“Visakhi” By Gurmanjot Kaur Bains

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Chal Ni Premieye! Visakhi Chaleye!!
Boor peya amban nu, gulaab hasseya,
Baggan utte rang phereya bahar ne,
Beriyaan lefiaan tahniyaan de bhar ne,
Pungrian Vallan, velan rukhin chadiyaan,
Phull hethon phallan ne peroyian larrian,
Sayin di nigah jagg te suwalli e,
Chal ni Premiye! Visakhi Challiyyeh!!

Very expertly the renowned Punjabi poet expresses the scene around the Visakhi days. Visakhi, also pronounced as Baisakhi or Vaisakhi is an integral part of Punjabi culture. It is the musical vibe of Punjabi folklore. This enthusiastic fest marks the time for the harvest of the Rabi crop- wheat. Celebrated with lots of exuberance and gaiety, visakhi has both cultural and historical significance.
Punjab; the land of colorful attire, the name is closely associated with the fairs and songs. Here we welcome every new season with love, lots of charm and gusto. Visakhi is one such festival, which expresses the vivaciousness of the Punjabis. Though the times have changed and we do not celebrate these festivals in the similar manner as was done earlier. But even today these days are attributed to merry making and feasting and people dressing up gaily for the occasion.
Punjab has produced many famous wrestlers and it was vital to these ghee - butter eaters. In every fair the main attraction used to be the wrestling bout and the passer-bys also participated very enthusiastically in the bucking up process.
Historically this vibrant fest dates back to the Visakhi of year 1699. The holy city of Anandpur Sahib, situated in the lap of Shivalik Hills stands witness to the birth of Khalsa on this very day. It was the gala event, which had successfully put forward the message of unity, oneness, brotherhood and the concept of socialism. It was the awakening of the dead souls and the creation of the hawks from the sparrow, ‘sawa lakh se ek ladaun, tabeh naam Gobind Singh kahaun’. The whole scene involved the sacred waters known as Amrit, brave souls, five Ks and the enlightened spirits. According to Sikh History, addressing a gathering at the premises of the holy town, Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave a call to everyone present to mark the occasion, for who could readily sacrifice his or her life. This was not to create panic among the public but actually was a trial, which had put to test thousands of people gathered there. Those who passed the test took the sacred waters called Amrit (nectar) from the Guru. Afterwards what was seen was never seen before; the Guru in turn took nectar from the Singhs, ‘Aape Gur, Aape Gur Chela’. (That he himself is the Guru and the Guru as well as the Disciple). All the five brave Sikhs who came forward on Guru’s call were given one common name Singh irrespective of the caste. Hence the basic concept related to this very day is that after the Amrit everyone belongs to only one co0mmunity, Khalsa. Khalsa is a Persian word and the Standard Persian Dictionary- page 250, describes it as- ‘ Vo Zameen â€" E â€" Badshahi Jo Kisi Ki Jagir Na ho’.
The uniqueness of Khalsa lies in the Amrit and the Five K’s and one cannot imagine Khalsa without any one of these elements. Khalsa gave practical form to the concepts of self- respect, self- pride and self- defense and it is Khalsa which over the centuries have proved as the savior of the masses. In a way, Baisakhi of 1699 successfully brought about a revolution amongst the Indians who were considered as untouchables, downtrodden and scared since ages. The creation of Khalsa gave form to the concept of Miri-Piri given by the sixth Guru, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. Khalsa is a sacred thought and a sacred principle that has an element of independence about it. It has survived many storms and stood firm when and where the whole world failed to face the crisis.
Another historic event which can be traced to this day, when the huge mass of devotees assembled at Sri Amritsar Sahib ( Jallianwala Bagh) to mark the occasion of Baisakhi in the year 1919. The then British General Dyer ordered an open firing, which resulted in the mass killing. The monument at the Jallianwala Bagh stands high as a memoir to the cruelty of the Britishers towards the innocent Indians.
Ironically today we are the part and parcel of a democratic nation and we celebrate all the religious as well as the social ceremonies freely. In the year 1999, we observed the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of khalsa whereby the major emphasis was not on the soul and the spirit of the Khalsa but decorations and the political speeches took over the scene.
Vaisakhi is the day attributed to the regional and religious harmony. It is the day which holds a social significance as well,when people irrespective of their religion and caste sit together…listen to the holy hymns, take langar sitting in pangat and take sacred bath in the sarovar.
Visakhi reflects the rich heritage and symbolizes new life. Everything in the air seems
new and fresh; one look around and we observe a sea of colours. Once Giddha, bhangra, Vaar singing, Mirza all collectively marked the celebration. They were actual emotions, happiness and expressions of freedom of its own kind. Unlike the present times, women never got much chance to dress-up and go out. These fairs gave them a chance to express their long suppressed feelings, they used to dress traditionally and walk as ‘hoors’, guys whose whole attention was on these Punjaban hooran used to sing - balle balle assan teri tor vekhni, lokan vekhna visakhi walla mela.
Scenario is changed to such an extent that today the so-called Punjabi munde may not even be knowing about-‘samman wali daang’ and the girls with hair tied into a pony tail cannot realize the importance of ‘parandi’ in their culture and the list goes on…
On this Visakhi, let us all make a promise that efforts must be made to keep alive the spirit of these fairs and festivals and also to enlighten the whole world about the Spirit of Khalsa.

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