Baisakhi is a very important festival of North India, especially the state of Punjab. It falls in April and has significance for many other Indian communities. Apart from Punjabis Bengalis and Malayalis also celebrate this day as their new year. In Kerala this day is called Vishu and in Bengal it’s called Poila Baisakh or naba barsha. This day is also celebrated by the Buddhists. This day is significant for the birth, enlightment and the awakening of Gautam Buddha.
This year in 2017 Baisakhi will be celebrated on 13th April all across the country. Sometimes the festival is also celebrated on 14th April. This change happens because the date of Baisakhi is decided as per the Bikrami calendar that is followed by the Sikh Punjabis.
Baisakhi is exclusively a festival from Punjab. However, after independence many people from Punjab decided to settle in various parts of the country looking for a better future. These people took the festival of Baisakhi to the different parts of the country.
Today Baisakhi is celebrated across the country wherever there is a Punjabi community. If you want to see the true spirit of the festival you will have to be in Punjab during this festival.
The Punjabi community today has become an international community. The need for a better life has taken them to the USA, Australia and even United Kingdom. In most of these countries you will get Gurudwaras. As a result the Baisakhi is celebrated even in these parts of the countries. You will be surprised to see the number of people who turn up for these festivities.
First day of Vaisakh
This festival is celebrated in the first day of Vaisakh month every year. The Baisakhi festival is more popular among the Sikh Punjabis. This is because on this day the Khalsha (the collective body of the Sikh) was established. This Baisakhi festival is also a harvest festival and is also considered as the Punjabi New Year.
How is it Celebrated?
To celebrate this day the Sikh Punjabis visit the Gurudwara and offer flowers. The Guru Granth Sahib is read in every Gurudwara on this day. The book is taken out in a processions are held across the cities to ensure that people are reminded of the importance of the Khalsa. The book is also given a symbolic bath with milk and water.
In the afternoon a special offering is prepared it is called the karah prasad and it is given to all the devotees. The community lunch on this day is very special and is enjoyed by many. The Sikh Punjabis take to charity on this day as charity is a very important aspect of the Sikh religion.
The Hindu Punjabis on the other hand ensure that this day is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show. They organise fairs and celebrate this day with music and dance. Stalls are put up in these fairs. These fairs are a good way to celebrate the festival with a shopping and eating spree. These fairs are enjoyed by people of all age.
Not complete without bhangra
Bhangra which is a common dance form of Punjab is performed all across the state. Men and women dress in traditional outfits and perform this dance. They also wear traditional jewellery. A major part of the Punjab’s population even today depends on farming. This is why they celebrate this day as a thanksgiving day. They thank god for a good harvest and pray that the gods always bless them with a good harvest.
As this is beginning of the harvest season the farmers at this time have lots of money to spend. We must mention here that Punjab has a very fertile land and it produces good harvests almost every year. Even the Hindu Punjabis perform charity on this day as Punjabis consider charity as a very important deed to please Gods.
Food on Vaisakhi
Punjabis are fond of good food so the celebration of Baisakhi cannot be considered complete without the mention of the Punjabi delicacies. All the households prepare lovely Punjabi dishes on this day and invite friends and family. Some common dishes that are prepared on this day are. In the non vegetarian dishes you will find achari mutton, saag meat and tandoori chicken.
Many Punjabis prefer vegetarian food on this day so they prepare Biriyani, laddus of wheat, halwa of carrot, kheer, peele chawal, battura, sarsoon ka saag and makki di roti. Lots of sweets are also prepared on this day. Some people also give gifts to the family members on this day. Wearing new clothes on the day of Baisakhi is also a tradition that is followed by most of the Punjabis.
The story of River Ganges
Some Hindu communities also do belive that the Baisakhi was the day when the river Ganga descended to earth. They worship the river on this day and thank it for all that it has done for the mankind. The devotees gather around the river and take bath in it. They worship the goddess Ganga as she is considered to be the life giving force to the common people of the country. This is more common in cities through which the Ganga River flows.
The day of Baisakhi is significant for the Arya Samaj too. This is because on this day Swami Dayanand Saraswati started the Arya Samaj in the year 1875.
This is all that Baisakhi is about. It is indeed a special festival that is celebrated all across the country in different forms. We hope that you have a great Baisakhi in 2016.