• Also called

Baisakhi, Vaisakhi

  • Observed by

Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists

  • Type

Punjabi festival

  • Significance

The beginning of the harvest season and birth of the Khalsa

  • Date

First day of Vaisakh (usually 13 April, but 15 April in 2011 in the Gregorian calendar)

  • Celebrations

Parades and Nagar Kirtanr

  • Observances

Prayers, processions, rising of the Nishan Sahib flag

Baisakhi festival assumes utmost importance in the life of the people of Punjab. The festival is celebrated after the harvest season and people are happy to receive the yields after a year of hard labor.  The happy moments of Baisakhi are celebrated with dancing, merriment and singing. The traditional Giddha and Bhangra are performed by the people during the festival.

The Baisakhi festival also marks the birth date of Khalsa or 'Khalsa Sirjana Diwas'. Baisakhi has become very popular and is being celebrated by people of all faith and religion with same zeal. In villages the harvesting has an important influence on Baisakhi celebration. But it is now celebrated in urban areas also with the same eagerness.

Significance of Baisakhi

Baisakhi festival has a special significance in the life of Sikhs. It was on this auspicious day in year 1699, Guru Gobind Singh the tenth Guru of Sikh religion proclaimed the order of Khalsa and provided nectar to first batch of disciples. This was the day of commencement of a community called SInghs. The day also marked the founding of Arya Samaj by Swami Dayanand Saraswathi in 1875. Arya Samaj consisted of some followers who believed in the power of Vedas and Puranas for spiritual guidance and solutions to human problems. They also rejected the idol worship. This day is also significant for people of Buddhist faiths as this day marks the nirvana and enlightenment day of Lord Buddha.

Date of Baisakhi

Baisakhi marks the commencement of vaisakh (April-May) as per the Sikh calendar or Nanakshahi.  Due to this reason the festival is also called as Vaisakhi. As per the English calendar the date of Baisakhi falls on 13th every year and on 14th once in every 36 years. The date of festival is calculated using solar calendar. This creates a difference in date. The festival is celebrated across the entire country with different names and rituals. It is celebrated as ‘Rongali Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Pooram Vishu’ in Kerala, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and 'Naba Barsha in Bengal.

Celebration of Baisakhi

Baisakhi is celebrated with utmost commitment and liveliness by the people of Punjab.  This festival has lot of religious importance, hence majority of the rituals are performed at Gurudwara. People wake up well before sun rise and get on with the preparations for this auspicious day. Many people prefer to take auspicious dip in rivers to grace the occasion. They assemble at the community Gurudwara and attend the special prayers organized on the eve of festival. After religious rituals everyone is served with sweetened semolina or Kara Prasad. Community feast popularly called guru ka langar forms the completion of morning celebration.

The evening celebrations commences with a procession taken out with Panj piaras heading the show. The procession covers and halts at major locations and centers of the locality. The women, children and men sing devotional songs. Orchestra is also arranged. Giddha and Bhangra performances also form part of the procession.

Celebration by Farmers

The farmers of the Punjab welcome Basiaskhi festival with high yield of Rabi crops in their bounty. They offer their prayers to God for bestowing rich yield of crops. Purchasing of new attires, feast, merriment, dancing, and singing become the part of Baisakhi. Popular uproar of "Jatta aai Baisakhi" can be heard at every nook and corner of the village with people irrespective of age dancing to the tunes of Giddha and Bhangra. The day to day activities of agriculture like harvesting, winnowing, sowing are expressed through excellent bodily movements accompanied by beats of “Dhol”. In some villages local level competitions of wresting and other amusement activities are also organized.

Baisakhi Fairs

Fairs during Baisakhi attract lot of tourist from both within and outside the country to Punjab. The joyous, colorful fairs which have performances of Giddha and Bhangra by renowned group are a crowd puller. The availability of numerous stalls where tourists can taste delicious Punjabi dishes adds to the delight.

Customs & Traditions

Baisakhi festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion by the people of Punjab state. Baisakhi festival which marks the founding day of Khalsa Panth and the birth day of tenth Guru of Sikh religion, Guru Gobind Singh. Since this festival has utmost religious prominence majority of the activities and rituals are performed at the Gururdwara. However, being a harvest festival the colorful and energetic performances of Giddha and Bhangra becomes part of celebration.

Baisakhi Rituals at Gurudwaras

The religious customs of Baisakhi day commences with a visit to the nearby Gurudwara to participate in special prayers offered on the day. Most of the Sikhs make it a point to visit honored Anandapur Sahib or Golden Temple at Amritsar on this auspicious day. It was here the Khalsa was manifested.  However, those who cannot reach Golden Temple carry out the festival rituals at neighborhood Gurudwara. The rituals at the Gurudwara include symbolic bath to the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs. It is then placed on the throne, amidst chanting of holy verses and utmost devotion. Verses from the books are then read out for the gathering.

In order to commemorate the rituals and ceremonies held in the year 1699 under the leadership of Guru Gobind Singh when Khalsa was pronounced, the same is repeated in Gurudwara. Five beloved or Panch Pyaras (Five priests) chant verses from the holy book. Similar to the occurrence of founding year Amrit or nectar is prepared and offered to all gathered people after chanting the holy verses. The gathered follower’s take 5 sip of nectar and take a pledge to work for universal brotherhoodness. The ceremonies of the day continue with religious songs sung by priests and devotees for the spiritual well being of assembled people. The afternoon celebrations commences with offering of sweetened semolina or Kara Prasad to revered Guru to seek his blessings. This Prasad is then offered to the assembled people. The celebrations marks the end with a feast of vegetarian meals called “Guru-ka-Langar” organized in Gurudwara premises. People volunteer to serve the gathered followers with their heads covered with a towel.

Baisakhi Processions

The evening of Baisakhi day commences with procession of the holy book Guru Granth Sahib around important locations of the locality. This procession is carried out under the leadership of five fearless or Panj Piaras. This procession signifies the brave journey carried out by the five fearless devotees to Anandpur to become disciple of Guru Gobind Singh and first followers of Sikh religion. The procession is attended by all people irrespective of age. The procession which moves with excellent celebration and enthusiasm are welcomed by people and societies. The procession is accompanied by colorful performances of Giddha and Bhangra. Some of the popular musical instruments like Dhol and Nagada are played to the tunes of religious verses like 'Sat nam', 'Deg teg fateh', ‘Bole so nihal' and 'Wahe guru' are chanted by the followers. Men wear religious headgear of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Nanak.

During the culmination of the procession, religious leaders encourage people to take a vow to protect the religion, bring peace, harmony, universal brotherhoodness and motivate children. In certain areas the procession is carried out well before Baisakhi.

Celebrations in The Fields

The celebration of Baisakhi by farmers is very special. Women and men wear traditional Bhangra costumes and perform to the beats of Dhol. The harvesting of crops makes this festival special for farmers, as they are prosperous during the period.

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