Vaisakhi is celebrated as the founding of the Khalsa Panth for Sikhs. The Khalsa Panth goes back to March 30, 1699. During those times, the Mughal rulers saw Sikhs as a threat to their desire to forcibly subject their religion and beliefs onto all Indians. Their fear steamed from the martyrdom Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Sikh Guru, who freely sacrificed his life for the cause of ‘Dharma’—the truth, tolerance, and betterment of all humanity.
The 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Rai, wished to instill the courage of self-sacrifice in all Sikhs and turn them into a family of Saint Soldiers that would forever stand against religious intolerance and fight tyranny and oppression everywhere so that all men, women, and children may live in peace and at their own will.
And so, during the Vaisakhi festival on March 30th, 1699 Guru Gobind Rai called on all Sikhs to assemble together. During this historic event, Guru Gobind Rai delivered a powerful speech to the thousands in attendance and, carrying a sword, asked, “Is there anyone here who would lay down his life for Dharam?”
The first volunteer to offer his head was Bhai Daya Ram, a shoekeeper, who the Guru took into his tent and then the Guru emerged alone with a red stained sword. Soon after, four more Sikhs would offer their heads and after the 5th volunteer, the Guru emerged with all five dressed piously in blue. These five Sikhs were baptized in the Pahul ceremony, forever being known as the Panj Pyare, the Five Beloved Ones, and knighted as “Singhs”.
Guru Gobind Rai, in an act of great humility, knelt before the Panj Pyare and asked them to baptize him as well and became Guru Gobind Singh. Thousands in attendance, regardless of caste or social status, entered the Khalsa Panth (collective body of Sikhs) as equals and thus is the reason Sikh men and women take the last name of Singh (Lion) and Kaur (Princess), to remind them that we are all equals and that no discrimination should ever be done between us. (Artwork by @artofpunjab
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