Two weeks back we had celebrated New Year in some parts of India as Ugadi in AP and Karnatak, and Gudi Padva in Maharashtra and Goa. This day was based on lunar calendar. Many other states follow solar calendar, and today is the New Year in those places: Baisakhi in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the surrounding regions, Rangoli Bihu is Assam and Northeastern states, Boisshak in Bengal, Maha Bishub in Orissa, Puthandu in Tamilnadu and Vazthukkal in Kerala.
This New Year is essentially a harvest festival across the country. Celebrations galore. It is marked by different types of functions, people wearing new clothes, offering prayers, cultural functions, music recitals and traditional dances.
Baisakhi in Punjab has a different history, associated with the formation of Khalsa (Pure) Panth in 1699 by Guru Govind Singh. Following the killing of Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru, by Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb, his son Govind Singh called a meeting at Anandpur on March 30, 1699. On this day he chose Panj Piara (Beloved Five), choosing five persons from different communiities – shopkeeper, farmer, calico painter, water carrier and barber, thereby abolishing caste system in Sikhism ( a great step in India) and at the same time inspiring the Sikhs to take up arms against injustice and cruelties, if such a need arises. Therefore, in Punjab it is not only a harvest day, it is a great day to usurp justice and human values. Bhangra dance and sword dances are special for this day.
On this auspicious day let us greet each other, and hope for better days to dawn for India.