Thousands turn out for annual Sikh procession through Redbridge

More than 10,000 people joined together in a procession celebrating the Sikh holy book yesterday.

The annual procession celebrates the first section of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji which was written by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

The holy book was paraded through the streets of Redbridge while people gave out sweet snacks and drinks to bystanders.

Upkar Singh Rai, of the Seven Kings gurdwara, said: “It went really well, everyone was well behaved and it was extremely spiritual. It was really lovely to see the community come out.”

The procession, known as Prakash Utsav Nagar Kirtan, began at the Barking gurdwara, Barking and ended at the Seven Kings gurdwara, High Road, Seven Kings.

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Mr Rai said: “Everyone gets a chance to pay their respects. Some people cannot leave their shops or are disabled and they cannot go to the temple, they can do that [pay their respect] as it goes past in the street.”

At the forefront of the procession about 30 people cleaned the streets before the holy book passed through.

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“They are all working selflessly picking up all the rubbish and sprinkling water as they go along,” said Mr Rai. “It’s done as a mark of respect to the scripture.”

Behind the cleaners were five flag bearers representing the five seats of the religion, then five people known as the beloved ones who have been recognised by the community for their spirituality.

This group was followed by the holy book surrounded by a glass case on a lorry.

Behind the scripture a priest gave a sermon newt to three others singing hymns over loud speakers. There was also a large drum which announced the coming of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Some of those in the procession chose not to wear shoes and to cover their heads which is done to show respect to the holy scripture.

Mr Rai said: “It brings you down to the same level. In history turbans were worn by royalty, covering your head makes everyone equal.”

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