India is known for its diversity in the form of various cultures and community based festivals. Each part of the country has some sort of specific festival to celebrate. Today on April 13 every year Baisakhi is celebrated in Punjab, the heart of our country. Celebrating the auspicious festival Baisakhi with all enthusiasm by the people can be seen on this day as they celebrate with the best ways possible.
Punjab is known for its energy and the big hearts of people residing there. Due to its geographical placement on the map it can be rightly called the heart of India. Here we are going to see what the festival is about, how it was celebrated then and now around the country:
- Baisakh is actually The Punjabi New Year–which is the first month of the Bikram Sambat Hindu calendar. So, here’s wishing our Punjabi brethren a very Happy New Year!
- The historic value of this day is of great importance as it’s same the day of birth of the Khalsa in 1699, which was founded by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Sikh Guru.
- ‘Thanksgiving Day’ for our farmers in a way as they pay their tributes and thank their gods for the abundant harvest while also praying for future prosperity.
- The harvest festival is also characterised by the folk dance Bhangra, which traditionally is a harvest dance.
- Baisakhi is also one of the very, very rare Indian festivals that fall exactly on the same day each year–April 13.
- To mark the celebrations, Sikh devotees generally visit the Gurudwara before dawn with flowers and other offerings.
- The main celebration of Baikashi takes place at Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, where Guru Gobind Singh Ji stayed for 9 months and completed the recompilation of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and in the Gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa, and at the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
- Sadly, this day also coincides with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre (also known as the Amritsar Massacre), which took place on April 13, 1919.
So, that was how the festival of Baisakhi is actually celebrated in Punjab, India in the above mentioned points. Here we will take a look at how Baisakhi is celebrated in other nations of the world where Sikhs resides.
- Baisakhi is observed as a harvest festival in Punjab, Pakistan, as well, marking the local New Year irrespective of people’s varied faiths. Baisakhi fairs are traditionally held in various places, including Lahore.
- In the United States, there is usually a parade commemorating Baisakhi celebration.
- In Manhattan, New York City, people come out to do Seva (selfless service) to mark the day.
- In Los Angeles, California, the local Sikh community holds a full day Kirtan (spiritual music) programme, which is followed by a parade.
- In the UK, Nagar Kirtnas are held in the Southall Gurudwara (a week or two before Baisakhi) and in Birmingham (late April). Two separate Nagar Kirtans set off from Gurudwaras in Birmingham and culminate at the Vaisakhi Mela at Handsworth Park. This year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the United Kingdom (UK) will celebrate Baisakhi at the MoD headquarters in Whitehall, London, which will be attended by senior British politicians and officials from the MoD as well as Sikh personalities from Britain.
- In Malaysia, all government servants from the Sikh Malaysian Indian community are given a day off on Baisakhi, and open houses are held across the country on the day of the festival, or the closest weekend to it.
- In Canada, the Sikh community usually holds a Nagar Kirtan, which culminates in a parade in Surrey that attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.