Baisakhi also known as vaisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi marks the Sikh New Year and is celebrated on April 13 every year. It is a spring harvest festival for the Sikhs. Baisakhi commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Vaisakhi also marks the birth of Sikh order that started after the persecution and execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur for refusing to convert to Islam under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The story of Baisakhi
The story of the festival of Baisakhi began with the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru who was publicly beheaded by Aurungzeb. The Mughal Emperor wanted to spread Islam in India and Guru Tegh Bahadur stood up for the rights of Hindus and Sikhs. For this, he was seen as a threat. After the death of Guru Teg Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh became the next Guru of the Sikhs.
In 1699, the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh chose Vaisakhi as the occasion to transform the Sikhs into a family of soldier saints, known as the Khalsa Panth. He founded the Khalsa in front of thousands at Anandpur Sahib.
During the Baisakhi festival, Guru Gobind Singh came out of a tent carrying a sword. He challenged any Sikh who was prepared to give his life to come into the tent. The Guru returned alone with his sword covered in blood. He then requested another volunteer and repeated the same action four times until five men disappeared into the tent. The crowd was extremely concerned until they saw five men return wearing turbans with the Guru.
These five men became known as the Panj Piare, or 'Beloved Five'. The men were then baptised into the Khalsa by the Guru.
Baisakhi is celebrated with lot of joy and enthusiasm in the northern state of Punjab and Haryana. Traditional folk dances are performed on this day.
In the villages of Punjab and Haryana, the day of Baisakhi is full of colors and vibrancy. High point of this festival in villages is the performance of traditional folk dance bhangra and gidda by men and women respectively.
Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi with joy and devotion. They take an early bath, wear new clothes and visit the gurdwara to participate in the special prayer meet marked for the day. After a special ardaas, kirtan and discourses, kada prasad is distributed amongst all present. Later, people sit in rows to relish the langar and served by kar sevaks or volunteers.
Major celebrations of Vaisakhi are organised at Golden Temple in Amritsar.