Vaisakhi celebrations on SundayBy Chantelle Haywood
May 03, 2012
The most important date in the Sikh calendar will be celebrated in town this Sunday.
And the Sikh community of Reading and Wokingham is inviting everyone to join in the new year festivities of Vaisakhi.
It will be marked with a Nagar Kirtan – a religious procession – from 10.30am to 3pm, starting with prayers and messages of peace at the Sikh temple, Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Cumberland Road, Newtown, and on to the Ramgarhia Sabha Reading Gurdwara in nearby London Road.
Free vegetarian food will then be served during the afternoon.
Mayors from Reading and Wokingham councils are due to attend.
It is also a great opportunity for the Sikh community to support local charities by raising awareness and funding.
This year they are supporting the six charities Mayor of Reading Councillor Deborah Edwards has chosen to support during her term in office – Plan UK International, NSPCC, Berkshire Women’s Aid, Albert Road Day Centre, Launchpad and the YMCA.
The money raised at the Vaisakhi celebration will be presented to her at Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara on May 13.
Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year, is the holiest day of the calendar for more than 20 million Sikhs worldwide and in Reading 2,000 people attend annually.
It is celebrated on April 14, each year. On this day in 1699, Sikhism was born as a collective faith.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Master of the Sikhs, initiated the Sikhs as the Khalsa by baptising five Sikhs (Panj Pyaras) or the pure and sincere.
He bound the Sikhs to a strict code of conduct, with unshorn hair, beard and turban, which gave the Sikhs a distinct identity.
Before 1699, Vaisakhi was celebrated as a harvest festival across north India.
The Vaisakhi celebration ends with a Nagar Kirtan, which generally takes place a few weeks after April 14, and refers to the procession of the congregation through the town singing hymns.
Vaisakhi promotes friendship, mutual understanding and respect, a message which underlines the core Sikh values of equality, communal harmony and religious tolerance.