All you need to know about Vaisakhi and why it’s celebrated
A harvest festival, Vaisakhi is observed in several parts of North India, especially in Punjab, on April 13 or 14 every year to celebrate a good agricultural year and pray for abundant crop produce for the next season.
Though Vaisakhi is celebrated with vigour in many North Indian states (Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand), it holds special significance for Punjabis and Sikhs, primarily for four reasons. First, it marks the beginning of their solar year and the harvest of rabi crops. Since Punjab is primarily an agrarian state, this day holds greater importance as farmers thank their gods for good harvest and hope for another good year.
Second, it was on this day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru, founded the Khalsa Panth and famously evoked nationalism and unity among his people at a meeting in Anandpur Sahib.
He is also believed to have converted his first batch of five disciples (the Panj Piaras) into Singhs by administering nectar to them, and thus inducting them into the martial community.
Also, this day in 1699 marked the end of the long tradition of gurus in Sikhism and established the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal guide for the community.
The festival is celebrated in schools, colleges, gurudwaras, fields and homes. People wear vibrant traditional clothes, prepare locally-grown and loved food (makke di roti, sarson ka saag, aloo poori, gajar ka halwa, chhole, lassi) and dance to the beats of dhol to celebrate prosperity. Schools organise varied competitions, and gurudwaras prayers, religious ceremonies and processions to mark the day.
Other harvest festivals
Many harvest festivals similar to Vaisakhi are observed across the country through the year. Popular examples are Makar Sankranti, Onam and Pongal. Though most of them essentially involve prayers to the sun god for a good harvest, they differ in the ways they are celebrated and the communities that observe them.
Pongal, for instance, is a four-day festival celebrated by the Tamil community with cow as a major symbol. Sankranti involves kite flying, lud music and is celebrated widely in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Onam is celebrated by Malayalis and famously involves activities like boat racing, Kaikottikali dance and rangoli making by women.
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