Thousands take to Glasgow streets in Sikh Vaisakhi celebration

Writer and human rights advocate Rob McDowall went along to the Nagar Kirtan procession in Glasgow as the city's Sikh community took to the streets to celebrate the Vaisakhi festival

SUNDAY saw thousands of people take to the streets and walk and dance across Glasgow as part of Sikh celebrations for Vaisakhi, which is celebrated on 13 or 14 of April each year. 

The procession, called Nagar Kirtan, started at 9.30am at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Otago Street before visiting the Central Gurdwara on Berkley Street, the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara on St Andrews Drive and finishing at the Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib, Scotland's first purpose built Sikh Gurdwara.

Vaisakhi is a historic harvest festival which marks the Sikh new year and celebrates the formation of the Khalsa Panth (an army of all committed Sikhs) by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru. 

Chandeep Singh, the general secretary of Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib said: "Celebrating the Festival of Vaisakhi is always a highlight for Scottish Sikhs and has a special place in all our hearts because of its ability to bring people together from all different backgrounds and communities. We wish everyone a Happy Vaisakhi 2017 and hope that we all imbibe the Sikh values of equality, humanity and justice into all of our lives."

The celebration brought vibrant colour and singing to the streets of Glasgow as young and older walked, danced and sang together. I was honoured to join the celebrations and paid my first visit to the Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib on Albert Drive in Glasgow, where I was warmly welcomed inside and given a tour of the Gurdwara and their exhibition. 

I sat in the temple soaking up the celebratory atmosphere and, after watching the Keertan Diwan, I was invited to eat with participants. The atmosphere in the brightly decorated temple was joyous and electric and the sound of singing and music could be heard in every corner of the Gurdwara. Outside, organisers had provided a bouncy castle, play area and candy floss stall which kept the children entertained. 

There are many pictures and videos on the website for the Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib but I have included a few of my own in this article. If you have the opportunity to visit the Glasgow Gurdwara, I would highly recommend it and the website for the Glasgow Gurdwara has a section all about visiting the temple and what to expect.

Pictures courtesy of Rob McDowall

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