BAISAKHI - PUNJAB FESTIVAL
celebrated with joyous music and dancing, is New Year's
Day in Punjab. It falls on April 13, though once in
36 years it occurs on 14th April. It was on this day
that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, founded
the Khalsa (the Sikh brotherhood) in 1699. The Sikhs,
therefore, celebrate this festival as a collective birthday.
Sikhs visits gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and listen to
kirtans (religious songs) and discourses. After the
prayer, kada prasad (sweetened semolina) is served to
the congregation. The function ends with langar, the
community lunch served by volunteers.
Processions are taken out, at the head of which are
the panj piaras. Mock duels and bands playing religious
tunes are part of the processions. Schoolchildren also
enthusiatically take part in them.
For people in villages this festival is a last opportunity
for relaxing before they start harvesting of corn. Processions
and feasting follow readings of the holy scripture of
the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib.