Peace prayer on their lips, Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi


The Sikh community of Kashmir celebrated Baisakhi with religious fervour and enthusiasm on Saturday, visiting gurudawaras for prayers throughout the day.
Keeping with the tradition, the Mughal gardens of Srinagar were officially opened to the public on the occasion. A constant stream of visitors filled up the garden since morning.
Bajan Keertans were also performed at Gurudawaras across Kashmir. The biggest function was held at Chatti Pathshahi Kathi Darwaza Rainawari in the old city. The devotees woke up early and visited Gurdwaras where langars or community feasts were arranged as part of charity on the day.
People also exchanged greetings with friends, neighbors and relatives. Various reputed social activists from the Muslim community visited Sikh leaders and felicitated them on the occasion. Children spent their day playing in parks and gardens. Guruduwaras were decorated with lights while large number of Sikhs had also decorated their residential houses and localities that wore a festive look.   
Although Baisakhi is celebrated in various other northern states for a good harvest of rabi crop, the Sikh community here celebrates the festival to mark the foundation of Khalsa Panth by 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) expressed the hope that the festival of Baisakhi would be harbinger of peace and prosperity in the state.
In his Baisakhi greetings message, APSCC chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina said that festivals like Baisakhi bring about happiness and joy among the people.
Raina added that such festive occasions provide a chance to the people of different communities to come close to each other while exchanging pleasantries.
“For Sikhs, Baisakhi is celebrated as the day of the creation of the Khalsa. Culturally, much of India celebrates Baisakhi as a harvest festival. Baisakhi is often also referred to as the Sikh New Year,” he said.
He informed that in 1699, in Punjab, the 10th Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, asked a crowd of thousands if anyone would be willing to give their heads to their Guru. In response, five men – all of different castes and backgrounds – stepped up to offer their heads to their Guru. Anxious moments followed where Guru Gobind Singh Ji took the men into a tent, only to emerge with a bloody sword. However, the men emerged dressed in what is now recognised as traditional Sikh garbs.
“Guru Gobind Singh Ji then publicly initiated the men, before asking them to do the same for him. These men, later known as the Panj Pyare (five beloved ones), were the very first members of the Khalsa,” he said.
For Sikhs, Baisakhi is a time for reflection, when people are more inclined to become initiated into the Khalsa. People from any background are welcome to join in and take part in all Baisakhi celebrations.
In north Kashmir, devotees from Sikh community visited the Gurudawara Chatti Padshahi in Baramulla, Khawaja Bagh and Paranpila in Uri. The markets in the area remained crowded with shoppers throughout the day. In South Kashmir, Baisakhi was celebrated at many places

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