“A strong sense of community”, “An opportunity to give thanks”, “A time for togetherness” – just some of the thoughts of staff, patients and visitors celebrating Vaisakhi at two Black Country Trusts.
A festival which remembers the founding of the Sikh community in 1699, Vaisakhi was observed on Friday 14 April with events held at Walsall Manor and New Cross Hospitals in the days fhat followed.
Sikh Chaplain Giani Shyam Singh and Hindu Chaplain Sharad Bhatt led the events with dedicated prayers, while the wider Chaplaincy Team welcomed attendees and gave thanks for their support.
Several local businesses and faith groups joined in with the festivities – making the day special by serving tasty treats including samosas and pakoras.
Julie Lote, Clinical Support worker at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said: “I think it’s really good the Trust is celebrating Vaisakhi, it’s nice to see the Sikh community. Unless I had seen this celebration, I wouldn’t have known about Vaisakhi, so it’s helped to raise more awareness about what other religions celebrate.”
Raki Parameswaran, Sister at Walsall Healthcare added: “I think it’s lovely the local Sikh community has come out to celebrate with the hospital. You can see the generosity from all the gurdwaras who have come out to celebrate and hand out food to staff.”
Paramjit Ghateaura, Specialist Heart Failure Nurse at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT), said: “It’s an important time as it represents when Sikhism was introduced. It is a time for celebration, regardless of your religion or background. It’s about giving thanks for the good things in life.”
Rita Mehmi, Specialist Heart Failure Nurse for RWT, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges for people – it was a difficult and isolating time, and for many their religion is what kept them going.
“We’ve been able to come together in unity. I’m not Sikh but I wanted to show my support as I think it’s important to acknowledge other people’s beliefs. After all, we all share the same values of kindness and compassion”
Saty Singh, from Everyone Prosper SDB Charity, has a history with RWT following previous donations made to New Cross Hospital’s Neonatal Unit. With a crate of bottled water in hand he said: “Any way in which we can help, we don’t mind – we just want to do our bit to make a difference. In a hospital you don’t know who is going to walk in, or what those people are going through, so by doing this today we hope to bring a smile to the faces of those who need it.”
Reverend Linford Davis, Head of Spiritual, Pastoral and Religious Care, said: “Vaisakhi is about freedom, family and fun. Here we have an opportunity to mark its significance, and to reflect on what our faith means to us.”
Additional thanks to the following staff members, faith groups and community partners for their support and for supplying food/treats:
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Caldmore Walsall
- Gurdwara Nanaksar Plack
- Sant Ashram Cannock Road
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Lea Road
- Rajinder Singh Ranna (Guru Nanak Gurdwara Lea Road)
- Dr Deepak Singh
- Saty Singh, Everyone Prosper SDB Charity
- Bhupinder Bansal, RWT Porter
- Joe Fielder, Team Leader for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care
- Edd Stock, Team Leader for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care