BAISAKHI AMID PANDEMIC

Festivals are not only the personal, family, and social occasions of fun and merriment for us, but also occasions for prayer and worship for self realization, peace, prosperity and harmony among all the communities. However, this year the festivities yet again stand impacted by the second wave of COVID-19 onslaught and the consequent restrictions, night curfews, etc. As we celebrate this year’s Baisakhi and the first Navaratri on Tuesday, there is a need to realize that while celebrating this sacred day with full enthusiasm and religious fervour, we must pray for getting quick rid of the corona virus from the globe besides paying homage to those having lost the battle against the deadly disease for which the vaccination campaigns are in full swing across the nation. Moreover, let’s pay tribute to those frontline health and sanitation personnel, as well as the police personnel working 24X7 in this battle against the deadly COVID-19. It is pertinent to mention here that celebration of Baisakhi is not of utmost significance to Hindus only but to the people at large irrespective of their religious affiliations. Like other festivals Baisakhi also holds special significance for Indians as the nation has a multi-religious composition and every festival finds participation of people belonging to all communities upholding the ages old secular ethos in this region. While Baisakhi is considered to be the festival of farmers in North India marking the beginning of the harvesting season, at the same time it is very sacred for the Sikh community as it was on this day that the foundation of Khalsa was laid by Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Khalsa is considered to be the saviour of the Hindus who were at the receiving end at the hands of some fanatic Muslim rulers who had come to India from outside. In view of this background while the people in general celebrate this festival with utmost fun and fanfare at the same time there are people who with utmost sanctity on this day reiterate their commitment to emulate and follow the teachings of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji who showed the path towards transforming into pure human beings by cleansing our minds and purifying the hearts to make this world a peaceful place to live. Today, when the whole world is fighting war against second wave of COVID-19 besides the already going on bloodshed and mayhem in the name of religion perpetrated by hate mongers and religious misinterpreters to fulfil their vested interests, it is high time for every Indian to realize and understand that every religion teaches the people to lead an extremely pure and simple life devoid of rigidities. It is necessary to recall Guru Ji’s words while laying foundation of the Khalsa, “From now on, you have become casteless. No ritual, either Hindu or Muslim, will you perform nor will you believe in superstition of any kind, but only in one God who is the master and protector of all, the only creator and destroyer. In your new order, the lowest will rank with the highest and each will be to the other a Bhai (brother). No pilgrimages for you any more, nor austerities but the pure life of the household, which you should be ready to sacrifice at the call of Dharma. Women shall be equal of men in every way. No purdah (veil) for them anymore, nor the burning alive of a widow on the pyre of her spouse (sati). He who kills his daughter, the Khalsa shall not deal with him.” These words unambiguously indicate the vision of this great Guru who transformed the people as per the need of time. Even today we find the Indian society being afflicted with the most dangerous social evils like casteism and gender discrimination which were outrightly discarded by Guru Ji. So on this Baisakhi let us all amidst the sombre celebration sans fun and merriment with Bhangra beats, take the pledge to follow the path of love, peace and mercy besides conducting ourselves for the good of the society and the mankind at large as taught by Guru Gobind Singh Ji in order to wipe out hatred, strife, violence and polarization. As of today let’s all perform our sacrosanct duty of following all SOPs besides getting ourselves vaccinated which is the only way to defeat the Corona Virus onslaught that is posing a great challenge to the nation today.