Happy Vaisakhi!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Every year on April 14, the Sikh community around the world celebrates Vaisakhi (or Baisakhi), which is a festival that celebrates the founding of the Sikhs, or the KhalsaVaisakhi is also celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists for different reasons, like the start of a new year. It's also the harvesting festival of Punjab, marking the beginning of the harvesting time for wheat, the main crop in Punjab.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji asking Sikhs to sacrifice their lives.
For the Sikhs, it all started on April 14, 1699 when Guru Gobind Rai Ji summoned Sikhs from all over India to a city called Anandpur Sahib. Here he called upon Sikhs to uphold their faith and preserve their religion and asked for anyone who was prepared to sacrifice their lives for the good of the faith to come forward. An utter silence filled the area. Then, Guru Gobind Rai Ji repeated his demand and one Sikh, Bhai Daya Ram Ji, came forward and followed the Guru to his tent. After a little while, he emerged from the tent with a bloody sword and asked for a second volunteer. Another Sikh, Bhai Dharam Das Ji, stepped forward, followed the Guru to the tent and again, Guru Gobind Rai Ji emerged from the tent with the bloody sword. This process was repeated three more times until a total of five Sikhs had sacrificed their lives to preserve their faith. After the last Sikh entered the tent, the Guru emerged, followed by the five Sikhs dressed in blue. He called these five Sikhs the Panj Pyare, or the Five Beloved Ones. They included Bhai Daya Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji, Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, and Bhai Sahib Singh Ji.

The Panj Pyare baptizing Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
The Panj Pyare were then baptized by the Guru in a unique ceremony called pahul. Guru Gobind Singh Ji prepared amrit, or holy water, in a bowl using a kirpan, or short steel sword. Patashas, or sugar crystals, were then added into the amrit. After a series of prayers were recited, Guru Gobind Singh Ji sprinkled amrit on each of the Panj Pyare and knelt so they could baptize him as well. After they were baptized their last names were dropped and "Singh" was added.
The Five K's and their significance.
These five men became the first members of the newly formed Sikh community called the Khalsa. Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave the Khalsa "a unique identity with five distinctive symbols of purity and courage, known today as the Five K's." The Five K's include, Kesh (uncut hair), Kanga (comb), Kirpan (small steel sword), Kara (steel bracelet), and Kachhera (cotton underwear.) All Khalsa men took the last name of Singh, or lion, to emphasize courage, and Khalsa women took the last name of Kaur, or princess, to emphasize dignity. All information courtesy of sikhismguide.org

Also of interest is what the names of the Panj Pyare signify. The first Pyara who offered his head to Guru Gobind Singh Ji was Bhai Daya Singh Ji, signifying that the start of Dharma (religion) is with Daya (compassion.) The next Pyara, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, also shows that where there is Daya, there is Dharma. Bhai Himmat Singh Ji was the third Singh to offer his head and his name signifies that where there is Daya and Dharma, Himmat (courage) must also be present. The fourth Pyara, Bhai Mokham Singh Ji, signifies that when Daya, Dharma, and Himmat merge, they become Mohkam (strong, determined.) Lastly, Bhai Sahib Singh Ji, signifies that where there is Daya, Dharma, Himmat and Mohkam, there is Sahib (Master, Vaheguru.) I don't think it was a coincidence that these five Sikh men were the first to offer their lives for their faith. All information courtesy of birinder.wordpress.com.

I'm a Sikh and Vaisakhi is a very important celebration in the Sikh community because if it weren't for those five courageous men, who knows if Sikhism would even exist. Thanks for staying with me during this busy week and keep doing what you do!

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