Vaisakhi or Baisakhi is a spring festival that comes on 13 or 14 April every year. It is originally a harvest festival of Punjab. But Sikhs also celebrate this festival around the world in countries such as Canada, the UK, Malaysia and many more. It is a very important festival for Sikh religion as this festival marks the start of the new year in the Nanakshahi Solar calendar.
People like to celebrate this festival with immense joy with Bhangra and Gidda performances. In India, Vaisakhi is popular in the northern states such as Punjab, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir. On this day farmers thank God for a good crop and pray for a bountiful harvest in the coming season also.
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History: Vaisakhi took a special significance in Sikh history. Initially, it was an annual festival for a good harvest. However, the meaning added to the celebration in the late 17th century. The life of the people was miserable under the rule of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb. Shri Guru Gobind Singh wanted to motivate people from this woeful condition. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh asked in a crowd of thousands for those who were ready to die for the cause of religion. Five volunteers appeared to do so. Instead of killing them, Guru baptized them with ‘Amrit’ (nectar) and formed a five-member group called ‘Panj Pyare’. These five men represent five symbols of purity and courage.
Symbols of five Sikhs
The five symbols or ‘Five Ks’ include the Kesh(uncut hair), the Kangha(comb), the Katchera(underwear), the Kara(steel ring) and the Kirpan(sword). Following that day, spraying of ‘Amrit’ has become a common practice during the ceremonial baptisation of Sikhs.
Also on the day of Vaisakhi, 13 April in the year 1919, the massacre of Jallianwala Bagh occurred. For these reasons Vaisakhi has a special significance.
How people celebrate?
Preparations for Vaisakhi: Every year people have great excitement for Vaisakhi, especially for Sikhs. Sikhs do the Vaisakhi preparations in a very well planned manner. They like to decorate gurudwaras on this occasion. Farmers are busy cutting their crops. They also perform charity as a custom.
Prayers offered in Gurudwaras
Sikh people take baths and visit gurdwaras to attend specially organized prayers in the morning. After prayer, sewadars distribute Kadah Prasad to every devotee.
Procession of Guru Granth Sahib
The procession of Guru Granth Sahib is known as ‘Nagar Kirtan’. ‘Panj Pyare’ wears a saffron dress and leads this procession. Guru Granth Sahib (The holy book of Sikhs) and other members follow them in the procession. The sewadars clear the pathway of the procession. They also distribute some refreshments sideways. In the evening, the procession finally reaches to the Gurudwara and they do prayers (Ardaas).
On the occasion of Vaisakhi, Gurudwaras distribute special langar to the devotees. There is no discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and color. They welcome people from every religion to attend langar.
The celebration of this festival is incomplete without dance performances. Bhangra and Gidda are two prominent forms of dance by Sikh people. Both men and women perform Bhangra while women perform Gidda only. These are high energy dances involve plenty of jumping.
There is a traditional wear for the people on the occasion of Vaisakhi. Men wear Kurta-Pajama and a turban on their head. Women wear Lehnga-Choli or Salwar-Kameez.
Traditional desserts on Vaisakhi
Indian festivals are never complete without traditional desserts for specific occasions. Vaisakhi festival also has some traditional dishes which people try at home.
- The very famous among them is Meethe Chawal(yellow rice). It is a delicious combination of rice and sugar syrup. The yellow color matches the spirit of the festival.
- Punjabi Kadhi is a traditional kadhi made with full-fat sour curd mixed with rich spices to give it a spicy taste.
- Kheer is also a very famous dish. It is prepared from milk, rice and some dry fruits.
- Dodha Barfi is made almost in all Punjabi festivals. It includes milk, alum, sugar and ghee.
Vaisakhi celebration in other states:
- In Kerala, this festival is known as Vishu. It is considered to be a tradition to get Vishu Kai Neetan(gift) from the elder members of the family.
- In West Bengal, Sangeet Mela is organized to discover the singers of the state.
- In Assam, this festival is known by the name Rongali Bihu. It is celebrated for seven days. On this day cows are worshipped.
- In Bihar, it is locally called as Vaishakha. On this day, the people of Bihar offer prayers to Surya Dev(Sun God).
Festivals are always an important part of our lives. They give us a break from our daily routine and an opportunity to spend some quality time with our family. So keep enjoying them and spread happiness.