Baisakhi, or “Vaisakhi,” is one of the most important Sikh holidays. It is celebrated annually on April 14. Today, Baisakhi is usually celebrated with special Gurdwara programs, langar and “Nagar Kirtans” (parades featuring the north Indian martial art called Gatka). Amrit ceremonies for those who wish to take Amrit are also often offered by the Sangat on this date.
The original date was on Baisakhi Day, March 30th, 1699, in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India.
On this date, before a crowd of tens of thousands, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Sikh Guru, unsheathed His sword and gave a call for any Sikh in the assembled crowd to give their head to the Guru.
The Panj Piare (five beloved ones) were the five Sikhs in the whole crowd who gave their heads, and whom Guru Gobind Singh Ji then baptized in the first Amrit ceremony on Baisakhi Day. They were Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh, and Bhai Sahib Singh.
Each in turn was led into a tent at the rear of the stage after giving their head to the Guru, and Guru Gobind Singh returned to the front of the platform with blood on His sword before the crowd to demand another head.
The crowd was shocked when the five Sikhs who gave their heads emerged from the tent, dressed in beautiful bana and dazzling in spiritual radiance.
They were given “Amrit” to drink, sugar water stirred with the sword, to impart both courage and sweetness into their being. After their baptism, the Panj Piare were given the gifts of the five K’s and the title of “Khalsa,” the pure ones.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji then requested the Panj Piare to baptize Him. From that point forward, Guru Gobind Singh stated that wherever any five Sikhs of the Guru shall gather in Guru’s Name, they are the Panj Piare, and there the Guru shall be.
In the days that followed, tens of thousands of Sikhs were baptized. The brotherhood of the Khalsa was born.