BAISAKHI: A HIGH HOLY DAY OF THE SIKHS
A Joyful Celebration of Faith, Culture, and Community
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, April 14, 2015
Kanwal Prakash Singh
Congratulations to the entire Sikh world and our friends in other faith communities on the sacred and joyous occasion of the 316th Baisakhi that falls this year on April 14th. Baisakhi, some people say Vaisakhi, is the most important and transformational event in Sikh faith history.
The Festival of Baisakhi is quickly becoming a major international celebration throughout the Sikh diaspora and is being acknowledged and recognized as an important religious and cultural event in public, private, and national circles - The White House, the City of London, Mayors, Governors, and Prime Ministers in and outside India where there is a major presence of Sikhs.
There will be major celebrations in every Sikh Gurdwara in the world, but none like the gatherings at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the highest seat of the Sikh faith; at Anandpur Sahib, the birthplace of Khalsa, and other major centers of the Sikh faith and culture. Many cities in America and around the world will organize Nagar Keertan (religious festive parades) prior to Baisakhi. There will be massive gatherings and displays of fireworks at major Sikh Gurdwaras and historic commemorations.
On this day in 1699, the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, transformed the followers of Guru Nanak to henceforth embrace a distinct identity, wear and honor five articles of faith that include Sikh turban and uncut hair. The events of Baisakhi Day 1699 changed the course of Sikh history as it set down and further strengthened the Sikh precept and commandments of equality, justice, and dignity of all people; service of humanity; and righteous defiance and sacrifice to confront evil, tyranny, and unprovoked outrage against the defenseless and violations of sacred human rights.
Since the historic Baisakhi of 1699, the Sikh history and tradition has offered an incredible testimony of honoring and upholding the central Sikh founding universal precepts and commandments in unparalleled sacrifices and indescribable suffering due to their distinct faith-mandated identity, for their advocacy of the sanctity and acknowledgement of their rights, and the dignity of respect for all faiths and spiritual traditions and every living being. This divinely inspired spirit is alive, well, and an inalienable part of the Sikh faith and tradition. The lessons of Baisakhi find echoes and celebrated testimonies in other spiritual traditions and faith histories.
Baisakhi is also a major cultural celebration. Baisakhi marks the start of the harvest of wheat in the Punjab and a time of great jubilation, celebrated in major cultural evenings of feasting and bhangra dancing. Today, there are 35 million followers and Sikhism is the fifth largest faith in the world. There are nearly 2 million Sikhs in North America and 2,500 Sikh families in central Indiana. Baisakhi will be celebrate at the oldest congregation (Sikh Gurdwara - Acton Road) in Indianapolis on Sunday, April 19th. The day will begin with prayer, singing of hymns, and a community lunch (langar) to be shared with all who attend. The cultural celebration is scheduled for May 23, 2015
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