Thousands expected at Seven Kings gurdwara today for Vaisakhi festival

Worshippers prepare food at the gurdwara in Seven Kings ahead of the Vaisakhi festival

Worshippers prepare food at the gurdwara in Seven Kings ahead of the Vaisakhi festival - Credit: Archant

Thousands of Sikhs are expected to visit gurdwaras around the borough to celebrate the birth of Sikhism more than 300 years ago.

Gurdwara Singh Sabha London East, High Road, Seven Kings, will host thousands of worshippers for the Vaisakhi festival on Saturday.

The celebrations mark the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh’s unification of Sikhism as a religion in front of thousands of followers in 1699.

Mankamal Singh, 39, treasurer of the gurdwara, said: “It’s the birth of the formalisation of the Sikh religion and our identity. Many people choose to get baptised on this day.”

It is believed Guru Gobind Singh transformed the Sikhs into a family of soldier saints known as the Khalsa Panth.

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During the festival the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is read and the flag, called the Nishan Sahbi, outside the gurdwara is changed.

When the Nishan Sahib is taken down the pole is washed with yogurt in a cleansing ritual before being wrapped up again in cloth.

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The festival also marks the introduction of the five Ks by Guru Gobind Singh, which meant Sikhs were identifiable and bound together. Each one also has a particular significance to Sikhs.

The five Ks refer to keeping hair uncut (Kesh), a steel bracelet (Kara), wooden comb (Kanga), cotton underwear (Kaccha) and a steel sword (Kirpan).

Mr Singh said: “Wearing the knife is difficult for us nowadays and to convey what it means to us and how spiritual and revered it is. We treat it with such respect and not a form of offensive weapon.”

He said the significance of not cutting your hair is that it makes you closer to your natural self and therefore your creator. The steel bracelet is a continual reminder of the creator.

“The bracelet is a handcuff to God to deter you from taking the wrong decision and before you carry out an action to think about it,” he added.

The comb and underwear are for cleanliness and purity reasons.

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