Baisakhi festival 2016

Baisakhi festival Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Baisakhi is a religious festival that is central to Sikhism, so it makes sense that it is celebrated the most in Punjab, where Sikhism originated sometime during the 15th century. The festival also celebrates the spring harvest, and therefore holds special value in Punjab, where agriculture is the largest industry and the way of life for most of its residents. The Land of Five Rivers comes alive during the festival, and with Baisakhi 2017 falling on 13 and 14 April, this is the perfect time to look at how Baisakhi is celebrated in Punjab. Also Read - Shekhar Suman Speaks on Sushant Singh Rajput Death Case Again, Says Agencies Are Helpless in Absence of Evidence

Given that Baisakhi is a festival that celebrates the Rabi harvest, many of its traditions revolve around crops and the agrarian way of life. Awat Pauni is a key tradition here, where entire communities come together, forgetting their differences, to harvest their wheat together. You can find men, women and children partaking in the harvest, working together out on the field to the beat of the traditional Dhols that can be heard everywhere. You can hear the people sing their own special folk songs and dohas as they work the fields, adding to the communal atmosphere of the activity. ALSO READ: Best places to witness Baisakhi festival celebration in India
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Another big part of Baisakhi celebration is the Giddha and Bhangra, both traditional Punjabi folk dances that the people perform. Bhangra, in fact, is said to have originated from Baisakhi itself as a harvest dance to celebrate the gifts received from Mother Earth. Today, it is performed for several other religious and non-religious occasions, simply as a powerful celebration. Giddha is the folk dance performed by the women, derived from the ring dance to show the grace of the womenfolk while still matching the energy and sheer power of the Bhangra. Also Read - Cold Conditions Prevail in North India, Heavy Rains Likely in Southern States From Dec 1

Golden Temple, Amritsar

Golden Temple, Amritsar

While such revelries are common sights during the two days of Baisakhi, you can also find much of the population praying at their local Gurudwara or visiting the Sri Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple). People flock to the Golden Temple, considered the holiest shrine in Sikhism, to thank their god for a blessed harvest and to pray for a fruitful year ahead. ALSO READ: Baisakhi celebration at Golden Temple

Baisakhi is a time of colour and energy in the villages of Punjab, where everyone celebrates their bountiful harvest. Men and women dress up in their best and most colourful traditional garbs, flooding the streets and fields with the traditional roar, “Jatta aayi Baisakhi!” The men and women start their day early, bathing in the rivers and ponds that dot the region. They give their thanks to god for the harvest at their Gurudwaras, after which they sit together with the rest of the community to feast on the Langar, where food is served to all without looking the caste, creed or faith of the visitors in attendance.

Baisakhi fair

Baisakhi fair

During Baisakhi, you can find colourful fairs at several places in Punjab, where people from the local villages and towns come to celebrate the festival. Here you can find proper performances of Giddha and Bhangra, along with wrestling competitions between the local Pehlwani clubs and folk music using traditional instruments, like algoza and vanjli. If you are hungry, you can munch on the special foods offered at the fair stalls. Several shops at these stalls will also sell locally-made trinkets and memorabilia to remember the festival.

No Baisakhi celebration is complete without mentioning the Nagar Kirtan or procession that happens under the Panj Piaras, who are Sikh preachers with a special connection to the festival. It is said that on the day of Baisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh formed the Panj Pyare as the nucleus of a new sect called Khalsa Panth. During the procession, you will find people performing folk tunes and dances, along with mock duels in the traditional style of combat. ALSO READ: All you need to know about Baisakhi celebrations in Delhi

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