One of the major festivals of Sikhs, Baisakhi festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month as per the Sikh calendar. Also popularly known as Vaisakhi, the festival is celebrated with lots of happiness and enthusiasm in the state of Punjab and all over the world by the Sikh population. The date of Baisakhi corresponds to April 13 each year and April 14 once in 36 years according to English calendar. Celebrated worldwide under various names and a different set of rituals, the date of Baisakhi coincides with “Vishu” in Kerala, “Bihu” in Assam, “Puthandu” in Tamil Nadu and “Naba Barsha” in Bengal. For the Sikhs, Baisakhi has significant religious importance as Guru Gobind Singh Ji laid the foundation of Khalsa Panth on this day in the year 1699. This joyful festival is celebrated with a lot of charm and pleasure in the lively state of Punjab. As a harvest festival, the farmers celebrate the festival in open fields by performing energetic gidda and bhangra dance. Men and women decked up in their traditional dress dance to the beat of dhol in a happy festive environment.
Significance of Baisakhi
The Baisakhi festival is of great importance for the Hindus as it was on this day in the year 1875, Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded Arya Samaj. Also, the day is of relevance for the Buddhists as Gautam Buddha attained Nirvana and enlightenment on this holy day. For the agriculturally rich states of Haryana and Punjab, Baisakhi marks the time of harvesting Rabi crops and is thus significant for the farmers. After waking up early morning and decked up in new clothes, farmers visit gurudwaras to express gratitude to God for the good harvest and seek blessings for subsequent agriculture season. Sikhs participate in special prayer meetings organised by the Gurudwaras and also carry out Baisakhi processions to mark the day.
As the festival has great importance in Sikh religion, most of the activities of the day are arranged in Gurudwaras. People of Punjab celebrate the festival with devotion and excitement. People wake up early morning, take bath and get ready to pay a visit to their nearby gurudwara and take part in the special prayer organised for the day. Most of the Sikhs endeavour to visit the famous Anandpur Sahib or Golden Temple, where the Khalsa was pronounced.
The Guru Granth Sahib is ceremonially taken out and is given a symbolical bath with water and milk. Then it is placed on its throne and is read out to the followers gathered in the gurudwara. Panch Pyaras chant verses and the holy nectar prepared in an iron vessel is distributed amongst the people after the chanting of holy verses. Religious songs are sung after the distribution of Amrit for the spiritual upliftment of the gathered devotees.
In the afternoon, after the Baisakhi Ardas, the Kadha Parshad is offered to the Guru for his blessings which is then distributed to the congregation. The ceremony concludes with a special guru ka langar in which people sit in proper rows with their covered heads as volunteers serve them with veg food.
The farmer community thank God for the bountiful crop and pray for the good times ahead. They wear new clothes and enjoy by dancing, singing and relishing festive food. Apart from this, Baisakhi Fairs are also organised in several villages of Punjab.
Later, during the day Sikhs take out a procession under the leadership of Panj Pyaras. The procession covers the major areas of the city amidst the performance of devotional songs by the men, children and women. Bhangra, gidda and mock duels performances make the procession more vibrant and joyous. Another captivating part of Baisakhi celebrations is the accompaniment of bands playing religious songs, drummers, devotees singing religious verses and men swinging swords.
All in all, the festival of Baisakhi marks a new chapter in the life of people.