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Vaisakhi

Sikh festival

  • vleeshuis, Ypres

About

The Belgian Sikh community is celebrating its most important religious festival, Vaisakhi, in Ypres this year. For this occasion, the first floor of the Vleeshuis will be transformed into a Sikh temple (Gurdwara). For three days, the Sikh holy book (Guru Granth Sahib) will be read (Akhand Path Sahib). A traditional kitchen (langar) will also be set up on the ground floor for communal cooking and eating.
Visitors will be free to enter and leave the Vleeshuis, attend the ceremony and taste traditional Indian food.

Schedule

Friday, april 26
11 am: start of Akhand Path Sahib (recitation of the holy book)

Saturday, april 27
Gurdwara and langar open continuously

Sunday, april 28
11 am: end of Akhand Path Sahib, followed by religious chants on traditional instruments (Bhog Akhand Paath Sahibm & Kirtan)
12 pm: reception and honouring of VIPs
5 pm: Remembrance at the Indian monument (Eekhofstraat, Hollebeke)
8 pm: Last Post, laying of wreaths and traditional prayer

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Sikhs and Ypres

On 22 October 1914, the first units of the British Indian Army, including many Sikhs, moved into the trenches south of Ypres. Four days later they made their first attack on the German positions and another four days later they were overwhelmed en masse by the German troops. Many Sikhs also died in the Second Battle of Ypres. After the Second Battle of Ypres, troops of the British Indian Army were only sporadically seen in Ypres.
The Indian presence during the First World War was forgotten. This changed in 1999 at the instigation of the In Flanders Fields Museum and the Sikh community in the Benelux.

In 1999, Vaisakhi was celebrated in Ypres for the first time, in the Cloth Hall. It was also the 300th anniversary of Sikhism. A monument commemorating the first deployment of Indian troops in Europe was also inaugurated. The monument can be found on the Sint-Elooisweg in Hollebeke.

Vaisakhi - feest van de sikhs sikhs WO1