Vaisakhi: The Sikh Festival

Vaiskahi celebrates TWO important events in Sikh history. One, the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh ji, introducing a specific initiation ceremony and transforming the Sikh identity. What's the second? PAGUMAN SINGH explains.

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By Paguman Singh | Sikhi |

Vaisakhi is both a cultural and religious celebration in the Punjab and amongst Sikhs world-wide. Vaisakhi falls on the 14 of April, the beginning of the second month in the Mool Nanaksahi Calendar. Socially and culturally, it is a harvest festival but to Sikhs it is celebrated as the birthday of the founder of the faith Guru Nanak Sahib Ji in 1469. Another important event in Sikh history that receives the most attention was the Vaisakhi of 1699 when the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji, introduced a specific initiation ceremony and transformed the Sikh identity.

In line with the teachings of Guru Nanak Sahib and the eight Gurus before him, Guru Gobind Singh ji required the Sikhs to openly practice principles of humanity by treating everyone equally. All barriers of religious orientation, ethnicity, race, color, economic status, language and geographical location of human being were to be removed and all human beings were equal as the Creator lived in all. The objective was to create the Khalsa, pure in thought and deeds acting as humble servants of the Creator.

Guru Nanak Sahib stated that through ritualistic practices conducted in blind faith spiritual enlightenment cannot be attained. Only by accepting and living within the Will of the Creator (Hukum) does one get spiritual enlightenment. Accepting the Creator’s gift, the body as given at birth till death, one takes the first step on the journey of enlightenment. The practice of preserving bodily hair was witnessed, as all Gurus had unshorn hair. Kesh or Unshorn hair, the first article of faith in Sikhism signifies readiness to accept the Hukum of the Creator.

The body is driven by the mind and the thoughts that are formed within. Keeping the mind on the journey of enlightenment requires control, focus and direction. The second article of faith the Kanga or comb signifies the constant need to keep a positive mental discipline that acts as a motivator of good deeds and actions. The Sikh mind is to be intellectually creative and guides living in a sphere of knowledge-based actions. 

Righteous action is walking the belief with conviction and commitment which the third article of faith called the KARA, a stainless iron bangle worn on the dominant hand that controls all action signifies. The KARA signifies humility while being involved in economic activities, earning income through honest endeavor and hard work, and being ready to share the fruits with the needy.  

Moral behavior is highly regarded as it ensures a just and progressive community. The fourth article of faith is the KESHERA an undergarment, which is significant in promoting respect for all irrespective of gender. It is a reminder that respect of others is the foundation of love and care and self-discipline is achieved through restrain and control.

Protecting this value system requires courage and a motivator for the individual is the KIRPAN the fifth article of faith, which translates as provision of mercy and honor to all who need it. Despite looking like a dagger, it is a principle of peace promoting standing up and with the weak and oppressed as well as to provide protection and a voice against oppression, corruption and injustice.

A turban is the crown of the Sikh and the uniform of the servants of the Creator the KHALSA. Their greeting is the Khalsa belongs to the Creator and Victory to the Creator and the Sikh prayer is Goodwill to all mankind.

Vasakhi is the celebration of blessings, love and spiritual upliftment.

Mankind experiences the unity in the Creators wonderful creation.

Paguman Singh, a retired senior official of a Malaysian-based social security organisation, has been involved in Sikhi parchaar for more than three decades. He now resides in New Zealand.

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

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