The Harvest festival in India- Baisakhi
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India is the land of festivals having hundreds of reason to celebrate in all kinds of season. Then how can India forget to celebrate the harvest season? It is the festival of Baisakhi that is celebrated with lot of joy and enthusiasm in the northern state of Punjab and Haryana to mark the time for harvest of Rabi crops . This vibrant festival marks the commencement of the Sikh New Year . The festival takes place on April 13 every year, but once in 36 years, it is celebrated on April 14. For the predominant Sikh population of Punjab Baisakhi is one the biggest festival as it marks the foundation day of Khalsa Panth by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh . Sikh community located anywhere in the world celebrate Baisakhi by participating in the special prayer meets and Baisakhi processions.
Men and women in Punjab get well dressed traditionally and head toward the fields to celebrate the occasion of Baisakhi. High point of Baisakhi celebrations in villages is the performance of traditional folk dance bhangra and gidda by men and women respectively. Farmers also celebrate Baisakhi as a Thanksgiving Day . After taking an early bath in ponds or rivers people visit temples or gurdwaras to express gratitude to the Almighty for the bountiful harvest and pray for prosperity and good times in future. After a special ardas of kirtans and discourses  kada prasad  is distributed amongst all present. Later, people sit in rows to relish the  langar  or community lunch prepared and served by kar sevaks or volunteers. At several places in Punjab colourful Baisakhi Fairs are also organized to celebrate the day. Major attractions of Baisakhi Fairs are the bhangra and gidda performances besides wrestling bouts, singing and acrobatics. Performance of folk instruments - vanjli and algoza is also quite popular. Food stalls and shops selling trinkets make Baiskhi Melas even more joyful. Major celebrations of Baisakhi are organized at Golden Temple, Amritsar . Another Baisakhi celebrations by Sikhs is the Baisakhi procession or nagar kirtan carried though the city under the leadership of Panj Piaras or the Five Beloved Ones. On this day, Sikhs prepare various kinds of dishes like the potato curry, sarson ka saag, makki di roti, poori, paneer tikkas, vegetable pakora, chicken biryani and lots of delicious dishes.
Not only Punjab and Haryana celebrate Baisakhi but it is also celebrated in different parts of India in different ways. Festivals unite the diversified Indian culture in its own way. In Kerala , this festival is known by the name Vishu . It is considered as a festival of happiness, vibrant colors and light. On this day, the farmers celebrate the good harvest and offer prayer to the God for an excellent year ahead. It is considered to be a tradition to recieve Vishu Kai Neettam which means gift from the elder members of the family. Baisakhi in West Bengal is considered as very auspicious by the merchants or traders to open a new business. Bangla Sangeet Mela is organized to discover the budding musicians and singers of the state.

Photo of Vishu Celebration


Photo of Rongali Bihu Celebration

In Assam , Baisakhi is known as Rongali Bihu which is a seven days festival. The seven days are known as Chot Bihu, Goru Bihu, Manuh Bihu, Kutum Bihu, Senehi Bihu, Mela Bihu and Chera Bihu. In Bihar , the festival is locally called as Vaishakha . It is basically celebrated by the people to welcome the New Year. It is considered extremely auspicious by the people to offer the prayers to the Surya Devta (Sun God). In Tamil Nadu Baisakhi is celebrated as  Puthandu. In Kashmir , a ceremonial bath and general festivity mark Baisakhi while in Himachal Pradesh devotees flock to the temple of Jwalamukhi and take a holy dip in the Hot Springs.