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Sikh Vaisakhi festival celebrations cancelled in UK due to coronavirus pandemic

Annual celebrations to commemorate the Sikh New Year festival Vaisakhi have been cancelled as the UK enters its fourth week of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vaisakhi is usually celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year. It is an important festival as the day marks the new spring year and also the formation of Khlasa Panth under tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1699.

Typically, thousands of people congregate in towns and cities across the country where the UK’s largest Sikh communities are based.

Two of the biggest events that would have been held later this month were in London’s Trafalgar Square, where more than 30,000 have gathered in past years, and Birmingham’s Handsworth Park, where up to 100,000 people were expected.

Celebrations of Vaisakhi in many other parts of the UK like Leicester, Southall and Gravesend have also been canceled or postponed due to coronavirus.

In London, cultural advisor to the mayor, Manraj Singh Othi, said while Vaisakhi had brought together Londoners, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike, public safety came first.

Those feelings were supported by the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham – and in Southall, west London, gurdwara general secretary Navraj Singh added: “No event in the Sikh calendar should endanger lives.”

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