Sikhs remember Great War

Sikh procession
Sikh procession
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A Centenary event in remembrance of members of the Sikh community who fought in the First World War is being held at the Flag Market, Preston, this Sunday August 24 10am until 4pm.

There will be a procession from 9am starting at the Sikh temple on Bow Lane onto Fishergate Hill, then onto Cheapside to the Flag Market.

They would like as many people as possible to join them on this procession to remember those lost in conflict.

It’s a free family event with live martial arts, free children’s activities including a free bouncy castle with free Langar (food), ice cream and arts and crafts.

Gurumukh Singh Bhaker, from Preston’s Sikh temple, said: “Members of the Bow Lane temple have donated this free event as we believe Sikhs soldiers played a huge part during both world wars. Every Sikh kept their true identity with the Dastaar (Turbans).

“We are expecting to have more than 200 members joining the procession and many more from the public and local community.

“So please attend and pay your respect towards those who died for freedom as we feel that the Sikh’s efforts in the war are still largely unremembered.”

One soldier in every six in the British Army was Indian, with Sikhs comprising one fifth of the Indian contingent when the war began.

From the Indian sub-continent, around 1.5 million soldiers volunteered to fight, many of them were Sikhs.

An exhibiton is being held at the school of Oriental and African studies in London, organised by the United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association, which shows the rich history and great skills Sikhs served in the British Army.

More than 50 years ago a small minority of Sikhs came from India to work in Preston in the cotton mills.

As more and more Sikhs arrived the community began to expand.

In 1964, the first ever Sikh temple was purchased on Claredon Street, Avenham.

The Guru Nanak Gurdwara was also known for the first ever Nagar Kirtan (neighbour singing) or Sikh Procession in Preston in 1999 to celebrate 300 years since the birth of Khalsa.

The Sunday ceremonies at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara brought more Sikhs in the community together.

By the 2000s there was no longer enough room in the building and in 2009, a much more spacious building was purchased on Bow Lane with room for school visits, Punjabi classes; speaking, reading, and writing classes.