Vaisakhi is the most important date in the Sikh calendar as it celebrates the birth of the Khalsa. This day also celebrates the Sikh’s official new year.
On this day hundreds to thousands of people come to gather in one location (Southall) to celebrate this day with fellow sikhs from the community and out of the community.
On this particular festival all Sikhs follow the traditions of the farmers once before them. It is a time for Sikhs all over to reap the fruits of their labour. The whole of Southall high street is shut down for one day. Nothing goes in or comes out of that road for the day. The atmosphere is filled with a lot of singing, chanting, free music and goodies to fill your stomach and quench your thirst.
This amongst other sikh celebrations is the biggest one in one location that has been held for years, and by far is one of the largest celebration that brings one community, culture and ethnic group together.
Both men and women who have normal daily 9-5 jobs join hands in performing public random acts of kindness within the community to commemorate the new year. This includes doing things like making and preparing traditional home cooked food which are then distributed to the public by other volunteers, others offer their services by giving out goods from their businesses (such as free music, free drinks and snacks) to the public, while some who can let out their equipment (such as cooking utensils for big and major events or canapé stalls for fellow sikhs to set up and distribute goods and vans for loading) do so.
In the Sikh way of life, women have equal rights with men. There is absolutely no discrimination against women. The women on this day play a part by preparing different kinds of traditional home cooked dishes while others take to the streets to offer these different food dishes to the public as part of their service and act of kindness.
Speaking to a representative from Panjab Radio on the day, Sikhism I was told was one of the last religions to be formed. The Sikh religion is all about promoting equality and care for one another.