Sikh New Year: Vaisakhi

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~ Yashika Sehgal 

Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi is celebrated on April 13 every year. It marks the onset of the Sikh New Year. Guru_Gobind_Singh ji, the tenth Guru of Sikhs, founded the Khalsa Panth on this day, in 1969.

History behind Vaisakhi Celebration

Aurangzeb prosecuted Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs. This was done because he had refused to convert his religion into Islam. After his death, Guru Gobind Singh became the next guru of Sikhs. In 1699, he chose 13 April as the day to transform his fellow Sikhs into a family of soldier saints. They altogether came to be known as Khalsa Panth. The Khalsa Panth was formed in front of thousands of people at Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara.

Later on this day, Guru Gobind Singh stood inside a tent carrying a sword. He challenged the Sikhs to come and sacrifice their life by coming into the tent. With great reluctance, 5 Sikhs volunteered to go into the tent. The Guru came out of the tent with the 5 volunteers with their heads covered with a turban. In the history of Sikhism, these 5 men are known as Panj Pyare( the 5 beloveds). Guru gave the surname of Singh to every Sikh. Singh means lion. Not only this, every year, the day is also celebrated in the Northern states of Punjab and Haryana as a harvest festival.

How is it Celebrated?

The festival is celebrated in the Northern states of Haryana and Punjab with great pomp and show. Farmers offer their prayers for their harvest. Gurudwaras are decorated and Langar is also served, Sikhs perform their traditional dances i.e Bhangra and Gidda wearing their traditional costumes. Early morning, Nagar Kirtans, led by 5 Khalsas dressed as Panj Pyare, are held in localities. Major celebrations are organised in Amritsar and large numbers of devotees are gathered here.

Celebration of Vaisakhi in Different States

Apart from being celebrated in Punjab and Haryana,the festival Baisakhi is termed as different names in different states. For example it is called Rongali Bihu in Assam, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Pooram Vishu in Kerala. The Rongali Bihu festival marks the agricultural New Year for the people of Assam. Naba Barsha is the New Year for the people of Bengal. They wish each other “Shubha Nababarsha” which means “happy new year.” According to the Tamil Calendar, Chithirai is the first month of a year and Puthandu is the first day of a year. According to the Malayalam Calendar, Malayalam is the first month of a year and Vishu Festival falls on the first day of the year. All these states celebrate the same festival in their different manner with zeal and enthusiasm.

Values We Must Inculcate 

As citizens of India, we must know the cultural relevance of our festivals and the story behind each of them despite the religion we belong to. Vaisakhi teaches us the values of togetherness, unity, courage and strength. 

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