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Home > Religious Festivals > Sikh Festivals > Baisakhi
Baisakhi Festival
BaisakhiThe first of Vaisakh or Baisakh (April - May) is the Sikh New Year festival and is celebrated on April 13 or 14. It also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith. The main celebrations are held at Anandpur Sahib and at Muktsar. On this day, Guru Gobind Singh instituted the baptism of the sword and founded Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib. During the Baisakhi festival, Guru Gobind Singh asked if there was anyone who was willing to be sacrificed in the name of religion. He challenged any Sikh who was prepared to give his life to come into a tent. The Guru returned alone with his sword covered in blood. He then asked for another volunteer. Four more men volunteered to be sacrificed. The crowd was very concerned until they saw five men return wearing turbans with the Guru and dressed piously in white. In fact, a goat was sacrificed each time and the sword dipped in its blood was shown to the congregation.

These five men came to be known as the Panj Pyare, or `Beloved Five. There names were Daya Singh, Mokham Singh, Dharam Singh, Himmat Singh and Sahib Singh. He baptized the five in a new and unique ceremony called pahul. Sikhs today know this ceremony as Amrit. He then proclaimed, "Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I. When the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy." The Panj Pyare are the embodiment of the Guru himself:

He said that whenever and wherever five baptized (Amritdhari) Sikhs come together, the Guru would be present. All those who receive Amrit from five baptized Sikhs, will be infused with the spirit of courage and strength to sacrifice. Thus with these principles, he established Panth Khalsa, the Order of the Pure Ones.

Golden TempleiAt the same time, the Guru gave his new Khalsa a unique, indisputable, and distinct identity. The Guru gave the gift of bana, the distinctive Sikh clothing and headwear. He also gave five symbols of purity and courage. These symbols, worn by all baptized Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks. They are kesh (A Sikh never cuts or trims his hair), kanga (a wooden comb), kara (special iron bracelet), kacha (a pair of knee length shorts) and kirpan (a 6" to 9" long, dagger-like or knife-life weapon). Sikhs celebrate this very important day of their religion with joy and devotion. They take an early bath, wear new clothes. Every Sikh visits on this day the largest gurudwara. If possible Sikhs visit the Golden Temple at Amritsar and take a bath in the pool of Immortality. They participate in the special prayer meet marked for the day. Major celebrations of Baisakhi are organized at Golden Temple, Amritsar where the Khalsa Panth was founded on a Baisakhi Day in 1699. In moghul days visiting the temple was a much daring act.

After a special ardas of kirtans (religious songs) and discourses, Kada Prasad (sweetened semolina) is distributed amongst all present. Later, people sit in rows to relish the langar or community lunch prepared and served by kar sevaks or volunteers.

The main religious function is reading of Granth Sahib( the Holy Book of Sikhs ). It is read from beginning to end for 2 days and nights, and is called Akhand Path. The Granth is taken out in procession to the accompaniment of music. The procession is called is called Nagar Kirtan. The five men walk in front of the `Granth` with drawn out swords in memory of Panch Pyare of Guru Gobind Singh. Men, women and children alike participate in the Baiskhi processions with enthusiasm.

Bhangra DanceMock fights, bands playing religious tunes and performance of bhangra and gidda dance make Baisakhi processions quite colourful and exciting. The dance is simple in movement but is extremely energetic and is performed in groups on the beat of dhol. Later in the evening, people exchange greetings with friends and relatives usually with a box of sweets or other traditional gifts.

Festival of Baisakhi is celebrated with lot of joy and enthusiasm in the northern state of Punjab and Haryana. Farmers are jubilant over the festival as for them Baisakhi marks the time for harvest of rabi crops. Prosperous with the bountiful produce they look forward to celebrating Baisakhi with all eagerness. Cries of "Jatta aayi Baisakhi" ring in the skies as gaily-dressed men and women move towards the fields to celebrate the occasion.

Farmers also celebrate Baisakhi as a Thanksgiving Day. After taking an early bath in ponds or rivers people visit temples or gurdwaras to express gratitude to the Almighty for the bountiful harvest and pray for prosperity and good times in future.
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