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New London mayor joins Sikh celebrations in his first outing

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    London (PTI): London's maverick new mayor Boris Johnson chose to attend Baisakhi celebrations of Sikh community here in his first public engagement and declared that he will work to "unite all communities," in an attempt to build bridges with the city's vast ethnic minorities.

    Johnson, 43, who has been viewed with suspicion on his views on minorities unlike his predecessor Ken Livingstone who enjoyed their open support, presented awards to young achievers from the Sikh community at the Trafalgar Square on Sunday.

    "I am going to be a mayor for all London and work to unite communities," he said apparently allaying fears that the Conservative mayor would stop his office from supporting ethnic minorities in London.

    "One of the wonderful things we have got in London is fantastic diversity - we have got the whole world in a city," the Tory leader said.

    London's population is an estimated 12 to 14 million according to last census in 2001. Nearly 13 per cent of Londoners are of South Asian origin.

    Manjit Singh Buttar, Chair of the Baisakhi in London Committee, said: "Baisakhi is an important ceremony for all Sikhs around the world and promotes friendship, mutual respect and peace along with the core values of equality, diversity and tolerance for all, which are vital for a multicultural city like London".

    The event began with prayers, hymns and messages for peace performed by groups from London Gurdwaras. Free vegetarian food was provided by the Sikh community.

    The afternoon included performances of traditional and modern Asian music and dance and DJ's from Sunrise Radio, popular among South Asian community, R&B artist Jay Sean and vocalist Alyssia.

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