpan – sword
- karra – iron bracelet
Mohan Singh Nayyar, general secretary of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, invited people of all events to witness the parade, which drew an estimated 7,000 spectators last year in 2013.
“We hope it will help remove ignorance about our faith, and spread the Sikh belief that all humans must be recognized as equal,regardless of their color, gender, religion, nationality or status, since no such distinction exists in the eyes of the Supreme Being,” he added.
* A Vaisakhi Mela is due to take place in Lampton Park, Hounslow, on Sunday, April 13, from midday to 7pm.
The festival, organized by Akash Radio UK, will feature appearances by the Punjabi film star Binnu Dhillon, comedian Rana Ranbir, and singers Debi Makhsoospuri, and KS Bhamra, among other performers. The event, at which alcohol will be banned, will also include a fun-fair, and a range of food, and market stalls.