Festivals Trafalgar Square Erupts Into Colour For Vaisakhi Celebrations

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LONDON'S Trafalgar Square was alive with colourful entertainers as thousands turned out to enjoy Vaisakhi celebrations on Sunday May 15, writes Faiza Malik.

Vaisakhi is an annual festival which Britain's half a million Sikh community celebrate to mark the start of the Sikh New Year and the creation of Sikhism.
The vibrant event has both a religious and cultural significance.

The celebrations started on the warm sunny day with prayers and messages for peace followed by a fusion of traditional and modern Asian music, entertainment and live performances from dhol drummers and lively bhangra folk dancers.

Now in its ninth year, Vaisakhi attracts people from all faiths, races and backgrounds for the event in the heart of London.
An address was made by the Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes and the Mayor's Director of Environment and Digital, Kulveer Singh Ranger.

In a relayed message the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Vaisakhi is an expression of Sikh values which include generosity and respect for others regardless of creed, race or gender and the event today is an opportunity for all Londoners and visitors to share in this special occasion. I would like to say Happy Vaisakhi to all Sikhs and wish everyone a great day at Trafalgar Square."

Vaisakhi is an important festival in the Sikh calendar as it commemorates the birth of the Khalsa Panth (Sikh Brotherhood) in 1699. In this year, Sikhism was born as a collective faith when Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, initiated the Khalsa by baptising five Sikhs, the Panj Pyaras (five beloved).
He bound them by a strict code which included unshorn hair, beard and turban; this gave the Sikhs a distinct identity. Sikhism is the youngest major religion.

Vaisakhi has also been celebrated as a harvest festival across Punjab in north India.
 
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