Festivals carry a deep significance in all the religions which are often unknown to us while we go on celebrating them year after year. Once we understand the significance, as well as the importance of these festivals, celebrating them, becomes infused with fun, enthusiasm and pride.
Vaisakhi is one such festival that is celebrated every year on 13th or 14th April by Hindus and Sikhs. We go on celebrating it year after year, following the customs laid down without knowing the story behind its celebration. Today, we will enlighten you about the true importance of this day by telling you Vaisakhi’s story, why it is celebrated as well as how it is celebrated so that you can celebrate Baisakhi 2021 with complete knowledge.
What is the Story Behind Vaisakhi?
Vaisakhi Festival also pronounced as Baisakhi marks one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar. It is celebrated as the beginning of the Punjabi New Year as well as to celebrate the year 1699 when Sikhism was born as a collective faith and a religion.
Before gathering its significance as a Sikh religious festival, Vaisakhi has always been celebrated as a harvest festival in Punjab, an area of Northern India. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh on the day of Baisakhi established the Khalsa, the collective name given to every Sikh who has been baptized.
He came out of a tent carrying a sword on the day to take any Sikh who was willing to sacrifice his life for the faith. Few men disappeared into the tent and after a while, the Guru came out of the tent with a bloody sword which worried the crowd. This was followed by five men coming out of the tent unharmed and wearing turbans on their heads.
These five men became known as Panj Piare (Beloved Five) and became the first five members of the Khalsa. They were baptized by Guru Gobind Singh by sprinkling holy water on them and reciting holy prayers. The same ritual is now followed at the baptism ceremony of the Sikhs. Now, on the occasion of the Baisakhi festival, Sikhs visit Gurudwaras (their place of worship) which are specially decorated for the occasion.
There are also special processions and parades which take place in the religious faith called ‘Nagar Kirtans’. ‘Nagar’ means town and ‘Kirtan’ stands for the singing of hymns found in the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs which is also carried in the procession. The celebrations on the day include activities such as singing, reading aloud the scriptures, and chanting hymns.
This occasion has now also become prominent as the day when many Sikhs get baptized into the Khalsa brotherhood. Grand celebrations take place in the Punjab city of Anandpur Sahib where Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa. Additionally, the farmers in Punjab also celebrate this occasion to pay thanks to God for a plentiful harvest and pray for the same in the coming year.
Why is Vaisakhi Important?
The day of Vaisakhi marks the first day of the month of Vaisakha which makes it an important festival. The holiday of Vaisakhi also known as Vaisakhi Sankranti usually falls on 13th or 14th April. Along with the celebration of the initiation of the Khalsa brotherhood, Vaisakhi is also celebrated by the Hindus as it marks the beginning of the Solar new year.
The Hindus celebrate the day as a harvest festival and take a bath in sacred rivers which include Jhelum, Ganges, and Kaveri. They also meet their friends, engage in charitable activities, visit the community fairs and participate in various festive activities. Therefore, the festival is important for both Hindus and Sikhs making it even more significant.
Why do we Celebrate Vaisakhi?
Vaisakhi Chauth is celebrated as a remembrance of the foundation of Sikhism. A Sikh leader, Guru Tegh Bahadur was killed because he refused to convert to Islam under the orders of a Mughar emperor Aurangzeb. This triggered the formation of the order of Sikhism and the final formation of the Khalsa brotherhood.
Therefore, Vaisakhi now is celebrated to remember the auspicious day and celebrate the formation of Khalsa and the integrity of Sikhism. At the same time, many Hindus also celebrate it as a harvest festival.
Baisakhi becomes an important festival for two religions which is very rare. The knowledge of reasons behind celebrating a particular festival helps people in understanding the rituals as well as their religion in a better manner. Once we understand our religion and its auspiciousness, we naturally start taking pride in it and following it with all our heart.
This is some knowledge about what Vaisakhi is and why it is celebrated so that you can enjoy the Vaisakhi 2021 which falls on 13 April with added enthusiasm and understanding. We hope this Vaisakhi brings you joy and happiness.