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Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh! A Basic Rundown of Vaisakhi Vaisakhi is a dharmic, and cultural festival which is celebrated on the 13th or 14th of April every year. For Sikhs, it commemorates the formation of Khalsa Panth, for Punjabi's it marks the beginning of the harvest season. The celebration of Vaisakhi predates Sikhi itself, however after the formalization of the Khalsa in 1699 it was mainly celebrated as a religious event for Sikhs. A lot of people might not realize this, but Guru Nanak Dev Ji was also born on Vaisakhi 1469 (Wikipedia is wrong), the same day Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the 10th Human form of Nanak, decided to lay down the formalization for the Khalsa Panth. This fact is often forgotten, but it amplifies the importance of Vaisakhi for Sikhs, as not just a celebration for the creation of the Khalsa, but also the day Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born. The Truth about Vaisakhi Vaisakhi used to be a Punjabi new years harvest festival, and was transformed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji to celebrate the creation of the Khalsa, but modern day Vaisakhi has mostly devolved from a celebration of the Khalsa back into a Punjabi festival. Vaisakhi for Sikhs isnt about Bhangra dancing, colorful cloths, or free food, it's about celebrating the creation of the Khalsa Panth. When I ask non-sikhs, and even some sikhs about Vaisakhi, they seem to be clueless as to why we celebrate it in the first place, and instead make it about free food or socializing with friends. We attend all these Nagar Kirtan parades and we eat food and meet friends, but at the end of the day we dont end up learning anything about Sikhi. Sadly, Vaisakhi also gets hijacked by corporations trying to promote their business, and Politicians trying to promote their party. This is bad becuase their are taking advantage of such an important occasion, however isn't that bad becuase these corporations and politicians also contribute a lot of funds to organizing Vaisakhi, help spread awareness, and participate in it themselves to attract even more people. I think we should find a way to limit them, if not cut them out completely. We are not responsible for promoting another culture at a Sikh event, especially when they are using Gurdwara money, on Gurdwara property, under the name of a Sikh event. Punjabi culture itself is often times anti Sikh as it promotes alcohol, sexism, caste system, etc. If we allow any of it, then we risk mixing it and passing it off as Sikhi to the rest of the world. This will create a lot of problems becuase people will be fed misinformation that will be the direct result of Sikhi being watered down by Punjabi culture. Now before you get triggered and start calling me a radical, fundamentalist, zealot, extremist or any of the buzzwords people like to use, just keep in mind that I am a freedom of speech and expression advocate, and I dont feel like we should outright ban Bhangra, Punjabi Music, or food. I definitely feel like their are a lot of people who come to Vaisakhi just for the food, music, dancing, etc, and to ban the aforementioned practices would cut off a lot of people who could be potentially educated on Sikhi. Instead of having a complete blanket Ban like some Sikhs propose, I think that we should try to somehow limit the Punjabi culture and push back hard and find a way to bring the focus on Vaisakhi back to Sikhi instead of Punjabi culture. Typical Punjabi "Counterarguments" When I bring up the issue of the Punjabiization of Vaisakhi, I often times hear the same pathetic counterarguments from Punjabis who try to defend the Punjabification of Vaisakhi. I will now address some of these common "counterarguments" that Punjabis bring up in defense of the current state of Vaisakhi. One common argument Punjabis like to bring up is "oh but most people who attend Vaisakhi are already Sikh, why do you have to promote relgion so much?", that might be true, but keep in mind that most people are only Sikh in name, and when confronted, they know very little about Sikhi, or just know misinformation. When I personally do parchaar and hand out the "3 Facts about Sikhi" leaflets at Vaisakhi, a lot of Punjabi "Sikhs" reject my lefts saying something along the lines of "were already Sikh,we know about Sikh-ism, just focus on the white people, not us", however when I ask them to explain the basic principles they fail miserably and then finally bend the knee and accept the leaflet. Another common argument is "oh but Vaisakhi existed before Sikhi, and was celebrated by farmers as a new year's/harvest festival, you can't just hijack it", it's true that Vaisakhi and was celebrated as a new year's/harvest festival prior to Sikhi, however Sikhs celebrate it becuase of the creation of the Khalsa, and that is what really popularized Vaisakhi, and is what it's known for today. How many people, especially Sikhs in the west, honestly celebrate Vaisakhi as a harvest festival? Most of us aren't even farmers, without Sikhi, Vaisakhi would be all but irrelevant in the modern age. If someone wants to celebrate Vaisakhi as a harvest festival, then they are free to do so and we aren't stopping them, however we as Sikhs must remember that we celebrate Vaisakhi as the creation of the Khalsa. Make Vaisakhi Great Again At the moment Vaisakhi is nothing more than a Punjabi festival with a Sikhi twist, we need to reverse that. I propose that we start by increasing all efforts to do parchar and educate the community on Sikhi. Vaisakhi attracts hundreds of thousands of people, all of whom have the potential to be educated. This is a golden opportunity that only comes once a year, and we as a Panth need to capitalize on it if we are to grow Sikhi. What better place and time to spread Sikhi than at a Nagar Kirtan during Vaisakhi time. It honestly says a lot about the Sikh community when very few "Sikhs" are educated on it, and even fewer are fully committed to the faith. I feel like we need to really focus on our community, and not sideline them in favor of non-sikhs, becuase at the end of the day these are the people who identify as Sikh and still practice some form of Sikhi, even tho it is a watered down, and heavily Punjabiized version. Punjabi culture is like a double edged sword, it promotes anti-sikh practices, however it also promotes pride & bravery to defend ones way of life. When things get serious, Punjabi's are often the first one to go fight on the frontlines. During 1984 many non Amritdhari Punjabis, who were otherwise never religious and would never wake up for Amritvela, joined the fight and died fighting in defense of Harmandir Sahib. The thing about Punjabi's is that they are always ready to die for the Panth, but aren't willing to live for the Panth. I feel like Punjabis have a place in the Sikh community becuase without them we wouldn't get very far. We need to take the good things about Punjabi culture and leave the bad, this is why I dont feel like Punjabis are a lost cause and are worth doing Parchaar to. What I propose is that we drastically increase our education efforts. This can be done in the form of educational events, school programs, university courses, and most importantly: street parchaar. We must also compare and contrast between Sikhi and Punjabism in order to separate them, and demonstrate Sikhi's obvious superiority. Instead of a straight up ban, I would suggest we specifically stop Music that contains anti Sikh themes that promote drugs, alcohol, degrading women, etc at Sikh associated events and Gurdwaras. If someone wants to go around blasting anti Sikh music then by all means go ahead, but not at a Sikh event. As for bhangra, although it does not represent Sikhi, if someone wants to dance to celebrate the creation of the Khalsa then I think it's fine. If we follow through with the aforementioned strategies, we can still keep the Punjabis happy, all while promoting Sikhi! My Question for the Community What would you improve or change for Vaisakhi to make it focus more on sikhi, rather than Punjabi culture? Please leave your suggestions down below. Resources Informative Leaflets RajoanaTV Exposing the Culturalization of Vaisakhi Nanak Naam on why Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi, & its significance Basics of Sikhi on The Unique Khalsa Panth! Vaisakhi Katha