Published: 08:00, 11 April 2016
Gravesend will explode with colour and music next week as the annual Sikh festival of Vaisakhi winds its ways through the streets in a joyous parade.
Historically Vaisakhi marks the spring harvest in Punjab in Northern India – where most Sikhs in Gravesham come from.
In 1699 on Vaisakhi Day the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, established the Khalsa Panth (the community of committed Sikhs) and created the faith as it is practised today.
Each April, Gravesend comes alive with impressive displays and the streets are packed with wide-eyed spectators – Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha joined the throng last time – but this year will be one of the largest celebrations in the town to date.
As well as spilling through the town, festivities return again to the Guru Nanak Sports Field in Trinity Road.
The Nagar Kirtan procession is due to start from the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara at noon on Saturday, April 16.
It will pass through the town centre – along Saddington Street, The Grove, Milton Road, King Street, Garrick Street, Darnley Road, Arthur Street, Wrotham Road, Zion Place, Windmill Street, Clarence Place, Parrock Road and Wellington Street.
The procession is expected to return at about 2.30pm.
Once finished, there will be an open air community celebration on the Guru Nanak Sports Field which will include a funfair, Sikh martial arts, interactive activities for children, information stands, food stalls and a stage programme where religious songs will be performed by a host of international acts including Lehmber Hussainpuri, Nirmal Sidhu, Jordan Sandhu and Sharmilla.
The main religious service in the Gurdwara to celebrate Vaisakhi will be held on Sunday morning. Davinder Singh Bains (Shinde A1), the President of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, said: “On behalf of the management committee I would like to invite all the residents of Gravesham to come and attend the festivities.
“The Sikh community has a long and proud history here in Gravesham and the celebrations for Vaisakhi have evolved from just being a Sikh celebration to one involving all communities regardless of faith.
n On Wednesday, April 13, there is also an open evening at the Gurdwara between 6.30pm and 7.30pm where residents are invited for tea and refreshments to celebrate Vaisakhi, meet members of the management team and learn more about what is taking place to celebrate Vaisakhi. Please register your attendance, for the purposes of catering, by Tuesday, April 12 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01474 350 611.