Ayoub Khan, Mike Whitby and myself spoke at the Vaisakhi in Handsworth Park today.
The Vaisakhi is the celeration of the creation of the Khalsa which happened 306 years ago. There are two marches one from Birmingham and one from Sandwell which meet up in the park.
There is a stage with Sikh music and various stalls. Anyone is welcome to come and as with many of Birmingham's celebrations gradually a wider range of people is attending.
I visited the St George's Day celebration yesterday in Victoria Square, but sadly did not have time to take from campaigning to go to the concert. We also have a number of melas, a Carnival and the St Patrick's day parade. The top attendance is at St Patrick's day with about 100,000. Vaisakhi attracts about 40,000 people. There are about 50-60,000 Sikhs in Birmingham and probably about the same in the Black Country. This means that at least 1 in 4 of Birmingham's Sikhs attends Vaisakhi.
The Sikhs raised the same question that Scouts raise which is about the cost of road closures. Some time ago it was decided (probably by the police authority) that they didn't want to have parades without roads being closed off with barriers. This is something that really needs reviewing and I will ensure that this happens. The cost of road closures is quite high (estimated at £100,000 for the Vaisakhi. The City's contribution is 25% of that.)
The Vaisakhi, which has been commemorated in Birmingham since 1992, is organised by the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras which represents 14 of the Gurdwaras in Birmingham.