Far away from their homeland, it is the festivals that bring the Indians together and connect them with their culture and traditions.

It wasn’t long before when we welcomed the new year, and now it is already April. It is the time to celebrate one of the most famous festivals of North Indian and, more specifically, Punjab—Vaisakhi, also called Baisakhi.

This festival rejuvenates the desi communities, bringing to life a scene from the real Punjab, the old Punjab.

For many years, Vaisakhi has been the time when farmers get ready to celebrate a new year after putting their sickles to the harvest.

With upgrading technology every day, the sickles have now been replaced by the modern automated machinery while the farmers are replaced by the outsourced migrant workers. The celebrations have also seen a downfall in the cities and town, but it is celebrated with the same vigour and fanfare in the villages.

Vaisakhi has a great significance for the Sikhs. This was the day when the Sikh religion was founded by the tenth guru of Sikhs—Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

It is a vital part of the social and religious customs of Punjabis settles in various regions of the world. With the community in different countries celebrating the festival in their own way, the celebrations have evolved over the years becoming more modernised.

In the United States, there are parades through the streets followed by the religious gatherings at the gurudwaras. New York, New Jersey, Chicago, San Jose, Plano, Las Vegas—large number of cities throughout America host the Punjabi Mela to mark the festival.

Canada is one of the countries with the largest Punjabi population. The local Sikh and Punjabi communities in cities such as Vancouver, Surrey, Brampton and Montreal hold the annual Vaisakhi celebrations in mid-April. The city parades, gurudwara ceremonies, cultural shows, and dance and sports competition give a healthy dose of desi masala, tradition and culture.

Similarly, in other parts of the world the festival is marked by religious events in gurudwaras. The entertainment side of the festival mostly takes place during one of the weekends of April as it allows people working on weekdays to join the celebration.

Vaisakhi in New Zealand

The Punjabi diaspora in New Zealand, just like around the world, also celebrates the festival with much fervour. As the festival has both religious and cultural connection to it, people celebrate it in different ways to lift up their spirits.

Recognising the contribution of the Punjabi community in New Zealand, the Parliament celebrated the festival in the parliament building in 2016 for the first time ever. This was seen as a huge acknowledgement of the work that community does for the country.

This year too, the festival will be celebrated in the Beehive on Wednesday, April 19, which will include cultural performance that will display not only the traditions from northern states of India but also from across the country. This harvest festival is celebrated with various names in different states of India, and this year’s celebration at the parliament will showcase these various cultures.

Apart from the celebrations in the Parliament, various gurudwaras across New Zealand will hold religious events on the weekends of April 8-9 and 15-16.

Gurudwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib in Otahuhu will lead their 22nd nagar kirtan or street procession on Saturday, April 8, starting from the gurudwara till Otahuhu Shopping Centre. The parade will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will reach back to Gurudwara by 3 p.m.

On Sunday, April 9, the Otahuhu gurudwara will host a samagam, paath and kirtan by renowned paathi Singh Sahib Maan Singh and kirtani jathaa from Golden Temple, Amritsar and Bhai Harnaam Singh Srinagar Waale. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to noon.

A similar function will be held at the gurudwara in Takanini on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.