Today is Vaisakhi, the beginning of the Sikh New Year, and the harvest festival of Punjab.

The festival usually falls on April 13 or 14 every year, on the first day of the Indian month Vaisakha, also known as Vaisakh in the Hindu calendar, where it is the first month of the year.

So what is the history behind Vaisakhi, you may ask.

In addition to denoting the New Year and harvest festival, Vaisakhi also marks the formation of Khalsa Panth - a group of five Sikh warriors who fought for religious freedom during the rule of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, under the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, in 1699.

The Khalsa Panth, also dubbed as the 'Panj Piare (Five Beloved)' was formed after the execution of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Teg Bahadur Singh, by Aurangzeb, after the former refused to follow his orders to convert.

Vaisakhi is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, as well as by Sikhs around the world.

The festival is commonly celebrated with processions called nagar kirtan (neighbourhood/town hymn singing) led by five Sikhs dressed in yellow and orange, to represent the Panj Piare.

Celebrants will also visit Gurdwaras, which will be especially decorated for the occasion.

In addition, Punjabi farmers also use Vaisakhi as an opportunity to offer gratitude for a plentiful harvest, as well as pray for a good one in the coming year.

Astro Ulagam wishes all Malaysians, especially the Punjabis, a very Happy Vaisakhi!

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