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Sikh devotees participate in the Baisakhi festival at Panja Sahib shrine in Hassan Abdel April 13, 2015. Image source- REUTERS

By Pashchiema Bhatia

Tracing the history of Baisakhi, it is celebrated as the date of inauguration of Khalsa Panth by the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. There are many other major religious significances and beliefs for celebrating Baisakhi. In 1675 when Aurangzeb was trying to spread Islam in India, the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur confronted and was publicly beheaded in Delhi.

  • This incident coincided with the Vaisakh harvest festival in 1699 when the tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, inaugurated Khalsa against the dictatorial regime of Mughals.
  • Baisakhi is a festival which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. People visit Gurdwaras where community lunch (Guru ka langar) is organised and people of different communities sit together to eat. For the farmers it is the time to harvest Rabi crops. This Baisakhi, pilgrims in India visited Golden Temple referred as Harmandir Sahib.
  • In London, with significant population of Sikh community, migrants will take out colourful street processions referred as ‘Nagar Kirtans’ by singing devotional songs.
  • In Southall, West London, numerous people participate in ‘Nagar Kirtans’ every year. Devotional hymns are sung with zeal and free food (langar) is distributed to everyone, not based on anyone’s background or religion.
  • Amandeep Madra, co-author of Warrior Saints and one of the founders of the UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) said, “Vaisakhi sees the British Sikh community at its very best; generous, hospitable, celebratory and unified.”
  • The Mayor of London also organised a special family oriented Baisakhi event in City Hall which included turban tying, art exhibitions and martial art displays. This Vaisakhi the Prime Minister hosted a Vaisakhi reception in Downing Street where prominent people of Sikh community are invited.

Pashchiema is an intern at Newsgram and doing journalism and mass communication from New Delhi. Follow her on twitter


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