British Sikh councillor creates history, becomes first turban-clad Lord Mayor of UK city
British Sikh councillor, Jaswant Singh Birdi, based in Coventry, has created history by becoming the very first turban-clad Lord Mayor of the central England city.
He recently took charge as Lord Mayor with the official Chains of Office with his wife Krishna by his side as the Lord Mayoress.
“I am so proud to become Lord Mayor of my adopted home city,” said Birdi.
“It has given so much to myself and my family over the years and I will be honoured to show why I love it so much and to promote the city and the wonderful people who live here,” he said.
“As a Sikh, it also means so much that I will be wearing the Chains of Office and the turban. It will help show what a happy multicultural city we have and maybe inspire others as well,” he added.
Before taking charge as the Lord Mayor, he served as a local councillor in the city for 17 years, representing Bablake Ward for the past nine years, following two terms of office in the 1990s in the Hillfields Ward.
Besides being a councillor, Birdi has also been actively involved in setting up religious, social, and community projects in Coventry.
In his role as Lord Mayor, and the ambassador of the city, his chosen charities for support for the year include Muscular Dystrophy Charity, the Coventry Resource Centre for the Blind, and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Charity.
He has succeeded Councillor Kevin Maton in the role of Lord Mayor and Councillor Mal Mutton has been named as the Deputy Lord Mayor for the coming year.
Previously, he served as Deputy Lord Mayor for the past 12 months and was presented with the Chains of Office at the Annual General Meeting at Coventry Cathedral last week. The ceremony was attended by members of his family.
Birdi's early life and career
Jaswant Singh Birdi was born in Punjab and spent some time as a child in Kolkata, West Bengal before he moved to Coventry 60 years ago.
He emigrated with his parents to Kenya in East Africa in the mid-1950s, where he had his primary and secondary education and emigrated to the UK in the ‘60s to carry on with his further education.
The Coventry City Council took to its official Twitter handle and congratulated Birdi on taking charge as the Lord Mayor.
"We're pleased to be able to announce that @birdijaswant is the new Lord Mayor of Coventry. Cllr Birdi was presented with the Chains of Office today at our AGM," the tweet read.