Birmingham City Council

Festivals of Our Lives Mrs Kodi

Festivals of Our Lives

Mrs Kodi

I was born in Nairobi Africa in 1947. I came from a big family of five sisters and two brothers and two sister-in-laws who lived with us. My father worked as a train driver. When he retired from his job, we all moved to Logazi in Uganda where my father found work with a big sugar factory, who provided us with a huge house, which went with the job. We had servants that did the housework and the gardens. My family and I were very happy with our lives back then, we had no stress in our lives and the weather was always warm.

I can remember my first Vaisakhi when I was about the age of six, when my mum took me back to Punjab in India; this was where my mum and dad originated from. My family and my grandparents all went to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to celebrate Vaisakhi, which was not very far from our village. The Golden Temple which is surrounded by water was attended by thousands of people to celebrate Vaisakhi. This big occasion amazed me, I can remember all the lovely smells of the different foods being cooked, which was all provided by the temple free of charge and sweets were distributed to everyone attending. At the end of the day when it started to get darker the temple had organised a firework display which was really good to watch and fun, all the sky lit up.

My memory of celebrating the Vaisakhi festival in Africa was that of people washing the pole that holds the flag at the temple. Once it was washed, the flag was stuck back on and placed outside. Everybody dressed up in new clothes and would give each other glad tidings and sweets. Food was distributed at the temple and we also had fireworks. Children loved the day and looked forward for the day to come around.

In 1997 my husband and I moved to England. My husband found a job on the railways working as a train guard. We didn have any family here, but we were very lucky that when we came to England, we came with family friends, who also came to settle here. So we found a place to rent and we lived together like a family. After about two or three years we bought our own place, which was great.

The Vaisakhi Festival in this country isn't as good as the one in Africa. Everybody was closeknit, and it was like a big family event, people from other faiths and backgrounds joined in, and we had open spaces and really brilliant weather and we left home early in the morning for the temple. In England we don't do that as it's always raining or too cold, so we leave going to the temple until the evening. Apart from the weather, Vaisakhi is still celebrated the same way, the open spaces, food cooked in temples and in homes and sweets are given. I was surprised to find that people had fireworks in their back gardens and at the temple, just like my sunny Africa.


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