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April 05 2024

Celebrate the Vaisakhi Festival in London


Celebrate one of the biggest festivals in the Sikh calendar this spring. London’s Trafalgar Square heaves with free events marking Sikh and Punjabi heritage, culture and tradition. Here’s what you need to know about the Vaisakhi festival. 


What is Vaisakhi? 

Every spring, Sikhs and Hindus celebrate Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, a religious and cultural harvest festival. On 13th or 14th April (alternating each year), the annual Vaisakhi Festival celebrates the formation of Sikhism in 1699 as a collective faith. 


The origin of Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi began as a Punjabi harvest festival, but in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh chose this auspicious occasion to establish the Khalsa Panth (the Sikh community). Holding a sword, he gathered his followers and called for volunteers with unwavering dedication to their faith to make the ultimate sacrifice and enter his tent. 


Five courageous men stepped forward, and each emerged unharmed, wearing turbans, after being anointed into the Khalsa with a baptism. Guru Gobind Singh had started the first Sikh baptism ceremony, known as Amrit Sanchar, on Vaisakhi. The Punjabi Vaisakhi is now a global annual celebration. 


The importance of Vaisakhi

The Vaisakhi festival holds particular cultural and historic significance in the Punjab region of Northern India, with many Sikhs choosing to be baptised into the Khalsa brotherhood on the festival day. Because this is a day of courage, symbolising a commitment to faith and to helping the defenceless. It is also a moment for reflection, for Sikhs to mark their personal spiritual journey and reaffirm their commitment to the principles that guide their faith. 


How is Vaisakhi celebrated?

Worldwide, Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi with devotion and enthusiasm, with vibrant processions, called Nagar Kirtan, parading through streets and singing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of Sikhism. Worshipers also visit gurdwaras (Sikh temples) to offer prayers. 


It’s a holy day filled with joy and gratitude, bringing together families and faith communities to give their blessings. Many Sikhs also choose to celebrate Vaisakhi in selfless service, known as seva, supporting the communities gathering for the festival. This spirit of seva is especially important during Vaisakhi, as Sikhs come together to celebrate in their communities. 


Vaisakhi in London

Trafalgar Square is the centre of London’s Vaisakhi festival celebrations, with a calendar of events from 12pm to 6pm. You can watch Gatka demonstrations on the main stage, see Punjabi music performances and bring the kids along for lots of family-friendly activities. There are also turban-tying workshops, food stalls and plenty of langar (Indian tea). It’s all free to just pop along and take part. Everyone is welcome. 


If you’re coming to London to celebrate the Vaisakhi festival, stay the night at our Thistle Trafalgar Square hotel or Thistle Piccadilly, where you will have all the fun on your doorstep and you can enjoy a fantastic stay at an affordable price.