Prince Charles on Monday issued a video message to convey his "lakh lakh vaidhaiyan" to the Sikh community in the UK and across the Commonwealth on the occasion of Vaisakhi and praised the "selfless service" of the British-Sikh community in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
The 71-year-old heir to the British throne, who recovered from his COVID-19 diagnosis last month, said he can only imagine the "great sadness" as the event cannot be celebrated in the usual way as he lauded the vital role being played by the community on the frontlines of the crisis.'
"In these challenging times, the Sikh community is making an extraordinary and invaluable contribution to the life of this country and to so many others, just as it has always done," he said in his message which he opens with "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh".
The royal goes on to wish Sikhs a "happy, safe and peaceful" Vaisakhi, as the festival which celebrates the birth of the Khalsa and speaks of all the heartwarming reports of different faith communities pulling together to offer each other support and friendship in these challenging times.
In the message issued by his Clarence House office, he notes: "In the United Kingdom, as elsewhere, Sikhs are playing a vital role on the frontline of this crisis, whether in hospitals or other key roles, or through the remarkable work that is being done by gurdwaras to support local communities and the most vulnerable.
"In all this, it seems to me, Sikhs so marvellously embody the values on which Guru Nanak founded your religion, over five centuries ago: hard work, respect and selfless service to those less fortunate than yourselves."
He said that both he and his wife, Camilla - Duchess of Cornwall, are grateful for all the Sikh community's "outstanding efforts".
"At the same time, I know that many of you are suffering personally from the cruel effects of this pernicious virus, or tragically have lost those you love. I can only say that my heart goes out to you under such very difficult circumstances," he said.
Vaisakhi will not be marked with the customary large gatherings and melas in different parts of the UK this year as the community is urged to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, with all events cancelled.
London's annual Vaisakhi on the Square held at Trafalgar Square, scheduled for next Saturday, was cancelled.
A similar mega Vaisakhi event held at Handsworth Park in Birmingham, one of the cities with the UK's largest Sikh population, stands cancelled amid the lockdown, with celebrations in Leicester, Southall and Gravesend also called off.
The events at annual Vaisakhi events, including colourful street processions in the form of nagar kirtans, feeding the community with langars as well as cultural activities including the traditional Sikh martial art of Gatka, have been replaced by a focus on community service to help the vulnerable during the lockdown.
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