Sikh festivals are occasions for Sikhs to rededicate themselves to the Faith. Even martyrdoms and death anniversaries of the Gurus are festivals to inspire the faithful and remind them of their history and the value of sacrifice for a good cause. People of various faiths are invited to these celebrations to give them a view of the Sikh faith and way of life.
Baisakhi is a New Year Festival in the Sikh calendar. Khalsa was created by Guru Gobind Singh Ji on this day by performing the Amrit ceremony in 1699. Traditionally, on this day which usually falls on 13th April, ‘Nishan Sahib’, the Sikh Flag, is replaced by a new one. A service in the open compound is held, led by ‘Panj Pyara’. The Flag post is taken down and ‘Chola’, the flag cloth, is removed and the flag post is cleaned and washed. It is covered with a new ‘Chola’ and re-hoisted. The ceremony is completed by an Ardas. Amrit ceremony is performed at most places for those ready to take Amrit. In addition the Sikh men, women and children take part in ‘Sewa’ in Langar which stays open throughout the three days for the worshipers.
Diwali means the Festival of Lights. The Sikhs celebrate Diwali because Guru Hargobind reached Amritsar on Diwali day after his release from Gwalior jail. He had also got 52 princes freed from prison. That is why this festival is very important for the residents of Amritsar. The Golden Tempe complex is illuminated and wonderful displays of fireworks are held. Priceless historic treasures and weapons used by the Gurus are put on display..
The Indian festival of lights held around October 25th. Guru Amar Das institutionalized this as one of the special days when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings at Goindwal. In 1577 the foundation stone of The Golden Temple was laid on Diwali. On Diwali 1619 the Golden Temple was illuminated with many lights to welcome home and celebrate the release of Guru Hargobind from imprisonment in Gwalior fort. Sikhs have continued this annual celebration with lamps being lit outside gurdwaras and sweets distributed to all. The largest gathering happens at The Golden Temple which is lit up with thousands of lights.
It was started by Guru Gobind Singh as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the Indian festival of Holi. The mock battles were followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singh’s carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. There are also a number of durbars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. The festival culminates in a large parade headed by the Nishan Sahibs of the gurdwaras in the region. Hola Mohalla is held around March 17.