London, May 2: Around 20,000 Sikh and Punjabi diaspora members turned up for the Baisakhi celebrations organised by the Indian High Commission at Northolt, London, with a rich array of langar food served to more than 15,000 persons, an official statement said.
The Indian High Commission organised Baisakhi celebrations on April 30 at Northolt, London. The celebrations were part of the larger celebrations of the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singhji, being organised by the government of India globally and flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Shri Patna Sahib earlier this year.
This 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, a High Commission statement said.
The event, organised with financial assistance of India’s Ministry of Culture was a tremendous success in all its aspects, it said.
It saw the participation of 14 Gurudwaras from all over London which pitched in with volunteers and a rich array of langar food items for all visitors. Between 18,000 to 20,000 people turned up throughout the day — at one time, more than 1,800 cars were parked at the arrangements made for visitors. The langar alone served more than 15,000 people throughout the day.
The event drew tremendous support from other Indian community organisations. Close to 60 stalls put up catered to India in all its diversity. The predominant theme, of course, was the richness and warmth of Punjabi culture traditions.
The cultural programmes, 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. Kabbadi by children aged 5-7 years drew appreciation from thousands of people.
In addition, turban tying, 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.
The event also saw the participation of the Royal Army, Navy, Air Force and the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association (MSPA), Sikh Scouts, as well as many charity organisations, the statement said.
The mission organised free shuttle service to facilitate commuting to the venue for those using public transport.
The event was attended by Members of Parliament, Lords, Mayors and Councillors from all over the UK. High Commissioner Y.K. Sinha (donning the traditional Sikh Turban) greeted the entire Indian community, in particular the Punjabis and Sikhs.
He thanked all Gurudwaras and community organisations that partnered in making this day-long event a great success, and stated that such an event should be conducted every year to celebrate the spirit of Baisakhi together with everyone.