Baisakhi, also referred to as Vaisakhi, is one of the most celebrated Indian festivals of Punjab. It is celebrated in other states as well but known by different names like Bihu in Assam, Poila Boishakh in West Bengal, Vishu in Kerala, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, and Bohag Bihu in Assam. The dynamic and vibrant festival of Baisakhi marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and is also celebrated as the festival of harvest in Punjab. Farmers pay their respects to God on this day for good crops and offer prayers for a similar harvest in the next year as well.
The day is usually celebrated on 13th April, and on 14th April every 36 years. The year 2022 is one of those special years when Baisakhi will be celebrated on 14th April. The main celebrations are held in Anandpur Sahib and Muktsar, where people express immense joy by dancing to the rhythmic beats of Bhangra and Gidda.
Visiting Baisakhi History And Its Significance
After the death of Guru Teg Bahadur in the vicious hands of the autocratic Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, his son Guru Gobind Singh was announced as the next Guru. The miserable life that his subject led under the rulership of the Mughal emperor, led Guru Gobind Singh to inspire the youngsters to fight for their rights and the good of the country in the year 1699. Initially, there was no one who showed interest in fighting against the mighty Mughals. However, umpteen requests and efforts to motivate them bore fruit and five young men came forward to join him in their fight against the Mughals. The Guru led them to a tent, dressed them in yellow (more specifically) saffron outfits, and blessed them with the title of ‘Panj Pyaras’ (five precious men). That day marked the beginning of Baisakhi history – a new historical significance among the disciples of the Guru. A new religion called the ‘Khalsa Panth’ was announced, known as Sikhism today. That also marked the importance of Baisakhi.
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A Brief Overview Of Baisakhi Celebrations
The festival is celebrated with great happiness, pomp, and vigour, specifically by the Sikhs, not to forget the special Baisakhi activities. Now that we have discussed the importance of Baisakhi, let’s talk about how Baisakhi celebrations looks like:
- Morning Visit To The Gurdwara – Before the prayers begin, the gurdwaras are prepared for the beginning of the morning festivities. They are cleaned and decorated. The Sikhs throng to the gurdwaras dressed in crisp, new clothes, after a refreshing shower. After the prayers, the devotees are served a sweet dish referred to as the ‘Kada Prasad’.
- Attend Langar – Lunch, known as langar, is served to the devotees. Here, people irrespective of their social status sit together on the floor and are served the same sumptuous vegetarian fare.
- Participate In Nagar Kirtan – The religious procession of Guru Granth Sahib, called Nagar Kirtan, is organised. Holy hymns are sung by the devotees, who are inevitably led by the ‘Panj Pyare’. The procession culminates at the gurdwara where Ardas or prayers are offered. The road where the procession is held is cleaned beforehand.
- Participate In Folk Dance Performances – The two main folk dance forms of Punjab that gain significance on this festive day, as discussed previously, are Bhangra and Gidda. While both men and women join in performing Bhangra, Gidda is traditionally performed by women only.
- Dress In Traditional Outfits – Festivals remain incomplete without new clothes and it is no different for Baisakhi as well. Men dress themselves in colourful kurta, pyjama or lungi, and turban. On the other hand, women adorn themselves in salwar-kameez or lehenga-choli.
- Indulge In Traditional Fare – Sarson Da Saag, Makki Di Roti, Paneer Tikkas, Vegetable Pakoras, Chicken Biryani, and a wide range of delectable desserts as an integral part of the traditional fare during the festival, apart from the Baisakhi activities.
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3 Baisakhi Recipes For You To Keep Licking Your Fingertips
Here is a list of 3 Baisakhi dishes that are an integral part of the festival.
