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Baisakhi (Vaisakhi) - Sikh [Also`celebrated by some Hindus, Buddhists.]

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Sat, 14/04/2018 (All day)

14th April

Baisakhi - New Year - Sikh  

The day commemorates the founding of the Khalsa, a distinctive Sikh brotherhood. 


Not to be confused with Vesak. 

Also called 

Baisakhi, Vaisakhi  

Observed by Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists  

Type Punjabi festival  

Significance The beginning of the harvest season and birth of the Khalsa  

Celebrations Parades and Nagar Kirtan  

Observances Prayers, processions, raising of the Nishan Sahib flag visākhī), also known as Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi) is a festival celebrated in the Punjab region.  The festival coincides with other festivals celebrated on the first day of Vaisakh, in some regions of India. 

Vaisakhi is especially important for the Sikh community as it marks the establishment of the Khalsa.  More recently, this festival is also celebrated around the world by Sikh diaspora. 

The festival is also celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists for different reasons including the start of a new year.  People in the Punjab Region regard Vaisakhi as a harvest festival and the Punjabi new year. 

Harvest festival and the Punjabi New Year preparing field for a wheat crop before celebrating Vaisakhi harvest festival 

Vaisakhi is a harvest festival for Punjabis and, according to the Punjabi calendar, the Punjabi New Year.  The Punjabi calendar is based on the Bikrami calendar and is used by all communities.  Hindus use the Punjabi calendar as their religious calendar too.  Fairs are organised on Vaisakhi day in Punjabi villages. 

This day is also observed as the thanksgiving day by the farmers whereby the farmers pay their tribute, thanking God for the abundant harvest and also praying for the future prosperity. 

Importance for Sikhs 

Main article: Khalsa 

Vaisakhi is one of the three festivals chosen by Guru Amar Das Ji to be celebrated by Sikhs (the others being Maghi and Diwali  which later gave rise to the festival of Bandi Chor Divas during the times of the sixth Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji). 

The festival bears a great significance for Sikhs due to the fact that on the Vaisakhi Day in the year 1699, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh laid down the foundation of the Panth Khalsa, that is the Order of the Pure Ones.  It is also used as a celebration for those accepting the five Ks. 

To mark the celebrations, Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurdwara before dawn with flowers and offerings in hands.  Processions through towns are also common. 

Vaisakhi in Hinduism and other religions 

For Hindus in the Punjab region, Vaisakhi is the start of the new Solar year, and is celebrated with requisite bathing, partying, and worshipping. 

For Hindus across the Punjab region and other parts of India, there is another reason to celebrate the first day of Vaisakh.  It is believed that thousands of years ago, Goddess Ganga descended to earth and in her honour, many Hindus gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths.  The action is centered in the holy cities along the Ganges in north India, or in Srinagar's Mughal Gardens, Jammu's Nagbani Temples, or anywhere in Tamil Nadu.  Hindus plant poles (wrapped in flags of gold-embroidered silk) in front of their homes, and hang pots of brass, copper or silver on top. 

In Kerala, the festival is called 'Vishu'.  It includes fireworks, shopping for new clothes and interesting displays called 'Vishu Kani'.  These are arrangements of flowers, grains, fruits, cloth, gold, and money are viewed early in the morning, to ensure a year of prosperity. 

In Assam, the festival is called Bohag Bihu, and the community organizes massive feasts, music, and dancing. 

Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj on Vaisakhi, in 1875. 

Apart from the Sikhs and Hindus, Vaisakhi is an important day for the Buddhists as well.  The name is Vesakha, Vaisakha, Vesak or Wesak.  It commemorates the Birth, the Awakening and the Enlightened Passing Away of Gautama Buddha who was born as prince Siddharta. 


Vaisakhi is usually celebrated on 13 April, and occasionally on 14 April, in the different regions across the world as the Sikhs migrated overseas. 

In Indian Punjab 

Vaisakhi at Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa 

The main celebration takes place at Talwandi Sabo (where Guru Gobind Singh stayed for nine months and completed the recompilation of the Guru Granth Sahib),  and in the Gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib (see picture above), the birthplace of the Khalsa and at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. 

In Pakistani Punjab 

Vaisakhi is widely celebrated by Sikhs in Western Punjab (Pakistan) as well, with festivities centered on the Panja Sahib complex in Hasan Abdal, numerous Gurudwaras in Nankana Sahib, and in various historical sites in Lahore.  It is culturally and traditionally regarded as an important and significant Punjabi festival, further exemplified by the thousands of Sikh pilgrims from around the world arriving each year to commemorate the day at the sacred Sikh sites of Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal.  Further, local Pakistani's offer their well wishes and welcome the incoming pilgrims.  In April 2009, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee announced plans for formally organising the event on a larger scale in the country as well as expressing intentions for elegant arrangements.  In 2010, over 20,000 pilgrims were expected to arrive in Pakistan for the celebrations, a significant increase over previous years.  

