BRADFORD’S streets were awash with colour as thousands of Sikhs took part in the annual Vaisakhi parade.

The procession - said to be the biggest of its kind in Yorkshire - began at 10.30am at the bunting-clad Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara, off Leeds Road, and wound its way through the city’s streets before finishing back at the gurdwara in the afternoon.

Its president, Ranbir Singh Rai, said: “Everybody’s excited. This is a very big day and everybody is in a good mood, in good spirits.”

There was drumming and singing, and organisers also handed out pamphlets to onlookers, explaining the festival and apologising for any inconvenience caused.

Assistant secretary Surinder Kaur Jagpal said they were pleased to be getting the parade under way after long preparations.

She said the parade celebrated the birth of Khalsa, the army of all initiated Sikhs.

She said: “Khalsa stands for justice, equality and I think it very much stood for freedom of every faith.

“We are raising our voice against oppression, against injustice and against tyranny, fighting for humanity and fighting for democratic rights.”

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Bradford, Councillor Geoff and Chris Reid, Bradford West MP Naz Shah and the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, Dee Collins, were among the dignitaries waving off the parade.

Ms Shah said: “It’s an absolute honour to be here to celebrate with the Sikh community on a day which means so much. Happy Vaisakhi to all.”

The major Sikh festival is a time for singing, celebration and colourful clothing.

The parade, known as the Nagar Kirtan, is led by five orange-robed Panj Piyare, meaning ‘beloved ones’, accompanied by five flag-bearers.

The Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sikhism’s holy text, is placed under a canopy in a decorated float and the rest of the congregation follow behind.

Many wear orange, the traditional colour of the Khalsa, or other brightly-coloured clothing.