Bandhan Khabra

Lights, colors, new outfits, sweets, dancing, music and, so much food! On April 13 Sikhs celebrate the most important holiday in their religion. Vaisakhi is the day Sikhism officially became a religion. This is the Punjabi new year that is filled with many religious festivities.

    Vaisakhi was created on April 13, 1699. Many people don’t really know how Sikhism came to be. Islamic rulers wanted all Sikhs to convert and become Muslim because they truly did not consider Sikhism as a true religion. So, many prophets and people were killed by the Mughal Empire. Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji (the tenth guru/prophet) was 9 years old when his father was tortured and killed. The experience impacted him very deeply. In the coming years, the Sikhs would be called on, again and again, to fight the Mughal Emperor’s forces and protect the people from being forced to convert to Islam. In order to create a society of people willing to give up their lives to protect the people and Sikhism, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Waheguru (God) created and gave the Sikhs Amrit. Amrit is holy water that makes a person a true and pure Sikh. The Khalsa was established. A group of men and WOMEN dedicated to living in equality and peace, but also willing to fight and lay down their lives for their religion.

During Vaisakhi, Sikhs visit places of worship called Gurdwaras. They are always decorated with orange, yellow and blue lights, flowers and Indian decorations. Many people watch and take part in parades and special processions through the streets called Nagar Kirtans. If that is not an option than readings from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the Sikhs holy book and the eleventh Guru) are read at Gurdwaras. Farmers in Punjab will think of Vaisakhi as an opportunity to give thanks for all the harvest and pray for a more and plentiful harvest to come. Another tradition done is the removal of the Sikh flag called the Nishan Sahib. A new orange cloth is placed on the flagpole and the pole is given a bath of milk and water and then is put back on outside of the Gurdwara. There is singing, dancing and playful duels, bhangra, and gidda. Sikh communities are to do Seva, or religious work such as feeding the poor, cleaning up the neighborhood where the Gurdwara is located and much more. This is done together as a whole.

I practice Sikhism and Vaisakhi is my favorite time of year. On this day my younger sister was born and I consider my family to be extremely blissful. To have a child born on Friday, April 13th is a huge blessing. I love all the lights, singing, dancing and food. In America, Vaisakhi is celebrated differently compared to India. In India, it is taken to a different level of fun. Doing Seva is one of my favorite things because I consider myself as lucky, to be where I am right now. I want to help and give back to those who need help. Seva has always been a big part of my life and it will always be. I wish that one day in Western New York, everyone can experience the wonder and beauty of Vaisakhi.