Thousands attended the annual Sikh Festival of Vaisakhi in Gravesham over the weekend which commemorates the Sikh New Year. The centre piece of the celebrations was the Nagar Kirtan procession (nagar means town and kirtan means the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book) on Saturday. Led by religious floats and also involving community floats including Lethal Soundz, Guru Nanak Punjabi School, Kent Kirtan Society, Four by Four Bhangra, Guru Nanak Football Club and Jugnu Bhangra. The parade started on the grounds of the Gurdwara before going through the Town Centre where it was well received by members of the public who stopped to see the colorful spectacle and enjoyed free donations (seva) of food and drink as the procession passed. Following a short stop for prayers at the Guru Ravidass Gurdwara the procession climaxed on the Gurdwara Sports Ground on Trinity Road.
The celebrations were made extra special by the presence of the Head of the Akaal Takht the highest religious body in the Sikh faith Jathedar Bhai Gurbachan Singh Ji who flew in specially for the celebrations.
Davinder Singh Bains (Shinde A1) the President of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara commented “I was very humbled by all the support we received for the Vaisakhi celebrations. Vaisakhi was celebrated not just by the Sikh community this weekend but by the diverse communities of Gravesham. For me it was made extra special by the fact that we had Jathedar Bhai Gurbachan Singh Ji in attendance and he was able to see at first hand how we celebrate Vaisakhi in Gravesham. This was a great honour not just for me but the whole Sikh community who attended.”
Once the Nagar Kirtan finished there was an open air community celebration on the Guru Nanak Sports Field which included a fun fair, Sikh martial arts, information stands including Kent Police, the British Army and Gravesham Borough Council. The religious stage programme was headlined by Malkit Singh MBE who performed from his recently released religious album “Sikh Hon Da Mann” During the course of the event thousands also enjoyed free food and refreshments which was served by local caterers.
Gurvinder Sandher the CEO of Kent Equality Cohesion Council commented “The celebrations took months of planning, and I am as ever very grateful to our partners and volunteers for working with us to make the celebrations such a success. I was very pleased with the positive response both in Town and back at the Gurdwara where the different communities came together as one to celebrate Vaisakhi.”
The celebrations concluded on the Sunday at the Gurdwara where prayers were read and donations made for the up keep of the running of the Gurdwara. Throughout the services thousands again attended rounding off a memorable weekend.
The Akal Takht (Punjabi meaning The Throne of the Timeless One) is one of the five Takhts of the Sikh religion. It is located in the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab, about 250 miles northwest of New Delhi. While the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, represents Sikh spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activity. It is the highest seat of temporal authority of the Khalsa and the seat of the Sikh religion’s earthly authority.
Jathedar means “leader” and refers to a leader of a jatha (a group, a community or a nation). Among the Sikhs, a Jathedar is an ordained leader of the clergy and leads a Takht, a sacred and authoritative seat.