This last weekends Nagar Kirtan in Stockton helped me to better understand this holiday! It made me realize that this holiday is the most significant and most important holiday for Sikhs
Today is the day the Khalsa( Sikh Community) was created!
The reality is that Sikhism was, and is, a revolutionary religion in India. One the rejected the caste system and embraces one indescribable God! A God that sees everyone as equal! There was, and is, a need for strong community to uphold these beliefs. To reject the caste system and follow Sikh teachings. The Khalsa embodies all of the teachings of the Gurus and sets Sikhs apart and holds them responsible for their actions.
Here the story of how the first Khalsa was established!
“Vaisakhi (also spelled Baisakhi) is the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community known as the Khalsa. It is celebrated on April 14 each year. On Vaisakhi day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all over India to the city of Anandpur Sahib. At this gathering, the Guru called upon Sikhs to uphold their faith and preserve the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh then lifted his sword and asked that anyone prepared to give his life for his faith to come forward. There was a big silence, but the Guru went on repeating his demand. One Sikh finally came forward and 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 the tent, and re-appeared alone with his sword covered with blood. This was repeated until five Sikhs had offered their heads for the Guru. Finally, the Guru emerged from the tent with all five men dressed piously in blue. Guru Gobind Singh called the five Sikhs the Panj Pyare, the Five Beloved Ones.”
The Tenth (final) Guru established a Sikh identity and dictated that Sikhs should wear the 5 K’s ( articles of faith) to set them apart and to remind them of their promises.
The Five Ks are:
1 Kesh (uncut hair)
2 Kangha (small wooden comb held in the hair),
3 Kara (steel or iron bracelet),
4 Kacchera (undergarment) and
5 Kirpan (short dagger).
Vaisakhi is the celebration of this monumental event! The creation of Khalsa! The celebration of Sikh traditions. Many people go to the Gurdwara on this evening to celebrate, there are also events throughout the week. We attended a Nagar Kirtan parade on Sunday in honor of Vaisakhi. This event really taught me about the significance and need of the Khalsa especially for Sikhs living outside of Punjab. A community to keep the traditions and teachings alive just as they were intended by the Gurus.