Baisakhi, which is also known as Vaisakhi, is an occasion that marks the beginning of the New Year for the Sikh community and the solar New Year for the Hindus. Being the harvest festival, this day holds a place of great importance among farmers all across the country. For the people in Punjab, Baisakhi marks the ripening of the rabi harvest. On this day, farmers pay tribute to the God for the abundant harvest and also pray for future prosperity. This year the occasion will be commemorated on April 14.
Along with being a harvest festival, Baisakhi also observes major events in the history of Sikhism that took place in the Punjab region. On this auspicious day in 1919, the tenth Guru of Sikhism Guru Gobind Singh publicly asked people to lay down their lives for the Guru. This was after the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur was executed, on the orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, for refusing to convert to Islam. Five people, who had come forward to give their lives for the Guru were then known as Panj Piaras. These were then declared as the 5 founding members of the Khalsa Community and gave them the title of Singh.
The festival of Baisakhi is observed with joy and enthusiasm by farmers in the Northern region of India. On the day men and women dressed in colourful and vibrant clothes move towards the harvest fields to celebrate. The “Jatta aayi Baisakhi”, which means the arrival of Baisakhi, is heard among the celebrators. While men come together to perform the folk dances — men perform bhangra whereas women perform gidda– on the beat of the dhol.
On the day of Baisakhi Gurdwaras all around the country are decorated with lights and other ornamentation. People from the Sikh community visit and bathe in lakes and rivers before visiting local Gurdwaras, community fairs and satsangs. After visiting the Gurdwaras, people come together to socialise and share festive food.