Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Jon Ashworth MPs Day of Seva at Leicester's Vaisakhi Celebrations

Jon Ashworth, the member of parliament for Leicester South, took part in Leicester's Vaisakhi celebrations on Sunday 21 April by serving food and cleaning dishes in a Gurdwara kitchen.

Vaisakhi is the most important festival in the Sikh calendar, commemorating the inception of the Khalsa movement – a code of conduct that guides Sikhs in their religious beliefs and lifestyle choices. The festival also reinforces the principles of ‘sewa’, or ‘selfless service’, and people often use Vaisakhi as an opportunity to engage in this.

This year, as part of his sewa, Jon Ashworth along with Cllr Inderjit Singh Gugnani, served food and cleaned dishes in the Gurdwara kitchen. Gurdwaras offer free food to people, and their kitchens are open to all regardless of background.

Jon said, “the kitchens run by Gurdwaras really are fantastic, and I really enjoyed playing an active role in them. I was also at the Vaisakhi Food Drive last weekend, and the generosity of the Sikh community is highly commendable.”

On Saturday 13 April, the day of Vaisakhi itself, the Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara on East Park Road held a Food Drive, which collected over 10 tonnes of food in just one day.

Jon commented, “the principles of sewa really do come out at the time of Vaisakhi. The fact that so much food was collected, and even then in just one day, demonstrates how effective this time of year can be to rally people together for a good cause.”

The Food Drive held last weekend and the Vaisakhi celebrations taking place on Sunday have been organised by local partners, primarily the Leicester Council of Gurdwara's. 

Narinder Singh, of the Leicester Sikh Alliance said, "Vaisakhi is the most important day in the Sikh calendar, and Seva is very much at the heart of this. Our kitchens are open to people of all backgrounds and it’s fantastic that Jon will be joining us in our celebrations by helping to prepare the food."

Jon's Huffington Post UK articlewww.huffingtonpost.co.uk/jon-ashworth/my-vaisakhi-sewa

Sunday, 14 April 2013

10 Tonnes Collected at Vaisakhi Food Drive Leicester

Vaheguru ji Ka Khalsa, Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

On Sunday 13th April the Sikh community of Leicester, along with the Leicestershire Sikh Alliance, Kaurageous Leicester and the Leicester Council of Gurdwara’s teamed up with charities, FareShare, British Red Cross and The Dawn Centre and held a Vaisakhi Food Drive at Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurdwara on East Park Road.

In order to celebrate the holiest Sikh day in the calendar, Vaisakhi, this year the Sikh community wanted to undertake an initiative which would make this most holiest of days not only relevant to the Sikh community, but also relevant to all the people of Leicester.  Due to the economic climate and the harsh realities that thousands are facing in Leicester, which includes a sharp rise in food and child poverty, it was decided that the most productive venture to undertake would be to work with existing charities and help replenish their significantly depleted stock levels.

All in all the day was a huge success and the Sikh community would like to thank all those that volunteered and donated on the day, which included people of all backgrounds and communities.  It was also great to see Jon Ashworth MP and Cllr Inderjit Gugnani, who were official supporters of the event, spend a significant amount of time at the event and donate also.

Due to the vast number of donations, volunteers ceased counting the food items and we estimate that roughly 8-10 tonnes of food was donated by the community of Leicester.  Well done everybody!

A special thanks also needs to go to Kohinoor Radio [97.3 FM] who promoted the event every hour on the hour for a whole week (www.krfm.co.uk).

ITV Central News Coveragehttp://www.itv.com/news/central/story/2013-04-13/vaisakhi-day-in-the-midlands/

BBC Radio Leicester [From 2hr:42min30sec]http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016jxly

Picture Gallery

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Rik Basra Campaign: Would You Give A Spit?

Narinder Singh who is the General Secretary of the LSA has been working closely with the Rik Basra Anthony Nolan campaign, and would like to encourage others to also do so.
From something as simple as spitting into a tube, you have the chance to become a potential life saver.
Give a spit- save a life? Sounds like a good trade according to Narinder!
The campaign is always looking for new members of all races and ethnicities- particularly due to the under representation of Asian donors on the current register. Indeed, the donor who was able to help Rik came from Germany!
The Rik Basra Campaign recently held a recruitment drive at De Montfort University (Leicester) in which by working alongside the University’s mile 2 (square mile) team, we were able to set a new record for a single day university drive- adding a superb 366 new names on to the register.
The technology has come on in leaps and bounds over recent years, from the simple process of spitting to have your details saved on to the register, to the actual donation itself…it really couldn’t be easier.
If you would like any additional information as to how you could either join the register, or support the team in this very worthwhile cause- please do visit their website: http://rikbasra.com/
Narinder with Rik at the De Montfort University drive:-

Narinder with Emma McClarkin MEP highlighting the Anthony Nolan Campaign:-

Monday, 8 April 2013

Kesri Lehar - Anti-Death Penalty, Vaisakhi Vigil at Parliament [Pics]

Kesri Lehar, a campaign by people of cross ethnic backgrounds, held the successful, “Save a Life Vaisakhi Vigil” in observance of “The Rejection of the Mercy Pleas” by Pranab Mukherjee, President of India, outside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London, on 6th April, 2013.
Kartar Singh of the LSA speaks at the Kesri Lehar Vaisakhi Vigil.

The vigil was attended by over 5,000 men, women and children from across England, who despite the cold breeze, sat relentlessly throughout the four hours of speeches by various speakers. In addition to the men, women and teenagers who spoke against the “Death Penalty and Human Rights Violations” in India, the vigil also saw various representatives of non-Sikh organisations speak at the vigil. Some of the notable speakers at the event were, Graham Williamson, representing “ACT Now” and “Nations Without States”, Father Yaqoob Khushi of the Asian Christian Fellowship, Eugene Culas, Director of Voice of Dalit International (UK), Sockalingam Yogalingam, representing the Transnational Government For Tamil Eelam, Muhamad Faiz of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, Raj from the Tamil Helpline.
Leaders of all UK based Sikh groups had come in support of the vigil, where many had addressed the public and spoke of the atrocities committed by the Indian state against individuals, some of whom are still lingering in prisons in India.
Kesri Lehar, a young leaderless campaign, of people of all ages and ethnic background, had come into being on 12th April 2012, at a large gathering before No. 10, Downing Street, to pray for the release of Balwant Singh Rajoana. It has since become recognised as a non-radical movement, focused on abolishing the ‘Death Penalty and Human Rights Abuses’ in India. Kesri Lehar has garnered the support a cross party of about 100 MP’s, several of whom, act as advisors to Kesri Lehar.
Since it’s inception, Kesri Lehar has been progressively growing, with the numbers doubling at each of it’s next event. It had successfully secured a debate in the UK Parliament on 28th Mac 2013, where the House agreed to the motion, “that this house welcomes the national petition launched by the Kesri Lehar campaign, urging the UK Government to press the Indian government to sign and ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which encompasses the death penalty, with the result that India would abolish the death penalty and lift this threat from Balwant Singh Rajoana and others”. 
Several messages from notable leaders were read out to the people, at the vigil including a massage from Rt. Hon. John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington who said that "I send my solidarity greetings to this vigil, organised by Kesri Lehar. We must continue to do all we can to draw people's attention to the threat that lies above the heads of Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Devinderpal Singh Bhullar. I pay tribute to all those who have campaigned so effectively under the Kesri Lehar banner over the last year and give this commitment that we will not rest until justice is secured."