Hundreds turn out for Sikh parade in Telford
[gallery] More than 1,000 people turned out to join Shropshire's first-ever celebration of Vaisakhi, the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh faith.
Onlookers lined the streets as the procession - or Nagar Kirtan - travelled from the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Hadley to the Oakengates Sikh Gurdwara and then back to Hadley yesterday.
The three-hour procession involved singing of holy hymns along the route. It was the first time the Sikh community in Telford had held a Nagar Kirtan to celebrate Vaisakhi, and it attracted attention from people across all faiths who turned out to watch.
Great Dawley Parish Councillor San Sekhon, who helped to organise the event, said it had gone very well.
She said: "It went really, really well. We had between 1,000 and 1,500 people take part in the procession, and lots of people turned out to watch and see us off.
"We also had a lot of support from the police, they have been brilliant.
"We didn't expect much because it's the first tme we have done it in the 45 years the Sikh temple has been open.
"We wanted to make people aware of our community. It was fantastic."
Among those who took part in the celebrations was Wrekin MP Mark Prichard, who is a member of the Parliamentary Groups for Sikhs in Westminster.
He said: "I was delighted to attend the first ever Nagar Kirtan event. This celebration goes back to 1699 to the 10th guru, from which Sikhs obtained their distinct identity."
Roads were closed briefly along to route to allow the procession to pass, and free refreshments were handed out along the way.
Also present were councillors from across the borough and former Labour MP Lord Grocott, as well as Telford's top police officer Superintendent Nav Malik.
Mrs Sekhon said Sikhs from all over the Midlands had travelled to Telford to support the event, including a group of drummers from Wolverhampton and other groups from as far away as Nottingham.
She said: "We wanted to explain what Sikhs are all about. The parade got a bit behind, so we're sorry if we caused any inconvenience to motorists, and we'd like to thank everyone for their support."
She said money raised from the event would go towards the work of the Kushdil day centre for older people in the community. Fundraising efforts amongst local Sikhs has already raised about £15,000 over the past six months to support the centre, which has about 35 older women using it for two hours each Thursday.
Mrs Sekhon said members of the Sikh temple committee would now decide whether to hold another parade to celebrate Vaisakhi again next April.
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