Celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs to mark the beginning of the Hindu solar New Year, people around the world marked Vaisakhi - sometimes called Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi - and takes place each year in April and is celebrated across the world.
This year, as before, the festival which celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa, marked the holiest day in the Sikh calendar.
An ancient festival of Punjabis, it marks the Solar New Year and is also a harvest festival marking the creation of the community of initiated Sikhs. This year, however, religious worships moved online and the practice of offering food was taken out to the community, as people self-isolated and stayed at home.
With two different elements to Vaisakhi - firstly it refers to the harvest festival in the Punjab region of India, and secondly, it marks the day that Sikhism was born as a collective faith in 1699 – the day is also observed by the farming community of Punjab as a day of giving thanks and paying tribute to God for their abundant harvest and praying for future prosperity.
Vaisakhi is all about community, progression and celebration and is marked around the world with processions known as a nagar kirtan.
People often visit temples or gurdwaras on Vaisakhi, were special services take place. The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is usually raised on a platform leading parade, to signify its importance.
In the UK, large-scale events usually take place across the country including performances and gatherings, but due to Covid-19, for a second year running. Events would also usually include performances by Sikh artists, dances, food stalls and more, with smaller community fairs often taking place around the country.
Some of the commonly prepared dishes during Vaisakhi include:
· Traditional kadhi with besan pakodas dunked in a thick gravy of yogurt
· Meethe Peeley Chawal – basmati rice, cashew nuts, saffron and cinnamon
· Kesar Phirni – a sweet rice pudding with saffron, cardamom, sugar, milk and almonds,
· Mango Lassi – mango, honey, ice and plain yoghurt
· Kada Prasad (Atta Halwa) – wholewheat flour, ghee, sugar and water
With festivals cancelled amid pandemic, half a million British-Sikhs prepared to mark the Vaisakhi festival under coronavirus lockdown restrictions for the second year running.