Vaisakhi is the start of the Sikh New Year and also the harvest festival in the Punjab region. It’s on April 13 each year. It was also on this day that the Khalsa was founded way back in 1699. Though, Sikhism itself had been founded earlier, in 1469. On this day of Vaisakhi in 1699 and the order of the Khalsa was set up - led by the Five Beloved Ones - to make a stand against religious oppression. Followers of Sikhism are initiated into the order with a baptism in which men take the title Singh (meaning lion) and women the title Kaur (princess). Birmingham’s public celebrations, known as Vaisakhi in the Park, take place on a weekend near to the annual date of Vaisakhi, although not on the day itself.
In 2016, the event was celebrated on Sunday, April 24. Organisers say around 100,000 people attended the event. The Vaisakhi celebrations were organised and funded by the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham (CSGB) with the help of a number of sponsors was recently held in the Birmingham city.
With a sizeable Sikh population residing in Brimingham and nearby areas, the festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm and gaiety. The Birmingham’s public celebrations, known as Vaisakhi in the Park, has two street processions - one from Hockley and one from Smethwick - which both head towards the festival site in Handsworth Park .
The celebration has the whole city full of bright colours, together with lavish decoration. There are young people chanting the religious hymns along with older ones and thousands of other Sikhs joining the parade taking pride in their culture. These processions are led by five Sikhs (panj pyaare) in ceremonial dress and include Dohl drummers, performers of Gatka (a Sikh martial art) and floats carrying women and spiritual leaders who are chanting prayers and singing hymns.