April 14: Baisakhi

31st March 2006 at 01:00
This major Sikh festival commemorates the Sikh new year and founding of the Khalsa, "the community of the pure".

Outline script

In 1699, the 10th Sikh teacher and leader Guru Gobind Rai called all the Sikhs to meet him at a place called Anandpur. "By my sword," said Guru Gobind Rai, "I ask if there's one among you who will prove his faith by giving me his head? Who will offer up his life?"

There was a long silence. Eventually, a warrior Sikh from Lahore stepped forward. "My Guru and my lord. My humble head is yours, if so you wish it."

The Guru led him into the tent. From inside the tent, there came a dull thud. The Guru came out, his sword now dripping blood. "If there be another true Sikh, let him now offer me his head as proof of his faith."

This time a poor farmer from Delhi came forward. The Guru led him into the tent. Again a thud was heard. Again, the Guru reappeared with his sword dripping blood. Again he asked for the head of a Sikh. This time a washerman from Gujerat volunteered. He too was led into the tent; a thud was heard and the Guru re-appeared with his sword now bloodier than ever. A fourth and fifth Sikh stepped forward when the Guru asked for yet more men to offer up their lives to prove their faith.

After the fifth Sikh had entered the tent and a fifth thud had been heard, there was a longer silence and then Guru Gobind Rai came out of his tent, not with his sword but followed by the five Sikhs who had offered up their lives. All were now dressed like the Guru in yellow robes, tied with blue sashes and each was wearing a turban.

"These five have passed the test of faith," said the Guru, "and they shall be known as the Khalsa, the pure ones. They are soldier saints who will spread abroad the Sikh message of brotherhood and sisterhood."


Collect pictures (or organise a "catwalk" parade) of people wearing badges, uniforms or team "kit". Discuss their meanings, importance and sense of identity that they convey.

Re-enact or mime the story of the founding of the Khalsa.

Research Sikh rites of passage: www.bbc.co.ukschoolsreligionsikhism

Information about Baisakhi celebrations is at www.punjabilok.comheritagebaisakhi_fest.htm

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