Baisakhi: Marking an Epoch

by admin on April 5, 2013

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Baisakhi CelebrationsFrom north to south India, Baisakhi is celebrated in different contexts. While for the Sikh community, it commemorates the founding of the Khalsa, in most other parts of India it heralds in the Hindu New Year.

For the Sikhs, celebrations are held all across Punjab, but especially at the Talwandi Sabo where Guru Gobind Singh recompiled the Guru Granth Sahib. The famed Gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib wherein the Sikh Panth originated and the Golden Temple at Amritsar, all wear a festive look. Just like all Gurudwaras across the world. On Baisakhi in 1699 AD, the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh laid the foundation for the Panth Khalsa; meaning: ‘Order of the pure ones.’ This is the day when farmers give thanks to God for a golden harvest and pray for more bountiful harvests to follow. Just before dawn, Sikh processions throng the Gurudwaras from Punjab to Pakistan, London to New York, Vancouver to Los Angeles, with offerings of flowers. This year is special one: Even the Malaysian Prime Minister has announced a day off for all Sikhs working in Malaysia on occasion of Baisakhi!  All over the world, the Sikhs perform community service in their neighborhoods and offer free food to all. In rural Punjab, men and women indulge in the famous Bhangra dance; which tells the joys of farming and fruits of the labour. This is followed by a huge bout of community feasting.

Punjab is where festive fervor rises to its crescendo. Why don’t you just get on to a polite chauffeur driven car to Amritsar or Chandigarh and see it to believe it? It’s bound to be a massive eye-opener if you haven’t been there once. Plus, the golden hued harvest will be super fresh! You could start with a visit to Delhi’s famous Gurudwara Bangla Sahib where a multitude of the faithful congregate to offer prayers.Baisakhi Celebrations

Up further north, Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens and Jammu’s Nagbani temples are where many Hindus converge to herald in an auspicious New Year. The Kashmiri Pandits refer to the day as Navroz or Navreh.  All along the banks of the holy Ganges people bathe ritually and pray; some believe that this was the day when Goddess Ganges descended to earth. Elsewhere, where the Hindu solar New Year dawns, Goddess Jwalamukhi (meaning volcano) is worshipped in Himachal Pradesh while the Sun God Surya is the prime deity on this day in Bihar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka too!  In Assam, it is called ‘Bohag Bihu’ where it is celebrated with very traditional songs, dances and feasting. In Bengal and Tripura, people offer each other sweets and presents while offering greetings on Poila Baisakh (the first day of the month in Baisakh). Incidentally, Swami Dayanand Saraswati also founded the Arya Samaj on the Baisakhi of 1875.

Down south in Tamil Nadu, Baisakhi is termed as ‘Varsha Pirappu’ or ‘Puthandu Vazthukal’, or Chitterai Thiruvizha, and a massive exhibition called Chitterai Porutkaatchi is held in the celebrated Meenakshi temple. People wear new clothes and family members light the traditional long necked brass and silver lamp called ‘Kuthu Vilakku’.  On the western borders across Kerala, fireworks fill the skies as they celebrate ‘Vishu’ with flower and fruit arrangements and gifts of silk, clothes and gold. All relatives and friends gather to share an elaborate lunch called ‘sadya.’

Across India, the Buddhist community too celebrate this day called ‘Vesakha’ which marks the day as the birth, death and enlightenment of Lord Buddha. So, this is a day of celebrations all across India, and even as we wish you a very happy and bountiful Baisakhi, we ask you keep reading as next time around we bring you the sacred secrets of Ram Navami.

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