Happy Baisakhi Day in Wolverhampton

Baisakhi Day is a spring harvest festival that is celebrated every year by members of the Punjabi community.  This year it is celebrated on 14th April.  It  is one of the most important festivals for Sikhs which is observed throughout the world.  It was established by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, in 1699 by baptising Sikh warriors to defend religious freedom.  He declared that all human beings are equal.   Sikhs will visit places of worship called Gurdwaras during the festival, sing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book and the giving of gifts.  Sikhs celebrate this festival with joy and devotion and pray for prosperity and good times in the future.

In Wolverhampton the Poet in Residence of the city`s radio station, WCR FM – which broadcasts on 101.8 FM and online – is celebrating diversity and inclusivity withy a specially commissioned poem for Baisaikhi Day.

“A new photographic project was launched in November 2022” explained Ian Henery, Poet in Residence of WCR “and I wanted to bring it, in part, to Wolverhampton.  The Grid Project, which chronicles cityscapes in photographs and words, will be carried out in Birmingham and Halifax with the publication of a book and an exhibition.  The theme this year is “In Search of Urban Happiness” .  My role has been to accompany acclaimed photographer and social historian David Moore and illustrate his stunning photographs with poetry”.

David Moore took a series of 7 photographs along Moseley Road in Birmingham which included an image of a Sikh religious symbol outside a Gurdwara and named his contribution “A Journey from Victorian Inequality to Cultural Diversity.”  He then passed the baton to Ian Henery to complete the task of interpreting the images for the Grid Project.

“It was a challenge” said Ian “because although I was honoured to be teamed up with David I didn`t want to let him down.  He has a great reputation as a community activist, a social historian and a photographer.  My other concern is that I wanted to be culturally sensitive in interpreting the religious imagery of another culture.  It had to be done right but within the parameters of a poem.”

As a student Ian had attended one of the Wolverhampton Gurdwaras and read literature from the Sikh Missionary Society.  “I have  great respect for the Sikh faith” said Ian “and the principles of Sikhism are not very different from Christianity.  At one point I was seriously considering marrying into a Sikh family so I need to have a cultural appreciation of the faith.”

The image David captured as part of The Grid Project is called the Khanda.  The Khanda is the amalgamation of 3 symbols – a double-edged sword, a chakram and two kirpan which represents Miri Piri – spiritual and temporal authority – the Sikh doctrine of providing food and protection for the needy and oppressed.

“I wish everyone who is celebrating a happy Baisakhi Day” said Ian “and hope they enjoy David`s photograph”.        

The Khanda on Moseley Road             

The Khanda Pinnned proudly on the gates for all to see, An emblem of cultural diversity.

A holy sign of the Sikh faith and code, Punjabi heritage to Moseley Road The Khanda.

The Khanda   A double-edged sword, a chakram, two knives   Called “kirpan” with one God to rule their lives  Three weapons and a circle, their belief   In Khalsa and Langar for poor relief    The Khanda.      The Khanda  Sign of God without beginning or end  A circle, duty to not just friends  But for all – in oneness – with God`s love   From Moseley food banks to Heaven above  The Khanda.      The Khanda  Off the grid – a cauldron and martial might,   Food for the hungry, doing what is right;   Langar for all in the community   Regardless of the ethnicity   The Khanda.