Baisakhi encompasses cultural equality, universal unity sans borders

LAHORE: Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, is an important Punjabi festival celebrated in the Pakistani and Indian Punjab and other parts of both countries. It falls on April 13th or 14th every year and marks the beginning of the new solar year and the harvest season.

It is a day to celebrate 1699 – the year when Sikhism was born as a collective faith. As a whole the message of Baisakhi is peace and love.

Noted educationist and Sikh activist in Pakistan Professor Kalyan Singh told APP that to celebrate Vaisakhi, Sikhs visit important religious places of worship called Gurudwaras. These holy places are also specially decorated for the occasion, Kalyam said, adding many people enjoy parades and special processions through the streets called Nagar Kirtans. To a query, he said that ‘Nagar’ means town and ‘Kirtan’ means the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book.

It is worth mentioning here that the government of Punjab (Pakistan) has declared that the Baisakhi celebration would be observed officially. It is worth mentioning here that the Punjabi New Year is celebrated on Baisakhi. As the Punjabi people also gather around the first crop of the Rabi season. The farmers offer their prayers for an abundant harvest and prosperity. In addition, the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, founded the Khalsa Panth on this day, giving it prominence in Sikh tradition. According to various traditions, Baba Guru Nanak was inspired by a unique and powerful spiritual experience that awarded him with a vision of the true nature of God.

To Sikh rituals, Wesakhi’s cultural festivities adopt various spiritual meditations that Baba Guru Nanak experienced while concluding the idea, that the way to find spiritual growth was only through thinking power, and through living in a virtuous way that reflects the feelings of presence of the divine within each human being on earth. Meanwhile Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday in a statement has felicitated the Sikhs on the occasion of the Baisakhi festival. He said “Pakistan is a beautiful blend of different faiths and cultures” and the colour of Baisakhi further added to this beauty.

The PM said that the government of Pakistan and its provincial governments will provide all-out facilities to Sikh pilgrims, coming from all over the world to perform Baisakhi rituals. The main event of the Sikh religious festival, Baisakhi Mela, was held at Gurudwara Panja Sahib in Hasanabdal on Sunday. Thousands of Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, including India  participated.

It is worth mentioning here that this year Pakistan has extended visas to 2,843 Indian Sikh pilgrims, granting them the opportunity to engage in the festivities of Baisakhi Mela and Khalsa Janam Din.

Subsequently, on April 15, the pilgrims will travel to Nankana Sahib from Hasanabdal, where they will pay homage to Sacha Sauda (Farooqabad) during their stay. This will be followed by a visit to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur (Narowal) on April 18.

The pilgrimage will continue with a visit to Gurdwara Rodi/Rori Sahib (Eminabad) on April 20, where the pilgrims will spend a day in contemplation.

The culmination of the spiritual journey will see the Sikh pilgrims bidding farewell to Pakistan on April 22, marking the completion of their 10-day pilgrimage. Sardar Ramesh Singh, the head of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and provincial minister for minority affairs in Punjab, said that Basakhi and Khalsa Janam Day are distinct festivals. He recounted the historical significance of Baisakhi, stating that on this day in 1699, the tenth Guru Gobind founded the Sikh Panth at Anandpur Sahib. Pakistan is home to several Sikh religious sites and every year thousands of followers of the religion visit the country to perform sacred rites.

In all Sikh holy places including Nankana Sahib, Gurduwara Rodi Sahib (Amen Abad Gujranwala) Kartarpur and Punja Sahib (Hasan Abdal ), the procession with religious zeal pours into the streets of these cities. The local Muslim community also pays respect to the great leader and help Sikh pilgrims decorate the passage covering it with banners.

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