Around 20,000 Sikh and Punjabi diaspora members turned up for the Baisakhi celebrations organised by the Indian High Commission at Northolt, London on April 30. A rich array of langar food was served to more than 15,000 persons, an official statement said.
This was the first major public event targeted not only at the Punjabi and Sikh population in the UK but also to spread the message of peace, social coherence and valour embodied by the revered 10th Guru of Sikhs, a High Commission statement said.
The event, organised with financial assistance of India's Ministry of Culture, was a tremendous success in all its aspects, it said.
The celebrations were part of the larger festival marking the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th of the holy Sikh Gurus, organised by the government of India globally and flagged off by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Shri Patna Sahib earlier this year.
It saw the participation of 14 Gurdwaras from all over London which pitched in with volunteers and a rich array of langar food items for all visitors. Between 18,000 to 20,000 people turned up throughout the day. The langar alone served more than 15,000 people.
Cultural programmes included Punjabi Spiritual Music, Bhangra and Giddha performances, and some eminent names like Jasbir Jassi, Channi Singh OBE, Angrez Ali, etc took the stage.
Other Indian community organisations set up around 60 stalls catering to India in all its diversity on the occasion. They also expressed their support and happiness about the event and the theme of the richness and warmth of Punjabi culture traditions.
The mission also organised a Gatka (Punjabi martial arts) competition in which more than 120 experts participated. Kabbadi by children aged 5-7 years drew appreciation from thousands of people. Other events such as turban tying, classes for Bhangra and Giddha, face painting, henna painting, dhol performance by small children, and many free contests and attractions for children were also arranged.
The event also saw the participation of the Royal Army, Navy, Air Force and the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association (MSPA), Sikh Scouts, as well as many charity organisations, the statement said.
The event was attended by Members of Parliament, Lords, Mayors and Councillors from all over the UK. High Commissioner YK Sinha (donning the traditional Sikh Turban) greeted the entire Indian community and welcomed them to the festival.
He delivered the vote of thanks, in particular thanking all Gurdwaras and community organisations in the UK that helped in making this day-long event a great success, and stated that such an event should be conducted every year.