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Punjab all set for upcoming Vaisakhi festival
Preparations are in full swing in Punjab by Sikh community to celebrate Vaisakhi festival with traditional enthusiasm and fervour. Many Sikhs have gone on a visit to Gurudwaras in Pakistan on the occasion of Vaisakhi.

A delegation of thousands of Sikh pilgrims has already reached Lahore via Wagah Border to celebrate this year?s Vaisakhi Festival in various Gurudwaras in Pakistan, reported the local media. It is said that a special train transport has been provided to the Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Sucha Sauda Sahib in Pakistan.

On April 14 this year, the Sikhs and Punjabi speaking non-Sikhs, all over the world, are celebrating Vishakhi as a festival to mark the foundation day of Khalsa Panth and as a harvest festival in some north Indian states. The festival is celebrated with great gusto in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal as an occasion of merry making, fairs, processions, wrestling bouts, dancing, singing, drum beating, Akhand Path, wearing new garments and worshiping.

For the Sikhs, Vaisakhi is a very important festival since it marks the start of the New Year in the Nanakshahi solar calendar and establishment of the Sikh religious faith. It was in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, who formed the 'Khalsa,? the 'Pure Ones' to fight against tyranny and oppression of Mughal rulers of Delhi against the Hindus and other non-Muslims. Vaisakhi is also a reminder of the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib, who was publicly beheaded by the Mughal ruler Aurungzeb.

On Vaisakhi, Guru Gobind Rai Sahib became Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and asked his followers to have 'Singh' as their surname. Moreover, on the day Vaisakhi, the tradition of Gurus was discontinued with Guru Granth Sahib as the Eternal Guide or Guru for the Sikhs. Many Sikhs choose to be baptized on Vaisakhi. To mark the celebrations, Sikh devotees generally attend the Gurdwara before dawn to begin the day. In many cities of Punjab, the processions called Nagar Kirtan are held with singing of hymns from the sacred book of worship of the Sikhs known as Guru Granth Sahib.

More recently, this festival is also celebrated around the world by Sikh diaspora to highlight the humanistic aspect of Sikh religion by going selfless service or seva on this day. In the UK, the Vaisakhi celebrations for Sikh New Year in London?s Trafalgar Square are a much watched affair. In the US, Vancouver's Vaisakhi walk as a cultural exercise is an event worth watching through which the Sikh tenet of universal brotherhood is advocated. In Malaysia, the followers of Sikhism are given a day off on Vaisakhi Day and 'open houses' are also held across the country for the celebration of festival.

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