Baisakhi- The Traditional Harvest Festival of India
Baisakhi, also known as Vaisakhi, the spring harvest festival in India, is celebrated with immense passion to mark the start of the new spring and is eminent in most parts of the country as the New Year. The festival signifies the end of the harvest season and is a festival of great joy and festivity. Baisakhi is particularly important to Haryana and Punjab, due of the large population of Sikh who rejoice this festival with a lot of dynamism and zing. This festival is celebrated with different names in different states of India such as Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Maha Vishuva Sankranti in Odisha, Pohela Boishakh in West Bengal, Vishu in Kerela, Bihu in Uttarakhand, Puthandu in Tamil Nadu and Bohag Bihu in Assam. It is a very significant festival celebrated on the 13th or 14th of April according to the solar calendar, every year when the Rabi crop is up for harvesting.
For centuries now, the farmers of Punjab and Haryana have been observing Baisakhi as the day of being thankful to the almighty for the copious harvest and praying for success in future. On this day, the men and women embellish themselves with bright colored clothes and traditional jewelry and visit the Gurudwaras. The customary bhangra, also known as gidda dance, the parade of the Panj Piaras and the savor of the kada prasad can be witnessed in full swing in the regions of Punjab. The sheer enthusiasm of the community is sure to lift up everyone’s spirits. It is also believed that this day is of enormous religious importance to the Buddhists as Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the Maha Bodhi tree in the town of Gaya on this propitious day.
However, this year, with Covid-19 lockdown, thousands of farmers who grow crops like wheat, rice and cotton, dread if they will be able to get enough labor and mechanical harvesters to their farms to harvest their rabi crops. They usually ripe in mid-April during the time of Baisakhi festival and due to social distancing there have been severe shortage of labor. The government has exempted several agricultural processes from harvesting to movement of produce to marketplace from the rules of lockdown. They have issued crop-specific advisories to farmers, suggesting them to take common protection and safety measures during harvesting, post the harvest procedures, during storage and also while selling of their crops
This year, Baisakhi can be observed on a low-key in the middle of lockdown. One can find creative ways to celebrate the festival even by staying at home, rather than letting the pandemic spoil all the fun and excitement.