Vaisakhi 2016: What is it and why is it celebrated?

Happy Vaisakhi! Today is 13th April, and many around the world are celebrating Vaisakhi.
But do you know what is? And why so many around the world celebrate it?
There are two strands to Vaisakhi, and it is a popular celebration around India, as it marks the start of the Punjabi New Year.
Luckily we’ve put together a handy guide, to provide you with a breakdown of what it is, what the origins are, and the ways in which you can get involved.


What is it?
Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi, takes place each year on either 12th or 3th April.
There are two different elements to Vaisakhi; firstly it refers to the harvest festival in the Punjab region of India, and secondly it marks the day that Sikhism was born as a collective faith in 1699.
This day is also observed by the farming community of Punjab as day of giving thanks and paying tribute to God for their abundant harvest and praying for future prosperity.

What are the origins?
Vaisakhi 2016: What is it and why is it celebrated?
Celebrations in Amritsar (Picture: Getty Images)
Vaisakhi is important for the Sikh community, as this day marks the establishment of the Khalsa, which is the collective body of baptised Sikhs.
In 1699 Vaisakhi took on a special meaning for the Sikh community, when the tenth guru – Guru Gobind Singh invited his disciples to join him in the city of Anandpur Sahib.
During this gathering the Khalsa Panth was established (the community of committed Sikhs) and at Vaisakhi each year those ready to join the Khalsa are baptised.
The word ‘Khalsa’ means pure, and to join, Sikhs must undergo the initiation known as the Amrit ceremony.
Baptised Sikhs commit to not removing or cutting any form of bodily hair, to abstain from using alcohol, tobacco or other intoxicants, adopt a vegetarian lifestyle and not commit adultery.

How is it celebrated?
Vaisakhi is all about community, progression and celebration.
The festival around the world is marked with processions known as a nagar kirtan.
These processions are led through streets, and religious hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) are recited.
In India the main celebration takes place at Talwandi Sabo in Punjab. This is where Guru Gobind Singh stayed for nine months, and where he completed the recompilation of the Sikh holy book.
Big celebrations are take place in Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of the Khalsa in 1699, and also at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.