The rich cultural heritage of India is clearly depicted in the numerous festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. India is a secular country and every region and religion has their own festivals. Sometimes India is often termed as the land of festivals.
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is one of the major festivals of the Sikhs celebrated on 14th or 15th of April every year. Specially celebrated in Punjab, people join in the festival throughout the country and even abroad. The Baisakhi festival marks the Sikh New Year and is also celebrated as the founding day of the Khalsa Panth by Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Sikh Guru in the year 1699. Khalsa was considered as the Brotherhood of Saint Soldiers to fight against oppression. The festival is celebrated every year on the first day of the first month or the Baisakh month of the solar Nanakshahi Calendar and it also marks the beginning of the new solar year and also the new harvest season. It is one of the holiest days for the Sikhs and is observed as a holiday in several parts of the country. Along with Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala, Orissa, Assam and Nepal also celebrate the day as the Hindu New Year. Baisakhi is also marked by the traditional harvest festival in the north Indian states like Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarkhand and others. In some parts of the country people celebrate the day by taking the holy bath in the river Ganga.
The history of the festival can be traced to the year 1969. On 30th march, 1969, Khalsa Panth was established by Guru Gobind Singh to instill courage and sacrifice among his fellow men. He formed the Panch Piara on this auspicious occasion with the five men who were considered as the first members of the Khalsa. The events took place at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur and all the people present on the auspicious occasion were considered as the members of the Khalsa Panth irrespective of their caste and creed.
On Baisakhi, all the devotees crowd at the Gurudwara to mark the celebrations. Bhangra, the cultural folk dance of Punjab is also an integral part of the occasion. On the day, Sikhs from all over India and even from far corners of the world come to pay their homage at the sacred sites of Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal. Today in this secular country it is no longer considered as the festival for only the Sikhs and is celebrated by people of all religions and regions irrespective of their caste and creed.
Apart from Punjab, the Baisakhi is celebrated as Naba Barsha or Poila Baisakh inWest Bengal, as Vishu in Kerala, Rongali Bihu in Assam and as Vaisakha in Bihar where it marks the auspicious occasion of the Hindu New Year and several other Regional festivals.