The importance of Vaisakhi
By Kirandeep Singh
One of the most important, symbolic and meaningful festival or religious holiday for the Sikhs would be Vaisakhi. What is the significance of Vaisakhi to a Sikh? Another day for a party with your community? No. Upon that day, you should become one with God. And take Amrit.
“Na koi Hindu, na koi Musulman”, thus it all began. One day, upon coming out of the Ganga river, Guru Nanak Dev brought equality by ending the cast system in 1499. From that equality were brought two things into the house of the Guru: Sangat and Pangat. Sangat meant equality when chanting the name of God. Whether is was Allah, Ram, or Gobind did not matter. Pangat meant equality while eating the Guru’s langar. The rich and the poor were to sit together with no anger or remorse about the social classes. From this evenness brought by Guru Nanak Dev ended a lot of social wars and discrimination.
The years kept passing, Guru Nanak’s successors kept spreading the equality, around until came Guru Gobind. He made more drastic changes. At the fort in Anandpur, on the day of March 30th, 1699, Guru Gobind summoned all the Sikhs for Vaisakhi. There, he drew out his sword and demanded for a Sikh who would give away his head for him. The crowd was confused. Upon Guru Gobind’s third request, Daya Ram came forward and the Guru took him inside a tent where he cut off a goat’s head. He came back with a bloody sword and demanded for another Sikh’s head. Dharm Das, Mukham Chand, Himmat Rai, and Sahib Chand came forward and went into the tent for the same ritual. Guru Gobind came out with the five Sikhs, who gave up their heads for the Guru, and named them his “Panch Pyares”. They took Amrit from the Guru and got baptized, thus started the started the Khalsa Panth, a group of devotees to the Guru and his teachings. Guru Gobind begged his five beloved ones to baptize him the same way and initiate him to the Khalsa Panth. He promised to sacrifice his family for them as they sacrificed their heads for him. Seeing that five ordinary people could give up their lives for the Guru, more and more people started to get baptized and become a part of the Khalsa Panth. They were to be baptized in sweetened water and wear the five “kakars”: kesh, karra, kachaa, kanga, kirpan.
In 1701, the Khalsa Panth grew exceptionally large and the emperors of that time decided to attack them at the fort in Anandpur before they grew larger. Surrounded with little resources and rations, the Sikhs begged Guru Gobind to leave and pursue his mission of spreading the Khalsa Panth. After leaving, Guru Gobind ended the tradition of appointing a corporal form of the Sikh philosophy and belief. He told the Sikhs to follow the Granth Sahib for spiritual guidance and to consult the Panchayat, the wise ones, for daily problems.
From all this, we see that on the day of Vaisakhi, March 30th 1699, Guru Gobind wanted the Sikhs to get baptized and become part of the Khalsa Panth. In our days, people don’t tend to get baptized, because they are in a way embarrassed or don’t feel comfortable wearing the five symbols after being part of the Khalsa Panth. Today, we just try to be as religious as possible and remember the day that the “Panch Pyares” gave up their heads for the Guru. We should all get baptized and become part of the Khalsa Panth.