Vaisakhi /Baisakhi festival is celebrated in North India with great fervor as it marks the beginning of the Solar year for the Indians as also a new year for the Sikhs (a prosperous community of Punjab, India and now spread to various parts of the world). Sikhism though founded by Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh Guru during the fifteenth century was organized into its present form called Khalsa Panth on this day (13 Apr 1699) by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib (Punjab, India), as a brotherhood of Saint Soldiers to to fight against the tyranny and oppression of Mughal rulers of India. Baisakhi also refers to the harvesting festival of the Punjab (India) region. Khalsa panth (The Pure) was created to fulfill the need of those times with the aim of getting Punjab and India liberated from the tyrannical Mughal rulers. The Sikhs were give definite symbols and attire famously known as five Ks namely Kesh (Hair on which a turban is tied), Kadda (An iron bangle), Kachha (A long Underwear or Short), Kangha (the Comb) and Kirpan (Sword).
Some of the dictates or the principles on which Khalsa (‘The Pure’) was founded were;
- Equality of mankind and shedding of caste and creed system.
- Earning livelihood by dint of hard work and donating part of it for the needy.
- Stand for the oppressed and raising voice against injustice of any form.
- Not to hesitate to take up sword/arms against a tyrant in case all other means of achieving justice fail.
- Lead a simple life based on high thinking and good values.
- Selfless service to the mankind.
- Shun any kind of intoxicants.
The Khalsa so founded soon progressed in the 18th/19th century and were able to establish an independent Sikh Kingdom under its leader Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Sikhs also contributed immensely in the freedom struggle of India. Many Sikhs had joined the Services and fought in the First and Second World Wars in various theaters of operation in Europe, Asia and North Africa. Post independence the Sikhs form major part of Indian defense services and have served the country.
The Sikhs have a unique identity and entity in India and have now spread to all parts of the world. They are very hardworking and enterprising community who have contributed immensely towards the development of India and the various countries that they have settled down.
On the auspicious day of Baisakhi (the birth of Khalsa) let the community re-dedicate itself to the principles on which the Sikhs were found and try to be as Pure as possible in our dealings. I also happen to be a Sikh and had served in the Indian Army.