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Vaisakhi Parade NOT returning to Bradford for the third year

The Vaisakhi Parade celebrating the Sikh New Year will not be returning for the third year due to the pandemic.

The parade celebrating Vaisakhi – Sikh New Year – will not be returning to Bradford for the third year.

Vaisakhi is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar, marking when Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

The festival marks the first day of the month of Vaisakh and is traditionally celebrated annually on 13 or 14 April. Vaisakhi has long been celebrated in Punjab, a northern state in India, as a harvest festival before it became important to Sikhs.

In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh – the tenth and final human Sikh Guru – chose the harvest festival as the moment to establish the Khalsa. In the final year of the seventieth century, Guru Gobind Singh came out of a tent carrying a sword and said that any Sikh prepared to give his faith should come into the tent.

People wear orange during Vaisakhi – the traditional colour of the Khalsa. Image: BC NDP.

Five men disappeared into the tent, and the Guru came out alone, with blood on his sword which worried the crowd.

This was until the five men came out from the tent unharmed and wearing turbans.

The five men became known as Panj Piare or the ‘Beloved Five’ and they were the first members of the Khalsa.

They were baptised by the Guru who sprinkled them with Amrit and said prayers, becoming the basis of the Sikh baptism ceremony. Due to this, many Sikhs chose Vaisakhi as the day to become baptised into the Khalsa brotherhood.

To mark the occasion, Vaisakhi is usually celebrated with parades, known as Nagar Kirtan, thrown across the world, bringing a sea of colour as the Sikh community chants hymns, and recites scriptures accompanied by music, singing, and dancing.

In the evening, Sikhs tend to have a traditional Indian meal with family and friends, with dishes including sarso ka saag, gud ka halwa, phirni, with a glass of lassi.

The Sikh community in Bradford has held Vaisakhi Parades in the city centre since 1985, with hundreds of people turning out on the streets each year. Many people usually wear orange, the traditional colour of the Khalsa, and dance and sing. Many people from the wider community also join in with the celebrations.

However, for the past two years, the parade has been unable to go ahead. With high levels

The Vaisakhi Parade has not been held in Bradford for three years due to the pandemic. Image: BC NDP.

of Covid-19 cases in Bradford, the Sikh community has decided not to go ahead with the parade for the third time.

Kiran Kaur, the daughter of the temple priest at Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara on Leeds Road, said: “We have been waiting three years for the parade but we can wait another year if it means keeping people safe and healthy.

“The parade has gone on every year since 1985. This year we are going to go to the temple where prayers will be going on continually. We have prayers for two weeks, from the beginning of April to 13 or 14 April.

“Usually, five prayers go on at the same time and a lot of people come. It is nice because it is so vibrant, and people come together. This year, there is not going to be five prayers going on, there is going to be one prayer at a time, because of Covid-19.”

Mohinder Singh Maan, the general secretary of the temple, said: “We usually hold a parade in Bradford, but we are not doing it this year because of the coronavirus.

“So, all the temples will be celebrating in their own ways, starting from 7am and reading the holy book, singing, and eating special food.”

Asian Standard wishes our Sikh readers a wonderful Vaisakhi.

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