Participants in Surrey’s large Vaisakhi parade. (File photo)

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

What are the origins of Vaisakhi?

Although Vaisakhi has traditionally been a harvest festival in Punjab and across South Asia for centuries, the day has a special significance for Sikhs. On Vaisakhi Day in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh created the order of the Khalsa.

The Khalsa are those Sikhs who have accepted the Sikh initiation or khande kee paahul and commit to live their lives to the service of humanity and the spirit of equality and compassion.

The founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history which gave the Sikh faith its final form.

What is the significance of orange and yellow colours?

Yellow and orange are the traditional colours of Vaisakhi. They represent the spirit of rebirth and sacrifice of the Punj Pyare but are also a colour of joy and celebration.

When Vaisakhi is celebrated in Punjab, the golden yellow wheat fields are ready to be harvested.

Exactly who can participate in Vaisakhi celebrations?

Everyone. The Sikh faith considers all persons to be equal, regardless of gender, race, nationality or class. Sikh gurdwaras are open to all people. The langar or community meal is also offered to both Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.

Is there any special dress I should wear?

The only requirements to visit a Sikh gurdwara are that visitors take off their shoes and cover their heads. Any intoxicants such as tobacco products or liquor are also not permitted on the premises.

Vaisakhi marks the birth of the Sikh faith, pays tribute to the harvest and commemorates one of the most important days in the Sikh calendar: the creation of the Khalsa.

The Khalsa was founded to fight adversity more than 300 years ago and has since continued to be at the heart of Sikhism.

* * *

There are five K’s – or articles of faith – that are worn by baptized Sikhs to indicate a Khalsa devotee’s commitment.

Kesh (uncut hair)

A Sikh is to maintain and adorn this natural God-given gift. The Kesh is covered with a turban, Keski or Chunni to keep it clean and manageable.

Kanga (wooden comb)

The comb is used for the maintenance and ongoing upkeep of Kesh – a reminder to regularly maintain the body and mind in a clean and healthy state.

Kara (steel bracelet or bangle)

The bracelet symbolizes an unbreakable bond with God and is a constant reminder that a Sikh is a servant of the Lord.

Kachhera (cotton underwear)

Dignified attire reflective of modesty and control.

Kirpan (small sword)

The kirpan is a sign that a Sikh is a soldier in God’s army that will be used to protect the weak and needy or for self-defence. It is never to be used in anger.

A Sikh who has not been baptized may also don all five Ks, but is called a sahajdhari, which translates to “slow adopter.”

Black Press Media

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The word Sikh means student.

According to the Sikh Rehit Maryada, a Sikh is defined as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal God; 10 Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the 10 Gurus and has faith and belief in the Amrit initiation of the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion.”

Where do Sikhs come from?

The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak in 1469 in Punjab. Punjab is currently divided between India and Pakistan. Although most Sikhs have their roots in South Asia, and Punjab specifically, there are Sikhs of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.

What do Sikhs believe?

Sikhs believe in One God who is the creator of the universe and resides within creation. The purpose of human life is to unite the soul with God during one’s lifetime. This is possible through accepting the teachings of the Guru and following the “three golden rules,” namely, meditation on God’s name (nam japna), earning an honest living (kirat karna), and sharing one’s earnings with others (vand shakna).

What is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib?

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh scripture containing the compositions of the Sikh Gurus and other saints and poets. The verses, or bani, are considered by Sikhs to be the divinely inspired word of God. The compositions of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are written in traditional musical measures, or raags. It is composed in 31 raags or traditional musical measures and spans 1,430 pages, known as angs or limbs.

World Sikh Organization

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