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FESTIVAL OF BAISAKHI

Hindu Solar New Year

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Always celebrated on the 13th of April, this day marks the beginning of the Hindu solar new year. It is among the few Indian festivals that has a fixed date.  In Kerala, Baisakhi is called as "Vishu" and in Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as "Puthandu" and in Assam, the festival is called Bohag Bihu. Considered a holy day, the devout celebrate the Baisakhi with a dip in the holy rivers just around the break of dawn. Sweets are distributed, old enmities are forgiven and life is full of joy, merriment and everyone seems to belong.

Baisakhi has special significance for two of India's major religious groups. 

For Hindus, it's the start of the new year, and is celebrated with requisite bathing, partying and worshipping. 

It's believed that the goddess Ganga descended to earth thousands of years ago, and in her honor many Hindus gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. The action is centered in the holy cities along the Ganges in north India, or in Srinagar's Mughal Gardens, Jammu's Nagbani Temple, or anywhere in Tamil Nadu. Hindus plant poles wrapped in flags of god-embroidered silk in front of their homes, and hang pots of brass, copper or silver on top. Children wear garlands of flowers and run through the streets singing "May the new year come again and again!" 

In Kerala the festival is called Vishu, and includes fireworks, shopping for new clothes and interesting displays called Vishu Kani. These are arrangements of flowers, grains, fruits, cloth, gold, and money are viewed early in the morning, to ensure a year of prosperity. 

In Assam, the festival is called Bohag Bihu, and the community organizes massive feasts, music, and dancing. 
    

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For the Sikh community it is a special day of celebration as it was on the day of Baisakhi in 1669, that Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa Panth and gave a final impetus to the course of the earlier nine Gurus of Sikhism. 

Dressed in their typical folk attire, both men and women, celebrate the day with the Bhangra and Gidda dance. These  vigorous and vivacious dances tell the story of the agricultural process, from tilling the soil through harvesting. As the dholak (drum) changes beats, the dancing sequence progresses, dramatizing plowing, sowing, weeding, reaping, and finally celebrating.

Sikhs visit Gurudwaras, such as the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where the holy Granth is read. After the prayer, kada prasad (sweetened semolina) is served to the congregation. The function ends with langar, the community lunch served by volunteers.




 

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