Vaisakhi - free food in Southall

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I have heard and seen in movies that Punjabis are very "dildaar"( generous hearted ) and experienced the same on this Sunday when we all had been to Southall which is sometimes also called as mini Punjab because of the majority being Punjabis. The occasion was "Vaisakhi" celebrations. Vaisakhi didn't fall on that day, but like most of the other occasions in England, it was celebrated on a weekend. Vaisakhi is an ancient harvest festival in the Punjab region, which also marks beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season. Baisakhi is a Sikh religious festival. It falls on the first day of the Baisakh month in the solar Nanakshahi calendar, which corresponds to April 13 in the Gregorian calendar. Well apart from that, one of the main attractions of this festival in Southall is that the locals distribute free food for all. By distribution I mean they literally distribute. I mean they don't just stand in their stalls with the food and wait for the people to come to their stalls but most of them actually approach the people and offer them packets and paper plates containing delicious food. When I had been there with my wife and friends, we had a lot of tasty food :). We had chole puri (chick peas with small round fried Indian bread) , aalo wada (potato patties), bread pakora (fried gram flour coated bread), onion bhajjis, veg burgers, suji ka halwa (semolina pudding) with chaawal ki kheer (a sweet dish made of rice boiled in milk along with dry fruits), chole and puri again, made with a different styles, more sweets like jalebi (sometimes called as sweet fritters)  etc... They were also distributing bottles of water, soft drinks and ice cream, tea, milk. Generally every time I have been to Southall, I've never seen white people including Europeans. However on that particular day I saw loads of them enjoying Punjabi food. The roads were crowded with people mostly because of a procession. Many of them had worn an Orange pagdi. Some of them were holding orange flags. Buses, lorrys and people were part of the procession.The people in the buses were mostly old ladies who were chanting holy songs. A group of Sikh teenagers were playing the dhol. They had worn some kind of uniform and were playing their instruments very well. Punjabis are usually very extrovert and fun loving people and dancing is a part of most of their celebrations. However my Punjabi friend,Fruity(Gaurav Mehan) told me that since it was a sacred procession, people were not dancing. After some time the procession had gone ahead which reduced the crowd to a great extent. But during this time, one of our friends, Nani got lost in the crowd. She left her oyster, mobile phone and other stuff with us, as well. But luckily after a bit of searching Shruti and Prachi managed to find her. Since Ravi was not around we packed some food for him as well. We did not want him to miss any bit of this :). However, after sometime he also joined us and enjoyed a good meal of chane puri. We all then had tea. Some of us also visited the Ram Mandir which was on the way. There were so many food stalls that we couldn't taste the food from most of them. The best part of the food was that though the quantity was so much, the quality was not affected and it remained good. Fruity showed me a mega stall of a famous fast food centre near heston. It is called Rockys and they had a huge stall and there was a big queue of people outside it. 

It was a great experience and I think if you live in or near London, you should visit this festival which is celebrated once a year (assuming), at least once.

To know when will Vaisakhi 2012 be held, please see this picture (and if you wish join the "I Love London" Facebook group :))

 

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  1. (info@visitsouthall.co.uk)

    The Southall Vaisakhi nagar kirtan (procession) will take place on Sunday 25 March 2012.

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