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Vaisakhi ( , , also known as Baisakhi or Vasakhi) is an ancient harvest festival in the Punjab region, which also marks beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season. Baisakhi is a religious festival for Sikhs. It falls on the first day of the Baisakh month in the solar Nanakshahi calendar, which corresponds to April 14 in the Gregorian calendar.

In Sikhism, it is one of the most significant holidays in the Sikh calendar, commemorating the establishment of the Khalsa at Anandpur Sahibmarker in 1699, by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It also marks the beginning of the Sikh new year..

This day is also observed as the beginning of the Hindu solar new year celebrated by the people of Nepalmarker and Indiamarker in Keralamarker, Orissamarker, Tamil Nadumarker, West Bengalmarker and some other regions of India. The particular significance attached to the occasion shows regional variation outside of Punjabmarker too. In Himachal Pradeshmarker, the Hindu Goddess Jwalamukhi is worshipped on Vaisakhi, while in Biharmarker, the Sun-god Surya is honoured. The festival is celebrated as Rongali Bihu in Assammarker, Naba Barsha or Pohela Boishakh in Bengalmarker, Assammarker and Tripuramarker, Puthandu (Tamil New Year) in Tamil Nadumarker, Vishu (or Vaishakhi) in Keralamarker, Maha Vishuba Sankranti (or Pana Sankranti) in Orissamarker, and the Sinhala and Tamil new year festival in Sri Lankamarker. Besides Punjabmarker, Baisakhi is widely celebrated as traditional harvest festival in many northern states of India, such as Haryanamarker, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhandmarker. In many places the day is marked by ritualistic bathing in sacred rivers like the Gangesmarker.

Celebrations

To mark the celebrations, devotees, irrespective of their religion, throng at gurdwaras, the Sikh place of worship. The celebrations start early as devotees, with flowers and offerings in their hands, proceed towards the gurdwaras and temples before dawn. Processions through towns are also common. Baisakhi is the day on which the Khalsa (The Pure Ones) was born and Sikhs were given a clear identity and a code of conduct to live by. The event was led by the last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who baptised the first Sikhs using sweet nectar called Amrit. Around the world at Baisakhi time, Sikhs and Punjabis reflect on the values taught to them by their Gurus and celebrate the birth of the Khalsa.



Pakistan

Baisakhi is widely celebrated by Sikhs in Punjabmarker. It is culturally and traditionally regarded as an important and significant Punjabi festival, and this is further exemplified by the fact when thousands of Sikh pilgrims from India arrive each year to commemorate the day at the sacred Sikh sites of Nankana Sahibmarker and Hasan Abdalmarker in the country. On April 2009, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee more recently announced official plans for formally organising the event to a larger scale in the country as well as expressing intentions for elegant arrangements.

Punjab, India

The main celebration takes place at Talwandi Sabo (where Guru Gobind Singh stayed for nine months and completed the recompilation of the Guru Granth Sahib), and in the gurdwara at Anandpur Sahibmarker, the birth place of Khalsa and at the Golden Templemarker in Amritsarmarker.

Northern America

In the United Statesmarker, there is usually a parade a few days after Baisakhi. In Manhattanmarker, New York Citymarker people come out to do "seva" (religious work) such as giving out free food, and completing any other labor needed to be done. The local Sikh community in Vancouver and Surreymarker, British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker holds its annual Baisakhi celebrations in the April long weekend, which often includes a nagar kirtan, or parade, which an estimated 200,000 people attend.

Surreymarker Baisakhi Parade in British Columbiamarker, Canadamarker is the largest known parade outside of India, estimate attendance grows 15% year every year and covers an area of several square miles.

Jallianwala Bagh massacre

On April 13, 1919 British Indian Army soldiers under the command of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer opened fire on an unarmed gathering of men, women and children in the Jallianwala Bagh near the Golden Templemarker in Amritsar, on Baisakhi day. The firing lasted about 10 minutes and 1650 rounds were fired. Official British Raj sources placed the fatalities at 379. According to private sources there were over 1000 deaths, with more than 2000 wounded. Civil Surgeon Dr. Smith indicated that there were 1,526 casualties.

See also

References

  1. Baisakhi Sikh Festivals Throughout the Year, by Anita Ganeri. Published by Black Rabbit Books, 2004. ISBN 1583403744. pp 20.
  2. Baisakhi SIX RELIGIONS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, by Peggy Morgan, W. Owen Cole. Published by Nelson Thornes, 2000. ISBN 074875167X. pp 263-264.
  3. Vaisakhi to be celebrated in Pakistan
  4. http://www.liveindia.com/delhi/Baisakhi.html
  5. http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090415/bathinda.htm
  6. http://www.incredibleindia.org/Fairfestivalcontest/cultural_festivals.htm
  7. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2008/04/12/sikh-parade.html
  8. Home Political Deposit, September, 1920, No 23, National Archives of India, New Delhi; Report of Commissioners, Vol I, New Delhi
  9. Report of Commissioners, Vol I, New Delhi, p 105


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