Today, millions of Sikhs (members of the fifth largest religion in the world) around the globe are celebrating Vaisakhi—a centuries-old tradition that commemorates the spring harvest in Punjab, the homeland of the Sikhs, and a deeply significant religious holiday. Since 1699, Vaisakhi has taken a special significance for Sikhs after the tenth Sikh spiritual teacher, Guru Gobind Singh, used the occasion to create a formal Sikh brotherhood called the Khalsa Panth.
Every year on Vaisakhi, Sikhs give thanks, renew their faith and commitment and celebrate their identity and reaffirm core values including community service, equality, and humility. Sikhs mark the occasion with family, friends and the community primarily by decorating and attending Gurdwaras, Sikh houses of worship. In the Gurdwara, Sikhs sing traditional hymns with their sangat, or community members, and afterwards partake in a simple, communal, vegetarian meal together.
Sikh Americans will share these festivities with the New York City community and celebrate Vaisakhi with the annual Sikh Day Parade next Saturday, April 23. Thousands of Sikhs from across the country will gather to celebrate the collective values and history that binds them together.