Sikh remembrance of 1984 massacre

Last weekend in London, I came across a mass demonstration by Sikhs in Trafalgar Square, in remembrance of the 1984 assault by the Indian government on the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, which left hundreds dead.  Following the assassination of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in November of the same year by two of her Sikh bodyguards, further Sikh massacres occurred. Each year British Sikhs congregate in Central London, to commemorate these events, and proclaim independence for the Sikh nation in Khalistan.

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The timing of this year’s rally was particularly significant as it came on the following day of the terrorist attacks at London Bridge. While for security reasons the usual procession through Hyde Park had been cancelled, the police had nevertheless allowed this mass gathering to go ahead. The Sikh organisers used their platform to unite their suffering and grievances with the victims of the recent events in Manchester and London.

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While from the outside the Sikh community can appear proud and even a bit threatening with some of their semi-militaristic appearance, I found them wonderfully approachable. The whole atmosphere on the day, despite the solemn events they were commemorating, was a joyous one, celebrating a sense of community and sharing, not only among themselves, but with locals, tourists and passers-by. Their exotic attire ( to our western eyes) and multi-coloured range of turbans, brought warmth and brightness to Central London, and for me the whole occasion was a real affirmation of the beauty and vitality of multiculturalism, and as such a powerful antidote to the horrors that the capital had just endured.

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The rally set within the context of  Trafalgar Square, steeped in British history and tradition, with the National Gallery as a classical background, alongside the amazing display of colour and collection of powerfully-drawn faces, made this a fantastically photogenic occasion. Here below are a selection of my favorite pictures from the day, a blend of fun and gravity, serious politics mixed with scenes of people going about their everyday social business.

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