Festivals add joy and colour to our lives. They add excitement and happiness to our otherwise monotonous lives filled with humdrum, tension and toil. While some festivals have a religious significance, there are others which are celebrated in different seasons of the year. One such festival is Baisakhi, which has both religious and seasonal significance.
Celebrated every year on the 13th or 14th of April, Baisakhi is a festival belonging to the Sikh community in India and the world. This festival celebrates the onset of the harvest season of the rabi crops. Sikhs all over the world celebrate this day with a lot of fun and zeal. They also perform Bhangra and Giddha.
RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE OF BAISAKHI:
Baisakhi, as a festival, also holds a lot of religious significance for the Sikhs. It is on this day in the year 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, laid the foundation stone for Panth Khalsa, which is the Order of the Pure Ones.
For Hindus, Baisakhi marks the beginning of a new year as well. Religious texts suggest that it is on this day when the goddess Ganga descended to the earth thousands of years ago. And to honour her, Hindus take a dip or bath in the holy river Ganges on the day of Baisakhi and offer their prayers to the goddess.
OTHER SIGNIFICANCE OF BAISAKHI:
The states of Punjab and Haryana in the northern part of the country have a huge Punjabi farming community. And for them, the festival of Baisakhi is believed to be the beginning of a new year. This is because it is on this day that they start harvesting the Rabi crops. On this day, farmers show gratitude to their god (Wahe Guru) for a great and bountiful harvest, along with all the happiness that the year will bring for them.
Every year, Baisakhi is celebrated all over the world on the first day of the month of Baisakh (usually falling in April or May). This is in accordance with the Sikh calendar, which also gives the festival its name. Furthermore, this festival usually falls on April 13th every year. However, once in every 36 years, Baisakhi is celebrated on April 14th. This is due to the fact that this festival is celebrated on the basis of the solar calendar, rather than the lunar calendar.
Different parts of India celebrate Baisakhi in various ways, thereby giving it multiple names as well. Baisakhi is also known as “Poila Boisakh, or Naba Barsha” in West Bengal, “Rongali Bihu” in Assam, “Pooram Vishu” in Kerala and “Puthandu” in Tamil Nadu.
People celebrate this festival by singing, dancing and buying new clothes for themselves. They also cook delicious food. Villages in Punjab and Haryana also organise Baisakhi fairs for the people.
A majority of the celebration for Baisakhi is organised in many Gurudwaras in the country. Sikhs usually take a dip in the holy river before visiting the Gurudwara to pray for an auspicious year ahead. Once the prayer is done, they take the Prasad of halwa (also known as Kada Prasad) after which they proceed for langar (community lunch) in the Gurudwara itself. Throughout the day, devotional songs are played while people meet and greet each other, read the holy Guru Granth Sahib and indulge in merrymaking.
In many parts of the country, to honour the “beloved Five,” many parades are also held. In these parades, multiple sets of five men walk in front of the holy book with their swords drawn.
Baisakhi, therefore, celebrates the arrival of prosperity, happiness and spirituality to all our lives.