Baisakhi – The beautiful harvest festival
Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, is a harvest festival celebrated in the Punjab region. This is a festival that also marks the Punjabi New Year and is celebrated to give thanks for the good harvest season and prayers are said for future prosperity. Beautiful fairs are held in the villages in Punjab and the atmosphere is one of camaraderie and cheer. Celebrated in the Vaisakh (April) month, it marks the beginning of the new spring year.
Importance of Baisakhi
Baisakhi holds a lot of importance in Punjab as it is dominantly an agricultural state. As such, it is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and people wake up early and take a dip in the holy rivers. Baisakhi also has a lot of significance for Sikhs, who celebrate the day as the birthday of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh and the foundation of the Khalsa in 1699. The most fun and exciting thing about Baisakhi is that it is celebrated right in the open fields with a lot of lively bhangra and gidda dance by the people. Everyone dresses up for the occasion in the most colourful traditional outfits and the sounds of the dhol could be heard far and wide.
It’s celebrated across the world!
Baisakhi is not just confined to the Punjabis and Sikhs though; it is celebrated all over India and even abroad by different names. For example, it is celebrated as Naba Barsha in Bengal, Vishu in Kerala, Tamil Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Sinhalese New Year in Sri Lanka, and Songkran in Thailand. For Hindus in the Punjab region, Baisakhi marks the start of the new solar year and the festival itself starts with bathing, worshipping and partying. Another reason to celebrate Baisakhi is that it is believed that Goddess Ganga descended to earth and many Hindus take ritual baths in the sacred Ganges River. Baisakhi is an important day for Buddhists as well, as it commemorates the birth, awakening and the enlightened passing away of Gautama Buddha, born as the prince Siddhartha.
The festival is celebrated in other parts of the world with equal gusto, too. For instance, in Pakistan, it is celebrated by Sikhs in Western Punjab in various Gurudwaras and historical sites. In the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, Nagar Kirtan (processions) are organised, and people organise “seva” by giving out free food and helping out with other labour.
Thus we can see that as most of us previously thought that Baisakhi is the festival of Punjabis only, it holds a special place in the hearts of people belonging to other religions and countries, too. Have you ever celebrated this fun festival? Tell us your experience!