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Gravesend awash with colour for Vaisakhi in Gravesend

Gravesend came to a standstill on Saturday as the annual Vaisakhi parade made it’s way through the town.

Running 45 minutes late, the wait failed to dishearten the spirit as thousands of people lined the streets as the floats went past.

Earlier, a helicopter had dropped petals over the gurdwara whilst another followed the procession through the town, filming the entire event.

Festival makes its way through town
Festival makes its way through town

The colourful procession was easily seen and easily heard as the sound of drums accompanied the floats.

At the forefront was the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book and living guru) in a model of the Golden Temple.

It was followed by various floats prepared by religious, arts and cultural groups, including Jugnu Bhangra Group, schoolchildren, and Guru Nanak Football Club.

Other features included children performing Kirtan (Sikh hymns) and Gatka (a Sikh martial art).

People also sang Shabads (hymns) as they walked the route through New Road, Darnley Road, Wrotham Road, Windmill Street, Clarence Place and Wellington Street, before heading back to the gurdwara.

Vaisakhi Festival 2014
Vaisakhi Festival 2014

This year’s celebrations centred on the gurdwara, the largest in Europe, with the main Vaisakhi service being held there on Sunday.

That too was attended by thousands of people from right across the world.

On the Guru Nanak Sports Field, celebrations on Saturday continued with a funfair, Sikh martial arts, activities for children, information stands - such as how to tie your turban, food stalls and live music.

Inside the gurdwara
Inside the gurdwara

It included international folk star Malkit Singh who performed from his recently released religious album Sikh Hon Da Mann.

Also in attendance were Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, Gravesham mayor Derek Sales, council leader John Burden, and MP Priti Patel,UK India Diaspora Champion for the government.

Vaisakhi is the most important date in the Sikh calendar, celebrating the birth of the Khalsa, when the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, initiated the first five Sikhs – known as the five beloved ones.

Vaisakhi Festival 2014
Vaisakhi Festival 2014

He then asked them to baptise him, demonstrating that all Sikhs are equal.

Davinder Singh Bains (Shinde A1) president of the gurdwara said: “I was very humbled by all the support we received for the Vaisakhi celebrations.

“Vaisakhi was celebrated not just by the Sikh community this weekend but by the diverse communities of Gravesham.

“For me it was made extra special by the fact that we had Jathedar Bhai Gurbachan Singh Ji in attendance and he was able to see at firsthand how we celebrate Vaisakhi in Gravesham.

“This was a great honour not just for me but the whole Sikh community who attended.”

Video: Vaisakhi parade winds through Gravesend

For four pages of pictures, see this week's Gravesend Messenger.

The week after we have a special supplement packed full of images from the two day festival.

The parade heads into town. This stunning picture was sent in by reader Jason Arthur.
The parade heads into town. This stunning picture was sent in by reader Jason Arthur.
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