Vaisakhi (13 April) is celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs and marks the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year. It was originally a harvest festival in the Punjab until it became Sikhism’s most important festival.
Vaisakhi, also called Baisakhi, is the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa.
In 1699, Sikhs from all over the Punjab gathered together to celebrate the local harvest festival of Vaisakhi. The tenth guru, Gur Gobind Singh, came out of a tent carrying a sword. He asked anyone who was prepared to give their life for their religion to step forward. A young man stepped forward and went into the tent with Guru Gobind Singh. Then Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent alone with his sword covered in blood and asked for another volunteer. This happened four times until five Sikhs had gone into the tent. Everyone was very worried that five men had died. However, they all came out of the tent alive and wearing turbans. The five men became known as the Panj Piare or ‘Beloved Five’. Guru Gobind Singh then baptised all the men in the Khalsa. He said prayers and sprinkled them with sugar water, called amrit. These five men became the first members of the Khalsa.
Some of the commonly prepared dishes during Vaisakhi include:
- Traditional kadhi with besan pakodas dunked in a thick gravy of yogurt
- Meethe Peeley Chawal – basmati rice, cashew nuts, saffron and cinnamon
- Kesar Phirni – a sweet rice pudding with saffron, cardamom, sugar, milk and almonds,
- Mango Lassi – mango, honey, ice and plain yoghurt
- Kada Prasad (Atta Halwa) – wholewheat flour, ghee, sugar and water