This is one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar and celebrates the Sikh New Year and the founding of the Khalsa. The story of the Khalsa begins with Guru Teg Behadur who disagreed with many of the Hindu teachings and was publicly beheaded by the Mughal leaders.
His son, Gobind, became Guru and as he grew up he stressed that all Sikhs should be prepared to stand up for their beliefs. To test the Sikh community he chose the spring festival of Vaisakhi to transform the Sikhs into a family of soldier saints (the Khalsa Panth).
He held a sword and asked that anyone who was willing to give his life for his faith should step forward. A young Sikh did so and went into a tent with Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru returned from the tent alone and with blood on his sword. He repeated this four more times and finally came out of the tent followed by the five Sikhs who were alive and well. They were dressed in turbans and other symbols which have since become symbols of Sikh identity. The five were called Panj Piare, the Beloved Five. Their job was to seek justice for all people of all faiths.
The festival is marked with street processions where the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is carried in his honour and is led by five men traditionally dressed as Panj Piares. There are also religious ceremonies involving singing and chanting.
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