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Baisakhi, Vishu and Pohela Boishakha | बैसाखी, विशु और पोहेला बोइशाख

Baisakhi, Vishu and Pohela Boishakha

India is a land of diversity. With more than 22 major languages, 5 religions, and a population of more than a billion people, the backbone of vibrant Indian culture is its unique regional festivals. Festivals apart from celebrating an occasion, bring people together as a society. And there are a few occasions and periods of time during the year that hold more importance in the Hindu calendar and are considered auspicious throughout all regions of the country. One of them is the spring harvest festival. There are tons of festivals with the same basic intent to celebrate more or less the same things but with different names in different regions. The three most prominent ones from different parts of India are Baisakhi, Vishu, and Pohela Boishakha.

What is Baisakhi and how is it celebrated?

Baisakhi, also known as Vaishakhi, is held every year on the 14th of April as per the Nanakshahi calendar. It is a major historical and religious festival celebrating the good spring harvest. It is primarily celebrated in the northern side of the country and is one of the major festivals of the Sikh religion. First observed in the year 1699, Baisakhi also marks the birth of the Khalsa Order by Guru Gobind Singh.

The festival of Baisakhi is celebrated with vibrant Colors, people meet friends and relatives and enjoy festive foods and sweets. You will find Gurudwaras being decorated spectacularly with lavish things and kirtans are held. People pray and processions, though not common, are also carried out. The followers of the Sikh religion also raise the Nishan Sahib flag. Thus, visiting Gurudwara and offering prayers form the major ways in which Baisakhi is celebrated. People also take a bath in a lake or river before visiting Gurudwara. Socializing, sharing food and sweets, and having a good time with each other are integral parts of any Sikh festival.

What is Vishu and how is it celebrated?

Vishu is the traditional Malayali New Year. It is a Hindu festival celebrated in the state of Kerala. The festival is celebrated to mark the first day of the Madem, the first month of the Malayalam Calendar, which is also known as the Kolla Varsham. It therefore mostly falls in the middle of the month of April around the 14th or 15th of April every year. It is celebrated to mark the onset of spring and harvest season in the country.

Lord Krishna is worshiped on the occasion of Vishu as he is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His idol is placed in the Vishu Kani and devotees offer prayer to Lord Vishnu as well. People usually see the laburnum tree first thing in the morning. Vishu Kani is prepared from items like rice, golden cucumber, jackfruit, coins, currency notes, and an image of Lord Vishnu to name a few. All family members are blindfolded and are brought to the altar to Vishu Kani. It is the festival of lights, fireworks, decorating lights, and enjoying good food, i.e, Sadya. Traditionally, elders gift coins to children on this occasion as part of the custom known as Vishukkaineettam.

What is Pohela Boishakha and how is it celebrated?

Pohela Boishakha is the first day of the Bengali calendar which is also the official calendar of Bangladesh. The word Pohela in Bangla means first and Boishakha means spring thus, it also falls on the 14th -15th of April. It is a major festival in the state of West Bengal. The traditional greeting on this occasion is  “Shubha Noboborsha”, which literally means Happy New Year.

The festival evokes the feeling of communion ship. Wearing new clothes, especially traditional attire, visiting friends and relatives, and eating good food is the major part of the festival. The morning of Pohela Boishakha always has morning processions called Prabhat Pheri where children perform the songs of Tagore. People clean their houses and are decorated with Rangoli and Alpana which are mostly drawn at the center of the house. Water is filled in an earthen pot to grace the entrance of the home. Three mango leaves are put on the pot that also carries a Swastika mark which symbolizes good luck. Visiting temples, offering prayers, and gifting sweets are integral parts of Pohela Boishakha.

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