The festival of Baisakhi or Vaisakhi celebrated on April 13 every year is significant for various reasons.
For centuries, farmers in Punjab and its adjoining areas have observed Baisakhi as a day of thanking the Almighty for the bountiful harvest and praying for future prosperity.
Baisakhi also holds significance for Sikhs as it was on this day, in 1699, that the Tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the ‘Khalsa Panth’ or the ‘Order of Pure Ones’ at a gathering in wake of the religious oppression the community was facing at the hands of Mughal rulers. Five Sikhs who paid heed to the Guru’s call for fighting oppression would be eventually be known as the ‘Panj Pyare’ or ‘Beloved Five’ and are considered to be the first people to have been initiated into the ‘Khalsa Panth’.
This year the day will also mark the 100th anniversary of the Jalianwalla Bagh massacre in which hundreds of Indians were killed on the orders of British army official General Dyer in Punjab’s Amritsar city on April 14, 1919.
Where is it celebrated?
Apart from celebrations in north India, Sikhs and other Punjabi diaspora communities commemorate the festival around the world in countries like Canada and the UK.
Punjab’s folk dance, Bhangra, is an important feature of fairs held across North India and elsewhere.
What is Nagar Kirtan?
Devotees also visit Gudwaras, specially decked up for the festival, and participate in street processions called 'Nagar Kirtans' that feature singing, scripture-reciting and hymn-chanting.
Major celebrations are held in Punjab’s Anandpur Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh is said to have established the ‘Khalsa Panth’.