Baisakhi festival falls on April 14th and marks the beginning of the solar year. People of North India, particularly Punjab thank God for good harvest. Visit to Gurudwaras, Baisakhi processions and traditional performances are highlights of the day. Baisakhi has special significance for Sikhs as on this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh Ji organized the order of the Khalsa.
Formed in the 15th century, Sikhism is a monotheistic faith. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first preacher of this faith followed by nine other Sikh gurus, believed to be the messengers of God.
Baisakhi for Farmers : Farmers are jubilant over the festival as for them Baisakhi marks the time for harvest of rabi crops. Prosperous with the bountiful produce they look forward to celebrating Baisakhi with all eagerness.Cries of “Jatta aayi Baisakhi” reverberate in the skies as gaily-dressed men and women move towards the fields to celebrate the occasion. High point of Baisakhi celebrations in villages is the performance of traditional folk dance bhangra and gidda by men and women respectively. The dance is simple in movement but is extremely energetic and is performed in-groups on the beat of dhol. Farmers also celebrate Baisakhi as a Thanksgiving Day. After taking an early bath in ponds or rivers people visit temples or gurdwaras to express gratitude to the Almighty for the bountiful harvest and pray for prosperity and good times in future.
Baisakhi for others : People on this day take an early bath, wear new clothes and visit the neighbourhood gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) to participate in the special prayer meet marked for the day. After a special ardas of kirtans (religious songs) and discourses, kada prasad is distributed amongst all present. Later, people sit in rows to relish the langar or community lunch prepared and served by sevaks (volunteers).
Major celebrations of Baisakhi are organized at Golden Temple, Amritsar. Most Sikhs strive to visit Golden Temple on the occasion. The Khalsa Panth was founded in Anandpur Sahib in the year 1699.
Baisakhi celebration in India : The auspicious day of Baisakhi is celebrated all over India though under different names and with different set of rituals. People of Assam celebrate April 13 as Rongali Bihu, while those in West Bengal celebrate it as Naba Barsha. Bihar celebrates Baisakhi as Vaishakha in honour of the Sun God – Surya while Kerala celebrates it as Vishu and Tamil Nadu as Puthandu. In Kashmir, a ceremonial bath and general festivity mark Baisakhi while in Himachal Pradesh devotees flock to the temple of Jwalamukhi and take a holy dip in the Hot Springs.