The Mayor of London collaborated with the EY Sikh Network and Singh Sabha London East to bring a flood of colour and energy into the heart of London on Saturday, as thousands came from all over the country to celebrate Vaisakhi at City Hall.
Displays of art, kirtan (hymn singing) and free organic, vegetarian food had queues forming all day, whilst hundreds sat in the outdoor seating to watch open-air performances from bhangra and dhol playing groups, as well as a particularly breath taking display of swordsmanship from Baba Fateh Singh Gatka martial-arts team. Punjabi folk singing legend Gurdass Mann even made an appearance in front of a rapturous audience.
Mankamal Singh, one of the organisers from Singh Sabha London East, said “We were very fortunate to be given the opportunity to form a partnership with the Mayor of London’s office and take Vaisakhi celebrations forward. We really wanted to show there is a lot more to Sikh culture than is often portrayed. We did that by showcasing Sikh art, poetry and even film. We got a huge turnout and it has been a very successful day all round.”
One of the highlights of the day was internationally renowned artist Inkquisitive painting live. The 28 year old from East London, real name Amandeep Singh, spent hours creating in his unique style, whilst taking time out to speak to fans and media.
“It is such a massive thing for any artist to be given this kind of platform. The EY Sikh Network, the Mayor of London and all these other Sikh organisations have come together to create this amazing event and I was not going to miss being part of this Vaisakhi celebration. The richness of the Sikh culture and the stories of our Gurus – there is so much power within Sikhi that I cannot help but be inspired by it. Through colours and textures I do my best to try and incorporate that into all my artwork. This event itself inspired me to create something new.”
Raman Singh, a 24 year old photographer from Coventry, was also given the opportunity to showcase his unique exhibition entitled Nihang. Describing Nihangs as Sikh a nomadic tribe all trained in the ancient sword based martial-art of shastar-vidiya, Raman spent five weeks in India photographing them.
“I always wanted to put together something based on my heritage. This exhibition reflects my identity. I didn’t have anyone to contact regarding finding out how to do it, so in the end I just researched it online and went to Amritsar, Punjab. Getting the chance to showcase my work in the Mayor’s office is a great opportunity for me and I can only thank the EY Sikh Network and everyone else that came together to organise this event.”
One of the event organisers, Indy Hothi of the EY Sikh Network added, “It was an absolutely fantastic turn out on the day. It was great to showcase the work of so many artists at City Hall. I am proud to have been part of the Vaisakhi celebrations alongside the EY Sikh Network, Singh Sabha London East and of course the Mayor’s office, as well as all our amazing volunteers.”