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A unique month and a unique bond

Venkat Raman

April is considered a special month by most countries around the world and contrary to popular belief it must be etched as a ‘period of wisdom.’

Many Governments and public and private sector organisations begin their financial year on the first day of this month and for those who dote over the US, its first president George Washington was inaugurated this month (although on the last day) and most important of all, William Harvey discovered the circulation of blood on what is erroneously described, ‘All Fools Day’ on April 1 in 1578.

Varied connotations

To Christians it is during this month that Easter occurs usually, depicting the resurrection of Jesus Christ-the dawn of new hope with the transgressions of mankind obliterated.

To the Tamilian population, April corresponds to the Hindu month of ‘Chaitra’ marking the beginning of a New Year, with renewed hope. Keralites-the Malayalam speaking population-mark their New Year with ‘medam,’ the day the Sun crosses the Equator as an auspicious day to launch any new project.

For Hindus, New Year celebrations involve bathing, feasting and worshipping at home and in temples. Devotees pay special respect to Goddess Ganga, who is believed to have descended to Earth several thousand years ago. Hundreds of thousands of people gather along the sacred Ganges River for ritual baths. Plenty goes on in the holy cities along the Ganges (such as Varanasi), in Srinagar’s Mughal Gardens, Jammu’s Nagbani Temple or indeed anywhere in India.

Significant for Keralites

Malayalees make elaborate preparations for this day to ensure that the year ahead will be fruitful. This festival celebrates the spirit that can be observed in all spring events-the spirit of hope and expectation that a new dawn brings with it.

Flags of gold-embroidered silk can be seen in front of Hindu homes, with pots of brass, copper or silver dangling from poles. Vishu includes pyrotechnics and displays called Vishu Kani-arrangements of flowers, grains, fruits, cloth, gold and money (which help to ensure a year of prosperity).

The Sikh Concept

Sikhs bring about a different concept. If you are lucky to see men performing the Bhangra dance, you will understand a bit of it. It tells the story of the agricultural process, from tilling the soil through to harvesting.

Vaisakhi also marks reunion of family members. Homes are thoroughly spruced up and useless household effects thrown out. The granary is cleaned to welcome the new harvest arrivals. It is an occasion to wear new clothes, wish relatives, gather blessings and of course sing and dance.

The highlight is the elaborate feasting in every home, especially where new family ties are being forged by marriage or new born babies. Vaisakhi is an occasion when the poor and needy are taken care of and given alms and gifts.

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, the religious home of the Sikhs, is richly decorated and glows with the luminescence of thousands of lights and showers its blessings on the millions of devotees who congregate there on this day.

Vaisakhi is also unforgettable in India’s freedom movement, for it was on this day in 1919, when General Dyer ordered the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. Among the innocent men, women, and children gathered there to celebrate the festival, thousands lost their lives in the senseless firing

Significance for others

Assam’s version is called Bohag Bihu and the community organises feasts, music and dancing.

Vaisakhi (or Baisakhi) is among the most significant festivals for Punjabis who pride themselves of belonging to a land which energised India’s green revolution. As an event marking the harvest season, it brings with it joy and prosperity.

The highlight is the elaborate feasting in every home, especially where new family ties are being forged by marriage or new born babies. Vaisakhi is an occasion when the poor and needy are taken care of and given alms and gifts.

More about the Punjabis later.

Bengalis celebrate Baisakhi too but more in private. On this occasion, businessmen close their accounts and start afresh and houses wear a new coat of paint. Those who can afford present new clothes to their friends, relatives and family members.

Photo :

The Golden Temple in Amritsar is the Holiest Shrine of Sikhs worldwide

(Picture Sourced)

Vishu Kani (Picture from Wikipedia)

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