Wow what a weekend. Mid week the editor of the Sikh Times, Gurjeet called me up and asked me if I was available to talk and possibly be on BBC1s Heaven and Earth show.
I duly rang Manchester to discover that this week or should I say the programme transmitted on Sunday 9th April would feature a piece on Vaisakhi.
I wanted to ensure that the facts I had were correct so I researched some great websites like http://www.Sikhiwiki.org, called up some of my friends Thanks Jaspreet from the V&A and also spoke to lots of people about this great event. The notes below are summaries of what I discovered The wonder of being a Sikh.
Event: Vaisakhi on the Square : Date: Sunday 30th April 2006 Time: 11.30am 5pm :
The Mayor of London is backing the fourth annual Vaisakhi festival celebrations in Trafalgar Square. The event begins at 11.30am with prayers and messages for peace, followed by an afternoon programme of traditional and modern Asian music.
The message of Vaisakhi has particular relevance to London, as the capital is the most ethnically diverse city in Europe, with 300 languages spoken and over 14 major faiths practised. Vaisakhi promotes friendship and mutual respect.
The Story of Vaisakhi
On Baisakhi Day, March 30, 1699, hundreds of thousands of people gathered around his divine temporal seat at Anandpur Sahib. The Guru addressed the congregants with a most stirring oration on his divine mission of restoring their faith and preserving the Sikh religion. After his inspirational discourse, he flashed his unsheathed sword and said that every great deed was preceded by equally great sacrifice: He demanded one head for oblation. After some trepidation one person offered himself. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later he reappeared with his sword dripping with blood, and asked for another head. One by one four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent, he came out with a bloodied sword in his hand. Then the Guru emerged with all five men dressed piously in white. He baptized the five in a new and unique ceremony called pahul, what Sikhs today know as the baptism ceremony called Amrit. Then the Guru asked those five baptized Sikhs to baptize him as well. He then proclaimed that the Panj Pyare — the Five Beloved Ones — would be the embodiment of the Guru himself: “Where there are Panj Pyare, there am I. When the Five meet, they are the holiest of the holy.”
PANJ PIARE are literally the five beloved ones the name given to the five Sikhs, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh, Bhai Mukham Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh, who were so designated by Guru Gobind Singh at the historic divan at Anandpur Sahib they were the first batch to receive at his hands khanda di Pahul, i.e. rites of the two-edged sword.
At the same time the Guru gave his new Khalsa a unique, indisputable, and distinct identity. The Guru gave the gift of bana, the distinctive Sikh clothing and headwear. He also offered five emblems of purity and courage. These symbols, worn by all baptized Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks: Kesh, unshorn hair; Kangha, the wooden comb; Karra, the iron (or steel) bracelet; Kirpan, the sword; and Kachera, the underwear. By being identifiable, no Sikh could never hide behind cowardice again.
The birth of the Khalsa is celebrated by Sikhs every Vaisakhi Day on April 14.
The 5 basic instincts drive that drive humans are pride, lust,anger,greed and attachment
Kara Is worn by Sikhs showing the enternity of God and a formal commitment to him.
Kanga Relates to control of wordly greed just as it passes through the hair untangling it but taking nothing, we pass through life influencing it but taking nothing
Kachera/Kacha: Undershorts. – One of the five Sikh articles of faith, remind his sikhs that they should control lust.
Kirpan: Sword – Guru Gobind Singh told his sikh to wear a sword in order to protect the weak from tyranny and direct it to defend the defenceless
Kesh – Hair is a gift from God.
What happens in the Gurdwara ?
Thus Nishan Sahib in the Sikh tradition means the holy flag or exalted ensign the Khanda
The Insignia of the Khalsa is In the centre of the insignia is the two-edged sword which symbolises the Creative Power of God which controls the destiny of the whole universe. It is the Sovereign Power over life and death. One edge of the Sword symbolises divine justice, which chastises and punishes the wicked oppressors; the other edge symbolises Freedom, and Authority governed by moral and spiritual values.
In addition, a Nagar (meaning town) Kirtan takes place so that all faiths and parts of the community can celebrate together as the Guru Granth Sahib lead respectably by the PANJ PIARE proceed through the streets.
Sikhs across the world now have their own universal calendar. The name of this new calendar is: Nanakshahi Calendar, and it takes its name from Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism.
Other religions, like Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, have long had their own calendars. But for most of its history Sikhism has used the traditional Vikrami (or Bikrami) calendar, shared by Sikhs and Hindus in North India, to set the date of its festivals.
Sikhs see the adoption of the new calendar as a big step forward for Sikh identity, and one that will help dispel any suggestions that Sikhism is just a variety of Hinduism.
The new calendar will make life much easier for Sikhs as their holy days will no longer move about the calendar from year to year. Gurpurbs (celebrations devoted to particular Gurus) will now always happen on the same date, and occur once (and once only) in every year.
The calendar doesn’t fix the date of all Sikh festivals. Those Sikh festivals, which are celebrated at the same time as similar Hindu religious events, such as Diwali and Hola Mohalla, will still have their dates set by the Vikrami calendar.
The Nanakshahi Calendar was developed by a Canadian Sikh, Pal Singh Purewal, a retired computer engineer. He started work on the new calendar in the 1960s.
Purewal believes that having a unique calendar is vital for the integrity of the Sikh religion.
“All communities and faiths have their own calendar as a mark of their distinct cultural identity. Just as the Islamic world has the Hijri calendar and Hindus have Vikrami calendar, the Sikhs will have a Nanakshahi calendar along with the common era (CE) calendar which is in use throughout the world”. Pal Singh Purewal