The story of Vaisakhi and why everything is connected
For the Sikh and Hindu community, Vaisakha – the second month of the lunar calendar broadly matches up with April and Vaisakhi (Vah-Sah-key) is the first day of this celebration. Vaisakhi, which falls on the 13th or 14th of April, is when many Sikhs (and some Hindus) will celebrate the beginning of spring, the spring harvest and the role of nature in sustaining the world.
Vaisakhi is a profoundly important day for the 30million Sikhs across the world. It not only celebrates nature, it also marks the creation of the Khalsa in cementing the identity and attributes of the Sikhs! If you don’t know the story – here’s a quick intro.
The formation of the Khalsa
In 1699, 100,000s of people gathered at the Vaisakhi harvest festival where the 10th Sikh Guru called out to those who would stand for what is right. 5 souls stood up Deya (meaning compassion) Singh, Dharam (meaning knowledge) Singh, Himmat (meaning courage) Singh, Mokham (meaning resilience) Singh and Sahib (meaning mastery) Singh and they formed the Khalsa. The Khalsa were the first initiated Sikhs.
They came from different backgrounds and locations and so represented a central tenet of Sikhism that is universality of the human race. It has the concept of “sarbat da bhala” which means “may good come to all.”
Everyone’s talking about Universality
The idea of oneness wasn’t born on that day in 1699. Sikh scriptures date much further back, and discussions of the universe often appear. Sikh scholars had already begun thinking that there was no end to the vastness of the universe, with Guru Nanak (1469-1539) writing “There are earths, beyond earths, beyond earths” and “There are skies above skies and earths below earths.”
This was at a time when most scientists thought the whole universe revolved around the earth (talk about selfish!). At about the same time as Guru Nanak was challenging these ideas, another very famous thinker named Copernicus (1473-1543) also rejected the theory that everything revolved around the earth. Jump forward a few hundred years and we now know the universe is enormous, so much so that scientists in the US have found a light signal from over 15 million light-years away!
Sikhs also see that everything is connected, so we as humans are all connected to one another and with our surroundings. In this way, God is in everything and can be seen through our relationship with nature. Guru Nanak wrote of god as the universal vibration in that “you are the lake and the swan, you are the lotus flower and the water lily”. We now recognise that you, me, the lake and the lotus flower all come from atoms and particles – though scientists may not describe this so poetically!
So as we head into spring, and the “April showers that bring May flowers”, look up at the skies, the stars (and even those distant stars beyond stars) and marvel at how you are as connected to them as you are to the people and nature that surrounds you!