APRIL 15, 2018 20 Baisakhi & New Year Special A Festival of Joy with reverence and endearment Sourced Content Sikhs all over the world celebrate ‘Baisakhi’ or ‘Vaisakhi’ as a Festival to commemorate the establishment of the Khalsa Panth. According to the Sikh history, the roots of Baisakhi go back to 1699 and Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, who formed the ‘Kalsa,’ or the Brotherhood of Saint Soldiers to fight against tyranny and oppression. The story of Baisakhi also related to the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru who was publicly beheaded by Aurungzeb, the Mughal ruler. Aurungzeb wanted to spread Islam in India, but Guru Teg Bahadur stood up for the rights of Hindus and Sikhs and the Mughals therefore saw him as a threat. After the death of Guru Teg, his son, Guru Gobind Singh became the next Guru of the Sikhs. He was keen to instil courage, strength and spirit of sacrifice among his fellow men. He chose Baisakhi Day at Keshgarh Sahib near Anandpur on March 30, 1699 to fulfil his dream. When thousands of people assembled on the occasion, Guru Gobind Singh came out of the tent carrying an unsheathed sword. He gave a powerful speech to infuse courage amongst fellowmen. At the end of the speech, he said that every great sacrifice accompanied every great deed and asked those prepared to sacrifice their lives Guru Gobind Singh Ji Guru Granth Sahib, the Eternal Guide Five volunteers of Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurudwara symbolise the ‘Panj Piare’ to step forward. A young man offered himself for sacrifice at this third call. The Guru took him inside the tent and reappeared alone with a bloodied sword. Guru Gobind Singh asked for another volunteer. This was repeated until five Sikhs had gone into the tent with the Guru. Everyone present was worried and thought that he had killed the five young men. At this point, the Guru presented all the five men before the people. Everyone was surprised to see them alive, wearing turbans and saffron-coloured garments. The Blessed Five The Guru called the five men ‘Panj Piare’ or the ‘Beloved Five.’ The Guru blessed them at a Pahul ceremony. In an iron vessel, he stirred with a sword called ‘Khanda Sahib,’ the batasha that his wife Mata Sundari Ji had put into water. The congregation recited verses from scriptures as the Guru performed the sacred ceremony. The water was now considered the sacred nectar of immortality or ‘Amrit.’ It was first given to the five volunteers, followed by the Guru and the other people present. With this ceremony, all those present, irrespective of caste or creed, became members of the Khalsa Pantha (the Order of the Pure Ones). The Guru regarded the Panj Piare as the first members of the Khalsa. With the constitution of the Panj Piare, the so-called high and low castes were amalgamated into one, known as ‘Khatri’(shopkeeper), ‘Jat’ (farmer), ‘Chhimba’ (calico printer) ‘Ghumar’ (water-carrier) and ‘Nai,’ (Barber). The Transformation The Guru gave the surname of Singh (Lion) to every Sikh and took the name for himself. From Guru Gobind Rai, he became Guru Gobind Singh. This was seen as a great step in national integration because society at that time was divided based on religion, caste and social status. Guru Gobind Singh also bestowed on Khalsa, a unique Sikh identity. He directed Sikhs to wear five Ks, namely Kesh (long hair), Kanga (comb), Kirpan (dagger), Kachera Greetings from us (shorts) and Kara (bracelet). Guru Gobind Singh discontinued the tradition of Gurus and asked all Sikhs to accept Guru Granth Sahib as their Eternal Guide. He urged them to come to him with their hair and beard unshorn to get baptised by the sword. Source: Baisakhi Festival of Sikhs One of the greatest attributes of the Sikh community is the enthusiasm and religious fervour displayed by its members to mark events and festivals of significance. They are also known for their spirit of enterprise and goodwill and the ability to bring together other ethnic groups. These will be evident at Baisakhi Festival that would be observed by the community throughout New Zealand during April. Thousands of people will visit various Gurdwaras located throughout the country to participate in the religious programmes, speeches and sports events. They would, in the process, foster the spirit of goodwill and understanding. The management and staff of Indian Newslink extend their best wishes to readers, advertisers, contributors, well-wishers and others on the occasion of Baisakhi and sincerely hope that the advent of the harvest season would enable them to reap the rewards of their hard work and enterprise. They also extend their best wishes to all people of Indian origin celebrating New Year and other festivals this month. May the New Year bring with it peace, harmony, success and prosperity. Wishing all our Punjabi friends a happy & prosperous Baisakhi 2018. From the Labour Ethnic Communities Team Please contact Michael Wood, Member of Parliament, Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister of Ethnic Communities on firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 624 2278 and contact the Ethnic Communities Team. /multiculturallabour labour.org.nz Authorised by Michael Wood, Parliament Buildings, Wellington
