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Baisakhi

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Introduction

Baisakhi is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in the vibrant state of Punjab to mark the harvest of Rabi crops. The festival of Baisakhi also has tremendous religious significance for the predominant Sikh population of the state as it is was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh - the revered Tenth Guru of Sikhs laid the foundation of Khalsa Panth.

Festival of Baisakhi is usually celebrated on April 13, but once in every 36 years the festival is celebrated on April 14. Joyful people of Punjab celebrate Baisakhi with exuberance and gaiety. Highpoint of Baisakhi celebrations is the performance of the traditional Bhangra and Gidda dance and the special langar served at Gurudwaras.

 

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History of Baisakhi

Vaisakhi is one of the three Hindu festivals chosen by Guru Amar Das to be celebrated by Sikhs (the others being Maha Shivaratri and Diwali). The alternative view is that Guru Amar Das chose Maghi, instead of Maha Shivaratri.

Each Sikh Vaisakhi festival is, in part, a remembrance of the birth of Sikh order which started after the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur was persecuted and then beheaded under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, after he stood up for freedom of religious practice and refused to convert to Islam. The Guru's martyrdom triggered the coronation of the tenth and last Guru of Sikhism, and the formation of the sant-sipahi group of Khalsa, both on the Vaisakhi day.

The Vaisakhi festival Khalsa tradition started in the year 1699, as it is on this day that the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh laid down the foundation of the Panth Khalsa, that is the Order of the Pure Ones, by baptizing Sikh warriors to defend religious freedoms. This gave rise to the Vaisakhi or Baisakhi festival being observed as a celebration of Khalsa panth formation and is also known as Khalsa Sirjana Divas and Khalsa Sajna Divas. The festival is celebrated on Vaisakhi day (typically 14 April), since 1699. The Birth of the Khalsa Panth was either on 13 April 1699 or 30 March 1699. Since 2003, the Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee named it Baisakh (Vaisakh), making the first day of the second month of Vaisakh according to its new Nanakshahi calendar.

A special celebration takes place at Talwandi Sabo (where Guru Gobind Singh stayed for nine months and completed the recompilation of the Guru Granth Sahib), in the Gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib the birthplace of the Khalsa, and at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

 

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How to Celebrate Baisakhi

In the villages of Punjab and Haryana, the day of Baisakhi is full of colors and vibrancy. Cries of “Jatta aayi Baisakhi” reverberate in the skies as gaily-dressed men and women move towards the fields to celebrate the occasion. High point of Baisakhi celebrations in villages is the performance of traditional folk dance bhangra and gidda by men and women respectively. The dance is simple in movement but is extremely energetic and is performed in-groups on the beat of dhol.

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.

At several places in Punjab colourful Baisakhi Fairs are also organized to celebrate the day. People participate in these fairs with lots of enthusiasm and charm. Major attractions of Baisakhi Fairs are the bhangra and gidda performances besides wrestling bouts, singing and acrobatics. Performance of folk instruments - vanjli and algoza is also quite popular. Food stalls and shops selling trinkets make Baiskhi Melas even more joyful.

 

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