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Streets of Gravesend will be filled with colour and song as the annual Vaisakhi festival hits the streets

Gravesend will be awash with colour this weekend as the annual Vaisakhi festival hits the streets.

On Saturday, the Sikh New Year celebration will begin at the gurdwara in Saddington Street before the procession, known as the Nagar Kirtan, heads through the town.

“Nagar” means town and “Kirtan” means the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.

The day also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was established.

The Vaisakhi parade
The Vaisakhi parade

The procession starts at the gurdwara at 11.30am and passes through the town centre before returning at about 2.30pm.

There will then be celebrations on the Guru Nanak Sports Field which will include a funfair, Sikh martial arts, activities for children, information stands, food stalls and live music.

It will include international folk star Malkit Singh who will be performing from his recently released religious album Sikh Hon Da Mann.

Energetic dancers from Gravesend's Jugnu bhangra
Energetic dancers from Gravesend's Jugnu bhangra

Gurdwara president Davinder Singh Bains (Shinde A1) said: “I humbly invite all the communities of Gravesham to come and join in the festivities.

“Vaisakhi is a very special occasion for the Sikh community and we welcome the fact that here in Gravesham all the diverse communities come together as one to support us.”

The main religious service in the gurdwara to celebrate Vaisakhi will be held on Sunday morning.

Sikh flag raising ceremony
Sikh flag raising ceremony

Kent Equality Cohesion Council boss Gurvinder Sandher said: “A lot of hard work has gone into planning the celebrations and we hope that the local community will come out and support it.

“Over the years Vaisakhi has evolved from being just a celebration for the Sikh community to being one which brings the communities of Gravesham together and we hope this year is no expectation.”

Celebrations begun when the Sikh flag was raised on Friday ahead of this weekend’s Vaisakhi.

The Nishan Sahib was raised in Community Square at noon.

The triangular flag contains the khanda, a two-edged sword that symbolises some of the fundamental concepts of Sikhism.

The Mayor of Gravesham, Derek Sales, attended with his wife Pam, Gravesham MP Adam Holloway and police chief Phil Painter.

Sikh flag raising ceremony at the Civic Centre, Gravesend.
Sikh flag raising ceremony at the Civic Centre, Gravesend.

Route map.

Saturday’s live stage line-up
2.30pm: Sikh2inspire
2.45pm: Malkit Singh
3.45pm: Gatka
4pm: Kent Kirtan Society
4.30pm: Khalsa Bikers
4.45pm: Sewa Singh Lalli
5.15pm: Thank Yous
5.30pm: Finish

Sunday at Gurdwara
8am: Nishaan Sahib Seva
10am: Akhand Paath Bhog
Hazuri Jatha
Bhai Santokh Singh
Bhai Nishaan Singh
Bhai Seva Singh Lalli
Giani Meg Singh Ji
Baba Bakala Wale
5pm: Amrit Sanchaar. Opportunity to seek Waheguru Ji’s blessing and take Amrit.

For anyone seeking to take Amrit and want to give their name, call 01474 350611.

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