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Southall Event Proves Excellent

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    Ceremonial swords were on display.
    Picture by Holly Cant.

    A top religious leader has said a huge Sikh procession which passed through Southall yesterday was brought the area's communities together.

    Snowy weather did not dampen the spirits of around 50,000 people who turned out for the Vaisakhi Procession in celebration of the Sikh New Year and harvest festival.

    Tens of thousands of Sikhs followed a truck carrying the holy scriptures, while many people served up free food to spectators.

    Himmat Singh Sohi, the president of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Havelock Road, said: "The whole event was excellent. It passed off very peacefully.

    "There were people from all faiths and all sections of the community who came to take part in our celebrations, and that tells you about the community in Southall.

    "What we want is to promote understanding and community cohesion. We raised more than 29,000 for our funds from donations given by worshippers."

    Worshippers were joined by Tory mayoral hopeful Boris Johnson, and London Assembly candidate Richard Barnes, as well as Sikhs who have joined the army and police force, and members of the London Fire Brigade.

    Mr Singh Sohi said: "We try to encourage our young people to join the army or the police force as a way of giving something back to the community.

    "We are a part of this country and it is important we are loyal to it and do something to make a difference."

    -By Alex Hayes

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