Sikh new year is marked with music and prayers

Members of the Sikh community celebrate Vaisakhi 	     	PICTURE Keith Woodland
Members of the Sikh community celebrate Vaisakhi PICTURE Keith Woodland
The team passes the Nelson statue in Old Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland (171022-0023)

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HUNDREDS of worshippers gathered together to mark the start of the Sikh new year.

Portsmouth Sikh Community Temple was full of people celebrating Vaisakhi with music, prayers, food and games.

Khalsa Singh, 57, is vice-president of the Sikh community in Portsmouth.

Mr Khalsa added: ‘It’s probably the most important date in the Sikh calendar.

‘I was overwhelmed with the number of people that were there. Normally there are 100 to 150 people. This year there were about 250 people.’

The Sikh celebration began in 1699 and always takes place on April 14.

However, it’s usually celebrated the following Sunday because many people have work commitments.

Musicians played and read religious scriptures ahead of the main prayer at 2.30pm.

Mr Singh said: ‘The day began at 10am with nashta – which is like breakfast. People went and helped themselves to food and drink.

‘Then the flag ceremony took place at 11am.’

Vaisakhi marks the start of the Sikh new year and the harvest in India.

It also celebrates the tenth Guru of the Sikhs – Guru Gobind Singh.

Mr Singh said Somers Town residents showed a lot of respect for the Sikh community and that everyone is welcome to take part in the Vaisakhi celebrations.

‘It’s a very humble society and we’re happy for people to join in’, he added.

This year Kirpal Singh and Digpal Singh sponsored the event which came to a close at 4pm on Sunday.

Afterwards families visited each others’ homes to exchange gifts and food.

Mr Khalsa said: ‘People say they want to go to India for certain experiences.

‘I’d love for people to go and see the celebrations in Anandpur Sahib.

‘Visiting the area and the temple really is an experience.’

The Sikh temple is open every Sunday and all are welcome.

To visit, contact Amrik Singh for more information on 07968 837 909.