New Delhi, April 14, 2021: Vaisakhi also pronounced as Baisakhi is observed by Hindus and Sikhs. It also marks the beginning of Hindu solar New Year.
Vaisakhi marks the first day of the month of Vaisakha, is usually celebrated on 13 or 14 April every year and is a historical and religious festival in Hinduism.
In fact, US President Joe Biden greeted Indian Americans, South Asians and Southeast Asians on Vaisakhi. “(First Lady) Jill (Biden) and I send our warmest wishes to the South Asian and Southeast Asian communities who are celebrating Vaisakhi, Navratri, Songkran and the incoming New Year this week. Happy Bengali, Cambodian, Lao, Myanmarese, Nepali, Sinhalese, Tamil, Thai, and Vishu New Year!” Biden said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Vaisakhi is also known as Vaisakha Sankranti and celebrates the Solar new year, based on the Hindu Vikram Samvat calendar.
It is additionally a spring harvest festival for many Indians. For Hindus, the festival is their traditional solar new year, a harvest festival, an occasion to bath in sacred rivers such as Ganges, Jhelum, and Kaveri, visit temples, meet friends and take part in other festivities.
In other parts of India, this festival is known by various regional names.
Significance of Vaisakhi
The significance of this day is as a major Sikh festival marking the birth of Sikh order started after the persecution and execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur for refusing to convert to Islam under the orders of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This triggered the coronation of Guru Gobind Singh the tenth Guru of Sikhism and the historic formation of Khalsa, both on the Vaisakhi day. Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as Maharaja of the Sikh Empire on 12 April 1801 (to coincide with Vaisakhi), creating a unified political state. Sahib Singh Bedi, a descendant of Guru Nanak dev, conducted the coronation.
Vaisakhi was also the day when the British colonial empire official, General Reginald Dyer, committed the Jallianwala Bagh massacre at a gathering, an event influential to the Indian movement against colonial rule.
Of fairs and nagar kirtans
On Vaisakhi, mandirs and Gurdwaras are decorated. Hindus perform a mandatory Daan (charity) especially of hand fans, water pitchers and seasonal fruits. A ritual dip in Ganga river or other holy water bodies is often performed. Community fairs are held at Hindu pilgrimage sites.
In many areas, procession of temple deities is taken out. Sikhs hold nagar kirtans, visit local Gurdwaras: ‘Nagar’ means town and ‘kirtan’ means the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book. Many Sikhs also choose Vaisakhi as the day to be baptised into the Khalsa brotherhood.
Vaisakhi is a harvest festival for people of Northern India. Chander and Dogra (2003) state that in Punjab, Vaisakhi marks the ripening of the rabi harvest. The Hindu Solar new year, also marks the Nepalese, Punjabi and Bengali New year. Fairs or Melas (fair) are held in many parts of North India to mark the new year and the harvesting season. Vaisakhi fairs take place in various places, including Jammu City, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi and Samba, in the Pinjore complex near Chandigarh, in Himachal Pradesh cities of Rewalsar, Shimla, Mandi and Prashar Lakes.