India - Baisakhi Festival of India

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Baisakhi Festival of India

Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, marks the beginning of the New Year and the end of the harvest season in India. It usually falls on April 13th and on April 14th once every thirty-six years. It is celebrated by different names and with different rituals almost all over India. Baisakhi is also the day when the tenth Guru of the Sikhs - Guru Gobind Singh, founded the 'Khalsa Panth', over three hundred years ago.

Baisakhi is a harvest festival and after the grueling work of harvesting is done away with, the hard working farmers celebrate when the fruit of their toil, the harvest is ready and the fields are lush with crops. Bhangra dance by the men and women is a traditional energetic dance to the beat of the traditional drums. The women too dance, chiefly the Gidda dance, and it is carried out with enthusiasm and rhythmic accuracy. Men and women wear brightly colored clothes and traditional jewelry on these occasions. The entire atmosphere is electric in nature. There is much gusto and zeal in the dances and the joy with which it is done.

This day is celebrated by visiting gurudwaras and distributing kada prasad to all. The devotees, irrespective of their religion throng the gurudwaras and temples at dawn. There are processions through out the towns to highlight the achievements of the first Guru. Children, contesting youths and musical bands are a must for these enthusiastic processions. Kirtans and recital of passages from the Granth Sahib are also organized in gurudwaras, where people line up to receive the delicious kada prasad and perform 'kar sewa'. Kar sewa is offering free help in doing the daily tasks of the gurudwaras and is a traditional symbol of humanity for all Sikhs.

Baisakhi day is observed as the Naba Barsha (New Year) in Bengal. On April 14th, the people take a ritual bath in the River Ganga or any other river or a nearby tank and beautify their houses with rangoli (floral patterns) drawn at the entrance of their homes with a paste made of rice powder.

Though most of the States celebrate this festival at this time of the year to observe the rich tradition and colorful festivities of Baisakhi, Punjab is the place to be. The traditional Bhangra and Gidda, the parade of the Panj Piaras and the taste of the kada prasad can be experienced and appreciated only in Punjab.


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