Friday, April 14, 2006

'Happy Vaisakhi'

Site MeterIt is 14th April. Vaisakhi or Baisakhi, the New year for North Indians.

My childhood memories are resplendent with "Baisakhi Di Raat" celebrations, where fun, frolic, Dhol, Bhangra and masti reigned Supreme.

It seems a thing of the past. There are fewer celebrations now. And it saddens me. However much I may attempt to re-create the culturally enriched childhood I enjoyed, because of paucity of the emotion shared on a similar note by the population, I feel I have been not wholly successful. How can I single handedly duplicate a Baisakhi Nite, a common enough feature then, even in Mumbai, to show my kid what being a Punjabi is all about?

As always a greater philosophical and spiritual interpretation exists as well. Trust our ancients not to have utilised every opportunity to exemplify a Basic truth.

It marks the seasons which signal to man the time for work and the time for play and relaxation, the commencement of the agricultural cycle with sowing in spring, and its culmination with the harvesting of the golden grain. And then, of course, we have, in endless variations of legend and myth, the hallowed perceptions that there is an ever-renewed war of light and darkness, of the divine and the demoniac in the unceasing evolution of the world

What has struck me about this festival always is its significance or rather the significance of 14th April, in almost all Indian states.

Baisakhi has a special meaning for the Sikhs. On this day in 1699, their tenth Guru Gobind Singh organized the order of the Khalsa. On this day also, Guru Arjan Das was martyred by the Muslim rulers who, in barbaric cruelty, threw him alive into a cauldron of boiling oil.

Again, on this day in 1875, Swami Dayanand Saraswati founded the Arya Samaj—a reformed sect of Hindus who are devoted to the Vedas for spiritual guidance and have discarded idol worship.

This day is once again of immense religious import to the Buddhists because Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and Nirvana on this auspicious day.


Baisakhi day is observed as the Naba Barsha (New Year) in Bengal. On 14th April, the people take a ritual bath in the River Ganga or any other river or a nearby tank and bedeck their houses with rangoli (floral patterns) drawn on the entrance floor of their homes with a paste made of rice powder.

Baishakhi festival is celebrated twice a year in Himachal Pradesh in honour of Goddess Jwalamukhi.


In the South, Baisakhi is celebrated to mark the Tamil and Telugu New Year. In a ceremonial march, people take out wooden chariots in a procession. The temples in Kerala celebrate Pooram festivals usually in honour of Vishnu. Among them, the Pooram observed in the Vadakkunathan Swamy (Shiva) temple of Trichur is famous.

Another festival of note in South India takes place in honour of the Goddess Kamarchi Amman whose temple is located in Pondichery. The goddess is worshipped three times a day when the idol, duly decorated with jewelry and flowers, is taken out in daily processions on different mounts consisting of a horse, a lion, a swing or a chariot.

To return to north India again, Bihar state celebrates a festival in Vaishakha (April) and Kartika (November) in honour of the Sun God, Surya, at a place called Surajpur-Baragaon.

North-East India with its complex of seven states, inhabited by people of different ethnic origins, languages and cultures, has its own panoply of spring festivals. Perhaps the most colourful is the is the exquisite festival called Lai Haraoba in the local Meitei dialect, celebrated by the people of Manipur.

Assam has been home to a number of ethnic groups professing different faiths. Perhaps, the most important of these Bihus is the Rangali Bihu celebrated on the 14th of April. Young women clad in their silken raiment, dance to the rhythm of the drum.

In the spirit of revelry and joy, festivals of the kind should be used as an occasion when people cast aside their misunderstandings and ill-feelings and
refurbish relations of fellow feeling and amity.

So Happy Baisakhi once again..this time with renewed vigour.

.Information of some festivals from Tourist department

Cross linked at Sepiamutiny

25 comments:

Chameleon's Karma said...

The crops have been harvested.. prosperity beckons and still a few days left before the farmers start to work again.... yes... its the time to party.. pity we've left our agrarian roots behind somewhere!!!
Happy New Year, all the same!!

Neha said...

Happy baisakhi!

Thanks for the info..didnt know about Buddha and dayanand saraswati..

Anonymous said...

Oh Baisakhi!!

Does that explain the change in color of the font??

Cool..

I remember you giving some nice information on Holi and the connection palash flowers as well..

happy baisakhi.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Ck,

Pity isn't it? I would have loved to be in a village of Punjab now,in a field, under a tree on a manja, having a cool glass of lassi, with bajre ki roti and safed makkhan (since the season for sarson is over isnt it?), and getting prepared for the bhangra, gidda celebration in the evening.

Despite being a pucca Mumbai-ite having been born n brought up here, by virtue of my roots and maternal family being there, the experience of summers in Punjab is unforgettable. The doodh-soda with tuk malanga or subja as they call it here with a spoonful of Rooh Afza, or home made ice cream in those huge Ice cream makers, or home made Khus sharbat, and watermelon juice.. And the haveli doors with their khus chik tattis freshly watered to keep the looH out and exuding a to-die-for-aroma..Oh I could go on and on.

Topic for a post actually.. only it gets me nostalgic and sad, since my Grand parents are no more ..nothing is the same without my Biji..

Thanks Neha..you are always welcome.

Anonymous..I try to do my bit in keeping the quaint cultural rituals which are so distinct to India, alive as much as possible.

It would be an irreparable loss to relegate into forgetfulness what we have inherited. For me it serves to re-inforce love for my country and being Indian.

Otherwise.. God save us theres lots to regret in being Indian as well.. not so much being Indian as living in India.

So this is just an occasion like the myriad others to remind our fellow Indians all over the world, to remain linked with us and feel bonded through the uniqueness of our culture.

