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Festivals | Baisakhi Other Festivals
‘Baisakhi’ is a traditional seasonal festival of North India, where it is treated as the New Year’s Day. It falls on the 13th of April (which is the first day of the month of ‘Baisakhi’) every year and it coincides with the beginning of the harvesting season. Most North Indians celebrate ‘Baisakhi’ but it has a special significance for Sikhs as they gather to celebrate the founding of the ‘Khalsa’.

The ‘Khalsa’ gives Sikhs a creed (common belief) which stresses hard work, equality, love of God and care for all, regardless of race, class or religion.

It was on the day of ‘Baisakhi’ in 1699 AD that the great Sikh leader, ‘Guru Gohind Sigh’ created the ‘Khalsa’ (brotherhood). He assembled the Sikhs at ‘Anandpur Sahib’, North India. To test the faith of his followers, he stood before them with a sword in his hand and called for a volunteer who would die for his faith. The volunteer followed him into a tent and moments later, the Guru reappeared with his sword dripping with blood. He then took other volunteers into the tent repeating it four times. Each time he reappeared from his tent alone, blood dripping from his sword.

The people were shocked and frightened by the act. But when the Guru suddenly returned with all five men alive, they were relieved. The men were dressed in saffron-coloured uniforms, like the one worn by the Guru. He called these men Panj Pyare (five beloved ones). He commanded that each of them have with him the 5Ks, namely a Kirpan(or sword), a kara (bangle), kesh (uncut hair), kangha(comb) and kaccha (a pair of shorts). He then dedicated these five pure and brave men as the first members of the new brotherhood, the Khalsa.

The Guru then prepared the ‘Armit’ (sweet, holy water) for the baptism ceremony. He recited five hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) and formally welcomed them into their religious community. They drank the Armit from the same bowl though each of the five men came from different social statues in the society. This was to show to the followers that everyone including women, were equal in the eyes of God. That was when the Guru introduced the names of sigh (lion) and Kaur (princess) to replace caste names proclaiming that all Sikhs were equals.