Saturday, 13 April 2013

How is Baisakhi celebrated?

Baisakhi, celebrated with joyous music and dancing, is New Year's Day in Punjab. It falls on April 13, though once in 36 years it occurs on 14th April. It was on this day that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa (the Sikh brotherhood) in 1699. The Sikhs, therefore, celebrate this festival as a collective birthday.

Sikhs visits gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and listen to kirtans (religious songs) and discourses. After the prayer, kada prasad (sweetened semolina) is served to the congregation. The function ends with langar, the community lunch served by volunteers. With no particular religious nuance, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate in a community sort of way - folk dances, music and a feeling of camaraderie underline these celebrations.
Processions are taken out, at the head of which are the panj piaras. Mock duels and bands playing religious tunes are part of the processions. Schoolchildren also enthusiatically take part in them.
For people in villages this festival is a last opportunity for relaxing before they start harvesting of corn. Processions and feasting follow readings of the holy scripture of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib.
It is a day of celebration, particularly in the rural farming areas where the farmer rejoices at the sight of the fruits of his labour - the harvested crop. After 6 to 8 months of hard toil in the fields, this is the day any farmer would look forward to. 


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