Hundreds gather in Wolverhampton to celebrate Sikh festival of Vaisakhi

Hundreds gathered today in Wolverhampton Credit: ITV Central

Singing, music and parades are set to take place across the Midlands this month to celebrate the Sikh festival Vaisakhi and today hundreds of people gathered in Wolverhampton for the Vaisakhi procession.

The Sikh tradition celebrates the birth of the Khalsa and runs throughout April. They've been taking place for more than 40 years here, and regularly attract crowds of more than 100,000 people.

Gurnam Singh from Guru Nanak Gurdwara said: "We call this Nagar Kirtan which is in our community, we sing praises of God, so we have the Panj Pyare , who will be at the beginning of the procession.

"And behind it we have the holy scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib and that will be in the carriage that goes behind, so we go around the community singing the praises of our  Guru."

Gurnam Singh from Guru Nanak Gurdwara explains more about the celebrations.

What is Vaisakhi?

Vaisakhi falls in April but is celebrated throughout the month. It is for Sikhs and is a celebration of the birth of the Khalsa.

The Khalsa is the collective of initiated Sikhs that still keep a physical identity (the 5 K's) and code of conduct (to provide food and justice for all) gifted to them by the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh scriptural Guru, is on a float as the main focus of the procession.

Gurbani (Hymns) is sung, langar (free food) is served and there are often displays of Sikh martial arts too.

They've been taking place for more than 40 years here, and regularly attract crowds of more than 100,000 people.

Hundreds gathered in Wolverhampton today to start celebrations.

How is it celebrated?

Sikhs will visit places of worship called Gurdwaras which will be especially decorated for the occasion.

Usually Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi through a Nagar Kirtan, (Town hymn singing), a procession through their local town led by five initiated Sikhs (Panj Pyare). 

'Nagar' means town and 'kirtan' means the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book.

The book is carried in the processions in a place of honour.

Celebrations traditionally include singing and music, as well as reading scriptures out loud and chanting hymns.

Many Sikhs also choose Vaisakhi as the day to be baptised in to the Khalsa brotherhood.

Normally big celebrations take place in the city of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, which is where Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa.