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Vaisakhi: What is it & Why Should You Care?

April 13, 2016 | Navkiran Brar

Today marks the celebration of Vaisakhi – the most popular festival in the vibrant state of Punjab. It is a lively celebration of culture and religion characterized by colorful festivities, traditions, and community gatherings.
 

Photo Courtesy: Nat Geo Traveller India

When is it?

April 13th (or 14th, depending on the solar calendar)

 

 

Why does it matter?

It signifies the start of harvest season in the agricultural state of Punjab that is considered to be the breadbasket of India. This day has traditionally been commemorated with a lot of festivities, prayers, and celebrations as farmers thank the Gods for an abundant crop.
 
Fun Fact: The popular dance form of Bhangra originated as a harvest dance that farmers perform in order to celebrate the occasion of Vaisakhi.

 

 

Photo Courtesy: Aziz Dhamani

What else happened?

This day also marks the birth of the Khalsa in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikh religion. Khalsa means ‘pure’ and a baptism {Amrit} ceremony was initiated by the Guru for people to join a community of committed Sikhs who would follow a certain ‘pure’ way of life.

 

 

What does that mean?

Sikhism, as most of us perceive it, was born on this day. The baptism ceremony includes adoption of the five Ks (Kes, Kara, Kangha, Kachera, and Kirpan) or articles of faith that collectively symbolize ‘Khalsa’.
 
Not to be confused with the birth of Sikhism which took place in 1469 based on the spiritual teachings of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak Dev.

 

 

Photo Courtesy: Aziz Dhamani

Where to celebrate?

Vaisakhi is celebrated across the world through festive fares {melas} and colorful street processions called Nagar Kirtans. But the biggest celebrations take place at Talwandi Sabo where Guru Gobind Singh completed the holy book of the Sikh religion – Guru Granth Sahib. Other notable places of celebration are Anandpur Sahib where Khalsa was established and Golden Temple in Amritsar.

 

 

 

 

Navkiran Brar

Founder of Offroads India. New Yorker at heart and a graduate of Boston University. Left the corporate world and moved halfway across the world to turn a passion into a profession.

 

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