Baisakhi is a Punjabi festival, and is of great importance to the Punjabi community all over the world. Observed on 13th April each year, the festival also marks the KhalsaSirjana Divas, the day on which the Khalsa was established. Baisakhi coincides with numerous regional festivals around India such as the Tamil New Year, Bengali New Year, and BohagBihu which is celebrated in Assam.
Baisakhi rites and rituals are typically observed at a Gurdwara. The Holy Scripture of the Sikh community, the Guru Granth Sahib is bathed using milk and water. After the bathing, the book is placed back on the throne. Verses from the scripture are read out, with an aim to replicate the traditional procession held in 1699.
The Baisakhi rites and rituals involve the singing of holy songs as well, which are known as kirtans. Karah Prasad is served after all Baisakhi rites and rituals have been observed.
The community lunch or Guru kaLangar speaks volumes about brotherhood in the Sikh community, with people sitting in a row and eating freshly prepared vegetarian food. An important part of Baisakhi rites and rituals while eating at the Langar is to cover one's head with some kind of clothing.
The procession is another spectacular sight on Baisakhi. The elders from the Gurdwara take out the Holy Scripture, with five Sikh priests leading the way. Anyone can participate in the procession, regardless of age and gender. Dancers and drummers are also important parts of Baisakhi rites and rituals. There are frequent chants of “Bole So Nihal”, “DegTegFateh”, and “Wahe Guru” from the procession.
Baisakhi is a day of celebration, and to get people in the mood, the traditional dance called Bhangra is performed. Accompanied by dhol, a percussive instrument, Bhangra dances feature performers in colorful clothing.
After all the exhaustive rituals, processions, and dancing, Baisakhi is spent by visiting near and dear ones. A lot of special food is prepared for the occasion, and gifts are exchanged as well.