‘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.