Thanks for noticing..yes the font color had to do with that.Though ideally it should have been strong Yellow,but it wasn't quite showing on the page.

Chameleon's Karma said...

Somewhere in the middle of becoming men we left the boys behind, and on the trip we plundered our brains and stole away a handful of memories to keep us together through the years, but we left behind the core of our wide-eyed youth to dissolve into time..... yes, I too miss the boy I was!

But Kaveeta, you paint a fabulous picture with your words!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Why Thanks Ck,

You are not so bad yourself.."plundered our brains and stole away a handful of memories"..Hmmm

Btw..I make a mean paneer do piaza..

Chameleon's Karma said...

and I'm in Bombay every alternate weekend!!!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Slow Kiddo..dont jump the gun..

we yet have to butt heads on a lot more issues..

Theres hope, though not in the near future.. but hubby was suggesting a meet for all of us bloggers on sachiniti..

Chameleon's Karma said...

And Anouradha and me can come from Delhi!!

doublebarrel said...

Happy baisakhi!

Miss the festivities.. come to London..southhall..heh heh

sanjay said...

Hi kaveetaa,

I am half sindhi half Punjabi..so you can imagine the importance since both communities celebrate it..Chetti chand is what Sindhis refer to it as.

yes, it is not the same as before, though the sindhis have more of it going in Mumbai.

Happy Baiskhi

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Double barrel,

I know what you mean.. been there..didnt miss home:)

Ck,

invitations will be sent out..dont worry:)

Sanjay,

Thanks for reminding me..Oh yes..Chetti chandji raat Right?.. I have attended a few..Good fun

Chameleon's Karma said...

Oye... balle balle te shava shava to that!!

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Quite apt for the occasion as well..

temporal said...

happy baisakhi:)

http://desicritics.org/2006/04/14/104100.php

temporal said...

i thought i posted a comment here earlier:)...oh well...baisakhi mubarak

i posted something too

North said...

'Happy Vaisakhi' Kaveetaa : )

May the opportunity to begin the Year anew; inspire all, to aspire towards peaceful contemplations.



North

Anushka said...

Hey Kaveetaa

That was well put together. So many events all on one day. It has been of my fav festivals too. Indeed it’s a special celebration.

But here in US am beginning to forget ie when festivals come and go. I miss out on so many of them. Diwali is such a low affair here...no rangoli and no crackers, no lights.

Nevertheless..you gain some, you loose some.

Anu

PS: I am tired of reading that claptrap by these clones. Believe it or not the feminist inside me has taken birth and my next post is going to make them run like crazy despos. My job: turn on comment moderation & immune my heart.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Hi T,

thanks..have read your stuff and left a comment.

Hey North,

How are you? and your Son?

Thanks a ton.

Anu,

Splendid..And Ole to your New year resolution:)

silbil said...

baisakhi di lak lakh badhaiyan...
i guess i am not a punjabi really though my surname suggests that...sigh...
i want sarso ka saag and ghee shakkar and safed makhhan anyway...
kaveeta i stay in mumbai only...
when to come?
hee hee
enjoy the weekend fellow bloggers

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

nandini,

I loved that 'baisakhi di lakh lakh badhaiyan'..it was soo Punj..

You are more Punjabi than you think;)

Have a great weekend..I plan to go for a fashion gala. Spot some talent and feel thrilled on how fast we are growing in all spheres.

North said...

Dear Kaveetaa, a fashion gala sounds exciting!

I attended a bridal fashion show, over 20 years ago; and I was absolutely captivated! The work, the planning, the beautiful men and women models, in such perfected clothes! wow! I didn't want the show to end.

Lee has accepted his college of first choice, and we embark on a new voyage, each. For me, empty nest, for him; he spreads his independance completely, for the first time.

Currently, Lee is undergoing many tests, to assess his atrophic left kidney; and function of the 70% right kidney. He's not happy on it, but it has to be assessed prior to leaving home.

This summer, promises to be quite a change, in many respects, including hitting the big, -50- in August! I am not a vain person per se, but just the thought of turning half of one hundred years old, is rather unsettling, in odd regards, only surfacing in me now, of course, while facing it. lol

I am keeping busy designing 2 book-covers, and sets of greeting cards, managing a group site, and a blog! whew!

Isn't life grande, and invigorating?

North

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

North,

So many mixed emotions on reading your post.

Concern for your sons health.

Understanding for your empty nest syndrome

dread for my impending one.

wishing away the half century 'unsettling surfacing'

But most of all great joy in these lines
"Isn't life grande, and invigorating?"

Good to hear that from you North. I would have been disappointed with lesser than nerves of steel from you.

You are quite a gal North.

You will get only the best from now on coz you deserve no less.

It is strange how just words can spin such a web of camaraderie between souls so far away... kindred souls maybe :)

flygirl said...

Happy New Year, kavieetaa! I've been lurking here for some time now. We celebrate New Year at this time in Sri Lanka aswell. However, I am not sure about Buddha attaining Nirvana on this say, we celebrate it on the full moon day in May.

Kaveetaa Kaul said...

Hi flygirl,

Welcome aboard..Sri lanka as well? That is so great.. Belated happy anew year.

Come to think of it, its hardly surprising.. Sri Lanka is bonded with our culture, history and legend. If I may add.

About Buddha attainig Nirvana..well it is difficult to doubt the source of the information, so am foxed. The only possible explanatoon could be as you cited, the reading by the phases of the moon..for the same reason Diwali nver occurs on the same day every year, neither does Rakhi..etc.

Please share more of your life there with us.. I will love that.