This blogpost series is called Holidays and Holy Days to inform our OSU community about significant religious and spiritual observances.  If you know of a significant holiday or holy day coming up, please communicate the information to Hannah Pynn hannah.pynn@oregonstate.edu in the Dean of Student Life office.

April 13th, 2013 is the Sikh holiday of Vaisakhi.

Happy Vaisakhi!

 

Context

The celebration of Vaisakhi, also called Baisakhi, is the Sikh New Year harvest festival and commemorates the founding of the Sikh community. Baisakhi began as a harvest festival in the India region of Punjab but became a significant Sikh holiday in 1699. Sikh’s have a long history of standing up against tyranny and oppression against humankind, to defend the defenseless.

While celebrating the Vaisakhi harvest festival in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, asked if five people would be willing to die for the sake of their religion, to defend humanity by becoming a Saint-Soldier. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib asked this question while holding a sword in his hand and five men stepped forward, expecting to give their lives on the spot. Guru Gobind Singh Sahid baptized these men and began the group of Khalsa.

The Sikh religion commemorates the first five men who comprised the Khalsa with five symbols called five Ks. The five Ks include the Kesh(uncut hair), the Kangha (comb), the Katchera (underwear), the Kara (steel ring), and the Kirpan (sword).

Happy Baisakhi!

Significance

Baisakhi is also celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists since the harvest festival began as a Punjab regional holiday and New Year. Hindus celebrate this New Year by bathing in the Ganges River for ritual baths that honor the Goddess Ganga who descended to earth thousands of years ago.

In Kerala, another region in India, the festival is called “Vishu” which means “equal” in Sanskrit and commemorates the vernal equinox. In Assam, another part of India, the festivalis called Bohag Bihu, where the first crops of the season are offered in hopes of peace and prosperity in the coming year.

Buddhists celebrate Vaisakha as a remembrance of the Awakening and Enlightened Passing Away of Buddha Bautama, who was born as the Indian Prince Siddharta.

 

Rituals/Traditions

  1. Dancing the traditional Bhangra, a strenuous dance that tells the story of the agricultural process
  2.  Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurdwara (place of worship) before dawn with flowers and offerings
  3. Processionals through town
  4. Sikh baptisms
  5. New clothes
  6. Fireworks
  7. Feasting and gift-giving

Additional Resources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaisakhi

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/12/vaisakhi-sikh-holiday_n_848191.html#s264306&title=Bhangra_Dance

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/satpal-singh/vaisakhi-of-the-sikhs-lif_b_848850.html

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/india/vaisakhi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bihu

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