Vaisakhi Celebrated At Wolverhampton Museums

By Roslyn Tappenden | 22 April 2005
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Shows a photograph of three women, two of them elderly, standing in the gardens of Bantock House wearing saris.

One of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar, Vaisakhi is the Sikh New Year festival and also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith. Photo: Mike Hayward.

24 Hour Museum Renaissance Student Journalist Roslyn Tappenden headed over to Wolverhampton to celebrate the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi.

Visitors of all faiths and backgrounds came in their droves to take part in the Vaisakhi celebrations in Wolverhampton over the weekend of April 16 and 17 2005.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Bantock House hosted a raft of Sikh and Indian-themed activities and exhibits for people of all ages.

Visitors at Bantock House were able to try their hand at Rangoli, a traditional Indian art used to welcome visitors. Ruth Swallow, a volunteer at the event, helped adults and children decorate the conservatory of the house using different coloured beans and buttons.

“Rangoli is a traditional way of welcoming people into homes,” explained Ruth, “It’s normally made on the floor using coloured powders but we’re using seeds and beans because otherwise it would get in a big mess.”

Shows a photograph of a piece of rangoli work made out of beans, seeds and lentils.

Beans, seeds and lentils = DIY rangoli! © Roslyn Tappenden/ 24 Hour Museum.

A tea light workshop for children was also a big hit. Mums and dads looked on while glue, paint and glitter was used to make tea light holders, traditionally used in temples and homes.

Potter Charlie Webster spent over seven hours making 84 tea light holders for the event on her potter's wheel. She then spent the day helping children decorate them with sequins and paint.

“It’s nice and satisfying to see people decorating the pots,” she said. “The children are obviously enjoying it.”

Throughout the day visitors were able to take tours of the house translated into Punjabi, taste traditional Indian sweets and learn how to put on a Sari.

Shows a photograph of a young Sikh child making a rangoli artwork.

© Roslyn Tappenden/ 24 Hour Museum.

Meanwhile at Wolverhampton Museum & Art Gallery, visitors were also able to try their hand at traditional Indian printmaking.

Artworker Julie Davies, who was supervising the workshop, said: “The printing blocks are of traditional Indian printing designs but we are letting the children experiment with glitter and inks. They are making Vaisakhi cards, posters, or whatever they want.”

Outreach worker Sajida Aslam co-ordinated the event and was delighted with the response. “This is really a step forward more than anything,” she said. “We hope the interpreted tours will encourage more people to visit the house.

“There is a high Sikh population here but next time we might base the open day on a different religious event like Chinese New Year.”

Shows the Renaissance in the Regions logo.

Roslyn Tappenden is the 24 Hour Museum Renaissance student journalist for the West Midlands region. Renaissance is the groundbreaking initiative to transform England's regional museums, led by MLA, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

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