Baisakhi: Significance, History & Celebration
Baisakhi is a festival for the farmers in the country. It is celebrated to mark the harvesting season of Rabi crops. It is also celebrated as a solar new year. The celebration takes place specially in the state of Punjab with full fervor. It is known to be one of the most important festivals in Punjab and Haryana. On this day the sound of “Jatta Aayi Baisakhi” echoes in the sky. Streets are filled with joy and the vigor of the festivities.
Baisakhi Muhurat (Timings)
The word Baisakhi comes from the Hindu calendar month of Vaishakh. It is the second month in the Hindu calendar. This is the time when the farmers in the northern part of India have harvested the season's crops and are gearing up for the next season's sowing. On this day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries (Mesh), the first one among the twelve zodiac signs. Therefore, this festival is also called Mesh Sankranti. Since 2003, the Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee named the month in which Vaisakhi falls as Vaisakh, making the first day of the second month according to the Nanakshahi calendar.
When is Vaisakhi? Baisakhi Date & Time
Baisakhi is the Sikh New Year's Day and every year it is celebrated on 13th or 14th April.
Baisakhi 2023 will be celebrated on:
Baisakhi Date- 14th April,2023 (Friday)
Baisakhi Time- 03:12 PM
Mesh Sankranti- 14th April, 2023 (Friday)
Punya Kala - 11:01 AM to 06:55 PM
Duration - 07 Hours 55 Mins
Maha Punya Kala - 01:06 PM to 05:17 PM
Duration - 04 Hours 11 Mins
Baisakhi Significance And Importance
Baisakhi was one of the three festivals that the third Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das, chose to be celebrated by the Sikhs. The five Ks of Sikhism were adopted (Kesh/Uncut Hair, Kada/Steel Bracelet, Kanga/Comb, Kaccha/Cotton Underwear, Kirpan/Steel Sword) and the Guru system was dispelled, with Sikhs being urged to accept the Granth Sahib as their eternal guide. Thus, the festival of Baisakhi is also observed as the coronation of the last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, granting it a position of immense importance to Sikhism, and is one of the biggest Sikh festivals. It is on this day (in 1699) that Guru Gobind Singh Ji, laid the foundation of the Khalsa Panth, which is why Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is celebrated with great reverence by Sikhs.
History Of Baisakhi (Vaisakhi Story)
In 1699, the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur, was publicly beheaded by the Mughals. This occurred due to his willingness to oppose the Mughal invaders and protect the cultural identity of Hindus and Sikhs whom the Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb wanted to convert to Islam.
Guru Gobind Singh (son of Guru Tegh Bahadur), widely known as the ‘Final Living Guru of Sikhism,’ held the Baisakhi celebrations that resulted in the formation of the Khalsa (to be pure, to be clear, to be free from). Today, it is also called ‘Khalsa Sirjana Diwas (the birth of Khalsa). In conjunction with the foundation of the Khalsa, an army was organized to battle against the faults of society as well as the Mughal Emperors and their armies.
Baisakhi was also the day of the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919, when the British colonists trapped and murdered a peaceful assembly of Indians, acting as a major catalyst in the Indian freedom struggle.
Origin Of The Baisakhi Festival
The tradition of Baisakhi was started in 1699 when the Panj Piaras (the beloved five) were the first five men to be baptized as Sikh and Guru Gobind Singh laid down the Panth Khalsa (the order of the pure ones) according to the Guru Granth Sahib.
Five individuals are chosen to represent the Panj Piaras and lead religious processions organized in the cities and provinces. Kar Sewa (volunteering to help at Gurdwaras) an important highlight of the day is considered as the expression of modesty. We can find the recitation of some passages from Guru Granth Sahib, kirtans and traditional songs in the Gurdwaras.
Baisakhi Festival Celebration
On this day, Gurdwaras wear a festive look as they gear up to welcome the footfall of thousands of devotees. Sikhs take a holy dip in nearby ponds or lakes and don festive gears. Grand processions are taken out in which devotional songs (Nagar Kirtans) are played from the Guru Granth Sahib.
The procession is always led by the Panj Pyare (the five beloved ones who form the central part of the Khalsa), dressed in saffron. They are followed by the holy book of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib, and other members of the procession. Sewadars (volunteers) help clear beforehand the road through which the procession is to pass. The procession arrives finally at the designated Gurudwara where Ardas (prayer) is offered.
The community members make a bonfire at night and dance Bhangra, Punjabi folk dances, or Gidda. The nagada and dhol add on to the zeal of Baisakhi. It is a day of making and sharing sweetmeats and dance and festivity. Fairs and melas are held in many places across the country to celebrate this festival in merriment. Gifts are also exchanged with the loved ones.
