The History of Vaisakhi by historyman


									                         The History of Vaisakhi
Vaisakhi is the most important event in the Sikh calendar.

It celebrates the creation of the Sikh Nation known as the Khalsa Panth
(Community of the Pure) by Sri Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth and last human
Sikh Guru, at a Vaisakhi gathering in 1699, at Keshgarh Sahib in Anandpur
(pictured below).

Followers from all over India came to meet Guru Gobind Singh for this gathering.
When all were expecting to hear words of comfort and consolation, Guru Gobind
Singh emerged from a tent with a sword, and asked for volunteers to offer his life
for his faith. A young Sikh volunteered, followed the Guru into a tent. Shortly
after, the Guru reappeared alone with his sword covered in blood, and asked for a
second volunteer. Another Sikh stepped forward and again the Guru took him into
a tent, and re-appeared alone, his sword covered in blood. This was repeated for
a third, forth and fifth volunteer. The crowd became very unnerved, as many
believed that the Guru had killed the five Sikhs. He soon came out of the tent
again, this time followed by all five Sikhs who were alive and well and dressed in
turbans and other symbols that have since become symbols of Sikh identity, this
was the test Guru Gobind Singh explained, “to see who was brave and willing
enough to dedicate themselves to God, to defend their faith and care for the

This was followed by a special ceremony in which Guru Gobind Singh, baptised
                                    the first 5 Sikhs called the panj pyare also
                                    know as the 5 beloved ones. He prepared
                                    the armit (holy water) by putting water in a
                                    bowl for sprinkling over the five Sikhs in a
                                    simple initiation ceremony. The Guru said
                                    prayers as he stirred the water with a small
                                    steel sword; symbolising the need for
                                    strength. The Guru’s wife Mata Sundri then
                                    placed some sugar crystals in to the holy
                                    water or armit as a reminder that strength
                                    must always be balanced by sweetness of
                                    temperament. After completing his prayers,
the Guru then sprinkled the armit over the five. Gobind Singh Ji then asked the 5
baptised Sikhs to baptise him, hence introducing the concept of equality between
master and disciple.

It was following this ceremony the Khalsa Panth was established.

In a move to end social divisions Guru Gobind Singh, asked the panj pyare to
drop their surnames, that linked them to caste or occupation, and gave them new
names the women were called Kaur meaning “princess” to emphasise dignity and
men were called Singh which means “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.

The panj pyare were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity:

   •   KES – uncut hair
   •   KANGA – a small comb in the hair, a reminder of the importance of
   •   KARA – a steel bracelet, a reminder of a link to God and godly ideals
   •   KIRPAN – a sword for self- defence and the protection of the weak
   •   KACCHA – a modest and specially designed cotton undergarment

To mark Vaisakhi celebrations in Southampton, Gurprubs (reading of the Guru
Granth Sahib, the Sikhs Holy Scriptures) written, composed and compiled by the
Sikh Gurus themselves, are read throughout the Gurdwaras (Sikhs place of
worship) worldwide. The Nishan – Sahib (the Sikh flag) is changed in a ceremony
where the flag pole is washed and a new Nishan Sahib is put up.

Gurdwaras are brightly decorated and a colourful procession (the Nagar Kirtan)
takes place the streets of the city and Langer (free food) is served throughout the

Produced by Malkeat Singh, Community Development Worker 2004

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