Vaisakhi is one of the major festivals of Sikhs and is celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and gaiety in the state of Punjab and all throughout the world where there is a significant Sikh population. For the large farming community of Punjab, Vaisakhi Festival marks the time for harvest of rabi crops and they celebrate the day by performing joyful bhangra and gidda dance. For the Sikh community, Vaisakhi Festival has tremendous religious significance as it was on a Vaisakhi Day in 1699, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa-the Order of the Pure Ones.
Date of Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi Festival falls on the first day of Vaisakh month (April-May) according to Nanakshahi or Sikh Calendar. For this reason, Vaisakhi is also popularly known as Vaisakhi. According to English calendar, the date of Vaisakhi corresponds to April 13 every year and April 14 once in every 36 years. This difference in Vaisakhi dates is due to the fact that day of Vaisakhi is reckoned according to solar calendar and not the lunar calendar. The auspicious date of Vaisakhi is celebrated all over India under different names and different set of rituals and celebrations. Vaisakhi date coincides with ‘Rongali Bihu’ in Assam, ‘Naba Barsha’ in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and ‘Pooram Vishu’ in Kerala.
People of Punjab celebrate the festival of Vaisakhi with exuberance and devotion. As the festival has tremendous importance in Sikh religion, major activities of the day are organized in Gurdwaras. People wake up early to prepare for the day. Many also take bath in the holy river to mark the auspicious occasion. After getting ready people pay a visit to their neighbourdood gurdwara and take part in the special prayer meeting organized for the day. At the end of the Vaisakhi ardas, congregates receive specially prepared Kara prasad or sweetened semolina. This is followed by a guru ka langar or community lunch.
Later, during the day people of Sikh faith take out a Vaisakhi procession under the leadership of Panj piaras. The procession moves through the major localities of the city amidst the rendition of devotional songs by the participating men, women and children. Mock duels, bhangra and gidda performances make the procession joyous and colourful.
Celebrations by Farmers
For the large farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Vaisakhi marks a New Year’s time as it is time to harvest rabi crop. On Vaisakhi, farmers thank god for the bountiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes and make merry by singing, dancing and enjoying the best of festive food.
Cries of “Jatta aai Vaisakhi”, rent the skies as gaily men and women break into the bhangra and gidda dance to express their joy. Everyday farming scenes of sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gathering of crops are expressed through zestful movements of the body to the accompaniment of ballads and dhol music.
In several villages of Punjab Vaisakhi Fairs are organized where besides other recreational activities, wrestling bouts are also held.