In addition to this for Hindus, this festival is for ritual bathing in the rivers like Yamuna, Godavari, Ganga and other religious water bodies. Besides this, they visit the temples and perform the mandatory daan of hand fans, water pitchers, and seasonal fruits. On Vaisakhi, there are fairs (Vaisakhi Da Mela) being held in the religious pilgrimage sites, and along with this for many temples the possessions of their deities are taken out in the city.
Baisakhi is celebrated in every Punjabi household with great zeal and enthusiasm. People dress up in traditional Punjabi attires as they celebrate it with their family members and folks. On the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi, yellow clothes are worn to signify the spirit of rebirth and sacrifice of the Panj Pyare. They are also a symbol of joy and celebration.
Almost a mandatory dress for Punjabi men on Baisakhi, are kurta pajamas worn in different styles and colours on this day. While turban (pagg) is part of everyday outfits for Sikh men, it’s worn in a different style on Baisakhi. Very similar to a Lungi, Chadar is a colourful cloth tied around the waist. Kaintha is a necklace that is worn by men. A sleeveless colourful jacket, Jugi is worn over the kurta.
Women in north India dedicate their Baisakhi attire to traditional Punjabi dressing with Patialas and Shararas. A type of braid, paranda is worn over the hair and is part of traditional clothing for women in Punjab. Saggi (Maang Teeka) that’s worn by women on the head, looks like a flower protruding out. Bangles, different jewelleries are used by women to accessorize themselves. Juttis of different styles are worn by both men and women to complete their look.
Feasts are an integral part of the Baisakhi festival and the traditional Karah Prasad, a semolina concoction prepared with wheat, clarified butter and sugar is a special delicacy. Karah Prasad is also commonly known as Aata Halwa. This is mainly a part of the prasad distributed in the Gurdwaras.
The important Baisakhi food prepared on this day basically involves the harvested crops. Sarso ka Saag, Makke ki Roti, Dal Makhni, Punjabi Kadhi, Pindi Choley. Some other common dishes are chole bhature, parathas.
The sweet dishes include meethey chawal, pinni, phirni, jalebis. The most famous lassi is prepared as the special drink.
Regional Variations of Baisakhi
Along with Baisakhi, India also witnesses many other versions of this festival being celebrated in the other parts of the country.
Bihu, also known as Bohag Bihu, is one of the key festivals in Assam which is also celebrated in several parts of Manipur and Bengal. This harvest festival celebrates the changing of seasons marked by the unique Bihu dance and elaborate dinners shared with families. Rice, coconut, jaggery, sesame, and milk are the main ingredients that are used to prepare the Bihu delicacies.
Vishu, widely celebrated in Kerala, marks the new year. The festival is also celebrated in parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Pondicherry. The day begins with the worshipping of Vishukkani - which has the idols of Lord Krishna along with a platter of fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables. The day is marked by a special afternoon meal ‘Sadhya’ that features an assortment of vegetables, rice and sweets.
Puthandu is being celebrated on April 14 in Tamil Nadu, and Tamil-dominated countries Sri Lanka and Mauritius. According to the Tamil Calendar Varusha Pirappu, Puthandu marks the first day of the first month (Chithirai). The night before the auspicious day, a tray full of fruit, betel leaves, gold ornaments, silver jewellery, money/cash/coins and flowers are put together in the prayer room for the Lord Vishnu to view as the first thing.
Poila Boishakh is celebrated on April 15 in West Bengal, and parts of Tripura. According to the Bengali calendar, it is the first day of the first month (Baishakh), and people thank the divine forces for the harvest of the previous year and that to follow. People decorate their houses with rangoli in their courtyards made with a paste of rice and water (alpona). Families celebrate the new year with Bengali folk songs and dances in traditional attire.
In the Mithila region of Bihar and Nepal, Baisakhi is celebrated as Jur Sital. It is traditional to use lotus leaves to serve sattu (roasted red gram flour) and raw mango to the family members.
The festival is highly significant for Hindus as well as Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj on this day in 1875.
Baisakhi is a holy day for the Buddhists as they believe that Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism attained enlightenment or Nirvana on this day.
Contemporary Relevance of The Festival
The festival of Baisakhi is celebrated by different communities for various reasons, despite which the main motive behind the festival stays the same. The idea at the core of this festival is to pray, socialise, and enjoy good food. Baisakhi has a dedication for spreading harmony, peace, and love and to socialize within the community and outside of the community.Scroll Down to read more
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