HUNDREDS of people gathered in Huddersfield yesterday to celebrate a major religious festival.

Men, women and children lined the streets to watch the colourful Sikh procession for Vaisakhi.

The event is one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar as it marks the birth of the religion.

But people from all faiths and backgrounds flocked to take part in the festivities and watch as a vibrant parade made its way through the town centre from the Sikh Temple on Prospect Street to Fartown Sikh Temple.

Guru Nanak Temple secretary Inderpal Randawa said: “It is a very vibrant festival and this year we expect we had a couple of thousand of people coming to take part from all over Yorkshire.

“Vaisakhi is the birthday of the Sikh in 1699 and so for the Sikh community it is one of the most important dates, it’s like celebrating Christmas.

“People come from all over to celebrate with us and it’s a very joyous, colourful day.”

Many wore traditional Sikh dress as they marched through the town to the sound of drums and prayers.

Young children dazzled in their most colourful clothes as they led the procession with hundreds following behind.

Workers came out to watch as they walked past shops while shoppers stopped to catch a glimpse of the spectacle.

The procession featured people of non-Sikh faiths and included members of Kirklees Council and local MPs.

Town centre stops included the Hindu Temple on Zetland Street, Huddersfield Parish Church and St George’s Square where taxi drivers greeted children with refreshments.

The procession finished at the Sikh Temple in Hillhouse, which was colourfully decorated to welcome guests.

The festival commemorates the occasion when the Sikh nation was born in 1699 with the creation of the first five, the Khalsa, meaning ‘the Pure Ones’.

The 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, gave the nation an identity and the key principles to live by.

He baptised those first Sikhs using a sweet nectar and the holiday is a time of reflection on the values that were given.

Mr Randawa added: “It’s a celebration of the Sikh birthday but it is a festival for all faiths and everybody is welcome to take part.

“Huddersfield is a very multi-cultural town and people are very prepared to learn about and celebrate other faiths.

“People who have never been together before can come together for events like these – it brings the whole community together.”