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Unique Baisakhi celebrations at UK parliament complex

The celebration was organised by British Indian think-tank 1928 Institute and two diaspora organisations — City Sikhs and the British Punjabi Welfare Association. 

Sikh devotees of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara community throw flower petals as sword bearers parade through the streets of Walsall to celebrate Baisakhi in Walsall, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: indiaweekly.biz Staff

IN a first-of-its-kind Baisakhi celebration, the Houses of the British parliament complex this week echoed with the devotional strains of Gurbani and messages of harmony.

The celebration was organised by British Indian think-tank 1928 Institute and two diaspora organisations — City Sikhs and the British Punjabi Welfare Association. 

The occasion saw professionals from various fields, community leaders and philanthropists coming together at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Room on Monday (29) evening and discussing UK-India ties and the role played by the Sikh community in British life.

Read: New Sikh court in UK to address family disputes

The chairperson of City Sikhs, Jasvir Singh, began with the proceedings and later, the audience was graced by speeches of prominent personalities and a melodious recitation of Gurbani by the Anahad Kirtan Society.

Kiran Kaur Manku, co-chair of the 1928 Institute, said, “It’s a real honour to celebrate Baisakhi, the birth of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Baisakhi celebrates the beginning of the Khalsa and the teachings that accompany this, focusing on equality by proactively removing forms of hierarchy, ego and fear,” said Kiran Kaur Manku, co-chair of the 1928 Institute, which works towards representing the interests of the British Indian community.

Read: Mayor Sadiq Khan unveils details of London’s Vaisakhi celebrations on April 22

“Today is also the Prakash, which roughly translates to the embodiment or birth of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth guru who fearlessly fought for the rights of everyone. He was known as the ‘Shield of India’ and sacrificed his life for the rights of others. The insightful values and teachings of the Guru and Khalsa are the foundation of the Sikh identity and how we operate. It is these values that we cherish, honour and celebrate today,” she said.

British Sikh Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi and Labour’s shadow foreign minister (Asia & the Pacific) Catherine West were present on the occasion.

Baroness Sandy Verma and South Asia minister Tariq Ahmad also lent support to the event which is likely to become an annual feature in the parliamentary calendar.

“Guru Gobind Singh’s gift to Sikhism and humanity was to establish a community where equality was at its core, where women and men were treated the same, and which is willing to step up to protect everyone in society, no matter what their background or beliefs may be. It is these values of the Khalsa that continue to influence Sikhs around the world to date,” said Param Singh, co-chair of City Sikhs.

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