The Story of Baisakhi

By Subodini Menon

Baisakhi is one of the many harvest festivals celebrated in India. In a country where agriculture is still a way of life, harvest festivals hold a great importance. Every year, Baisakhi is celebrated on the first day of the month Vaishakh as per the Hindu calendar. It usually falls on the 13th or the 14th of April. This year, Baisakhi is to be celebrated on the 13th of April.

Baisakhi is celebrated by the Sikh community in India and abroad with a lot of pomp and show. There is another reason why Baisakhi is so important to the Sikh people. In the year 1699, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs created an order which came to be known as the Khalsa Panth.

The Story of Baisakhi

If you visit the state of Punjab during the Baisakhi festival, you will face a wonderfully joyous atmosphere. The whole state becomes colourful and is drowned in the festive mood. Gurudwaras (the places of worship) are turned into huge gathering grounds where people meet and enjoy the festivities.

Today, we shall learn more about the story behind Baisakhi and the formation of the Khalsa Panth. Read on to know more.

• Guru Gobind Singh Calls For A Meeting

On the Baisakhi day, in the year 1699, Guru Gobind Singh - the 10th Guru of the Sikh Religion - called for a meeting. People came out in huge numbers in response to the Guru's call. Around 50,000 people joined Guru Gobind Singh to hear him speak.

• Guru Gobind Singh Proclaimed - 'I want a head.'

The crowd had gathered to hear the sweet and comforting words of their beloved Guru. Instead, they were taken aback to see him with a sword drawn in his hand. Guru Gobind Singh looked at the huge crowd and shouted, "I want a head."

• Dya Ram Came Forward

The crowd was astounded on hearing the Guru's demand. Silence prevailed amongst the crowd. The Guru cried out his demand two more times. The third time, a man responded. This man was named Dya Ram who was a Khatri from Lahore, which is now in Pakistan. Guru Gobind Singh took him to his tent. After some time, he came out but the sword that he carried was stained with blood. The crowd was shocked and a few people began to leave.

• Guru Gobind Singh Asked Again

Guru Gobind Singh called out for another head. This time, a Jatt from Delhi came forward. He was called Dharam Das. Again, the Guru took him to his tent and came out alone with his bloodied sword.

• Three More Men Followed The Guru

In a similar fashion, the Guru asked for heads again and again. He received three more volunteers. A washerman who went by the name of Mokam Chand, a barber named Sahib Chand and a water carrier named Himmat Rai. Mokam Chand was from Dwaraka, Sahib Chand from Bidar and Himmat Rai belonged to Puri.

• Guru Gobind Singh Came Out With All The Five Men

The crowd that remained was wondering how long this game of death had to go on. Then, the Guru stepped out of his tent, leading the five men whom he had taken with him. They were alive and hearty.

• Guru Gobind Singh Explained The Reason Behind His Actions

Guru Gobind Singh told the crowd that all this was a test. This test was to see who was faithful and believed in their Guru. The five men who stood behind him proved to be the most faithful among the crowd of 50,000. He said that they will be called the 'Panj Paras' or the five beloved ones of the Guru. They belonged to the Hindu castes that were very different from each other. But he united them under one order. The five were the first people to belong to the 'Khalsa order'. The men were to have the last name 'Singh' and the women were to be called 'Kaur', which meant princess.

• The Sword And The Sugar

Guru Gobind Singh then took a steel bowl and poured water into it. His wife, Mata Sundari, then added sugar to it. Guru then took a short sword and stirred this while chanting his prayers. The water was 'amrit' and the sword stood for 'strength'. The act of stirring the sugar water with the sword symbolized the strength that the Sikh possessed which always is balanced with a sweet temperament. The Guru then sprinkled this water on the five men as a simple initiation ceremony into the Khalsa.

• The Initiation Of The Guru

The Guru then asked the five men to do the same to him. This way, he too was initiated into the Khalsa. The words that were chanted were - "The Khalsa is the Guru, the Guru is the Khalsa".

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    Read more about: baisakhi festivals
    Story first published: Saturday, April 14, 2018, 8:00 [IST]
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