Vaisakhi or Baisakhi is one of the most popular and important festivals celebrated in the state of Punjab and various other parts of India. The festival takes place on April 13 every year, but once in 36 years, it is celebrated on April 14. This vibrant festival marks the commencement of the Sikh New Year. On this day, the farmers thank God for the good crops and offer prayers for bountiful harvest in the next season. The main celebrations of the festival are organized at the Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of Sikhism. The festival is celebrated by the people with immense joy and performing bhangra and gidda dance.
Sadly, this day also coincides with the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, which took place on April 13, 1919 in Amritsar.
Vaisakhi in states
Rongali Bihu in Assam: Vaisakhi festival here is known as Rongali Bihu, which is celebrated for seven days. People of Assam perform traditional Bihu dance, exchange gifts and sing traditional songs. It is considered important to wear new clothes and seek the blessings of the elderly people.
Pohela Boishakh in Bengal: Pohela Boishakh marks the first day of Baisakh month and people thank god for the harvest and pray for future prosperity. On this auspicious day, people gather and celebrate the festival with wearing traditional attires, dancing on traditional folk songs. People in houses prepore rangolis made with flour and in the centre earthenware pot is kept.
Puthandu in Tamil Nadu: Puthandu marks as Tamil New Year and is celebrated at the beginning of Chithirai (the first month in Tamil Calendar year). On the eve of Puthandu, a tray is arranged with fruits, betel leaves, gold ornaments and flowers and kept in the prayer room. Home entrances are decorated with coloured rice powder and lamps. Also to mark the occasion people wear new clothes and exchange gifts.
How the world celebrates Vaisakhi
* Vaisakhi is observed as a harvest festival in Punjab province of Pakistan as well, marking the local new year irrespective of people’s varied faiths. Vaisakhi fairs are traditionally held in various places including Lahore.
* In the United States, in New York, the annual Sikh Day Parade commemorates Vaisakhi as a day of service. In Los Angeles, the local Sikh community holds a full day kirtan program, which is followed by a parade.
* In Canada, the Sikh community usually holds nagar kirtan locally. The parade in Surrey near Vancouver celebrating Vaisakhi attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.
* In the UK, nagar kirtan are held in the Southall gurdwara (a week or two before Vaisakhi) and in Birmingham (late April).
* In Malaysia, all government servants from the Sikh Malaysian Indian community are given a day off on Vaisakhi, and open houses are held across the country on the day of the festival, or the closest weekend to it.