Thousands celebrate Sikh festival

Berkshire, UK - Up to 10,000 people are taking to the streets of a Berkshire town to mark the founding of the Sikh religion.

A carnival procession and religious services across Slough will mark the festival of Vaisakhi. It has the one of the largest Sikh populations in the UK.

Vaisakhi, also spelled Baisakhi, is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar.

It is the Sikh New Year festival and also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

Organisers of the town's procession expect up to 10,000 people to turn out.

Inderjit Singh Ghattaura said Vaisakhi was marked by religious ceremonies and a huge celebration: "Within the procession, it's like a carnival.

"We have different floats, there's speeches and things like that.

"A lot of food is served, a lot of hot drinks are served, in case people are getting tired or thirsty," he continued.

"We also try and inform people who are actually watching from their windows or from their houses exactly what the carnival procession is about.

"We have all the council people, all dignitaries, and they all actually join in."

Vaisakhi is also a long established harvest festival in the Punjab, celebrated long before it gained a religious dimension for Sikhs.