Baisakhi (or Vaisakhi), commonly known as the harvest festival, marks the beginning of New Year for Sikhs. It also happens to be the traditional solar New Year for Hindus. The festival of Baisakhi holds major significance among Sikhs because on this day lay the foundation of Khalsa Panth. Every year, we come across this day marked in our calendar, but how many of us exactly know every detail of this festival. Is it just the harvest festival? Or is there anything beyond it?
Let’s look at Baisakhi 2017 with a different perspective. Let’s broaden our horizon, let’s understand what the Baisakhi festival brings along for us.
As stated above, Baisakhi goes beyond the harvest festival. Back in 1699, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb beheaded the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur because he refused to convert to Islam. Thereafter, Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of Sikhs decided to give a unique identity to his followers. To achieve that, he established the Khalsa Panth (or The Order of the Pure Ones). He coached to become great warriors who would defend religious freedom. Today, the Sikh community is known for its sheer strength, valour, and courage. Had it not been the day, things would have been different in the current times.
Apart from this, Baisakhi is majorly known as the harvest festival. It is celebrated by the farming community that observes it as a day to thank the lords for providing an abundant harvest.
To celebrate the same, kirtans and prayer meetings are held along with colourful processions that are a delight in itself. Aawat Pauni is an age-old tradition that is followed during Baisakhi festival. The locals gather to harvest the wheat and celebrate by singing and dancing to the tunes of the drums. In most villages, gidda and bhangra, folk dance of Punjab, are performed by people of all age group.
Every year, Baisakhi (Vaisakhi) is mostly celebrated on the 13th or 14th of April. From the astrological point of view, this marks the sun’s entry into the Mesh rashi.
The best place to witness Baisakhi celebration is Talwandi Sabo at Anandpur Sahib. The celebration at Golden Temple in Amritsar is also worth watching. If you have a friend from Punjab, try visiting their home during this time to get a better insight into how the festival is celebrated among locals.
While Baisakhi may be more of a festival for Sikhs, it is equally important for Hindus and Buddhism. It is celebrated by different names in various other states of India. In Kerala, it is called as Pooram Vishu, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Rongali Bihu in Assam, and Baishakha in Bihar.
Rivers like Ganga, Kaveri, and Jhelum are flooded with devotees during this time as a lot of people take holy dips on Baisakhi. Among the Buddhists, Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained Nirvana on this day.
Like every Indian festival, Baisakhi also brings along happiness and joy amongst the people. Whether you’re a true Punjabi or someone belonging to Southern India, the spirit of Baisakhi is surely a welcome change for all of us. May you celebrate the day with lots of goodies, dance, and togetherness.