Celebrations as Sikh festival hits the streets of Leeds

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THOUSANDS of Sikhs took to the streets of Leeds in a colourful procession to celebrate Vaisakhi.

The annual festival is one of the holiest days in the Sikh calendar and marks the creation of the Khalsa.

Sikhs from the Gurdwara Temple in Chapeltown at the Vaisakhi parade in Leeds. Pics: Gary Longbottom.

Sikhs from the Gurdwara Temple in Chapeltown at the Vaisakhi parade in Leeds. Pics: Gary Longbottom.

Around 2,000 people took part in the celebrations in Leeds, with a street parade making its way through the city centre.

The traditional procession features a traditional sword march, martial arts displays and hymn singing.

People from all backgrounds were invited to take part in the event.

Balraj Singh, president of the Sikh Temple on Chapeltown Road, said: “The atmosphere was electric and everybody was buzzing.

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“There were elderly people, young people, different communities, cultures and religions all celebrating together.”

He added: “Seeing people from different backgrounds there was exactly what we wanted and it was absolutely brilliant.”

The procession set off from the Chapeltown Gudwara before making its way to other Sikh temples and moving to The Headrow, Eastgate and finally arriving at Millennium Square where a big celebration was held with more performances.

Mr Singh added: “It is a fun time but it is also about remembering the teachings and helping other people as well.

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“It is a very important time of year for the Sikh community because it is the Sikh New Year and harvest festival in the north of India.

“It is also when the Khalsa was created in 1699 and it was a finalisation of the faith.

“Since then it has been celebrated in this way all over the city – and all over the world.

“The idea of Vaisakhi is that anyone can come along.

“The Sikh faith is about openness and allowing everyone to join in.

“Not many people realise that one of the most important teachings is equality for all.

“You are also meant to see the good in everybody.

“We try to encourage that and celebrate with everyone.”

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