‘We would love to see Boris Johnson wear a turban’ at Vaisakhi festival

Newly elected London Mayor Boris Johnson with wife Marina enjoying the Sikh New Year Festival celebrations of Vaisakhi in...

Newly elected London Mayor Boris Johnson with wife Marina enjoying the Sikh New Year Festival celebrations of Vaisakhi in 2008 Photo credit: Lewis Whyld/ PA - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

A prominent Sikh says he would love to see Boris Johnson wear a turban at this year’s Vaisakhi festival after his Gurdwara was invited to coordinate the celebrations.

City Hall representatives have worked closely with the Gurdwara Singh Sabha London East, in High Road, Seven Kings, ahead of the celebrations on April 11, which commemorate the day Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

The free event at City Hall and The Scoop, an outdoor ampitheatre near Tower Bridge, will feature activities, performances – including the Gurdwara’s own martial arts group, Baba Fateh Singh Akhara – and food.

But the Gurdwara’s treasurer Mankamal Singh is keen for the Mayor of London to don a turban on the special day.

“We would love to see Boris wear a turban,” he said. “For us Sikhs, it symbolises a spiritual crown and a mark of solidarity between City Hall and the Gurdwara.”

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More than 126,000 Sikhs living in the capital are expected to celebrate Vaisakhi, which will take place much closer to the official festival date – April 14 – than in previous years.

Mr Singh said 2015 represented a significant change in the Gurdwara’s approach to influence the wider community.

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“We have just made more links within the larger community,” he said. “We have gone out there more and represented the Gurdwara in the mainstream. “We are coming of age because we are just a lot more active.”

Mr Singh added there is an “excitement” around the Gurdwara ahead Vaisakhi.

He also added: “The Gurdwara has a much younger committee, more British-born Sikhs.

“That has been the evolution of the committee especially in the last six or seven months.”

The Gurdwara Singh Sabha will be providing food on the day, too.

Mr Singh said those cooking the langar, meaning food, are expecting to cater for between 3,000 to 5,000 people.

The new location of the Vaisakhi festival will enable additional new activities, such as film screenings, cultural talks and poetry readings, alongside a colourful outdoor programme of live performances.

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