The event is free to attend with activities inside City Hall as well as outside at the Scoop at More London and along the riverside. They include outdoor performances, activities and an exhibition by Sikh artists.
This year’s celebrations will take place just before the official Vaisakhi festival on 13 April and City Hall has been working with representatives from the Sikh community, including Singh Sabha London East, EY Sikh Network and other groups, to create a culturally rich, enjoyable day that represents Sikh identity and culture.
Vaisakhi commemorates the beginning of Sikhism as a collective faith and London’s celebrations are an opportunity for people from all communities, faiths and backgrounds to experience a festival that is celebrated by over 126,000 Sikhs who live in the capital and 20 million people across the world.
Highlights at the festival include a colourful programme of live performances, with folk dance, Gatka (martial arts), turban tying and Shabad Kirtan (Sikh spiritual music). Food (langar) will be prepared and offered by volunteers from the Sikh community, which will be represented by a variety of information stalls.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘Vaisakhi is the holiest day in the Sikh calendar and I am delighted that it is once again coming to City Hall. It is a festival celebrated by millions of Sikhs around the world and the values of respect and generosity for people of all faiths and creeds is one that is very relevant to our great city. We have been working closely with the Sikh community to create a wide-ranging programme of activities and I’m sure it will be a joyous celebration for all Londoners. Happy Vaisakhi!’
Mankamal Singh from the Gurdwaras, said: ‘The Gurdwaras are excited to be involved for the second year running in the Vaisakhi celebrations at City Hall. The Sikh community are an integral part of the London landscape, whilst maintaining our very visible and distinctive identity. This year’s event continues to give London the opportunity to celebrate British Sikh talent through spiritual music, art, and martial arts as well as other great community projects. We will also be offering some wonderful activities for Londoners to get involved in.’
Manraj Singh Othi, from Ashurst D&I network and co-founder EY Sikh Network, said: ‘We are pleased and excited to be involved again in the organisation of the Vaisakhi celebration at City Hall. As both Londoners and Sikhs, we feel the grassroots approach to the programme focusing on Kirtan and Langar will create a day that is inclusive for both Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. We welcome Londoners from all faiths, beliefs or none to enjoy, learn and celebrate together through a diverse range of colourful displays and engaging activities’.
Vaisakhi Festival, City Hall, the Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA, Saturday 9 April 2016, 1pm-6pm.