Bringing Communities Together For Vaisakhi

With the possibility of large-scale Vaisakhi celebrations being cancelled this year, communities need to prepare themsel...

The most important date on the Sikh calendar, Vaisakhi is a time for families, friends, and communities to celebrate the birth of the Khalsa. Even if people in your community don’t share the same faith, it’s an excellent opportunity to introduce Vaisakhi and everything it stands for to them. However, for millions of Sikhs globally, this year’s celebration will once again take place in trying times. Some large-scale events such as those in the Canadian town of Surrey have already been cancelled, and further cancellations may follow. Faced with uncertainty about the 14 April festival, Sikhs are looking for ways to celebrate meaningfully, even if it means scaling down their original plans.

Welcoming People Of Other Faiths

According to Mind & Soul, Vaisakhi is more than a springtime harvest festival. Vaisakhi coincides with harvest and New Year festivals, but that is because the tenth guru, Gur Gobind Singh, chose the occasion to baptize the first members of the Khalsa.

In that sense, the festival can be likened to the Jewish festival of Shavuot, when the Jewish people received the Law and became a covenant people. Vaisakhi can also be likened to the Christian festival of Pentecost, which celebrates the birth of the church. When introducing people of other faiths to Vaisakhi, it’s important to stress that the festival is a celebration of the birth of a faith-based community and that they understand the role everyone plays, no matter what their beliefs.

The Hallmarks Of Vaisakhi Celebrations

No matter where in the world you go, there are several elements of Vaisakhi celebrations that stand out. Yahoo!News Malaysia highlighted some of those hallmarks in an article about the country’s Sikh community’s celebrations last year.

A visit to the gurdwara for special prayers and offerings is one of the most important elements. Sikhs light candles in the place of worship and at home. When choosing candles, Sikhs may want to consider vegan candles because they’re made from renewable materials, don’t contain animal fats, acids, or paraffin, and they last longer and have a better fragrance. Visits to the gurdwara also offer a chance to meet and exchange greetings with members of the local community.

Another highlight of Vaisakhi celebrations is the nagar kirtan. The street processions marked by music, singing, and colorful robes are among the most memorable sights and sounds of the festival. These processions provide wonderful opportunities to introduce people of other faiths to Vaisakhi as there’s a good chance curious onlookers will ask questions about the event.

Celebrating Vaisakhi In 2022

With the possibility of large-scale Vaisakhi celebrations being cancelled this year, communities need to prepare themselves to take a slightly different approach to festivities. It’s unlikely there will be another hard lockdown, which means small-scale events and community kitchens that hand out free food should be possible.

You may find it helpful to remember Club Mahindra’s suggestions for celebrating Vaisakhi at home. Decorate your home with swathes of fabric, garlands, and rangoli, take your holy dip in the bathtub and dress in new clothes, cook, enjoy feast foods, and take advantage of video calling and live-streamed events. And if possible, invite members of your community to join you and learn about your faith.

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