“I know this is an incredibly important time for the Sikh community as families and friends come together to commemorate the birth of the Khalsa and give thanks. From Southall to Sunderland, from Ottawa to Amritsar Sikhs around the world will be marking Baisakhi with vibrant parades and celebrations with homes, Gurdwaras and entire neighbourhoods bursting into life with decorations and colour.
“Baisakhi also gives us a chance to celebrate the immense contribution of British Sikhs, who have enriched our country for over 160 years. Whether it is in the fields of enterprise or business education, public service or civil society Britain’s Sikhs are a success story and model community.
“And I see this contribution every day, all around. Like at the magnificent Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick, where I saw for myself the values of Sikhism – of compassion, peace and equality – in practice. And across the country I see how Sikh and Asian businessmen and women are boosting the economy by creating jobs and opportunities. But this contribution is not just a recent thing it goes back many, many years and was never more starkly demonstrated than 100 years ago during the First World War.
“Just last month we commemorated the Indian soldiers many of whom were Sikh who fought bravely alongside the Allies in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in Northern France. I pay tribute to those men who travelled far from home and who fought and died with their comrades in the fight for freedom. We will never let their sacrifice be forgotten.
“So at this important time, let us commemorate the birth of a great religion let us give thanks for everything the Sikh community does for Britain and let us celebrate the successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy country that we are.
“Wherever you are, I wish you all a very happy and peaceful Baisakhi.”