The annual Vaisakhi festival is celebrated in the month of April by Sikh community in London, England. Explore 2024 date and significance of Vaisakhi festival.
Vaisakhi Festival - In the religious and agricultural land of Punjab, there are few festivals that supersede the importance of Vaisakhi. Also called Baisakhi in the regional tongue, this festival is celebrated with gusto by all Punjabis across the world. The festivities also spread to the royal nation of England, where residents participate in the religious procession, offer their contributions in the communal kitchens, and get together to honour and educate the younger generations about the history of Sikhism.
Vaisakhi is celebrated with delight and zeal by the residents of England. From celebrations organised by Birmingham's Council of Sikh Gurudwaras to the religious process of the Sikh Holy Scripture in London, Baisakhi festivities are a sight to behold in the United Kingdom.
Held annually, Baisakhi celebrations begin in the homes of the Sikh families and the festivities are hard to miss across the city. People cook authentic food following the rule of purity to serve langar. The amazing thing about Sikh celebrations is the abundance of free food available to one and all with no discrimination of race or caste. This is one of the teachings of Sikhism and people participate in the service of langar by putting up stalls of vegetarian food, snacks, and a sweet beverage called shabeel to serve to the public.
London’s Baisakhi celebrations can be caught at Trafalgar Square, where large crowds of people gather to welcome the procession with Guru Granth Sahib Ji, called the Nagar Kirtan. Punjabis and Hindus can be seen wearing colourful clothes as others serve kadah-prashad and other sweets to the sangat. The procession is led by the Panj Pyaare dressed in their warrior outfits and the youth perform a form of Sikh martial arts called Gatka.
Whether it is a day spent in the fields harvesting the crop or celebrated by singing kirtan in London, Baisakhi is a day of joy and fulfillment. Celebrate it with your near and dear ones on the 13th of April, 2024.
The festival of Baisakhi is a prominent day for many occasions for the Punjabi community. Occurring in the month of Vaisakh in the Nankshahi Calendar followed by religious sanctums of Sikhism, the 13th of April marks the solar new year for the Punjabi community. Also the beginning of spring, farmers celebrate the day by offering a portion of the first harvest as a token of gratitude and contributing it to the communal kitchen in Sikh temples.
Owing to the history of this day, Vaisakhi is also considered the most auspicious day among Sikhs to get baptised following the rite of initiation started by the last living guru of Sikhs and taking an oath to live by the word of God written in the holy scripture of Sikhs - Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and practiced purity throughout their lives.
Apart from the religious importance, Vaisakhi holds a tragic memory for all the Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in pre-partitioned India. On 13 April 1919, a large crowd gathered to peacefully protest against the Rowlatt Act and the arrest of pro-independence activists in the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. The protest ended with the ambush of British Brigadier General Dyer as he opened fire on the unarmed civilians and nearly 2000 people were killed as they tried to flee the building under a shower of firearms. This dark day is famous in the history of the Indian struggle for independence as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
Festivals are an occasion of joy and zeal among Indians thus is the day of Baisakhi. For the Sikhs, Vaisakhi marks the beginning of the solar New Year. It is also the time that is considered ideal for the harvest season to begin of the Rabi crop. In the olden days, farmers and their families would gather in the fields, pray for a fruitful year ahead and begin the harvest. The whole day everyone worked in the fields while dancing and singing songs about a good crop and prosperity of the land.
The history of Vaisakhi’s origin dates back to 1699, the era when Sikh gurus reigned and preached the word of God. On 13th April in 1699, the tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji performed an incredible ceremony that later became the tale of how the Khalsa Panth was founded. On this day, among a large crowd of devotees gathered to celebrate the festival and pay their respects to Guru Ji, he suddenly appeared out of the tent carrying a sword and called out a Sikh who was prepared to give his life for his faith. One Sikh rose and followed Guru Ji into the tent. After minutes, Guru Ji emerged out of the tent with the same sword dripping with blood. He again addressed the gathering and invited a Sikh who was prepared to give his life to his faith. This shocked and concerned the crowd, unsure of why was the Guru asking for lives. Nonetheless, one Sikh again rose and the same action happened until Guru Ji went into the tent with the fifth Sikh who volunteered to sacrifice himself to the Lord. After this, Guru Gobind Singh Ji came out of the tent and following him were the five Sikhs who had risen to the occasion, only they were dressed in the attire we today recognize as the Amritdhari Sikh. Guru Gobind Singh Ji named the Sikh Panj Pyaare - the beloved five, and then requested them to baptise him to be a true Sikh. This is the story of the birth of the Khalsa order, a brotherhood of Sikhs who represented and practiced its core belief, i.e., to be pure, to be clear, to be free.
Later in 1801, Vaisakhi also marked the day when Maharaja Ranjit Singh took control of the Khalsa Fauj and Punjab a unified state. The mission of Khalsa was to fight against the barbaric rule of Mughals and protect the innocents who were forced to convert to Islam on the fear of being executed.