1. Sarson Da Saag
Preparation Time: 2 hours
Cooking Time: 2 hours
For Sarson Ka Saag
- 1 bunch sarson (mustard greens)
- ½ bunch bathua leaves (goosefoot)
- ½ bunch palak (spinach)
- 1 cup chopped mooli (radish) leaves
- 3 to 4 inches white radish root
- 1 cup chopped methi (fenugreek) leaves
- 2 medium sized onions (chopped)
- 3 medium sized tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 green chilies (chopped)
- 2 inches chopped adrak (ginger)
- 7 to 8 chopped lehsun (garlic)
- ½ teaspoon laal mirchi (red chilli) powder
- 2 to 3 pinches hing (asafoetida)
- 2 to 3 cups water or add as required
- 2 tablespoon maize flour or fine cornmeal
- Salt to taste
Tempering Saag For 3 Servings
- 1 small to medium sized onion
- 1 to 2 tablespoons oil/ghee
- 2 cups cooked saag
- Thoroughly wash and chop all the green leaves
- Take a pan or pressure cooker and add all the ingredients enlisted under sarson ka saag, except maize flour
- Cover the pan/pressure cooker and cook for at least 7 minutes on medium-high heat till the green leaves become tender
- Add the green leaves, along with the stock, and maize flour in blend and mix until smooth
- Pour this puree back into the same pan/pressure cooker and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring at regular intervals
- Now, for the tempering, heat oil in another small pan
- Saute the chopped onions on medium-low heat till it turns light brown
- Add the saag puree and simmer for a few minutes, stirring every now and then
- Your sarson ka saag is ready to be served with makki di roti
2. Makki Di Roti
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- 200 gms makki ka atta (maize flour)
- 1 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
- 5 to 6 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 1 cup hot water or as required
- Salt to taste
- For making dough, take makki ka atta in a mixing bowl, along with ajwain and salt. Mix thoroughly and evenly
- Cover and keep aside till the dough turns warm
- Next, start kneading the dough, add water as per the requirement. (add warm water if the dough appears too dry. In contrast, add some maize flour, if it looks sticky)
- Make medium-sized balls from the dough and then flatten them with your hand
- Now, it’s time to start rolling the medium-sized balls. Sprinkle some makki ka atta on the rolling board and then place one ball in the middle of the rolling board. Sprinkle some flour on this ball as well.
- Start gently rolling the ball with the belan (rolling pin) till it takes the shape of a medium-sized plain roti – not too thin, not too thick
- Next, add some ghee or oil to the skillet and place the roti on the tawa.
- Once one side has been browned, flip the roti with a spatula and repeat the same process for the other side
- When the other side becomes brown, flip again and keep flipped quite a few times till it has been evenly cooked. Remember to press the edges to prevent it from staying raw or half-cooked.
- Drizzle some ghee on the sides while cooking the roti. If the dough has been well prepared, the roti will start puffing up on the tawa after a while.
- Makki di roti is now ready to be served with a dollop of safed makhan (white butter) on top, along with sarson da saag and jaggery
3. Gajar Ka Halwa
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
- 8 to 9 medium-sized grated carrots
- 4 cups whole milk or full fat milk
- 4 tablespoons ghee
- 10 to 12 tablespoons sugar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 10 to 12 chopped cashews
- 10 to 12 chopped almonds
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 1 pinch saffron strands (optional)
- Wash the carrots well, peel them, and then grate them with a hand grater or food processor
- Take a kadhai and add milk and the grated carrots
- Bring them to boil on low to medium flame, and then put it on simmer
- When it starts simmering, keep stirring so that the milk does not stick to the sides of the kadhai
- When the milk has thickened and reduced to about 75%, add sugar, ghee, and cardamom powder
- Keep stirring and cooking on a low flame
- Add almonds, cashews, raisins, and saffron and keep simmering till the milk has evaporated
- Garnish with some chopped dry fruits before serving
#BeALittleMore in ushering in the festival this year with all the aplomb that it deserves. Offer your prayers shiddat se, dress in your best dress, and dig your hands deep into the traditional dishes, and simply let your hair down. Let us know how you plan to celebrate the day this year in the comment section below.
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