History of Baisakhi or Vaisakhi
History of Baisakhi began when Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth guru of Sikh, was beheaded publicly by then Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb was forcibly converting people of a different religion to Islam by embarking a policy of religious harassment. He started unethical religious taxes against Hindus and their sacred place. He had thought if Hindu Brahmins, particularly from Kashmir, will accept Isalm, the others will follow.
On Baisakhi day, March 30, 1699, thousands of people gathered near Anandpur Sahib. To protect the religious rights of Hindus and Sikhs and to motivate people against the woeful condition created by Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh, in the year 1699 addressed the people with a most stirring oration on his divine mission of restoring their faith and preserving the Sikh religion.
After his persuasive speech, he flashed his immortal sword, and he demanded one head for the offering. After some anxiety, one person offered himself. The Guru took him inside a tent. A little later, he reappeared with his sword dripping with fresh blood, and asked for another head.
One by one, four more earnest devotees offered their heads. Every time the Guru took a person inside the tent, he came out with a bloodied sword in his hand. Then Guru again went back to the tent and came out with those five men dressed in saffron clothes and turbans.
These five people were given the title of the 'Panj Pyaras.' which means "The precious five men" and announced the creation of the "Khalsa Panth," the order of the Pure Ones.
Guru Gobind Singh bestowed the five in a new and unique ceremony called Pahul. In an iron vessel, the Guru stirred with a sword called Khanda Sahib, which he made sacred nector of immortality called Amrit. It was first given to Panj Pyaras, then it was taken by the Guru, and then it was distributed amongst the crowd.
With this, all those present there, irrespective of caste and creed, became members of the Khalsa Panth. The men who were converted into Sikhism were told not to fear anybody other than the God and live life in whatever manner they desire.
Guru Gobind Singh also offered five emblems of purity and courage. These symbols, worn by all Sikhs of both sexes, are popularly known today as Five Ks:
1. Kesh, unshorn hair;
2. Kangha, the wooden comb;
3. Karra, the iron (or steel) bracelet;
4. Kirpan, the sword;
5. and Kachera, the underwear.
The constitution of the Panj Pyare both the high and low castes was amalgamated into one.
Among the original Panj Pyare,
Daya Singh - one Khatri, shopkeeper, ;
Dharam Singh - one Jat, farmer;
Muhkam Singh - one Chhimba, calico printer/tailor;
Himmat Singh - one Ghumar, water-carrier;
and Sahib Singh - one Nai, a barber.
The Guru gave the surname of Singh (Lion) to every Sikh and also took the name for himself. From Guru Gobind Rai, he became Guru Gobind Singh. He also pronounced that all Sikh women symbolize royals, and gave them the surname Kaur(Princess). With the distinct Khalsa identity and consciousness of purity, Guru Gobind Singh allowed all Sikhs to live lives of courage, sacrifice, and equality.
After the Vaisakhi Day in 1699, the tradition of gurus was discontinued, and the Guru Granth Sahib - the holy book of the Sikhs was declared the eternal guide of the Sikhs.
From that day onwards, Baisakhi is celebrated by Sikhs with great vitality and excitement in the state of Punjab and the other States of India. It is usually celebrated on April 13 or April 14 every year.
Baisakhi Festival or Vaisakhi is celebrated as the birth of the Khalsa Panth and starting of Solar New Year which is Sikh New Year.
Gurudwaras are decorated, traditional songs, kirtans from Guru Granth Sahib, are recited in various Gurudwaras. People distribute Kada Prasad among themselves. Religious processions called Nagar Kirtan are being led by the Panj Piaras (five holy men).