Autar Singh | Petaling Jaya, Malaysia | Asia Samachar | 17 May 2015
[We share a document prepared by the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisation (CMSO) on Vaisakhi]
Vaisakhi is one of the most important festivals for the Sikh community and is celebrated throughout the world on the first day of the Sikh month of Vaisakh, which is the second month of the Nanakshahi calendar.
Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith was born in the month of Vaisakh. The third Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Amardas, ordained that Sikhs must meet twice a year, on Vaisakhi (in April) and Diwali (in October/November) to take stock of their progress and plan for their future well being.
The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa on Vaisakhi day in 1699 and passed on the temporal authority of the Guru to the Khalsa. The Khalsa is the body corporate of all Sikhs who undertake to become a part of it by going through an initiation ceremony and abiding by a strict code of conduct from then on. This includes wearing the 5Ks, men using the last name of Singh and women using the name Kaur.
Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi with prayers in Gurduaras, parades, initiation ceremonies for Sikhs to join the Khalsa, charitable deeds and free community kitchens for all.
As the Sikh faith originated from Punjab, most Sikhs around the world are of Punjabi ethnicity. For Punjabi Sikhs, Vaisakhi has another significance, albeit a more cultural one. Punjabis had been celebrating the first of Vaisakh as a harvest festival long before the advent of the Sikh faith in the region. This day is observed as the thanksgiving day by the farmers in Punjab whereby they pay their tribute, thanking God for the abundant harvest and also praying for the future prosperity. Fairs are held and Punjabis around the world celebrate with music and dance. Folk dances like Bhangra and Giddha are staple dances at such cultural fests or ‘open houses’.
The Sikh community is a minority in Malaysia, which is why Vaisakhi is not a public holiday. However, in line with the government’s efforts to promote integration among the country’s different ethnic and religious groups, the prime minister, YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that beginning 2013, all government servants and school children from the Sikh community will be given a day off on Vaisakhi Day.
Compiled by Autar Singh, Secretary General,
COALITION OF MALAYSIAN SIKH ORGANISATIONS (CMSO)
GURU KALGIDHAR DIWAN MALAYSIA
GURU NANAK GURU GOBIND SINGH FOUNDATION
KHALSA DIWAN MALAYSIA
MALAYSIAN SIKH EDUCATION AID FUND
MALAYSIAN SIKH UNION
MALAYSIAN SIKH WOMEN’S AWARENESS NETWORK SOCIETY
SANT SOHAN SINGH JI MELAKA MEMORIAL SOCIETY MALAYSIA
SIKH WELFARE SOCIETY MALAYSIA
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