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Time of Celebration
Traditionally, the festival is celebrated in conjunction with the first harvesting of crops of the season. According to Nanakshahi calendar, it falls on the first day of the month of Vaisakh. According to Georgian calendar, it usually falls in the month of April.
Vaisakhi commemorates the birth of Sikhs and the establishment of Khalsa. In the year 1699, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, while being in the midst of thousands of devotees at Anandpur Sahib called upon Sikhs asking if anyone amongst them hold courage enough to die for their religion. Five men, one by one, appeared out of the crowd who willingly made themselves available. One by one, each of those five men were taken behind the tent by Guru who has a sword in his hand. Every time, Guru came back alone with a sword bathing in blood. However, Guru Gobind Singh Ji didn’t kill them, and instead baptised them in a unique ceremony of ‘Pahul’. Guru nominated them as the first five members of the group of Khalsa, which are collectively referred as ‘Panj Pyare’ or ‘The Five Beloved Ones’.
There are few other aspects of significance associated with this festival. It is also the festival of harvest. Agriculture is the backbone of every nation. It is the source through all other primary requirements of any land can be fulfilled. In the light of this fact, agriculture and harvest is given extreme importance in our country, and this festival is seen as one symbol of gratitude as conveyed by farmers to their land. Amongst Hindus, it is a festival which marks the beginning of New Year.
Its major celebrations take place in North India, especially in the state of Punjab, where majority of the Sikh community resides. However, it is not essentially confined to these places, and is celebrated in different proportions in other parts of the country as well. In Kerala, it is celebrated as ‘Vishu’. In Assam, it is celebrated as Bohag Bihu’. Amongst the followers of Buddhism, it is called as ‘Vesak’. However, they don’t celebrate it as a harvest festival, but as a festival commemorating the awakening and passing away of Gautama Buddha.
Rituals and Celebrations
1. As this festival marks the beginning of a new time, people make sure to initiate it with lots of positivity, cheer, and festive mood. Also, worships are offered and people take holy dips. People in large numbers gather around the banks of holy Ganga for having ritual baths.
2. As it is a time of extreme happiness and celebration for everyone, especially for farmers, they let that cheer out in full proportion. Besides carrying out religious rituals as a part of showing adoration and gratitude towards God for conferring them with good crop, they put on new clothes and passionately engage themselves in traditional dancing and singing. While men cheerfully engage in performing Bhangra, women complement them by performing energetic Giddha. Wrestling bouts are also planned for the day.
3. Sikhs plan a visit to Gurudwara, the sacred place of Sikhs, along with their families on this day. Marking their presence in the special prayer ceremony of the day, consuming Kada Prasad as served, and eating Guru Ka Langar (community lunch) there are must for everyone.
4. It is considered as one very auspicious day to get baptised, as it is the day on which Khalsa was established.5. Nagar Kirtan is a special part of Vaisakhi celebrations, as a part of which street processions are taken out in a locality by the local Gurudwara in which religious hymns from the sacred Guru Granth Sahib are recited all the way through. Five Sikh men, who are dressed up as Panj Piara, lead the procession.
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