Sikhism in Birmingham
There was a Sikh presence in Birmingham before the Second World War. However, many more arrived in the post War era. Presently there are about 40,000 Sikhs in Birmingham.
The Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Birmingham was established in 1989. One of the main reasons for its establishment was to create a link between the Sikh community in the City and Birmingham City Council. Presently it acts as a representative structure for 13 Gurdwaras in the City and is instrumental in promoting activities within the Sikh community.
One of the major events organised by the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras is Vaisakhi. Vaisakhi originated in a harvest festival and marked the birth of Khasla. In 1999 Birmingham hosted a major Vaisakhi celebration which was also a celebration of 300 years of the Sikh religion. Around 120 000 persons from Birmingham and the wider world attended the event which was addressed by the Prime Minister ,Tony Blair. It is reported that this was the largest event of its kind to be held outside the Punjab.
A major Sikh conference was held in 1993. Through this conference the need was seen to tackle issues concerning local Sikhs. Some of the areas that were eventually addressed included education, economic development, women, leisure and recreation, advice and information and community care. Organisations such as the Sikh women's forum and youth groups have been established as well as a helpline. The Sikh Council has also secured money from the lottery to assist in healthcare projects. (Birmingham Post - Millennibrum Supplement Wednesday November 1, 2000).