Prime Minister David Cameron has offered his best wishes to those celebrating the festival of Vaisakhi today.
I send my best wishes to everyone in Britain and the world celebrating Vaisakhi this year.
During this important time for the Sikh community at home and overseas, family and friends will come together to give thanks and celebrate the anniversary of the Khalsa. Hundreds of thousands of people will be marking Vaisakhi at parades and events across the country, as well as visiting Gurdwaras which will burst into life with colourful decorations.
Earlier this year I was privileged to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar where I was able to learn more about the Sikh faith. It was an intense and moving experience and I can understand why Sikhs are so proud of this beautiful and holy place. I was very touched by the warm welcome I received in the Punjab and the other places I visited during my trip to India.
This special time of year also sees people of Hindu religion celebrating a new year: spending time with family and friends and taking part in acts of worship.
Last year the census revealed large increases in the number of people of Sikh and Hindu faiths living in this country. These communities are making a significant contribution to our country in so many ways, whether in business, public service, sport or the arts. And this contribution began many years ago; from fighting oppression in two World Wars to helping rebuild the nation in peacetime. British Sikhs and Hindus are an important part of our island’s history - and have helped form the richly diverse and tolerant society we live in today.
I wish all those observing this special occasion a happy Vaisakhi.