I want to send my best wishes to everyone in Britain and around the world celebrating Vaisakhi.
This time last year I marked the festival in Gravesend. I’ll never forget joining the procession with my wife, Samantha, approaching the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara, a sea of colour, energy and unity. It was amazing to join the thousands of people celebrating the birth of the Khalsa, and an honour to kneel at the altar and make an offering.
But it’s not just in Kent – nor just at Vaisakhi – that the British Sikh community shines so brightly. Day in, day out, right across our country, they prove they are a true British success story, following the pillars of their faith and excelling in every field, from enterprise to the arts, public services to politics, hospitality to academia.
It’s those values – of hard work, family and community – that characterises this community. They’re Sikh values – and they’re British values, too.
This is also a special time for Hindus as they celebrate the beginning of their new year, yet another faith community that makes this country what I believe is the most successful, multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy on earth.
So as the decorations go up, the streets spring into action and the music begins, let me wish everyone a wonderful Vaisakhi – and a great year to come.