To a Sikh, Baisakhi, can be New Year’s, Christmas, and Easter, rolled into one. It is the birth of Khalsa (“The Order of the Pure”); a rebirth of souls baptized with holy water consecrated by prayer, and sweetened with sugar wafers; and while it occurs coincidental with the traditional harvest festival, it is celebrated by Sikhs all over the world as the day Guru Gobind Singh ji, our 10th Guru, created the order which would distinguish Sikhs eternally. It was on this day that the 5 articles of faith, uncut hair (kes), a comb (kanga), a kirpan (often referred to today as a ceremonial sword), khara (steel bracelet), and underwear (kach) and even our names, Singh (lion or enlightened one) and Kaur (princess), were bestowed by our Guru to break the bonds of the material world and link us in perpetually service to God.
Each year the story of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s calling for heads of devotees who had assembled by the thousands, is told. And each year the 5 who answered his divine call and stood ready to sacrifice themselves to defend goodness and justice in the world, are modeled by 5 devotees who carry not only the tradition today but who exemplify the virtues conveyed.
The Khanda (double edge sword of Truth) is passed to each member one by one. As they mix, back and forth, they recite their assigned prayer, one of the basic 5 Sikh daily prayers, Japji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Swayai Sahib, Chaupai Sahib, and Anand Sahib, infusing the mixture with the Power of God’s Holy Word.
Those seeking baptism into Khalsa will receive – 5 drops flicked in their eyes – 5 drops in their hair, and finally all inductees will drink from the common iron bowl in which it was mixed to demonstrate their common bond as one body – no caste – no difference, men and women alike, they have become one family before God.