What is the significance of Vaisakhi?

For 1000’s of years, April has been the time when farmers have put their sickles to harvest and collected the precious life saving crops. Without a good harvest, communities would perish and so there was always great joy when a good harvest resulted at Vaisakhi time. Spring season has always been an important and decisive time for the people of the northern hemisphere from times immemorial. During historical times, much had depended on the outcome of the harvest. However, since 1699, the Sikhs have had a further reason to celebrated at this time of the year. Sikhs worldwide spend much time remembering this most important day in their religious calendar – the day the Khalsa was created. The religious remembrance mixed with the remnant of the harvest festivals of Punjab combine to make this an exciting and particularly festive time for all. Celebrations of many different type take place – many Nagar Kirtans will be arranged in many large cities both in the west and in India; lots of Langars will be held in many Gurdwaras; and holy Paths will also be undertaken where the sacred verses of Sri Guru Granth Sahib will be recited. With these religious events on the one hand will be combined Bhangra dancing, [[Vaisakhi] Dinner and dance functions. Under the volumes of such a terrific amount of fun and celebrations have we forgotten the real significance of Vaisakhi? Has the real message of Vaisakhi of 1699 been lost?

If we take ourselves back to 1699 and the birth place of the Khalsa perhaps the real significance of Vaisakhi can be comprehended. During the period around 1650, the country around Punjab was in turmoil; the rulers were corrupt; there was no rule of law; the rights of the common people were trampled on; justice did not prevail. The strong imposed their will and their way without question; the weak suffered constantly and quietly; there was misery everywhere. The minority ruled by imposing terror upon the common people; death was never far away from your thoughts.

It was under these circumstances that Guru Gobind Singh rose to the occasion and chose to create the Khalsa – the pure saint soldier. The Guru was looking for special people within the community who would take on the challenge and rise above the weaknesses of the common people; to be strong and fearless; to be prepared to face these challenges without reservation and without resorting to injustice; to be prepared to lay down their lives for the truth.

The Guru had a vision to create a human being who would hold dear the message of all the previous Gurus and who would be able and be strong enough to see their mission through. So the tenth Guru chose April and in particular Vaisakhi in 1699 to ask for the Sangat (congregation) to make a commitment to the Panth (community) and join his army of Saint Soldier. Their mission was to help in the spread of Dharma and to stop the spread of evil and sin. The passage of time does not diminish the significance of this call from the Sikh master. It is call to all the peoples of the world. His call requires the community to join his specialist army unit to defend and nurture the high principles set by the Gurus. The Gurus promoted the principles of equality, compassion, love and peace, humility and contentment, devotion to truth, protection of the weak, the sharing of resources, right to work, right to free worship and remembrance of God.

Vaisakhi should be considered a day of reflection for all of us, the believers of the Sikh faith. It should be the day when all who call themselves ‘the Sikhs of Guru’ start making some grass-root resolutions to change the status-quo rather than going with the flow. It should be the day when vows to uphold those golden principles of Sikh faith are renewed.The real significance of Vaisakhi is to heed to this call from the Guru and stand for the principles.

Vaisaikhi symbolizes a revitalization of the Sikh identity and the evolution of the Sikh community into saint-soldiers.

After initiating the five “beloved ones” into the new order of the Khalsa, the Guru knelt before them and requested that they initiate him.

He gave all males the the name Singh (Lion) and all females the name Kaur (Princess)

Sikhs were identified as Khalsa and given the 5 K’s.

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