Lakhs of sikhs visited gurudwaras across Mumbai on Tuesday to welcome in Baisakhi, the Sikh New Year.
The focus of the day was to mark the 310th anniver-sary of the day Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa Order that lays down the five rules an observant Sikh should follow.
Baisakhi also marks the start of the harvesting period in Punjab and across Punjabi villages, energetic performances of Giddha folk dances and Bhangra takes place.
At the Gurudwara Dhan Pothohar in Santa Cruz between 5,000 and 10,000 pilgrims enjoyed the traditional langar of chhola puri, sheera and mattar paneer downstairs while upstairs the Granthi (priest) sang prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib.
Kulwant Singh (70), a businessman, said: “We are requesting to the Guru that we should be healthy, wealthy and wise.”
For housewife Poonam Kaur Sahni (27), it was especially auspicious as her daughter Hannaya was below the age of one. She had brought her daughter to the temple to have amrit (holy water) poured on her by the priest.
“I do not carry the sword,” she said. “Only when you are ready to completely surrender yourself to those rules for the rest of your life, only then should you do it,” she said.
Jaspreet Kaur Anand (36), a housewife, said she too wore the bangle and did not cut her hair but carrying the dagger involved a lot of restrictions. “I would not be able to wax or shape my eyebrows. But I say my prayers every day. I am a strong believer in God,” she added.
Neeru Singh (53), a yoga teacher from Versova, said she was not a Khalsa follower. “I don’t think I am capable of following all these rules,” she said. “But I am proud of this religion as it is very modern, women are equal and we don’t discriminate against anyone.”
Not all the worshippers were Sikhs. Punjabi Hindu Kamla Kathuria (74) was there with her husband. “We are here to celebrate the founding of the Khalsa Order. Our ancestors were Sikhs,” she said.
Jasmeet Singh Chandhok (35), who runs an automobile business, said: “I think in the downturn people are coming to the temple even more as their businesses are affected.”