Baisakhi - Hindu solar New Year Starts
Baisakhi is not only a religious festival but also a harvest festival and marks the starting of the New Year. According to English calendar, it comes on the 13th day of April every year and 14th April once in every 36 years due to solar calendar, Baisakhi or Vaisakhi (as it comes in the month of Vaisakh according to Hindu calendar) festival marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year celebrated all over the country. At this time, the harvest or rabi crop is ready to cut and store or sell.
[caption id="attachment_1714" align="alignright" width="350" caption="A depiction of Guru Gobind Singh initiating the first five members of the Khalsa Woodcut, Amritsar or Lahore, about 1874-5"][/caption]
Formation of Khalsa panth
A farmer’s heart fills with joy at the sight of tall heaps of golden wheat. They thank god for the good crop and pray for good times in the future. Sikhs all over the world celebrate Baisakhi with great enthusiasm. On this day of Baisakhi in 1699, the tenth and the last Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh organised the sikhs into Khalsa panth, the pure ones. Guru Gobind Singh gave the “5 Ks” to the disciples (emblems of purity and courage) to his followers: kesh (unshorn and long hair), kangha (wooden comb), kada , (iron / steel bangle), kirpan (a small sword or dagger) and kachha (shorts or underwear). Mostly celebrated in North India by Hindus and Sikhs, mainly in the state of Punjab and Haryana.
Hindus consider this day as the starting of the New Year and is celebrated by bathing in the sacred rivers and praying and worshipping god. The holy river Ganga is being thronged by thousands of devotees. The people of Punjab celebrate the festival of Baisakhi by singing and dancing Bhangra steps by men and women also join men in the celebrations by not only signing and enacting verses called bolis (a type of folk poetry) but also dancing gidda dance form along with the tunes of large drums called dhols. The bolis are said on a wide range of topics - from arguments with the sister-in-law or mother-in-law to political affairs figure in the lively songs. The rhythm of this dance is set by the successive hand-claps of the dancers. Sikhs visit gurudwaras (place of worship for sikhs) on the auspicious day of Baisakhi where they get Kada prasad (sweetened semolina) and langar (community lunch). Then Granth Sahib is taken in the processions in the city under the leadership of Panj piaras(five senior sikhs symbolizing original leaders). Devotional or religious songs are spoken along with the dance performances of gidda and bhangra by young men and women in the processions.
The major celebrations occur in the Anandpur Sahib gurdwara, where the order of khalsa was formed, Talwandi Sabo (where Guru Gobind Singh recompiled and completed Guru Granth Sahib-the holy book of sikhs and stayed for nine months) and at Golden Temple in Amritsar (where water drawn from all the holy and sacred rivers of India is poured into the huge tank surrounding the temple).
Sikh Guru martyred, Arya Samaj founded and Gautam Buddha enlighted
Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru was martyred by the Muslim rulers on this day of Baisakhi. It also marks the founding of the Arya Samaj by Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Arya Samaj is a reformed sect of Hindus devoted to the Vedas for spiritual guidance and well being and have discarded idol worship in 1875. The day of Baisakhi holds special significance for Buddhists people as on this auspicious day of Baisakhi, Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment or Nirvana under the Mahabodhi tree in Gaya.
Accompanied with different festivals
The auspicious day of Baisakhi is being celebrated all over India with great joy and spirit under different names and different set of rituals and celebrations. The festival comes with Pooram Vishu in Kerala, people shop for new clothes and play fireworks. The flowers, fruits, clothes, grains, gold, and money are collected and viewed in the morning ensuring a prosperous year. It is called Rongali Bihu in Assam, and people organize massive feasts, music, and dancing for the harvesting day. It coincides with the 'Naba Barsha' in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu. Houses are decorated with rangoli (floral patterns) drawn at the entrance.
In Himachal Pradesh, Baisakhi festival is celebrated in the honor of Goddess Jwala at Jwalamukhi temple. It is celebrated twice a year in the months of Vaishakha (April-May) and Kartika (November).