Prime minister Theresa May underlined the importance of Sikh values as the UK “forges a new role” outside the EU.
In a video statement commemorating Vaisakhi, the annual Sikh harvest festival, she said: “As Sikhs across the globe take part in spectacular processions and neighbourhoods and Gurdwaras burst forth with colour, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the immense contribution British Sikhs make to our country.
“Whether it’s in the fields of business, the armed forces or the charitable sector, you consistently follow the pillars of your faith and in so doing set an example to us all.
“Your values – of equality and respect, of fairness and helping those less fortunate than yourselves – are values we need more than ever, as we forge a new, ambitious, role for Britain in the world.”
“I am determined to build a country that works for everyone; a country where no matter who you are, you can achieve your goals – and the Sikh community is a vital part of that mission.
“So as the dancing and the festivals begin, at home and abroad, I’d like to thank you for all that you do and to wish you a very happy Vaisakhi.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron released his own statement, recognising the “invaluable and ongoing contributions” that the Sikh and Hindu communities make to Britain.
He said: “The vibrancy and energy of festivals like Vaisakhi bring people together in celebration and they are a reminder of the values of diversity within our country.
“This is a time for us to reflect on the importance of community, our duty to speak out against injustice and to defend those who cannot defend themselves.
“So, whether you’re taking part in a Vaisakhi procession, spending time with family or going to your local Gurdwara, I hope your celebrations are a source of happiness and togetherness.”