Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Baisakhi - Punjabi New Year

Punjab is a state at the western part of the Indian union. People of Punjab are particularly known for their colorful and fun loving nature. Hence, the celebrations in Punjab are marked with show of fun and abundance. Baisakhi is the celebration held to usher the New Year in Punjab. The Punjabi New Year normally falls during 13th or 14th April as per the Gregorian calendar.

The celebration of the New Year marks the beginning of the harvest season in Punjab. Since Punjab is still predominantly an agrarian economy celebration of Baisakhi holds great importance in the lives of the Punjabi and Sikh community. The first day of the Punjabi calendar, Nanakshahi, is celebrated as the New Year day.

Sikhs also celebrate the day to honor their tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh. According to the Sikh scriptures on this day Guru Gobind Singh eliminate the caste system in Sikh community and established the Khalsa Panth in1689.

For the large farming community of Punjab and Haryana, Baisakhi is celebrated with great fervor. The celebration is marked by the shouting of "Jatta aayi Baisakhi" by people.

Celebration of Baisakhi in Punjab
Baisakhi plays a very crucial role in the lives and culture of Punjab. Punjabis earnestly follow their traditions and rituals during the New Year day. The celebration of the Punjabi New Year is laden with religious rituals, which every Sikh follows with utmost devotion.

The beginning of the day is marked by offering prayers at gurudwaras, where the holy script of the Sikhs is also read.

In all the gurudwaras the holy script of Sikhs, Granthsahib, is cleansed with milk and water. The granthi or the holy book reader would then read out sections from the book to which devotees listen seriously.

Following the tradition started by guru Gobind Singh ‘amrit’ is prepared in an iron vessel which is then distributed amongst the devotees, who sip into it for five times.

Later on religious songs are performed by Ragis. The devotees then gather at the Guru - ka – Langar, where a community meal takes place. All Sikhs irrespective of their social and economic status sit together and enjoy the meal. Various items are served at the langar such as- Dal Makhani, vegetarian dishes, curd, roti, salad and a sweet dish of semonila.

The celebration of Punjabi New Year is especially marked for fun and festivity. After the religious rituals are performed at the gurudwaras the Sikhs take out a procession to honor the five brave volunteers, Panj Pyaras, mentioned in their holy text. Both Sikh men and women dressed in colourful clothes participate in the processions. Throughout the day the traditional dances of ‘bhangras’ and ‘giddhas’ are performed.

In many places of Punjab special Baisahki fairs are organized and in rural areas local games and shows remain the main attractions of such fairs. The famous bullock races and bull fights remain the main attractions at many places. Also mock sword-fights, duels and bursting of firecrackers are carried out to dramatize the processions. In many areas ‘prabhat pherris’ (morning processions) are also organized on the day of Baisakhi.

The day ended with wishing each other happy and prosperous new year. Messages of fraternity, love and unity are exchanged along with promises to celebrate the coming baisakhis with equal fervor.

Baisakhi plays a very significant role in defining the cultural nature of the Sikh community. People of the Sikh community across the globe celebrate Baisakhi at their respective countries.

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