Rajender Kumar Sharma
The word Vaisakhi or Baisakhi having similar meaning and derived from the word Vaishakhi, which in Bengali is pronounced as ‘Boishakhi’. The literal meaning of Vaisakhi or Vaishakhi is derived from Vaisakh month and Vishakha Nakshatra. Vaisakhi is celebrated as a harvest festival or agricultural festival in the spring season across North India.
Bathing in holy rivers on the day of Baisakhi also has special importance in almost all the communities. The Punjabi New Year also begins from this day. Rabi crops are fully ripened on Baisakhi , which gives an immense pleasure to the farmer . This festival marks the harvest of fully ripened crop. Baisakhi is the of foundation of Sikhism. a festival celebrated as a symbol of the establishment of Sikhism . Both things make this festival special for all the people of Punjab and the farmers of the country.
Vaisakhi had witnessed many historical events also. On 13 April 1699, the 10th Guru of the Sikh Panth, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji established the Khalsa Panth. Later, Ranjit Singh was proclaimed as the Maharaja of the Sikh Empire on 12 April 1801. And in 1919, the massacre of people by the British rulers in Jallianwala Bagh, in which many people were martyred, etc. are prominent. On the day of Vaisakhi , Sikhs conduct kirtans, visit local gurudwaras, community fairs, organize nagar kirtan processions, raise the Nishan Sahib flag, and organize mass feasts, langar etc.
Hindus bathe in holy rivers like the Ganges, Jhelum, and Kaveri on this occasion. The river Ganges is believed to have descended from heaven to earth on the day of Vaisakhi. That is why a large Vaisakhi fair is held at Haridwar, a major religious site, on this occasion. For some Hindus, the first day of Vaisakh marks the traditional solar new year. It is a symbol, visiting temples, donating pitcher , seasonal fruits and hand fans also have special significance. Organization of fairs at Hindu pilgrimage sites, processions of deities of the temple also add to the beauty of this festival. The most spectacular form of Vaisakhi fair takes place at Thakurdwara of Bhagwan Narayanji in Pandori Mahatan village of Gurdaspur district of Punjab, where the fair lasts for three whole days.
In other parts of the country, it is celebrated as Bohag Bihu in Assam, Pohela Boishakh in West Bengal and Bangladesh, Maha Vishuba Sankranti in Odisha, Joor Sheetal in Mithila, Bisu in Karnataka, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu. Celebrated as the new year of the calendar.The Dogra community celebrates it as the new year of the Shastri or Dogra-Pahari calendar. In brief ,one can say the Vaisakhi is not the festival of a state or two , it is festival of whole nation , celebrated by the people in different ways to express their joy & pleasure to symbolise the National Integration . We Indian live in different cultures , we speak different languages , our dressing may be different , but the way to our joy and pleasure is same .
Baisakhi is celebrated with great grandeur and enthusiasm in Punjab and Haryana. In the villages of Punjab, on Baisakhi, men and women together perform bhangra and giddha to the beat of drums.
The festival of Baisakhi or Vaisakhi will be celebrated on 14th April, but this year’s Baisakhi may not be as encouraging for the farmers as in other years. The festival of Baisakhi is celebrated as a harvest festival. Especially in North India, in the month of March, wheat and mustard crops are ripe and ready in the barns, it is time for the farmer to get the result of his hard work.
But this year, in the month of March, when the crop was ripe and ready for harvesting, the rain at that time caused heavy damage to the crop of thousands of hectares of land. This unseasonal rain ruined the expectations of the farmer. This year, where the Ministry of Agriculture had estimated a record wheat production of 10.62 tonnes, it would hardly be completed. Still farmers and other people will celebrate Vaisakhi with great love , joy and enthusiasm.
(Writer is Columnist & Educationist,Dehradun, Uttrakhand. Views are personal)
Rajender Kumar Sharma