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Vaisakhi in India

The Vaisakhi harvest celebration in countries such as in India is an occasion of dancing, singing, music, wearing of festive garments and religious praise. The festival marks the start of the New Year in the Nanakshahi solar calendar and recognizes the Sikh religious faith.

Is Vaisakhi a Public Holiday?

Vaisakhi is an optional holiday. Employment and holiday laws in India allow employees to choose a limited number of holidays from a list of optional holidays. Some employees may choose to take the day off on this day, however, most offices and businesses remain open.

Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is a harvest celebration observed in countries such as India.

©iStockphoto.com/Anantha Vardhan

What Do People do During Vaisakhi?

Many people in India celebrate Vaisakhi by dancing, singing, dressing in holiday finery, observing wrestling bouts and enjoying the many parades that take place at this time. Men dance the Bhangra and women dance the Gidda to celebrate this event. People enjoy holiday foods and special treats such as kada prasad (a type of sweet).

The festival holds special significance to Sikhs. Many Sikhs choose to be baptized during this holiday. During the Vaisakhi celebration, processions called Nagar Kirtan also make their way along the streets singing hymns from a sacred book of worship known as Guru Granth Sahib.

Public Life

Vaisakhi is a Sikh holy day as well as a celebration of the New Year in the Nanakshahi calendar. The date falls around April 13 or 14. Offices, educational institutions and major businesses are closed but some shops remain open and offer discounts. Public transport is also available, particularly to help tourists who are traveling and sightseeing during this time of the year. However, public transport schedules are not definite due to the holiday activities.

Background

Vaisakhi is also called Baisakhi. This harvest celebration takes place annually and harvesters celebrate and rejoice about the New Year and the harvested crops. However, there was added meaning to the celebration in 1699 when the Khalsa Panth (type of religious warrior) organization was established during the Vaisakhi Festival.

The 10th Guru Gobind Singh asked who in a crowd of thousands was prepared to die for the cause of religion. Eventually five men volunteered to give their lives but the Guru Gobind Singh did not kill the men. Instead he baptized them and the men became the first five members of a group called Khalsa. The tradition of Sikh baptism during the Vaisakhi festival originated from this historic event.

Symbols

The Sikh religion commemorates the first five men who comprised the Khalsa with five symbols of “purity and courage” called five Ks. The five Ks include the Kesh (uncut hair), the Kangha (comb), the Katchera (underwear), the Kara (steel ring), and the Kirpan (sword).

Vaisakhi Observances

Holiday currently only shown for years 2015–2020.

Note: Individuals can take a limited number of restricted holidays but government offices and most businesses remain open. This system gives individuals the flexibility to take time off to celebrate a holiday within India's vast religious and cultural society.

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2015TueApr 14VaisakhiRestricted Holiday
2016WedApr 13VaisakhiRestricted Holiday
2017FriApr 14VaisakhiRestricted Holiday
2018SatApr 14VaisakhiRestricted Holiday
2019SunApr 14VaisakhiRestricted Holiday
2020MonApr 13VaisakhiRestricted Holiday

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