Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Punjab celebrates harvest festival Baisakhi

People loaded on tractor-trolleys, trucks, buses and private vehicles headed for destinations of their choice this Sunday. It was certainly a busy day for Punjab as the state celebrated the festival of good harvest - Baisakhi. Sikh religious shrines - gurdwaras - were the main centre of attraction for most people from villages and those from towns and cities as they lined up to pray.

The holiest of Sikh shrines - Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) - in Amritsar got the maximum rush of the devout as people came from far and near to seek blessings for a good harvest. Roads to the Golden Temple, located in a congested area of the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, seemed clogged with people as thousands turned out since early Sunday morning to seek blessings.

The wheat fields in the state, which is known as the granary of the country, basked in the golden glory of a furious sunshine coming down on the produce. In most areas of Punjab’s 20 districts, the wheat produce is ready for harvest and farmers consider it auspicious to begin harvesting on or after Baisakhi.

“We were waiting for Baisakhi. We will commence harvesting Monday,” young farmer Harjodh Singh told IANS as he supervised his wheat fields on the outskirts of Hoshiarpur town, 140 km from Chandigarh. In some villages, people danced “Bhangra”, the traditional dance of Punjab associated with prosperity and good harvest.

Scores of people could be seen headed for gurudwara “Hariyan Belan” (green branches), 15 km from Hoshiarpur town near Chabbewal village, on tractor-trolleys and trucks. “Langars” (community kitchen), which is an essential part of Sikh religion, could be seen at all gurudwaras and along highways across the state with people squatting in rows to partake food.

It was on a Baisakhi day in 1699 that the 10th Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa panth - the essence of the present day Sikh religion - at Anandpur Sahib, 85 km from Chandigarh.
The Sikh shrine at Anandpur, famous for the birth of the Khalsa panth, saw hundreds of people turning up to pay obeisance. Social events and cultural programmes were organized at several places to mark the day across Punjab.