In United States, Canada, and United Kingdom 

In the United States, there is usually a parade commemorating the Vaisakhi celebration.  In Manhattan, New York City  people come out to do “Seva”(selfless service) such as giving out free food, and completing any other labor that needs to be done.  In Los Angeles, California, the local Sikh community consisting of more than 20 Gurdwaras holds a full day Kirtan (spiritual music) program followed by a two mile parade in downtown Los Angeles with an estimated 15,000 participants.  The local Sikh community in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Surrey, British Columbia, Canada holds its annual Vaisakhi celebrations in the April long weekend, which often includes a Nagar Kirtan (parade) which an estimated 200,000 people attend. 

The United Kingdom has a large Sikh community which was established in the 1960s with the arrival of immigrants from the Indian sub-continent, and which increased in the 1970s with refugees from East Africa and in the 1990s with refugees from Afghanistan.  The largest concentrations of Sikhs in the UK are to be found in Birmingham in the West Midlands and Southall in west London.  The Southall Nagar Kirtan is held on a Sunday a week or two before Vaisakhi, and it attracts approximately 90,000 people to the streets.  The Birmingham Nagar Kirtan is held in late April in association with Birmingham City Council,  and it is an annual event attracting about 100,000 people which commences with two separate nagar kirtans setting off from gurdwaras in the city and culminating in the Vaisakhi Mela at Handsworth Park. 

In Malaysia 

A band performs at Vaisakhi day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur (2013). 

The Sikh community is a minority in Malaysia, which is why Vaisakhi is not a public holiday.  However, in line with the government's efforts to promote integration among the country's different ethnic and religious groups, the prime minister, Najib Razak has announced that beginning 2013, all government servants from the Sikh community will be given a day off on Vaisakhi Day.  Vaisakhi 'open houses' are also held across the country during the day of the festival, or the closest weekend to it. 

Spelling of Vaisakhi in Punjabi 

The word Vaisakhi is spelled as “Baisakhi”when it relates to celebrations of the birth of Khalsa, or to Sikhs particularly.  The standard spelling is Vaisakhi with “V”not with “B”.  Vaisaakh Suhaavaa Thaan Lagai Jaa Santh Bhaettai Har Soe ||3|| (Ank/Page: 134 SGGS) 

However, in the Doabi and Malwi dialect dialects of Punjabi, it is common for speakers to substitute a “B”for a “V”.  Therefore, the spelling used is dependent on the dialect of the writer.  Serious learners inquiring about Sikhi/Vaisakhi/Birth of Khalsa celebration should inquire whether there is a separate Doabi/Malwi primer - and what literature, written documents are available separately in Doabi/Malwi.  Speakers of these dialects have attempted to pay their respect to the Gurmukhi script from which these all have borrowed by writing the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in these dialects.  These consist of substitutions of a “B”for a “V”. 

In other regions of India 

The first day of Vaisakh is not considered to be a New Year across India but in some regions.  Therefore, Vaisakhi coincides with the New Year's Day (according to the solar new year) celebrated by people across the Assam Valley, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand and other regions of India.  In Himachal Pradesh, the Hindu Goddess Jwalamukhi is worshipped on the day, while in Bihar, the Sun-god Surya is honoured.  It also celebrated outside India in Nepal and Sri Lanka. 

[Five K's. 

Kesh: uncut hair is a symbol of acceptance of your form as God intended it to be, and to give an unmistakable visual identity to the Khalsa. 

Kangha: a wooden comb, a symbol of cleanliness to keep one's body and soul clean. 

Kara: an iron or steel bracelet worn on the wrist, to remind the Khalsa of their vows and as a mark or iron self-restraint. 


Kacchera: shorts, which are riding breeches cut off at the knee, to keep the soldiers of the Khalsa always ready to go into battle on horseback. 

Kanga, Kara and Kirpan – three of the five Ks. 

“Smoking being an unclean and injurious habit, you will forswear.  You will love the weapons of war, be excellent horsemen, marksmen and wielders of the sword, the discus and the spear.  Physical prowess will be as sacred to you as spiritual sensitivity. 

And, between the Hindus and Muslims, you will act as a bridge, and serve the poor without distinction of caste, colour, country or creed. 

My khalsa shall always defend the poor, and 'deg' - or community kitchen - will be as much an essential part of your order as teg - the sword.  

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