On Tuesday 13 April, Sikhs and Hindus around the world celebrated Vaisakhi. Barking and Dagenham Council along with members of the Barking Gurdwara, part of the Singh Sabha London East, observed this holy event with a flag raising at Barking Town Hall with a special video message.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell and Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, Cllr Saima Ashraf, led proceedings outside the Town Hall with speeches highlighting the importance of Vaisakhi and the borough’s Sikh and Hindu community. This was followed by a speech and prayer from members of the Barking Gurdwara, as the Khalsa flag was raised at half mast.
Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is celebrated by Sikhs around the world and is also a festival in Hinduism. For Hindus, Vaisakhi marks an ancient harvest festival and the solar new year. For Sikhs it marks when Sikhism was born as a collective faith in 1699, when the Khalsa was founded. The Khalsa means initiated Sikhs, but also those who consider Sikhism a faith.
Under normal circumstances, Vaisakhi would be celebrated with singing, dancing, hymns and special food often making up part of the occasion, with parades which would be held all around the world.
Cllr Saima Ashraf said: “It was wonderful to share this special day at a small outside and socially-distanced event with members of our local Gurdwara. Vaisakhi is such an important event for both Sikhs and Hindus, and I was honoured to join a small number of residents in prayer and raising of the Khalsa flag above the Town Hall.”