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THE STREETS of Southampton were lit up with a sea of colour as thousands of the city's Sikh community celebrated one of the holiest days of the year.

More than 6,000 people marched together in a colourful procession to mark Vaisakhi, which welcomes in the religion's New Year and marks the foundation of the Sikh community.

The Nagar Kirtan procession started at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara, in Onslow Road, where the sound of traffic was replaced with energetic drumming and traditional music and a stunning martial arts display.

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Crowds lined the streets as people of all ages and background soaked up the atmosphere and the sunshine, while kind hearted volunteers gave out bananas, drinks and samosas.

One of those enjoying the procession was Kasba Singh, 57, from St Mary's in Southampton.

He said: “This is what it's all about, getting together as one for Vaisakhi. It's something I look forward to each year.”

Another was Gular Singh, 27, from St Mary's. He added: “It is lovely to be here and see so many people celebrate the birth of the Sikh religion and it is great to see the unity within the community here.”

Also keeping a close eye on proceedings were a team of police officers and PCSO's.

Inspector Pete Jones, who is based at Southampton Central police station, praised the organisation of the event.

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He said: “I enjoy marshalling it, the colours, smells and atmosphere is great. It is good to see people of all backgrounds come out for Vaisakhi.”

Vaisakhi honours the birth of the Sikh Nation in 1699 and takes the form of continuous reading of the Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, over three days.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth master of the Sikhs, transformed the Sikhs into a family of soldier saints, known as the Khalsa Panth, and the festival marks and promotes equality and unity of humanity.

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