Bhangra Paa Le…Celebrate Baisakhi Punjabi Style

baisakhiIndia’s rich and glorious civilization is mirrored in its innumerable festivals. These festivals mark the seasons which signal to man the time for work and the time for relaxation, the commencement of the agricultural cycle with sowing in spring, and its culmination with the harvesting of the golden grain. And then, of course, we have, in endless variations of legend and myth, the hallowed perceptions that there is an ever-renewed war of light and darkness, of the divine and the demoniac in the unceasing evolution of the world.

Baisakhi is a derivative of Vaishakha. After harvesting the winter crop, the farmers of the northern states of Punjab and Haryana celebrate the beginning of another year. The day coincides with the solar equinox on the 13th of April. There is boisterous dancing and loud joyous singing as the traditional folk dances of Punjab, called the Gidda and Bhangra, are performed. It is also the anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa Pantha. People collect in the evening around abonfire to celebrate the harvest.

baisakhi2To mark the celebrations, Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurdwara before dawn with flowers and offerings in hands. Processions through towns are also common.

Punjabis assign a quite different meaning to Vaisakhi. In rural areas of Punjab they celebrate with full happiness and joy. They can be caught performing Bhangra.This strenuous dance tells the story of the agricultural process, from tilling the soil through harvesting. Thus it prepares the people of Punjab for the joy of the harvest season which begins on the following day. It is a day of feasting and merriment before the hard, tiring but fruitful time ahead.

Vaisakhi is widely celebrated by Sikhs in Western Punjab (Pakistan) as well, with festivities centered on the Panja Sahib complex in Hasan Abdal, numerous Gurudwaras in Nankana Sahib, and in various historical sites in Lahore. It is culturally and traditionally regarded as an important and significant Punjabi festival, further exemplified by the thousands of Sikh pilgrims from around the world arriving each year to commemorate the day at the sacred Sikh sites of Nankana Sahib and Hasan Abdal. Further, local Pakistani’s offer their well wishes and welcome the incoming pilgrims. In April 2009, the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee announced plans for formally organising the event on a larger scale in the country as well as expressing intentions for elegant arrangements. In 2010, over 20,000 pilgrims were expected to arrive in Pakistan for the celebrations, a significant increase over previous years.

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