27 May 2022 16:28
Full 1
Full 1
Full 3
Full 3
previous arrow
next arrow

Why is Baisakhi/Vaisakhi celebrated and on What Date?

“Compartmentalization into Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina and Sikhs in terms of celebration of cultural events is a recent phenomenon, only about 200 years old."

By Sanjeev Nayyar

According to a report a resolution was introduced in the U.S. Congress to recognise the Significance of Vaisakhi. Justification for resolution,

“Also known as Baisakhi, Vaisakhi is a spring season harvest festival for Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. It also marks the Sikh New Year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa Panth under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, Garamendi said.”

- Advertisement -

Based on the above a few questions arise – 

1. Why is Baisakhi celebrated today?

It is a harvest festival and Khalsa Panth was founded on that day.

2. Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists celebrate it? 

Sikhs and Hindus celebrated it for different reasons. Buddhists are not known to celebrate it.

3. Is it a Sikh New Year?

- Advertisement -

New Year is typically associated with a calendar like January 1 or April 13-14 in the Hindu calendar or the day after Diwali is celebrated by Gujaratis as New Year.

4. Was Khalsa Panth founded on March 30 or April 13 because today Baisakhi is celebrated on April 13?

Khalsa was founded on March 30, so wish someone could enlighten why it is celebrated on April 13. 

5. What does Vaisakh mean because Baisakhi comes from Vaisakh?

Handsworth Vaisakhi 1
Baisakhi; Image Source: @Canva

Khalsa was founded on 30 March 1699, being the 1st day of the month of Vaisakh. (Vaisakh is a month of the Hindu calendar). 

Let us start by reading about the background to the formation of Khalsa. This write-up is based on The History and Culture of Indian People Volume 7, Pg 317 published by the respected Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan Mumbai. General Editor is R C Mazumdar. 

Background

During a 2012 visit to Naina Devi Temple in Himachal Pradesh, about an hour’s drive from Anandpur Sahib, I wondered why so many Sikhs come to the temple for darshan. The answer lies in the events of 1699.

images 2
Baisakhi; Image Source: @Canva

In the Chandi Charitra, the tenth Guru says that in the past god had deputed Goddess Durga to destroy evildoers. That duty was now assigned to him hence he wanted her blessings. So he invited Pandit Kesho from Kashi to conduct the ceremony at the hill of Naina Devi.

The ceremony started on Durga Ashtami day, in the autumn of October 1698, and lasted for six months. At the end of this period, the sacred spring Navratras began on 21 March 1699. 

Then, “When all the ghee and incense had been burnt and the goddess had yet not appeared, the Guru came forward with a naked sword and, flashing it before the assembly declared: ‘This is the goddess of power!” This took place on 28 March 1699, the Durga Ashtami day. The congregation was then asked to move to Anandpur, where on New Year’s Day of 1st Baisakh, 1756 Vikrama Samvat (30th March 1699), the Guru would create a new nation.” Pg 317 

On 30th March 1699, at Anandpur, Guru Gobind Singhji gave a stirring speech to the assembly about the need to protect their spiritual and temporal rights. He then asked if anyone would offer his head in the services of God, Truth and Religion.

importedImage63542 6 3
Baisakhi; Image Source: @Canva

The five who came forward were Dayaram a Khatri from Lahore, Dharamdas a Jat from Hastinapur near Delhi, and Sahib Chand a barber from Bidar in Karnataka, Himmat Chand Kahar, a water carrier from Puri in Odisha and Mohkam Chand Chihimba from Dwarka in Gujarat. 

They were designated the Five “Beloved Ones” and termed “Khalsa” (ie Purified). “In India ‘five’ has been a sacred number from time immemorial. Panchon mein Parmeshwar hai is an old saying indicating the presence of Divinity in five, as are the five elements of nature. 

So Khalsa was founded on March 30 1699 being the first day of the month of Vaisakh. In the Indian calendar, the date of the 1st day of Vaisakh would change every year. Dates remaining fixed are found in the Gregorian calendar only. For a brief write up on the Hindu Calendar see here

Wish someone can explain how April 13 became a fixed date for Baisakhi?

sikh one 640x360 1 4
Baisakhi; Image Source: @Canva

I checked the date of the founding of Khalsa with two more sources. 

March 30 as the founding date of Khalsa is stated in the book ‘Historical Dictionary of Sikhism’ by W.H. McLeod Pg 123. 

March 30 as the founding date of Khalsa is also mentioned by Prof Harbans Singh prepared under auspices of Punjab University Patiala, in his Encyclopaedia of Sikhism https://www.thesikhencyclopedia.com/uncategorised/anandpur/ Excerpts from the link,

“On Baisakhi day, 30 March 1699, Guru Gobind Singh carried out the supreme task of his career converting the sangat into Khalsa.”

Indic Scholar Dr Satish K Kapoor says,

“Vaishakha is called Madhava Maas, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Four incarnations of Vishnu are associated with this month. Treta yuga began on the third day of the bright half of Vaishakha. Sun enters Mesha Rashi during Uttarayana. Arya Samaj was founded on Baisakhi day. Having been associated with harvesting, it is dear to agriculturists, of all religions. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was coronated on Baisakhi.” 

Dr Kapoor says, “The 22nd Tirthankara of Jainism was a cousin of Lord Krishna, according to Harivamsha of Jinasena – the Jaina version of Mahabharata. Since Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and Vaishakha is special to the lord, the sacred month is associated with Jainas too.”

He adds, “Compartmentalization into Hindu, Buddhist, Jaina and Sikhs in terms of celebration of cultural events is a recent phenomenon, only about 200 years old. Since the festival falls on the first day of the solar month of Vaishakha, it became important for all communities. Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and nirvana falls on the full moon day of Vaishakha.”

punjab harvest 5

Baisakhi is a spring-time harvest festival. It is celebrated in some parts of North India. However, celebrations are big in Punjab because Khalsa Panth was founded on Baisakhi day. Since land in Punjab is pre-dominantly owned by Jaat Sikhs today, it has become a Sikh harvest festival. 

To read the history and significance of this harvest festival click Here

Actually, Vaisakhi was celebrated in Punjab even before it became the day on which Khalsa Panth was formed. Perhaps Guru Govind Singh ji chose this day to form Khalsa because people gathered in large numbers to celebrate the festival. 

Baisakhi is not celebrated by Buddhists because one, they are not landowners in Punjab and two, they are not part of Khalsa Panth. Not heard of or seen Buddhists in other parts of India celebrate Baisakhi. Jaina community inside or outside Punjab do not celebrate Baisakhi.

baisakhi 6
Baisakhi; Image Source: @Canva

Hindus celebrated Baisakhi for different reasons. Dr Kapoor says, “Hindus celebrate the whole month of Vaishakha as many important events of religious import are associated with it – Shitala Ashtami and Bruthani Ekadashi on the 8th and 11th day of the dark half and Akshya Tritiya, Mohini Ekadashi, Narasimha Jayanti and Purnima vrat on 3rd, 11th, 14th and the last day of the bright half. Patala Khanda of Padma Purana explains the importance of Vaishakha.”

Whilst effort is made to present a comprehensive picture and based on research, do write in if you find any errors. We are happy to stand corrected.

Author: Sanjeev Nayyar is a chartered accountant and founder http://esamskriti.com

Disclaimer: The article was first published on esamskriti.com, We have republished it with kind permission from the author. The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The opinions and facts are presented solely by him, and neither The Australia Today News nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Australia Today News on Patreon!
become a patron button 7
,