Sunday, April 17, 2005


Decided I should try to fit in this important Sikh celebration this year. I had asked a few people what to expect and everyone had assured me that the event was "always" late starting.

Duly arrived at the civic centre expecting to find lots of people "milling" around on the steps only to find everything looking suspiciously formal. Parked the car and donned an orange headscarf as quickly as I could and, trying not to look like a smurf, was ushered to the steps to join the party. I was not the last to arrive but they seemed very relaxed about the whole thing and latecomers were then asked to make speeches at the end of the ceremony.

It was quite atmospheric and the Sikhs in the flag raising party were very impressive with their rather daunting looking swords.

After this we all toddled off to the gurdwara for hot, sweet, milky tea and a snack - which meant an endless production of samosas and other goodies. I paid a visit to the upstairs temple and, after bowing to the altar, was given a handful of something that was reminiscent of cake mix without the eggs.

As the service finished it was apparent that yet more food was being given out and although it smelt delicious I still hadn't recovered from the wonderful samosas. The police were tucking in with gusto and it was clear that the promised parade was not going anywhere until the food was finished! It struck me that this was an excellent way to foster community relations and all of the visitors were made to feel exceptionally welcome.

Yet more speeches before the procession started - would have liked to have stayed longer but canvassing beckoned.