An Overview of Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi, is the festival which celebrates Sikh New Year and the founding of the Sikh community in 1699, known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on 13 or 14 April and began as a harvest festival in Punjab before it became the Sikhs most important festival.

Amrit Sanskar, the rite of initiation into the Khalsa, often occurs on Vaisakhi, very early in the morning. Amrit Sanskar involves five men, Panj Piare, initiating candidates with amrit (sweetened water) and the candidates commit themselves to observe a daily discipline.

For 48 hours, ending on the morning of Vaisakhi, there is an akhand path, a continuous reading of the whole of the religious scripture Guru Granth Sahib. At Vaisakhi, the Sikh flag known as Nishan Sahib is replaced and there is a procession of the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs remember the unity, courage and strength of the Sikhs in 1699 and also the meaning of the Khalsa.

Sikhs often play team sports at Vaisakhi as a reminder of these qualities. There may also be processions, dancing, lights and fireworks.

This festival holds importance for Sikhs today as it reminds them of the birth of the Khalsa and the significance of joining the Khalsa in the Sikh community.