Vaisahki Woolwich

Vaisahki celebrations continue around London – one of the last this year will be in Vaisakhi in the Square at Trafalgar Square on Sunday 4 May, around three weeks after the actual day, where some 25,000 people are expected, mainly to watch the dancing, music and drama in the afternoon. I probably won’t be there, as I find such events too organised to be of great interest and usually too crowded to work effectively. But if you do go, go early and enjoy the religious events in the morning – and get in the queues for the free food before they stretch all the way round the square.

Coming out of the Gurdwara
Calderwood Gurdwara, Woolwich, April 2008

The Vaisahki celebrations in various places around London are of much greater interest, and I greatly enjoyed photographing those in Hounslow at the end of March. Others I’ve photographed in previous years are in Slough, East Ham, and the largest of them all, in Southall, which I’ve attended several times. This year it took place on the same day as the Olympic Torch debacle and so I missed it. One I’d not been to before was at Woolwich.

Woolwich Vaisakhi
Vaisahki procession at Woolwich

As you can see from the picture above, the weather was April at it’s most intense, lead-grey clouds and dramatic colour. Sunshine was soon replaced by a rainstorm that, apart from the temperature, could have been tropical.


I took shelter, taking pictures of the people continuing in the procession through the torrential rain, many without umbrellas. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before the sun was out again and people beginning to dry out as they walked up the hill. I was sorry to have to leave them here, as the celebrations were to continue when they reached the second Gurdwara – another year I’ll make sure to have more time.

Woolwich view

The rain had cleaned the air, and the view from the hill into the distance had an unusual clarity as I walked back down to the station. Across the rooftops of Woolwich the distinctive student accommodation of the University of East London 2.5km distant seemed only a stone’s throw away.

More pictures of Vaisakhi in Woolwich.

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