New Year in Sikhism – Baisakhi (13th April)
In India, the festival of Baisakhi is a very important day for all the Sikhs. The day is also known as Vaisakhi or Vaishakhi and marks the new year in Sikhism. Every year this day generally falls on the 13th or 14th of April, and this year in 2017, Baisakhi is being celebrated on the 13th of April, which is a Thursday.
It also stands important since, on this day, the Khalsa Panth of Warriors was formed in the year 1699, under Guru Gobind Singh, who was the 10th Sikh Guru in Sikhism.
The day is also very prominent for the Sikhs other than being their new year, as on this day, it marks the spring harvest season in Punjab.
Other than Sikhism, Baisakhi is also a widely celebrated day in Hindu culture, since it marks the solar new year, also marking the spring harvest season, and as per Hindu culture, the day also signifies the sacredness of all the prominent rivers in Hinduism, spread all across the country.
On the other hand, for Sikhs, the day of Baisakhi holds a lot of significance in multiple ways, both good and bad. Other than the aspects of Sikh New Year and spring harvest season, the date of Baisakhi marks the execution of Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur, under the reign and orders of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, since Guru Tegh Bahadur had refused to convert to Islam.
Hence, the date also marked the birth of Sikh order, since on this very day the coronation of the 10th Sikh Guru, that is Guru Gobind Singh took place, marking the beginning of the Khalsa Panth of Warriors.
The date of Baisakhi also marks the tragic Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, wherein many Sikhs were brutally killed by the British colonial rulers in the year 1919, and thus the day became a massive mark in India’s movement to fight against the colonial rule for independence.
On the day of Baisakhi, the gurudwaras are decorated beautifully and many kirtans are held. Sikhs visit gurudwaras before taking a holy dip in the rivers and then participate in the kirtan followed by enjoying meeting friends at a gathering, sharing foods and also offering their prayers to their gurus.
Hindus too celebrate Baisakhi by taking a holy dip in the sacred rivers, like the Ganges, the Jhelum, or the Kaveri and then visit temples to offer their prayers. Baisakhi in Hinduism is known by different names and sometimes celebrated differently as well.