Baisakhi – Understanding the Sikh Festival

Baisakhi is one of the major festivals celebrated by the Sikh community the world over. This day has a huge religious significance as it was on this day that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa (the Order of the Pure Ones). This occasion is also particularly auspicious for farmers as it is the harvest time for Rabi crops.

When is it celebrated?

Baisakhi falls on the first day of Vaisakh month according to Nanakshahi (Sikh Calendar). According to English calendar, Baisakhi falls on April 13 or 14. Baisakhi celebrations coincide with Rongali Bihu in Assam, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Pooram Vishu in Kerala.

Baisakhi celebrations

Usually people wake up early to prepare for Baisakhi celebrations. After getting ready people generally pay a visit to the neighbourhood gurdwara and take part in the special prayer meetings organized for the special day. At the end of the ardas (prayer meet), the devotees receive specially prepared Kara prasad (sweet prepared with semolina).

This is followed by a community lunch where everyone sits together on the floor in rows and is served food. This system is followed to stress on the point that everyone is equal in God’s eyes.

Baisakhi procession

Later during the day, Sikhs stage a Baisakhi procession wherein the sacred Guru Granth Sahib is taken out. Towards the end of the procession the Panj Piaras, that stand for the five fearless devotees, are baptized. These processions are attended by men, women and children and the procession moves through major colonies of the city.

Bhangra and gidda dances are also performed during these processions. Devotees chant Joh Bole So Nihal and Satnam and Wahe guru through the procession. Some Sikhs also actively participate in charity acts on this day.

Significance of Baisakhi for the Sikh community

Baisakhi is a very important day for people of the Sikh faith. This is because it was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699 that the 10th Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth also called Order of Pure Ones.

It was on this day that Guru Gobind Singhji distributed amrit (nectar) to his first five disciples. Also on this day he renamed all Sikhs as Singhs to eradicate the differences of classes and castes.

Baisakhi for farmers

For the farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Baisakhi marks the beginning of the New Year as rabi crop is harvested during this time. On this day farmers thank the Almighty for the good crop and also pray for prosperous times in the New Year.

Most people purchase new clothes and celebrate by singing, dancing and enjoying good food. Several villagers also organise Punjabi Baisakhi fairs that have recreational activities like wrestling competitions.

So now you know why Baisakhi is one of the most celebrated festivals in North India.

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