The Vaisakhi or Baisakhi Festival is one of the most important celebrations in the Sikh calendar. It celebrates the Sikh New Year and commemorates 1699, the year of inception for Sikhism as a collective faith. Although the festival holds this deep meaning for Sikhs around the world, it has been celebrated as a harvest festival in Punjab for a long time, even before 1699.
With the festival holding such deep meaning for Sikhism, many Sikhs choose to be baptised on this date. The occasion is celebrated like many other important Sikh festivals, with colourful parades, singing, dancing and delicious food. As with New Year celebrations around the world, devotees of Vaisakhi pray, wear new clothes, exchange gifts, and visit friends and family.
Sikhs performing Gatka, a martial arts skill, during Vaisakhi Celebrations in Hyderabad
Many towns in Punjab and Haryana, interesting fairs are organised. It is a great way for travellers to soak in the festivities and immerse themselves in local culture. One of the most exciting places to be during the festival is The Golden Temple in Amritsar. With the religious procession, Nagar Kirtan, underway, expect colourful and enthusiastic dances and musical devotions to the beloved festival.
With the festival hailed as thanksgiving for farmers across Punjab, the accompanying foods promise to be a phenomenal gastronomic experience. Here are some local and international favourites:
Chhole Bhature – huge, fluffy fried breads served with tangy, chickpea curry (Credit: Maps of India)
Coconut Laddoo – Sweet Coconut Dessert
Achari Mutton – Spiced Mutton with Pickled Vegetables