Baisakhi, also spelled
Vaisakhi, is the festival which celebrates Sikh New Year and the
founding of the Sikh community, known as the Khalsa.
BAISAKHI OR VAISAKHI
Vaisakhi Day is of paramount importance for the Sikhs, as it was
on this day Guru Gobind Singh - the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs sought
to eliminate social discriminations with the establishment of the
universal caste Khalsa Panth.
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi Festival is celebrated as the Sikh New Year
and the founding of the Khalsa Panth. History of Baisakhi traces
its origin from the Baisakhi Day celebrations of 1699 organized
by the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh to form Khalsa - Brotherhood
of Saint Soldiers to fight against tyranny and oppression.
Baisakhi is one of the most popular festivals celebrated in the
vibrant state of Punjab to mark the harvest of Rabi crops. Baisakhi
usually falls on April 13, and on April 14 once every thirty-six
years. Baisakhi is one of the festivals where huge amount of cooking
with authentic recipes and eating takes place. Also, as the festival
is celebrated mainly towards the Northern region where people love
to eat, this festival brings with itself varied dishes that can
be enjoyed while sitting admist these beautiful farm lands.The people
of Punjab, one of the richest states in India, get into a different
mood during the festival of Baisakhi
Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru of the Sikhs
founded the Khalsa (Community of the Pure) at the Baisakhi gathering
in 1699, at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh, had
organised for followers from all over India to meet him at the Basakhi
Fair in Anandpur. For Sikhs, this seasonal festival also has great
importance as the founding of the Akal Khalsa (Soldiers of the Timeless
One) at Anandpur Sahib. The Akal Khalsa played an important role
in resistance against Mughal rule. For many centuries after that,
the first male child of many Hindu families in Punjab was ordained
as a Sikh in order for him to train and become a warrior and fight
for the people. Other male children used to take care of the family,
parents and the land.
On this memorable Baisakhi day (March,30 of A.D.1699) ,
Guru Gobind Singh Sahib called a big meeting at Kesgarh
Sahib near the City of Anandpur Sahib. Between fifty to eighty thousand
Sikhs attended this meeting. When all were expecting to hear words
of comfort and consolation from the lips of their Guru, they were
perturbed to see him with a drawn sword in his hand and cried:
'Is there anyone here who would lay down his life for Dharam?'
There was a big silence, but the Guru went on repeating his demand.
At the third call Daya Ram, a Khatri of Lahore, rose from his seat
and offered himself. The Guru took him into an adjoining enclosure....(and
soon after) came out with the (blood) dripping....(sword in hand)
and flourshing it before the gathering, asked again, 'Is there any
other Sikh here who will offer himself as a sacrifice(for the cause
of dharma)? At this Daram Das, a Jat of Delhi (Haryana side) came
forward and was taken into the enclosure....(The Guru again came
out with the blood-stained sword, and made his previous demand).
In the same way three other men stood up, one after another, and
offered themselves for the sacrifice. One was Mohkam Chand, a washerman
of Dwarka (Gujarat State); another was Himmat, a cook of Jagannath
(Orissa State); and the third was Sahib Chand, a barber of Bidar
(Karnataka State). The Guru, after dressing the five in handsome
clothes, brought them from the assembly.
Panj Piarae - Five Beloved of the Guru
These first five to come forward for taking Amrit were -
Daya Ram - a Khatri from Lahore.
Dharam Das - a Jat from Delhi.
Himmat a cook from Jagan Nath (Gujrat).
Mohkam Chand - a chheemba (washerman, cloth dyer-printer) from Dwarka
Sahib Chand - a naa-ee (barber) from Bidar (Andhra Pradesh).
These five men were called Panj Piara or 'Beloved Five' by the
Guru. The Guru blessed them with a Pahul ceremony. In an iron vessel,
the Guru stirred with a sword called Khanda Sahib, the batasha that
his wife, Mata Sundari Ji had put into water. The congregation recited
verses from scriptures as the Guru performed the sacred ceremony.
The water was now considered the sacred nectar of immortality called
amrit. It was first given to the five volunteers, then drunk by
the guru and later distributed amongst the crowd. With this ceremony,
all those present, irrespective of caste or creed, became members
of the Khalsa Pantha (the Order of the Pure Ones).
With the creation of Khalsa, the Khalsa created history and since
the birth of Khalsa, the history of Punjab has been the history
of Sikhs. Baisakhi played a significant role in this regard. In
1762, Ahmed Shah Abdali, with the sole purpose to destroy the entire
Sikh nation, declared 'Jehad'(holy-war) against the Sikhs and all
the Muslims of the Punjab rallied under this slogan. The Sikhs were
surrounded near the village Kup in Ludhiana District. Chronicles
mention that about twenty thousand Sikhs were martyred in a single
day. This event is known in the history of the Sikhs as "Ghallughara"
(Bloody Carnage). After this, Ahmed Shah Abdali thought that he
had crushed the entire Sikh nation, but was greatly disillusioned
when after a few months heard that the Sikhs in large number are
celebrating Baisakhi at Amritsar. In due course of time Baisakhi
reminds every Sikh of his cultural and religious heritage. On Baisakhi
day all the Sikhs used to assemble at Amritsar and decide their
problems relating to politics and religion. This convention still