Vaisakhi Festival: April 14
Vaisakhi is a religious observance for the Sikhism followers.
Vaisakhi is a Sikh religious festival and marks the beginning of the new harvest season and the Sikh New Year. It is celebrated on the first day of the Baisakh month of the Nanakshahi calendar, on the Gregorian calendar it falls on April 13 every year and April 14 every 36 years, like in 2010.
History of Vaisakhi
This is one of the most important celebrations for Sikh followers, it remembers the establishment of the Khalsa in 1699 at Anandpur Sahib, by Guru Gobind Singh the 10th Sikh Guru. Khalsa means Pure and it was the name given to all the disciples of Guru Gobind Singh baptized in the Amrit Sanchar ceremony, which is a Sikh baptismal ceremony.
Facing persecution and with several Gurus executed because of their beliefs, Guru Gobind Singh sent letter to all Sikh followers to meet at Anandpur for the Vaisakhi Festival. Guru Gobind Singh then addressed the multitude of followers and asked his disciples who was ready to die for God, he asked the same question three times and only one man stepped forward who was taken then to a tent. After some minutes Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent with a bloody sword in his hands and asked the same question. He got four more volunteers into the tent and the next time he came out he was followed by the five brave volunteers dressed like the Guru. These men are known as the Panj Pyares or Beloved Five.
To all Sikhs that receive the Amrit, sweet nectar for baptism like the Panj Pyares did, their names they added the word Singh, meaning Lion, for the men and for the women they added the word Kaur, or Princess. Anandpur Sahib is known as the holy City of Bliss for all Sikhs, one of their most important sacred places.
Vaisakhi Traditions, Customs and Activities
The festival is mainly celebrated in the Punjab state of India, where agriculture is the largest industry. People wake up early to prepare for the Festival. Sikhs usually on this day take baths on holy rivers, like the Ganges, before heading for the gurdwara, Sikh place of worship. During the day there are large pilgrimages, Sikhs from Pakistan and India gather in the Punjar region around holy places like the gurdwara at Anandpur Sahib and Talwandi Sabo, where Guru Gobind Singh completed the compilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture for Sikhs.
During the Vaisakhi Festival there is a religious celebratory moment when the book of Guru Granth Sahib is taken out of his place and given a bath of milk and water and then placed back in its rightful place in the gurdwara. It is common to organize procession during which there is joyous singing, dancing and playful duels, bhangra and gidda are well known dances for this festival. All over the world it is common for Sikhs communities to do seva, or religious work, as helping others in need or voluntarism, and in many communities there are also large processions.