Today it is New Year again in India! This time it is the Sikhs New Year’s Day, also called Baisakhi. If you are confused regarding all these New Years, I can surely understand that, as I must admit that I’m quite a bit confused myself. If I happen to be here one more year, I will surely write one blog post regarding all this different New Year’s. But right now, I hardly know what a year is, if you get me.
For people in northern parts of India, especially the Sikhs, Baisakhi is a mega event – it is a religious festival, harvest festival and New Year’s Day all rolled into one. In April, this day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year. In fact, this day is celebrated all over the country as New Year day, under different names. For the Sikh community, Baisakhi has a very special meaning. It was on this day that their tenth and last Guru – Guru Gobind Singh – organized the Sikhs into Khalsa or the ‘pure ones’. By doing so, he eliminated the differences of high and low and established that all human beings are equal.
Sikhs assign quite a different meaning to Baisakhi, and if you happen to be in a Punjabi village to catch the men performing the wild bhangra dance, you’ll get the clear picture. This strenuous dance tells the story of the agricultural process, from tilling the soil through harvesting. As the dholak (drum) changes beats, the dancing sequence progresses, dramatizing plowing, sowing, weeding, reaping, and finally celebrating. Baisakhi also commemorates the day in 1689 when Guru Gobing Singh founded the Khalsa, the fighting Sikh brotherhood that donned the distinctive Sikh outfits.
As I live in Mumbai, and not in Punjab, I have not seen very much celebration of this festival.
Tomorrow I will get a visit from a friend from Norway. We will be a week or so in Rajasthan. Not sure if I will manage to get this blog updated while we are there. If not, I will surely update it with stories from Rajasthan when we are back.
Talk to you soon!