After a host of new year festivals such as Gudi Padwa, Ugadi and Cheti Chand, it’s time for round two with several communities getting ready to celebrate the start of the harvest season.
On Thursday, Punjabis and Sikhs in the city will bring in Baisakhi with prayer processions and langars, while Tamilians will celebrate their new year, Puthandu, with elaborate feasts at home. Festivities will continue on Friday, when the Bengalis, Malayalis and Assamese observe their respective new years.
“Baisakhi is important both for farmers reaping the biggest harvest of the year and for Sikhs as a religious community,” said Jasjit Singh, 25, a finance professional. On Baisakhi, Singh explained, Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa Sikhs more than 300 years ago.
In Mumbai, Sikhs will take out processions at Andheri and Dadar, and all gurdwaras will hold langars (free meals). “Members of the community volunteer to stay up all night and help cook the food,” said Singh, who has volunteered to be on the cleaning team of his gurdwara at Mira Road.
While Punjabis celebrate Baisakhi outdoors at a community-level, most Tamilians bring in Puthandu at home by inviting relatives for special feasts.
“For Tamilians, this festival marks the beginning of the new year, while for Keralites, the festival Vishu, which falls on the next day, is also the start of the season’s harvests,” said K Vishwanathan, a media professional from Matunga who is half-Tamilian and half-Malayali and will celebrate both festivals at home.
Friday is Poila Boisakh for the Bengalis and Rongali Bihu for people from Assam. While the former community does not celebrate new year on a large scale, the small, 10,000-strong Assamese population in the city will mark their harvest festival with cultural programmes at the Mumbai Assam Association throughout the month.
“I was born and brought up in Assam and will miss the celebrations at home. Here I will participate in the Bihu dance in cultural shows,” said Mousumi Chetia, 24, a social work student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.