One of the major festival of North India is Baisakhi festival originates in the state of Punjab celebrated by most of the Sikh communities. Baisakhi Festival falls on April 13th and marks the beginning of the solar year. Baisakhi festival is also celebrated with lots of enthusiasm and joy throughout the world where there is a significant Sikh population. Baisakhi festival is a festival of harvest of rabi crops in Punjab celebrated by large farming community.
Baisakhi Festival is celebrated by performing Bhangra and Gidda dances by the people of Punjab. In the Sikh community, Baisakhi Festival has very religious importance as it was on a Baisakhi Day in 1699, that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa the Order of the Pure Ones.
Processions on the Baisakhi:
On Baisakhi festival farmers thank god for giving good crop and pray for good times ahead. Most of the activities are organized in Gurdwaras on the day of Baisakhi. People wake up early in the morning, take bath in the holy river and then visit Gurdwara and perform special prayers in the meeting organized on the day.
Later, during the day Baisakhi Procession takes place with Sikh’s most sacred scripture Granth Sahib is taken out with honor by senior religious Sikhs who are symbolic of the original leaders. Baisakhi processions move through the streets and lanes of the city with music, singing and chanting scriptures and hymns. Many devotees participate in the Baisakhi processions making them more lively and joyful. Vaisakhi processions and traditional performances are the highlights of the day.
Nagar Kirtans is the term most popularly used for traditional Baisakhi processions lead by Panj Pyaras. Baisakhi Processions end with a discourse by senior members of Sikh religion who enlighten people on the significance of the tradition of Nagar Kirtans on important days in Sikh history. Children are taught to perform acts of charity on this auspicious occasion and are expected to continue to do so all through their life.
People buy new clothes and make merry by singing, dancing and enjoying the best of festive food. At the end of the Baisakhi people have special prepared Kara prasad or sweetened semolina.
In several villages of Punjab Baisakhi Fairs are organized near the tombs and shrines of pirs in the spirit of devotion to those saints and sages, such as Chhapar fair, Jarag fair, Roshni fair etc. Today Baisakhi festival is celebrated by all the communities in north India with same enthusiasm and joy.