408 days ago
Sikhs from across the world will be coming together in their communities to celebrate Vaisakhi on 14 April.
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Vaisakhi is a long established harvest festival in the Punjab, marking the start of a new Punjabi year. The day is observed by the farming community of Punjab as day of prayer, and festivities. It’s a day where the community pays tribute and gives thanks to God for their abundant harvest and prays for their future prosperity.
After 1699 Vaisakhi also commemorated the founding of the Sikh community, known as the Khalsa, and became one of the most significant dates in the Sikh calendar.
Sikhism believes in the existence of one God who takes care of all the people. The Sikh beliefs revolve around the three prime principles of the religion, which guide towards building bonds, work and peaceful life.
NaamJapna: every person should wake up early in the morning in the Amrit Vela, i.e between 3am and 6am, to mediate and worship God.
Dharm Di KirtKarna: every person should work hard with honesty to earn a living.
Wand Chhakna: every person should share his wealth and whatever he/she has with the deprived and the needy.
On Vaisakhi day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh called Sikhs from all over India to the city of Anandpur Sahib. He came out of a tent carrying a sword and challenged any Sikh who was prepared to give his life to come into the tent. After the first volunteer went into the tent, the Guru returned alone with his sword covered in blood. He repeated the same action four times until five men disappeared into the tent. The crowd was very concerned until they saw the Guru emerge from the tent with all five men dressed piously in blue.
Guru Gobind Singh called these men the Panj Pyare, the Five Beloved Ones. The men were then baptised into the Khalsa by the Guru by sprinkling them with Amrit ('immortalising nectar', the Sikh term for holy water) and said prayers. This is the basis of the Sikh baptism ceremony.
The Panj Pyare were the first members of the new Sikh community called the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh gave the Khalsa a unique identity with five distinctive symbols of purity and courage, known today as the Fiv Ks.
In common with other Sikh festivals, 'Akhand Path' (continuous reading of Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book, for 48 hours) is arranged two days earlier and 'Bhog' (the completion of the reading) takes place on the morning of Vaisakhi.
This is followed by the singing of divine hymns. Later, learned preachers give talks on the importance of Vaisakhi.
Gurudwaras, the place of worship for Sikhs, are decorated and visited. Parades, dancing and singing happen throughout the day. Many Sikhs choose to be baptised into the Khalsa brotherhood on this day.
There are celebrations being held around the UK, including Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 28 April 2018 and Birmingham on Sunday 29 April.
Amolak Dhariwal, co-chair of the Origins network and finance director for Service Operations and Financial Shared Services tells us what Vasiakhi means to him.
“Vaisakhi is all about community, progression and celebration. The festival around the world is marked with processions known as a 'nagar kirtan' and many of you will see such processions over the coming days and I would encourage you to visit and attend them.
“My best wishes to you and your family on the wonderful occasion of Vaisakhi. May this be the start of a lucky year ahead!”
Find out more about Sodexo’s Origins network.
You can also view and download a calendar of all the year’s religious festivals and events.
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