The most famous festival of Punjab is Baisakhi and is also the Punjabi new year. It falls on the month Baisakh, which is the first month of the Bikram Sambat Hindu Calendar and hence is known as Baisakhi. This day also marks the birth of Khalsa in the year 1699. Khalsa was the name of the collective body of all the initiated Sikhs, represented by the Five Beloved-Ones (or the Panj Piare in Punjabi). It can also be called the Guru Panth, the embodiment of the Guru.
Baisakhi is said to be one of the largest, most colorful and probably the loudest festival celebrated by the South Asian community. In other words, it is the thanksgiving festival of the Indian farmers. This is also the day when the sun makes its entry into the Mesh Rashi. It is known as Naba Barsha in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Rongali Bihu in Assam and Vaisakha in Bihar.
Significance of Baisakhi
- This festival is considered to be a very important day for the Sikhs as in Sikhism this is the foundation day of Khalsa Panth. This day also has astrological significance.
- Astrologically, the date of Baisakhi is significant as it marks sun’s entry into Mesh Rashi hence it is also termed as Mesha Sankranti.
- This is also a very important day for farmers of the agriculturally rich states like Haryana and Punjab. After waking up early and dressing in new clothes, farmers visit temples and gurdwaras to express gratitude to God for the good harvest and seek blessings for ensuring agriculture season. Farmers also celebrate Baisakhi by performing energetic bhangra and gidda dance and participating in Baisakhi Fairs.
- This day is also significant for the Hindus as it was on this day in 1875 that Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj – a reformed sect of Hindus who are devoted to the Vedas for spiritual guidance and have discarded idol worship.
- Baisakhi day is relevant in another way as well for the Buddhists as Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and Nirvana on this auspicious day.
Mythology behind Baisakhi Celebration
During the reign of Emperor Jahangir in 1606, Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Guru was arrested and executed. Jahangir did this as he was believed to be threatened by the growth of the Sikh faith, especially the number of Muslim converts. The same thing repeated in 1675 during the reign of Emperor Aurangzeb when Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was executed. As the story goes, Guru Gobind Singh came out of his tent with a sword and asked for any man willing to die for his faith to step forward. One young man
As the story goes, Guru Gobind Singh came out of his tent with a sword and asked for any man willing to die for his faith to step forward. One young man did and went into the Guru’s tent with him. Minutes later, the Guru emerged alone, with blood dripping from his sword. He then asked for another volunteer, with the same result. Five men had gone in without returning, leaving others in attendance worried until eventually Guru Gobind Singh brought out all five men alive, and wearing turbans. These five men are known as the Panj Piare, or Beloved Five. They were then baptized into the Khalsa by the Guru, sprinkled Amrit over them while reciting prayers. After that, this day was celebrated as the Punjabi new year and the harvest festival for Rabi crop as well.
Rituals of Baisakhi
Baisakhi is more of a harvesting festival and brings in a lot of merriness and colorful atmosphere. During this duration, the Rabi crops are ready to be cut in various parts of India and hence fills the air with enthusiasm and vibrancy. It is especially celebrated in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and West Bengal.
- In this festival, the farmers thank Mother Nature and worship her for the resourceful harvest. They also pray for the welfare and prosperity of the country in the coming year.
- On this day people wake up early in the morning and take bath in the Holy rivers.
- This festival is termed differently for different countries. In Punjab, it is known as Jatta Aai baishaki and in West Bengal, it is celebrated as Poila Boisakh. In South India, it is termed as Vishu Baisakhi.
- The Vishu Baisakhi of South India is celebrated in a different way. This Hindu festival is celebrated with vigor and fanfare across the southern state of Kerala. It witnesses a lot of fireworks, light, and color.
- People pray God by keeping a lot of colorful fruits, vegetables, and pulses in a mirror.
- The young ones are offered with Vishu Kai neettam, which could be just a small rupee coin or something even more extravagant.
- The Keralites also prepare a Sadhya, which is a sumptuous feast with fruits vegetables specially done on this day.
- On Baisakhi the Sikh families and friends gather in Gurdwara, to participate in special morning prayers. After the prayer, a dessert called Kadaa Prasad is handed out to all the worshipers.
- Special Langar is arranged, which is free food for others.
- A procession is taken on this day in which the Guru Granth Sahib, the main Sikh religious text, is carried around. During the procession, the many attendees sing, dance and chant religious phrases and prayers.
- On this day both the men and women perform Bhangra and Gidda – two forms of traditional dance.
- Men and women wear bright clothes. The men wear traditional turbans on their heads with fan-like adornments on top. They also wear kurtas, a long tunic, with a decorated waistcoat. Under the kurta, they were a lungi, a large piece of cloth wrapped around the waist. The women wear salwar suits and scarfs.
- Authentic Indian and Punjabi food is prepared on this day like Puri, Gajjar ka halwa, Paneer Tikka, Motichhor Ladoo, Makki di roti, Chicken Biryani and much more.
The Bhangra dance
Bhangra is the most important part of the entire Baisakhi festival. People sing a lot of Punjabi Boliyaan and rock the air with their energetic steps. People enjoy playing the dhol, flute and other musical instruments as well. This dance illustrates the sowing of seeds, hoeing, cutting of wheat and the selling of crops.
Best Places To Celebrate Baisakhi
Chandigarh forms the major hub for all the Punjabis. People here celebrate Baisakhi with a lot of pomp and show. You can see people with their best colorful outfits and lot of radiance in their face. Extremely authentic variety of food is also prepared in every house. All the family members take a visit to Gurudwara and offer special prayers to God. In the evening, people enjoy music and dance. You can visit this place to feel Baisakhi in its air. On this day the place is no less than a combination of Holi and Diwali.
A huge mela is arranged every year in this state. It is very famous and people from far away places come to visit. In Haryana, the tourism department organizes and hosts the Baisakhi Mela. It is a fair at Pinjore Gardens organized on 13th & 14th April. Highly authentic Punjabi food is prepared and the tourists relish it. A variety of handloom shops and handicraft shops at the Crafts Bazaar allure the shopaholics. Punjabi music and Punjabis with their iconic colorful attire are also one of the major attractions. Competitions like rangoli and drawing are held for school students and cultural programs like singing and dancing are held in the evening.
The very famous Golden Temple of the Sikhs forms a major attraction on this day. The area around the Gurudwara seems really alluring and colorful on this day. A wide variety of cuisine can be seen here, being relished by people. People start visiting Gurudwara early in the morning for offering prayers and then savor the sweet semolina as Prasad. On the whole day, a special lunch called the langar is distributed to the temple visitors. It is also considered as the holy lunch. The charm of the festival adds extra grace to this beautiful structure. In the evening, people host parties where they dance and eat together with relatives and friends.
The villages of Jalandhar form a major attraction during the Baisakhi festival. As the festival marks the beginning of the harvesting season, it is celebrated in a grand way in the farms and places where crops grow. The people of the city gather on the grounds of celebration and community centers and take part in all the activities. The festivities include shopping, food, dance and music, the main ingredient of the merry making in the city. In the villages, one can witness the actual Baisakhi celebrations where men perform Punjabi folk dance called Bhangra while women dance on tunes of Punjabi folk music performing Gidda.
Delhi – the national capital of India also carries a large number of Sikh and Punjabi community and comes alive during Baisakhi. People dress up in their traditional best and visit the gurudwara. There are also many Baisakhi parties too that take place in the city. People greet each other or have dinner parties where they eat traditional Punjabi food. You can prominently see the effect of Baisakhi in many places of Delhi.