Vaisakhi, also pronounced Baisakhi, marks the first day of the month Vaisakh and is celebrated on 13 April every yearas a celebration of spring harvest primarily in the northern part of India. Vaisakhi observes major events in the history of Sikhism especially in Punjab where this festival is celebrated with a great zest and zeal as on this day in 1699, the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh Ji, laid the foundation of the Khalsa Panth.
It is culturally a very significant festival of harvest for the Sikhs. Farmers thank God for having an abundant harvest and pay tribute by performing religious ceremonies. Baisakhi also marks the harvest of the rabi crops in Punjab. It also marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year.
This festival is not just celebrated in the rural parts of Northern parts of India, but even cities and towns of Northern India. It is also the time for people to socialize, meet and greet, take part in community activities and spread happiness.
How is Baisakhi celebrated?
Several processions called Nagar Kirtan in India, led by five Khalsas dressed as Panj Pyaare, pass across the streets in the early hours of the morning. Devotees offer their prayers and seek blessings from God. Bhangra and Gidda, which are traditional Indian Punjabi dance performances are performed coupled with folk songs and other festivities.
The famous ‘Kada Prasad’ also known has ‘halwa’ and traditional ‘langars’ are also prepared in Gurdwaras and distributed on Baisakhi. Langar is free food for all which is prepared with devotion and love. Everyone in the community, no matter how rich or poor they are sit together and share a meal. People wear ethnic attire and there is lots of singing, dancing and chanting of hymns.
Sikhs sing beautiful devotional songs and visit local temples and organize community fairs and hold religious ceremonies. Indians also celebrate the descent of Goddess Ganga on Earth on this day. Devotees from the entire nation gather for a holy dip along the banks of the river Ganga.
Foods to eat on this special day
Indian festivals are almost incomplete without an element of food in it. Punjabi foods and flavors are liked by all and people just need occasions to make and share good food. Like every other festival has its specific dishes, Baisakhi has it too. These dishes are prepared and shared by everyone as a part of Vaisakhi celebration. They are:
Yellow sweet rice
Sarso da Saag
Baisakhi in Canada
Canada is famous for its diverse culture and communities. About ten million of the Indian population reside in various parts of Canada. This festival is celebrated with the same zeal as in India. Here also, on Baisakhi, Indians visit their nearby temples and Gurdwaras and seek the blessings of God. If you are an international student in Canada and are missing home on this festival, go to your nearby Gurdwara and have ‘Langar’ so that you feel at home and enjoy this festival being here too.
May Waheguru bless you with growth, health and peace on this festival of harvest. Happy Baisakhi!