Baisakhi is one of the most significant festivals of North India, particularly in Punjab. In 1699 on this day, Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa or Order of the Pure Ones. This act unified the different communities of the time, raising them all to the same social status and essentially eliminating discrimination within the community. He gave all Sikhs the name ‘Singh’ and bestowed the unique Sikh identity of Kesh (long hair), Kangha (comb), Kripan (dagger), Kaccha (shorts) and Kara (bracelet). This year Baisakhi will be held on April 14.
One of the most significant gurdwaras where the festivities take place is Talwandi Sabo (where Guru Gobind Singh stayed). Of course the most holy of all, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, also has an important role to play. People flock to these Sikh temples to bathe in the sarovars or holy water tanks and pray together before feasting in the community langar.
Acts of Goodwill
The celebrations though, are not limited to India, with Sikhs in the United States also celebrating this auspicious event. In Manhattan, in acts of selfless service, Sikhs give free food and perform helpful acts for the needy. At the gurdwaras in Los Angeles, spiritual music fills the air followed by a parade held by the local Sikh community. In Canada, parades are also commonplace.
In the United Kingdom, the largest Sikh communities are primarily located in the city of Birmingham and the western London suburb of Southall. These regions both hold Nagar Kirtan (a Sikh tradition where hymns are sung in the community). These religious events attract thousands of people, all celebrating their religion and enjoying in Sikh festivities.
The Sound of Bhangra
In rural Punjab, the event takes on a whole new meaning. Farmers celebrate this day as a form of thanksgiving for their harvest and praying for continued prosperity in their fields. Villagers celebrate joyfully performing the vigorous bhangra dance. In an explosion of music the fields light up under the night sky. Amongst the dancing, some also take part in mock duels and wrestling bouts. It sounds serious, but it is actually part of the merriment, reflecting the jovial Punjabi nature. All that exercise deserves a good feast, and what better than a fabulous Punjabi banquet.
The festival also marks the first day of the solar New Year on the Hindu calendar. Some Hindus also celebrate the day as the descension of Ganga to earth, with devotees bathing on the banks of the Ganges River and conducting sacred rituals. Outside their homes, many plant poles wrapped in gold silk and adorn them with brass or silver pots. Known as Vishu in Kerala, fireworks light up the sky and arrangements of flowers and fruit are presented for a prosperous year.
Spend Baisakhi in its many styles this year and book your tickets with MakeMyTrip to your preferred destination.