ikhs around the world celebrate Vaisakhi every year. As per the Sikh calendar, it is the first day of the month of Vaisakh, which falls around mid-April every year.
The Importance of Vaisakhi
You might have heard of Vaisakhi referred to as a harvest festival or things like that. But it is much, much more! In Sikhi, Vaisakhi has a much deeper significance. It is the day that the Khalsa was created. In the year 1699, it was the birthdate of the Khalsa. Vaisakhi has been celebrated in different ways by Sikhs for over a century, leading up to the year 1699. The Sikh Gurus and Sikh congregations celebrated Vaisakhi by gathering together to engage in meditation and service.
Who is the Khalsa?
The 10th Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, would celebrate Vaisakhi by inviting everybody from across the regions and far-off countries. They would gather together in the city of Sri Anandpur Sahib, situated near the foot of the Himalayan mountains, in North-East India. During this time, the emperor of India, named Aurangzeb, was excessively taxing people. He was a tyrant and oppressed poor people by doing forceful conversions of faith and killing those who did not comply. No distinctive and humanitarian force could stand up for the poor and the innocent during that time.
To initiate this fight for justice, on Vaisakhi in the year 1699, the great Guru Gobind Singh Ji stood on a platform. In front of a very large congregation, Guru Gobind Singh Ji demanded to the entire congregation, "Is there any child of a Sikh, who is willing to give their head?" This was a test of faith, devotion, humility, love and sacrifice. Five beloved Sikhs (Bhai Daya Singh Ji, Bhai Dharam Singh Ji, Bhai Himmat Singh Ji, Bhai Mohkam Singh Ji and Bhai Sahib Singh Ji) offered themselves one by one and passed the test of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. These five Sikhs are well-known today as the Five Beloved Ones or the Panj Piaare. Guru Gobind Singh Ji blessed them with the Ambrosial Nectar (Amrit) and liberated them from the cycle of birth and death, whilst living in the world still and serving the world. They represent the leadership of the collective and the pure army, known as the Khalsa (Collective of Initiated Sikhs), the army of the immaculate. This event marked the visible sprouting of the teachings of all the Sikh Gurus. Guru Gobind Singh Ji, in the year 1699, gave birth to the Khalsa.
The Mission of the Khalsa
The mission of Khalsa is to fight for food and freedom for everybody around the world, regardless of their faith, caste, gender, color, age, etc. Degh Tegh Fateh is the term that is used by the Khalsa to convey that food and freedom are the victories that the Khalsa strives for. This is why we remember this day as the Khalsa Saajna Divas i.e. the day the Khalsa Panth was created. It is born from submitting and surrendering our ego, through complete submission and genuine love. As Sikhs today, we try to follow that same mission.
What is Khalsa Like?
The Khalsa is like a lighthouse. When a ship is trying to reach the shore and it is dark, the ship doesn’t know where it is going and doesn’t have light for guidance. The Gursikhs, the Khalsa in the world, are meant to be that lighthouse. They are meant to shine and help. In the same way, a Sikh’s Dastar (turban), attire and words all represent this. Standing out in the face of darkness, we can all try to do this. We want to become completely selfless through the way we speak and the way we interact with everyone. As the Khalsa, we want to become completely selfless.
Strive to become so humble that you don’t care about selfish things, such as caring about what you have and what other people think about you. We want to think about the greater cause i.e. what is greater for all of humanity? As the Khalsa, we want to make this world more righteous. Along with that, these virtues become alive when we instill ourselves in the remembrance of God and dive into the hymns of spirituality, written by the Sikh Gurus. That is why you may hear a lot of devotional singing from the Sikhs around Vaisakhi time. It is not just music. Just like a moth sacrifices itself for the love of light or a bumblebee is intoxicated in the love of the flower, a Sikh completely sacrifices themselves inside of this devotional singing of the hymns, which we call Gurbani (the Guru's words). The Khalsa is meant to get drenched in the love of these words and serve the world.
Vaisakhi is a celebration of love. Celebrate that love, it is not just as superficial as eating, dancing and then going home. Vaisakhi is not a carnival. Rather, this is the birthday of those great martyrs in our history. The men and women, old and young, who sacrificed their lives for others. Let us have that love run through our veins as well!
Today, I implore you, for this year's Vaisakhi to:
- Instill that love for Vaheguru (the Wondrous Enlightener) inside of yourself to grow
- Go beyond the shackles of your mind and your ignorance
- Completely fall in love with God through whichever path you may follow
We believe there is only one Creator. Do not think about yourself or chase after vices. Become selfless. Sikhs strive to be warriors externally and achieve spirituality and enlightenment internally i.e. becoming Saint Soldiers. For Sikhs, the importance of Vaisakhi is to be liberated from our vices and awaken the love for Guru Sahib Ji inside of us. That is what the Khalsa is.
The True Khalsa
Reflecting on the importance of the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh Ji emphasizes that, "whoever becomes the Khalsa, I sacrifice myself for that person".
One who knows the true taste of God within them is the True Khalsa.
A true Khalsa is that person who dives deep down inside of themselves, recognizes the true form of God and sees the Creator inside of everyone. That is the true message of Vaisakhi. Let us celebrate this by allowing the flowers of our love for Vaheguru to blossom within this month!
This article is a transcribed version of the video