Different Baisakhi Celebrations and Rituals•
Posted on April 01 2022
Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is a spring-related harvest festival. The festival typically occurs between the 13th and 15th of April as the Hindu solar new year. It is a primarily a day of celebration for Hindus and Sikhs from western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. However, the festival is also celebrated on a less grand scale in some other North Indian states as well.
According to Hindus, Arya Samaj was founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 on this day. They also believe that Goddess Ganges descended from heaven on to earth on this day several years ago as a river on this day to help people get rid of their sins. Hence, people offer flowers to Ganga Devi on this day and take a bath in holy waters to attain moksha or mukti. They also engage in charity by distributing seasonal fruits, water pitchers and hand fans to the deserving and needy.
Although people from all communities of North India celebrate Baisakhi, it is a significant day for farmers in Punjab. They wake up early in the morning and head to temples to express their gratitude for a good harvest in the past year and also to seek blessings from the Almighty for a decent harvest in the upcoming agricultural season as well.
Fairs are organised in huge grounds and farmers show their participation by engaging in local gidda and bhangra dances. Hence, Baisakhi is not only a thanksgiving festival but also a loud and colourful festival. Hindus perform a Navagraha pooja after the Baisakhi fair and a kirtan is rendered following the pooja.
Baisakhi is also associated with giving gifts to friends and relatives. Thus, there is a lot of shopping involved way ahead of the festival. Shopkeepers take advantage of the gifting tradition and offer huge discounts on their offerings.
Hindus from Haryana have their own way of celebrating Baisakhi. While some traditions are the same, some are completely different and unique. The festivals take place in full pomp and gaiety in Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar. Hindus take a ritual bath in the holy tank of Baan Ganga Tirtha in Kurukshetra and participate in the famous Baisakhi fair organised in the same premises. They wear new and vibrant and colourful clothes on this day. This day also marks the arrival of New Year for people of this state.
The Haryana Government also hosts a Vaisakhi festival in Pinjore Gardens to commemorate this occasion.
Hindus in this state celebrate the festival as Vaisakhi Sankranti. One of the popular rites observed on this day is to take bath in a nearby pond or river. It is also customary to eat sattu and gur or jaggery on the occasion of Baisakhi. Sattu is a kind of dry powder or flour featuring a mixture of ground pulses and cereals. Interestingly, this festival is also referred to by the name Satwahi or Sattua because of the traditional practice of consuming sattu on this occasion.
The rituals begin with an early morning bath for Hindus of Himachal Pradesh. This is followed by lighting of two lamps. One of the lamps is lit using a mix of several oils while the other is lit with ghee. These pots are then kept along with a water pot in a large plate in front of the deity. The plate also contains other items like some evergreen turf, vermillion, sandal, incense and dakshina that is usually money. After the worship, the family is offered alms comprising pulses, rice and coins.
Black gram fried cakes are prepared a day ahead of the festival. This is them distributed among neighbours and friends after the pooja on Baisakhi day is completed. Several other sweet dishes are also prepared on this day. Some people also opt for whitewashing the walls and plastering the floors of their houses. This ritual is called prau lagana. As a part of the merriment, Hindus participate in a fair in the evenings that lasts for three days.
This festival is of prime importance for the Dogra Hindu sect of this region. Rivers, ponds and canals are crowded with people every year on this day to take an early morning dip. The ritual bath in the Tawi river on Baisakhi is well-known. The bath is followed by a pooja with an offering of the food crops harvested during the previous year to the deities as this festival is represented as a harvest festival. The Dogri Bhangra is yet another important aspect of the celebrations.
Devotees throng around the banks of the river Devika in Udhampur and organise folk song recitations. This takes place for three days. Hindus in Sudhmanadev also celebrate this festival on a grand scale with folk song competitions and recitations by folk singers from nearby areas. Several stalls are put up and vendors compete with one another to offer the best delicacies.
The Baisakhi fair is also organised in a few other towns and cities of the state. The people of Jammu consider Baisakhi as an auspicious day for weddings.
Irrespective of how Baisakhi is celebrated, the day is considered as a local holiday by the governments of the states where the festival is of significance. It is an opportunity for people to catch up with their family and friends and spend some happy moments together in the midst of other every day hectic schedules and routines
Written by Deepthi K