Baisakhi or Vaishakhi which falls on April 13 is celebrated across northern India amongst Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists for various reasons. For one of the Hindu calendars, it’s the start of New Year and is celebrated as such. Buddhists consider it special because it commemorates the Birth, the Awakening and the Enlightened Passing Away of Buddha Gautama who was born as prince Siddharta. SIkhs celebrate this day because Guru Gobind Singh laid down the foundation of Khalsa Panth in 1699 on this day.
Sikh, Punjabi community in particular celebrates Baisakhi with much energy all over the world. In Delhi, it was celebrated in the form of Punjabi Mela 2013 at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) from April 12 to April 14th 2013. The agency which organised this event was Punjabi Academy ,Department of Art, Culture and Languages, Government of Delhi.
The event consisted of music concerts by eminent and very talented Punjabi singers Nooran sisters, Wadali Brothers, (12th April ) Satinder Sartaj, Parmjit Sidhu, (13th April ) Debi Maksoodpuri and Arif Loha (14th April). They entertained the audience with their electrifying performances for three days.
Apart from that, there were performances of Punjabi martial arts (Gatka), acrobats, dancers, traditional performers etc. Seeing performers jump through a small circle held 5 feet up in air and a man jumping over his head in a small square lined with sharp knives while being blindfolded and legs restrained by ropes was quite a thrill. Gatka performers, some of whom were less than 12 years old kids also put up a credible performances. They performed and fought mock fights using sticks, swords, gurj, chakra etc.
Traditional Punjabi dances, Bhangra and Giddha along with performance by Punjabi musicians were also much appreciated.
Punjabi culture and daily life was also showcased in the form of displays and market stalls displaying and selling articles of daily life in Punjab like Charkha, brass utensils, agricultural equipment, musical instruments, furniture. paintings and handicrafts etc. As everything was outdoors, there was no feeling of over crowding and claustrophobia that many people suffer in such places.
Food section had a big presence in the form of an outdoor kitchen by Beliram Degchiwala. They served a bit expensive but very good Punjabi food. Hot boiled milk with Jalebis, which is one of most popular Punjabi food item were also available. Outside of concert area, seating arrangements were in form of traditional moodhas made of cane and khaat made of coir rope and wood. It was a pretty nice touch and lent a feel of the original Punjabi household to the proceedings. A lot of people preferred to relax on khaats during the musical performances instead of sitting in chairs. Having a meal while sitting on a khaat and watching a live performance is a great experience.
Although the overall experience was great, the organisation itself could’ve been better. For starters, very few people knew of the event as there was very little publicity. Additionally passes, tickets were not easily available. A lot of people faced trouble because they couldn’t get the passes even after searching everywhere. Nobody picked up phone in Punjabi Kala Academy office and the sole official in the office simply washed his hands off the whole affair.
Some videos from the event: http://youtu.be/eULS9RC0vXo?t=1m25s
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