Today is a very special day in the Sikh calendar, Vaisakhi.
For those that may not know Vaisakhi has a few meanings of celebration in the Sikh community. It is the celebration of the spring harvest in Northern India, which continues to be a thriving farming community especially in Punjab. It is also considered to be the Solar New Year and it is the day Khalsa was created in 1699.
Khalsa is derived from the Arabic word "Khalis" and in in the simplest of translations it means "to be pure, to be free, to be sincere and to be true.”
During the Mughal Empire rule in 1606 many Sikhs faced religious persecution and execution for practicing their religion. Guru Gobind Singh, last of the 10 Gurus, started the Khalsa after his father, Guru Tegh Bahadurv - the 9th Guru, was beheaded for refusing to convert his faith during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
During the festival of Vaisakhi in 1699 Guru Gobind Singh asked if any Sikhs would be willing to sacrifice their lives. Now this was a test of faith and devotion conducted by the Guru. Five Sikhs stepped forward one by one and offered themselves to the Guru. They are known today as “the Five Beloved Ones” or Panj Pyara. They were cut with a double-edged sword and blessed with Amrit (a mixture of sugar and water –holy water) by the Guru. This was the start of the Khalsa.
Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa to be warriors with a sense of obligation to protect innocent people from the tyranny of the Mughal Emperor. The Khalsa protected everyone’s right to food, safety and freedom to practice their religion. Today the Sikh community has evolved and expanded all over the world, but Sikh’s still follow the Khalsa and commemorate the countless sacrifices Sikhs had to endure for their religious freedom. A Nagar Kirtan (singing of holy hymns) is held at Vaisakhi every year to honor the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book and eternal Guru) and the history of Sikhism.
If you have been lucky enough to attend a Vaisakhi parade in either the lower mainland or anywhere else in Canada you will come across a parade of thousands of people offering homecooked meals, dancing, singing and chanting of traditional prayers. Vaisakhi is when you see the Sikh community coming together continuing the Khalsa traditions with other communities across the globe.
Everyone at the Vaisakhi parade are welcomed to the delicious homecooked meals and are loved and are accepted for who they are.
Today we at Sorrento Centre we are celebrating Vaisakhi by enjoying homemade samosa and continuing our mission to be an inclusive place of belong for all.
waheguru ji ka khalsa waheguruji ki fateh (The Khalsa belongs to God, all victory belongs to God.)