A colourful procession wound its way through Hounslow as Sikh worshippers celebrated Vaisakhi yesterday.
An estimated 7,000 people gathered to watch the parade, which left the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, in Hanworth Road, in the afternoon.
Marchers, including the Panj Pyarays, or 'five beloved ones', made their way across to the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, in Martindale Road, Hounslow, before returning to the starting point, where the festivities continued.
The cavalcade was led by a nagara drummer, followed by 10 female (Nishanchi Singhnians) and five male (Nishanchis) Khalsa flag-bearers. Behind them were the beloved five and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, covered by a decorated canopy.
Mohan Singh Nayyar, general secretary of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, in Hounslow, said: "The procession was truly a local community and family event, with all generations participating collectively while again many non Sikhs too joined in the festivities, by marching with the procession or through the free distribution of refreshments or sweets as the pageant passed their homes."
The event, now in its 16th year, was held to celebrate the arrival of spring and to commemorate the initiation of the first five members of the brotherhood of the Khalsa - the original 'five beloved ones', which took place on April 13, 1699, when the faithful gathered to celebrate the Sikh New Year.
* A Vaisakhi Mela is due to take place in Lampton Park, Hounslow, on Sunday, April 13, from midday to 7pm.
The festival, organised by Akash Radio UK, will feature appearances by the Punjabi film star Binnu Dhillon, comedian Rana Ranbir and singers Debi Makhsoospuri and KS Bhamra, among other performers. The event, at which alcohol will be banned, will also include a fun-fair and a range of food and market stalls.