10,000 Coventry Sikhs set to carry out annual Nagar Kirtan procession through the city - The Coventry Observer

12th Aug, 2022

10,000 Coventry Sikhs set to carry out annual Nagar Kirtan procession through the city

MORE than 10,000 Sikhs from Coventry and the surrounding area will parade through the city’s streets next Sunday, April 24, to celebrate Vaisakhi and the founding of the Khalsa or Sikh brotherhood.

In line with the Sikh philosophy of ‘Vand Ke Shakna’ or charitable giving, the annual Nagar Kirtan procession will begin with donations to both British and Ukrainian charities.

Other causes nominated this year for donations include The Fire Fighters Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, The Dementia Society and Panahgar which is a Coventry founded refuge for women and their families who are victims of domestic abuse.

They will each receive £501 – money that has been raised by Coventry’s Sikh community.

The Nagar Kirtan will be led by five Sikhs called the Panj Pyare or beloved ones, dressed in traditional attire with others playing drums to announce the procession as it moves through the city’s streets.

There will be a number of colourful floats with the lead one carrying the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh’s holy scriptures – the embodiment of the living Guru (teacher) and deeply revered.

Free refreshments will available along the route for both participants and onlookers – some have been provided by non-Sikh organisations, highlighting the community-orientated nature of the event.

The parade will end with a Gatka (Sikh martial arts) display, including live sword-fighting displays by Sikh warriors.

The procession begins 10.30am at Coventry’s Gurdwara Guru Nanak Parkash, Harnall Lane, and will return to the same location at 2.30pm.

The parade will journey anti-clockwise from the car park, onto Howard Street, along Stoney Stanton Road, left into Cross Road and then into Foleshill Road.

Participants are urged to use the free secure signposted parking at City College’s multi-storey in Bath Street – near the junction of Stoney Stanton Road and Harnall Lane East.

Gurdip Singh, a member of the GGNP Gurdwara management team, said: “Our Sikh faith guides us to support those in need which is why we start the procession with charity donations.

“Our usual criteria are to donate only to British charities but this year there was a strong desire for an exception to be made.

“We wanted to support the Ukrainian community which is going through such dreadful times with the invasion of their country.

“The Ukrainian conflict is a poignant reminder to the Sikhs of the pain of having one’s nation is attacked and after having suffered the same ourselves we know how important it is to stand shoulder to shoulder with them during such difficult times.”

A history of Sikhism

Sikhism, the youngest of the major religions, was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev Ji who emphasised the need for a simple life and the best way to spirituality by living an honest and hardworking existence, reciting God’s name ‘Naam Japna’ and sharing with others ‘Vand Ke Shakna’.

He was succeeded by nine other Gurus, the last of whom Guru Gobind Singh Ji, declared at a Vaisakhi meeting (annual harvest celebration) in 1699 AD in front of thousands of Sikhs, that all people were created equal.

He baptised five Sikhs from different castes and declared that all Sikhs should either take the surname Singh or Kaur (‘Lion’ or ‘Princess’) to dismantle any caste/class differences.

Baptised Sikhs are required to maintain the five Ks including a turban to protect their Kesh (uncut hair) and so they are easily recognisable. He introduced the concept of Saint-Soldier (‘Sant-Sipahi’), which means that Sikhs are required to maintain inner calm and spirituality through prayers (‘Simran’) whilst helping the vulnerable and countering injustice.

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