The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a new look Vaisakhi Festival, which will enable a wider array of cultural activities to be presented.
Following consultation with the Sikh community, the popular free event will take place on Saturday 11 April 2015 at City Hall and in The Scoop at More London, next to historic Tower Bridge. Vaisakhi is the most important day in the Sikh calendar, commemorating the beginning of Sikhism as a collective faith. Previously it was held in London's Trafalgar square.
London's Vaisakhi celebrations are an opportunity for people from all communities, faiths and backgrounds to experience a festival that is celebrated by over 126,000 Sikhs who live in the capital and20 million people across the world.
All are welcome to attend the family-friendly event, which as well as music and performance, food and children's activities, will for the first time include films, talks and an exhibition. This year's celebrations will also take place much closer to the official Vaisakhi festival - 14 April - than it has in previous years.
City Hall been working with representatives from the Sikh community, including Singh Sabha London East Gurdwara, EY Sikh Network and other groups, to create a culturally rich, enjoyable day that represents Sikh identity and culture.
The new location will enable a range of additional new activities to take place, such as film screenings, cultural talks and poetry readings, alongside a colourful outdoor programme of live performances. Visitors will be able to enjoy traditional dance, turban tying and Sikh spiritual music (Shabad Kirtan). Food (langar) will be prepared and offered by volunteers from the Sikh community.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Vaisakhi is the holiest day in the Sikh calendar and I am delighted that it is coming to City Hall and The Scoop. We have been working closely with the Sikh community to create an even more wide-ranging programme of activities. It will be a joyous celebration and all Londoners are welcome. Happy Vaisakhi!'
Mankamal Singh, Gurdwara Singh Sabha London East, said 'The Gurdwaras are excited to be involved in this year’s Vaisakhi celebrations at City Hall. The Sikh community are an integral part of the London landscape, whilst maintaining a very visible and distinctive identity. This year’s event gives London the opportunity to share British Sikh talent as well as offering great activities, that all Londoners can get involved in.'
Manraj Singh Othi, Co-founder EY Sikh Network, said 'We are pleased to be part of the organisation of this Vaisakhi celebration. As both Londoners and Sikhs, we feel the grassroots approach to the programme that has been created in collaboration with City Hall will produce a day that is inclusive for both Sikhs and non-Sikhs, and be an opportunity to learn and celebrate together through a diverse range of displays and activities.'