When a month long blogging challenge comes to an end – you still feel a little lost when you don’t post every day! Today I decided to share with you about one of the many festivals celebrated in India. Since Everyday Gyaan celebrates life and food, here’s a festival that does just that! 🙂
Baisakhi Food Festival – A Northern India Celebration
Every year, in mid-April, the people of Northern India gather together for the Baisakhi Festival (often referred to as the Vaisakhi). Fundamentally, it’s a harvest celebration, but it’s also a period of astrological and religious significance.
The festival falls on the first day of the month of Vaisakh, which is the equivalent to April and May in the Gregorian Calendar. Most of the time it’s April 13th, but every 36 years, it’s April 14th. This is when the sun enters Mesh Rashi, and it’s also the time when Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday is celebrated. Born in 1666, he was the tenth Sikh Guru, and was responsible for establishing the Sikh brotherhood known as the Khalsa in 1699.
With so many causes for celebration, the festival is one big, colourful spectacular of feasting, music and dancing. If you’re planning to stay in hotels in West Delhi during Baisakhi, here’s what to expect.
A fair on every corner
All over Northern India, towns and cities come alive with fairs (referred to as melas). The first thing that most local people do when they wake up is jump into the nearest holy river, before donning their best outfits to spend the day dancing and singing in the streets.
A common expression of joy and gratitude to the gods that you’re likely to hear is, ‘Jatta aai Baisakhi’. In addition, you’ll come across surprising acrobatic acts; sporting events like wrestling and races; and loads of of stalls, selling handicrafts, trinkets and the like. A day spent in Northern India during the Baisakhi Festival is definitely one way to guarantee some exciting cultural and culinary adventures.
A feast in every home
It being harvest time, there’s an intense focus on food, with certain dishes associated specifically with Baisakhi. Walking through the streets, you’re highly likely to smell the mouth-watering, spicy fumes of choley bhature, a common Punjabi dish combining chick peas (choley), fried bread (bhature), onions and pickles. For a sweet fix, there’s coconut ladoo – balls made up of semolina, sugar and coconut mixed together. These two are just the top of a long list of special festival foods.
On top of partaking whole-heartedly in fairs and feasts, Sikhs also perform traditional rituals for spiritual purposes during the Baisakhi Festival. This begins first thing in the morning, with prayers held at temples (or ‘gurudwaras’) throughout Northern India. Many Sikhs travel to Anandpur Sahib or Amritsar, to spend time at the famous Golden Temple – the site where the Khalsa was founded. In fact, it’s such a popular destination that the entire area around the temple takes on something of a carnival atmosphere.
Following prayers, the primary religious text (Guru Granth Sahib) is cleansed in a blend of water and milk, before being read. Then a sacred pudding known as Karah prasad (comprised of flour, sugar and butter) is shared. Proceedings finish up with a procession, centred around Guru Granth Sahib and driven by chanting, singing, music and live performances. Most Sikhs also assist with chores in the temples.