Baisakhi

Baisakhi also spelled as Vaisakhi, falls every year in the month of April either on the 13th or 14th day of the month. Celebrated mostly by Sikhs and Hindus, the festival marks the Solar New Year and also celebrates the harvest. The origin of the festival of Baisakhi can be traced back to Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Sikh Guru, who formed the Khalsa Panth on this day.
Significance

For farmers, Baisakhi marks the time of harvest of the Rabi crops. It is a day when they give thanks and express gratitude to God by visiting temples and seeking blessings.

For Sikhs, it is the day when the Tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh founded the Khalsa Panth. It is on this day also that the Guru gave his five disciples Amrit making them Singhs.

Astrologically, the day marks the sun’s entry into the Mesh Rashi.

Celebrations

Being one of the biggest festivals of the Sikhs, Baisakhi is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vitality. On this day, Gurudwaras hold kirtans and are beautifully decorated. Sikhs bathe in sacred rivers before visiting the Gurudwaras, processions, kirtans and indulge in homemade festive food which includes makke di roti, sarson ka saag, aloo poori, gajar ka halwa, chhole, and lassi. For Hindus, Baisakhi is an occasion to bathe in sacred rivers like the Ganges, Kaveri, and Jhelum, visit temples, and just like the Sikhs, indulge in festive food and meet family and friends.

In Punjab, fairs are organized all over the state with people dancing the bhangra and giddha to traditional folk music, dressed in their finest clothes and jewelry and feast. Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest shrine in Sikhism, becomes the most visited place during the festival and the area surrounding the temple becomes carnival-like.

There are wrestling bouts, races, mock fights with kirpans (swords), and acrobatics that are organized.

Processions, called Nagar Kirtan, are taken out during the festival of Baisakhi which is attended by men, women and children alike. These processions are led by five Khalsa who are dressed as Panj Piaras. Baisakhi celebrations are accompanied by playing of drums (dhol), dances, singing and men swinging their swords.

Rituals during Baisakhi

On the day of Baisakhi, Sikhs visit the Gurudwara. Most Sikhs make an effort to visit the Golden Temple. The sacred book of the Sikhs, the Granth Sahib, is bathed in milk and water, placed on a throne and holy passages are read from the book. Thereafter the Granth Sahib is taken out for a procession accompanied by music, chanting, singing, and performances. Amrit is distributed to all who have gathered after the chanting of the sacred verses. As per tradition, devotees sip the Amrit five times, and religious songs are sung after the Amrit is consumed.

Prasad, known as Karah Prasad (made from flour, sugar, and butter), is distributed among the devotees after it is given the blessings of the guru. The ceremony concludes with a special community lunch, called langar, wherein, people sit in rows and are served food.

Sikhs also offer the Kar Serva by giving a helping hand in the daily chores of the Gurudwaras.