It is 14th April. Vaisakhi or Baisakhi, the New year for North Indians.
My childhood memories are resplendent with “Baisakhi Di Raat” celebrations, where fun, frolic, Dhol, Bhangra and masti reigned Supreme.
It seems a thing of the past. There are fewer celebrations now. And it saddens me. However much I may attempt to re-create the culturally enriched childhood I enjoyed, because of paucity of the emotion shared on a similar note by the population, I feel I have been not wholly successful. How can I single handedly duplicate a Baisakhi Nite, a common enough feature then, even in Mumbai, to show my kid what being a Punjabi is all about?
As always a greater philosophical and spiritual interpretation exists as well. Trust our ancients not to have utilised every opportunity to exemplify a Basic truth.
It marks the seasons which signal to man the time for work and the time for play and relaxation, the commencement of the agricultural cycle with sowing in spring, and its culmination with the harvesting of the golden grain. And then, of course, we have, in endless variations of legend and myth, the hallowed perceptions that there is an ever-renewed war of light and darkness, of the divine and the demoniac in the unceasing evolution of the world
What has struck me about this festival always is its significance or rather the significance of 14th April, in almost all Indian states.
Baisakhi has a special meaning for the Sikhs. On this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh organized the order of the Khalsa. On this day also, Guru Arjan Das was martyred by the Muslim rulers who, in barbaric cruelty, threw him alive into a cauldron of boiling oil.
Again, on this day in 1875, Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj—a reformed sect of Hindus who are devoted to the Vedas for spiritual guidance and have discarded idol worship.
This day is once again of immense religious import to the Buddhists because Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and Nirvana on this auspicious day.
Baisakhi day is observed as the Naba Barsha (New Year) in Bengal. On 14th April, the people take a ritual bath in the River Ganga or any other river or a nearby tank and bedeck their houses with rangoli (floral patterns) drawn on the entrance floor of their homes with a paste made of rice powder.
Baishakhi festival is celebrated twice a year in Himachal Pradesh in honour of Goddess Jwalamukhi.
In the South, Baisakhi is celebrated to mark the Tamil and Telugu New Year. In a ceremonial march, people take out wooden chariots in a procession. The temples in Kerala celebrate Pooram festivals usually in honour of Vishnu. Among them, the Pooram observed in the Vadakkunathan Swamy (Shiva) temple of Trichur is famous.
Another festival of note in South India takes place in honour of the Goddess Kamarchi Amman whose temple is located in Pondichery. The goddess is worshipped three times a day when the idol, duly decorated with jewelry and flowers, is taken out in daily processions on different mounts consisting of a horse, a lion, a swing or a chariot.
To return to north India again, Bihar state celebrates a festival in Vaishakha (April) and Kartika (November) in honour of the Sun God, Surya, at a place called Surajpur-Baragaon.
North-East India with its complex of seven states, inhabited by people of different ethnic origins, languages and cultures, has its own panoply of spring festivals. Perhaps the most colourful is the is the exquisite festival called Lai Haraoba in the local Meitei dialect, celebrated by the people of Manipur.
Assam has been home to a number of ethnic groups professing different faiths. Perhaps, the most important of these Bihus is the Rangali Bihu celebrated on the 14th of April. Young women clad in their silken raiment, dance to the rhythm of the drum.
In the spirit of revelry and joy, festivals of the kind should be used as an occasion when people cast aside their misunderstandings and ill-feelings and
refurbish relations of fellow feeling and amity.
So Happy Baisakhi once again..this time with renewed vigour.
.Information of some festivals from Tourist department