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Vaisakhi 2020: A look back at past processions in Gravesend

The annual Vaisakhi celebrations normally bring thousands of people to Gravesend, but with coronavirus restrictions this year Sikhs are heading online to mark the day.

The religious and cultural extravaganza is one of the most important dates in the calendar for Gravesend's Sikh community, with crowds filling the streets with music, dancing and colour.

Crowds in Gravesend during Vaisakhi 2019
Crowds in Gravesend during Vaisakhi 2019

Today the focus of celebrations has been a live feed showing prayers at the Gurdwara, along with video footage sent in from other homes in the community.

Enjoyed by residents of all races and cultures, Vaisakhi marks the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith, or the birth of the Khalsa.

And despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, Gurdwara spokesman Jagdev Singh Virdee said the Gravesend's Sikhs were determined to mark the occasion.

"Worshipping will be online all day," he said. "The programme from the Gurdwara will be on Facebook and YouTube and in the middle of the day they will show videos people have sent in of children playing instruments and other celebrations.

"We've also been taking food to hospitals, vulnerable people and NHS staff."

He said the response to the change had been "very positive" adding: "We've been broadcasting live for three weeks. The audiences have been growing day by day. There's been a very good response on Facebook and YouTube. The whole world is in the same situation, so keep your spirits high and carry on."

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