What is Vaisakhi?

What is Vaisakhi?

Apr 13, 2012

Vaisakhi…. a very important day for Sikhs and one of the most colourful events in the Sikh calendar. It occurs during mid-April every year and traditionally concurs in Punjab with the first harvesting of the crops for the year. So, historically, it has been a very joyous occasion and a time for celebration. However, since 1699, it had marked the very significant religious event of the creation of the Khalsa.

It is not, as is commonly believed, a New Year for the Sikhs. This Sikh New Year is celebrated on the 1st day of Chet which usually falls mid March, a whole month earlier!

On Vaisakhi Day, March 30, 1699, people gathered around Guru Gobind Rai’s divine temporal seat at Anandpur Sahib. The Guru addressed the congregants with a most stirring oration on his divine mission of restoring their faith and preserving the Sikh religion. After his inspirational discourse, he flashed his unsheathed sword and said that every great deed was preceded by an equally great sacrifice: Then calling out to the assembled crowd for a volunteer, He demanded one head for oblation. After some trepidation one person offered himself for the Guru’s ‘great sacrifice’. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later the Guru came out of the tent, his sword dripping with fresh blood only to ask for another volunteer. One by one four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent, he came out with his sword dripping fresh blood.

Thinking their Guru had gone mad and afraid he would ask for more heads some of the congregation started to disperse when suddenly the Guru emerged with all five men and in a new ceromony that changed the way that one became a Sikh the Guru now initiated the five into a new and unique order of Sikhs. The ceremony was called pahul, what Sikhs today know as Amrit Shakna. Then the Guru asked the first five Khalsa Sikhs to perform the ceremony on him, in the same manner. He then proclaimed that the Panj Pyare — the Five Beloved Ones — would be the embodiment of the Guru himself:

“Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I. When the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy.”

The important thing to remember about that day is that the five volunteers and the whole sangat thought or were “under the impression” that the five Sikhs were really walking to their deaths–being killed, one by one. The Sikhs who volunteered, had demonstrated their willingness to give their heads–in the same way that Guru Tegh Bahadur had done that day in Delhi. The Guru’s feat, his seemingly–all too real test, was performed to prove the devotion and dedication of his Sikhs. Those who were ready to give themselves up to their Guru were the bravest and most devoted. These brave men had unkowningly chosen to be part of a new paanth – the Khalsa Panth. Guru ji joined the Khalsa Panth after his devoted Sikhs – the initiator becoming the initiated. Today, as then, they lead the Khalsa alongside the Guru:

“Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I…”

Leave a Reply