Thousands of British Indians celebrated Baisakhi at a grand mela organised by the Indian High Commission in London, with over a dozen UK-based gurdwaras and Sikh organisations supporting the event. Baisakhi, which fell on April 14 this year, was marked with the mega event in so-called India Gardens in Northolt, north-west London, and included live music by popular British Punjabi singers like Channi Singh and the Heera Group, who prompted lots of bhangra and gidda dancing. “We are delighted to be organising this event with the help of so many gurdwaras. I hope we can do this every year,” said Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, Indian High Commissioner to the UK, who joined in the festivities adorning a turban.
The celebration yesterday coincides with the UK-India Year Culture and India’s 70th year of independence celebrations in the UK throughout 2017 and was described by Sinha as the “biggest” community event to be organised by the Indian High Commission so far.
The day-long mela, which was billed as a celebration of the “warmth and richness of Punjabi culture”, also included an elaborate langar, gatka or traditional Punjabi martial arts, turban tying, kabbadi and free introductory bhangra lessons. The event was followed by the annual Mayor of London’s Baisakhi event at Trafalgar Square on Saturday.
“I am determined to build a country that works for everyone; a country where no matter who you are, you can achieve your goals – and the Sikh community is a vital part of that mission. So as the dancing and the festivals begin, at home and abroad, I’d like to thank you for all that you do and to wish you a very happy,” British Prime Minister Theresa May had said in her annual Baisakhi message last week. Britain is home to over 430,000 Sikhs and their representative organisations are very active in the country.