A colourful display of community spirit was on show during a religious parade in Leeds.
Members of the congregation from The Sikh Temple on Chapeltown Road celebrated the faith’s annual Vaisakhi festival on Saturday following the occasion on April 14, which marked one of the holiest days in its calendar.
The spring harvest festival marks the inauguration of the Khalsa – the collective body of all initiated Sikhs – by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.
Worshipers performed spiritual hymns on a float which guided members through the streets as they visited other temples in the area, before arriving at Millennium Square in the city centre during the afternoon.
People took part in martial arts, singing and dancing, as well as enjoying free vegetarian food. Ghagan Singh, the general secretary of The Sikh Temple, said: “For us, it’s like a blessing. Everybody’s happy, we all keep together to make it as best as possible.
“It’s about education, we’re talking English and we bond with the local people. It’s to increase our spirit.”
He added that the parade has been going on for about 34 years in Leeds, and he has been attending the “whole family occasion” since he was little.
After setting off shortly after 10am, the procession was due to travel on to visit the Gurdwara Hargobind Sahib Ji on Harehills Lane, the Gurdwara Guru Kalgidhar Sahib on Cowper Street and the Ramgarhia Board Gurdwara, which is also on Chapeltown Road.
Cousins Narinder and Bobby Panesar helped to steward the event.
Narinder, 50, said: “It’s just to make people aware of Sikhism.
“We don’t force our religion on anybody. It’s a free-for-all, whatever cast, creed or religion.”
Bobby, 44, added: “There are religious hymns all the way. It’s to bring people together, really. It’s about community more than anything.”
Singing could be heard throughout the Chapeltown area as the parade winded up Newton Road.
Mr Singh was playing a large drum and youngsters were leading the float with a sword display.
The front of the float, which was decorated with messages, read: “He alone is known as a spiritual hero, who fights in defence of religion.”
Leeds’s parade was one of many events around Yorkshire, the UK and the world to celebrate the occasion, which is also marked by Punjabi Hindus.
It is thought that more than 20 million Sikhs around the world celebrate Vaisakhi every year.