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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.

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 Giddato 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.

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.

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