APRIL 15, 2018 Baisakhi & New Year Special 21 A unique month and a unique bond Venkat Raman email@example.com April is considered a special month by most countries around the world and contrary to popular belief it must be etched as a ‘period of wisdom.’ Many Governments and public and private sector organisations begin their financial year on the first day of this month and for those who dote over the US, its first president George Washington was inaugurated this month (although on the last day) and most important of all, William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood on what is erroneously described, ‘All Fools Day’ on April 1 in 1578. Varied connotations To Christians it is during this month that Easter occurs usually, depicting the resurrection of Jesus Christ-the dawn of new hope with the transgressions of mankind obliterated. To the Tamilian population, April corresponds to the Hindu month of ‘Chaitra’ marking the beginning of a New Year, with renewed hope. Keralites-the Malayalam speaking population-mark their New Year with ‘medam,’ the day the Sun crosses the Equator as an auspicious day to launch any new project. For Hindus, New Year celebrations involve bathing, feasting and worshipping at home and in temples. Devotees pay special respect to Goddess Ganga, who is believed to have descended to Earth several thousand years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. Plenty goes on in the holy cities along the Ganges (such as Varanasi), in Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens, Jammu’s Nagbani Temple or indeed anywhere in India. Significant for Keralites Malayalees make elaborate preparations for this day to ensure that the year ahead will be fruitful. This festival celebrates the spirit that can be observed in all spring events-the spirit of hope and expectation that a new dawn brings with it. Flags of gold-embroidered silk WHITE ROSE BUILDERS The Golden Temple in Amritsar is the Holiest Shrine of Sikhs worldwide (Picture Sourced) Vishu Kani (Picture from Wikipedia) can be seen in front of Hindu homes, with pots of brass, copper or silver dangling from poles. Vishu includes pyrotechnics and displays called Vishu Kani-arrangements of flowers, grains, fruits, cloth, gold and money (which help to ensure a year of prosperity). The Sikh Concept Sikhs bring about a different concept. If you are lucky to see men performing the Bhangra dance, you will understand a bit of it. It tells the story of the agricultural process, from tilling the soil through to harvesting. Vaisakhi also marks reunion of family members. Homes are thoroughly spruced up and useless household effects thrown out. The granary is cleaned to welcome the new harvest arrivals. It is an occasion to wear new clothes, wish relatives, gather blessings and of course sing and dance. The highlight is the elaborate feasting in every home, especially where new family ties are being forged by marriage or new born babies. Vaisakhi is an occasion when the poor and needy are taken care of and given alms and gifts. The Golden Temple The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the religious home of the Sikhs, is richly decorated and glows with the luminescence of thousands of lights and showers its blessings on the millions of devotees who congregate there on this day. Vaisakhi is also unforgettable in India’s freedom movement, for it was on this day in 1919, when General Dyer ordered the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. Among the innocent men, women, and children gathered there to celebrate the festival, thousands lost their lives in the senseless firing Significance for others Assam’s version is called Bohag Bihu and the community organises feasts, music and dancing. Vaisakhi (or Baisakhi) is among the most significant festivals for Punjabis who pride themselves of belonging to a land which energised India’s green revolution. As an event marking the harvest season, it brings with it joy and prosperity. The highlight is the elaborate feasting in every home, especially where new family ties are being forged by marriage or new born babies. Vaisakhi is an occasion when the poor and needy are taken care of and given alms and gifts. More about the Punjabis later. Bengalis celebrate Baisakhi too but more in private. On this occasion, businessmen close their accounts and start afresh and houses wear a new coat of paint. Those who can afford present new clothes to their friends, relatives and family members.