Baisakhi marks the birth of Khalsa Panth

Baisakhi or Vaisakhi celebrates the onset of the Spring season in India. It is majorly celebrated in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana. Baisakhi marks the Sikh New Year’s day and has a special significance for farmers in the region as it signals the conclusion of the harvest season.

According to Sikh tradition, it is believed that the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, established the Khalsa Panth on this day. In Hindu culture, Baisakhi marks the transition of the Sun to the Aries sign or Mesha Rashi and proclaims the arrival of Spring equinox as per the Sidereal calendar.

In Kerala, this occasion is marked as Vishu. It is also known as Pohela Boishakh in West Bengal, Bohag Bihu in Assam, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Uttarakhand, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and MahaVishuva Sankranti in Odisha.

Is Baisakhi on 13th or 14th?

As per Nanakshahi or the Sikh calendar, the occasion of Baisakhi falls on April 13th. It falls on April 14th once every 36 years. But this has since been changed to April 14th for every year. It is named Baisakhi after the Hindu month Vaisakha.

Baisakhi marks the first day of Vaisakha. This month is seen as the most auspicious month of the Hindu calendar. It is the first month going by the transition of the Sun and the second going by the transition of the Moon. Lord Vishnu is worshipped during this month. According to ancient history, it was on this day that Lord Vishnu took incarnation in turtle form. The Lord in the form of a turtle then held Mount Meru on his back which was used to churn the celestial ocean by Devas and Asuras in their quest of gaining immortality.

The Sikh community celebrates Baisakhi with a lot of fervour. They pray and recite the writings of Guru Gobind Singh on this day. Farmers of Punjab and Haryana celebrate it as a sort of Thanksgiving day after the harvest of their crops.

Is Vaisakhi a Sikh new year?yearly-horoscope-popup-mobile

Vaisakhi or Baisakhi commemorates the Sikh New Year. It is believed that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Guru of Sikhs established the Khalsa Panth on this day. The Guru, it is said, dared any person who was ready to give up his life for the cause of the community to step up. From over a thousand people who had gathered to hear the Guru, five young men stepped forward. The Guru blessed them by giving Amrit and named them Khalsa (pure) soldiers. This happened in the year 1699. These soldiers were expected to follow a strict vegetarian diet, abstain from intoxicants and not cut or shave any hair from their bodies.

Another historical event connecting the Sikh community and Baisakhi was the proclamation of Ranjit Singh as the Maharaja of the Sikh Empire in 1801. A tragic event happened on Baisakhi day in the year 1919 when the British Army under the command of Colonel Reginald Dyer opened fire at a gathering of unarmed civilians, mostly Sikhs, who had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations. Almost a thousand people died. This day is remembered as a black day in the history of India’s freedom struggle.

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What is the difference between Vaisakhi and Baisakhi?

There is no difference between Vaisakhi and Baisakhi. There is no distinction between ‘va’ and ‘ba’ in Prakrit and Apbhramsa. However, broadly speaking, Vaisakhi and Baisakhi can be seen as two versions of the same celebrations in two different communities. Vaisakhi is more of a Hindu tradition that glorifies the entry of the Sun into the Aries sign or the Mesha Rashi.

Vaisakha is the first month of the solar calendar and the second in the lunar calendar. Baisakhi, on the other hand, is seen as the Sikh New Year. It is based on the tradition that the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, established the famed Khalsa Panth on this day. Baisakhi is celebrated with much fervour in Punjab and Haryana. Vaisakhi is a significant occasion for the Hindu community as a whole and is celebrated under different names in different regions. In Kerala, this is celebrated as Vishu.

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Which state is famous for Baisakhi?

Baisakhi is majorly celebrated in the states of Haryana and Punjab. These two states have the highest concentration of Sikh population in the country. Baisakhi is celebrated as a new year as per Sikh tradition. It is also seen as the onset of Spring season. Farmers celebrate it as a thanksgiving day of sorts as Baisakhi signifies the end of the harvest season.

Sikhs recite Nagar Kirtans on this day and pay their respects to Khalsa and the first five soldiers, the Panj Pyare. Tributes are paid to the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh community. In the evening bhangra and giddha performances are held. Gifts and sweets are exchanged. The farmers express their gratitude for the harvest and pray for good crops next season. Special prayers are organized in the gurudwaras. During lunch, langar (vegetarian food) is organized for the devotees. Potato curry, sarson ka saag, makki di roti, poori, paneer tikkas, vegetable pakora and chicken biryani are some of the dishes that are prepared to enhance the festive mood during the occasion.

Why has Vaisakhi date changed?

As per Nanakshahi or the Sikh calendar, Vaisakhi or Baisakhi is usually celebrated on the 13th of April in the western calendar. Once every 36 years, it is celebrated on April 14. But this has since been changed to fall on April 14th every year. Nanakshahi is based on the length of the tropical solar year. In Punjab sunrise to sunrise rule is followed in marking the change of days. That means the position of the Sun in the Zodiac as on the sunrise denotes the date of that day.

In the traditional Hindu calendar, the date is fixed as per the position of the Sun in the Zodiac. So, during the occasion of Vaisakha Sankranthi, the Sun may enter the Aries sign sometime on April 13th itself. This means Vaisakhi is celebrated on April 13 that year. But as per tradition in Punjab, Sankranti is still celebrated only on April 14. This methodology has been since adopted by the Nanakshahi calendar also. Hence, the change of Vaisakhi date from April 13 to April 14.

It is important to note that the date of Vaisakha Sankranti in the western tropical calendar has been different over the years. It fell on March 29 on the occasion of the establishment of the Khalsa. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time, it fell on April 11. The Nanakshahi calendar was devised to bring uniformity to the important dates in the Sikh culture.

Is Baisakhi a national holiday?

Baisakhi is not a national holiday in India. It is a restricted holiday. Baisakhi is a public holiday in the state of Punjab. In Kerala, Baisakhi is known by the name Vishu and is a public holiday. Poyla Baishakh or Pohela Boishakh is the Bengali New year and is a national holiday in Bangladesh.

Which crop is harvested on Baisakhi?

Rabi crop is harvested during the time of Baisakhi. This is the reason why Baisakhi is also celebrated as a harvest festival. Farmers express their gratitude to God for the harvest and pray for a plentiful harvest in the coming years as well. It is an occasion of merrymaking and joyful laughter. Farmers visit gurudwaras wearing new clothes on this day. Baisakhi fairs and Bhangra and Gidda performances are held as part of the occasion.

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