Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Sunday, 19 April 2009 14:58 UK

Army joins in Sikh celebrations

Thousands of people have been taking part in a celebration in Derby marking one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar.

Vaisakhi (Baisakhi) marks Sikh New Year and the founding of the Sikh community, known as the Khalsa.

The army joined hundreds of Sikhs in a procession through Derby on Sunday.

This year members of the Sikh community wanted to mark the historic tie between Sikhs and the army. Lt Col David Hollas said these go back a long way.

'Old friendships'

He said: "The Sikh community has a very strong military tradition.

"And it's that sort of shared history that I'm trying to re-engineer - to actually say to British Sikhs: 'We're your army and let's continue the journey together'".

Councillor Ranjit Banwait, of Derby City Council, helped secure the army's attendance after a request by representatives of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Princes Street, Derby.

He added: "Sikhs fought bravely, not only in places like North Africa and Italy in the Second War World War with the British Eighth Army, but also in the terrible conditions of the trenches of the First World War in France, serving alongside their British comrades.

"Having the army at the parade will help celebrate old friendships and forge new ones."

Figures show there are currently about 500,000 Sikhs in Britain.

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Town's Sikhs celebrate festival
19 Apr 09 |  Berkshire


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