The festival of Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi or Vasakhi, is a religious as well as a historical celebration in Sikhism. As per the Nanakshahi calendar and the Mool Nanakshahi Calendar, Baisakhi is commemorated on April 14 every year. This occasion marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and the traditional solar New Year for the Hindus. For the Sikh community, this day marks the birth of the Khalsa way of living as well as the formation of the Khalsa Panth under the renowned Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. While for the Hindus, it is believed to be the time when Goddess Ganga descended on earth and in her honour, people gather along the sacred river Ganges for the holy bath. While this occasion has different names, it is more or less celebrated in a similar way by both Hindus and Sikhs.
This day is of great importance in the history of Sikhism as well as the Punjab region. In the year of 1699, the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on the order of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb for refusing to convert to Islam, which prompted the coronation of the Tenth Guru of Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh. Interestingly, on the same day Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa Panth – also known as the Order of the Pure Ones. For this, he picked five Sikh warriors who would go on to defend religious freedom. The Jallianwala Bagh (1919), where thousands of Indians were massacred on the orders of British empire official Colonel Reginald Dyer, also took place on Baisakhi.
On the occasion of Baisakhi, Gurdwaras all across India are decorated with lights and other ornamentations. Several satsangs are held and Sikhs visit and bathe in lakes or rivers before visiting the Gurdwaras.
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