Baisakhi is one of the major festivals celebrated in North India. It is mainly celebrated by Punjabis and Sikhs. This festival is celebrated on April 13 every year and on April 14 once in 36 years. This year we celebrate the festival on April 13. The festival of Baisakhi coincides with the solar equinox. It marks the beginning of the Hindu Solar New Year and it is also celebrated by people in Kerala, Orissa, West Bengal and Nepal.
India's rich and glorious civilisation is mirrored in its innumerable festivals. Some of these festivals are closely related to agriculture, marking the commencement of the agricultural cycle with sowing in the spring and its culmination with the harvesting of the golden grain.
Baisakhi marks the time for the harvest of the rabi crop. The day is celebrated in Punjab by performing the bhangra and gidda dance. This day is also celebrated as the Sikh New Year and the day of the founding of the Khalsa Panth. On this day, people collect in the evening around a bonfire to celebrate the harvest. Generally, the sites of these festivities are on the banks of rivers.
As the day progresses, loud cries of "Jatta aayi Baisakhi" reverberate in the sky as men and women move towards the field to celebrate the harvest festival. As a tradition, men dress up in colourful lungis, kurtas and pagris while womenfolk clad themselves in salwar kameezes or lehengas.
The major attraction of Baisakhi celebrations in villages is the performances of energetic dances. These popular traditional folk dances are performed in groups on the fast beat of the dhol. Dancers portray everyday farming scenes of sowing, harvesting, winnowing and gathering of crops through zestful movements.
Colouful Baisakhi fairs are also organised at several places in Punjab to mark the harvest festival. Talwandi Sabo in Punjab is famous for its colourful celebrations internationally. It is the place where Guru Gobind Singh stayed for nine months and completed the recompilation of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. People also indulge in shopping and eating sprees in the numerous stalls set up in fairs.
IN OTHER PARTS OF INDIA
The solar equinox is celebrated as Rongali Bihu in Assam, Naba Barsha in Bengal, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Pooram Vishu in Kerala.
HARVEST FESTIVALS IN INDIA
- Holi is a harvest celebration marking the end of spring.
- Pongal is a harvest festival widely celebrated in Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. Pongal coincides with the festival of Makar Sankranthi.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
- The Annual Harvest Festival of Prosser in Washington, USA is celebrated on the fourth full weekend in September every year.
- Sukkot is the Jewish harvest festival which lasts for eight days in autumn.
- The Chinese Harvest Moon Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar in honour of the harvesting of rice and wheat crops.
- In Vietnam, Tet-Trung- Thu is a mid-Autumn celebration which takes place on August 15.
- Chu Suk is a Korean harvest celebration which is considered as the Korean Thanksgiving. It is held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.
- In the Philippines, the Pahiyas Festival is celebrated on May 15. This festival showcases a street of houses, which are adorned with fruits, vegetables, agricultural products, handicrafts and kiping, a decoration made of rice, which is later grilled or fried and eaten.