Vaisakhi

Vaisakhi celebrates the founding of the Khalsa. Tradition holds that there were five Sikhs who answered the call to give their lives to the Guru when he created the new community and they are known as the Panj Pyare (Five Beloved). Each of the five exemplified an important trait that the Guru wanted to imbue in the Khalsa. Vaisakhi is the first day of the month of Baisakh in the Mool Nanakshahi calendar and always falls on April 14th. The first letter is pronounced with a V or a B depending on the area of Punjab the speaker comes from. We've chosen to spell the holiday with a V (Vaisakhi) and the month with a B (Baisakh) to help you distinguish between the two. Vaisakhi is typically celebrated with a Nagar Kirtan, Gatka Competitions, Vaisakhi Melas, and other festivities. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown this year, we're sharing an activity my husband and I created a few years ago to celebrate this holiday at home with your children.

Create an Air of Celebration:

 

Vaisakhi is arguably the biggest holiday in Sikhism. To create an air of celebration in my home, I decorate the entire house with flowers during the week leading up to April 14th. Each arrangement has 5 flowers to represent each of the Panj Pyare. I used jars, vases, and just about anything that could hold water. I placed flowers in each room including my children's bedrooms to create that special feeling of celebration.

Activity:

Panj Pyare, Panj Gun (Five Beloved, Five Virtues)

This activity teaches your children the names of the Panj Pyare along with the meaning of their names and how that can relate to their own lives. As with any activity on this website, its meant to teach a lesson about virtues. If they don't enjoy the activity or they aren't learning anything, don't do it. The last thing you want to do is create an empty ritual for your children.

 

Materials:

  • 1 glass jar with lid for each child

  • 1 paint brush for each child (optional)

  • 1 paper plate for each child (optional)

  • Navy Blue and Yellow Acrylic Enamel paint (optional)

  • 5 Disposable Plastic Cups

  • 1 Marker

  • Ice

  • 1 straw for each child

  • 4 different juices or sodas (that taste good when mixed together)

  • Blue and Yellow fresh cut flowers

  • Heart shaped candies (optional)

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Instructions:

 

This activity occurs on two separate days about a week apart because of the drying time necessary for the paint.

 

About One Week Before Vaisakhi (Optional)

  1. Before starting, wash the glass jars with warm soapy water, rinse, dry, and then wipe down the outside with rubbing alcohol

  2. Give each of your children 1 glass jar, 1 paint brush, and 1 paper plate

  3. Squeeze out some blue and yellow paint on each of their paper plates

  4. With the jar lid on tight, ask each of your children to paint their names and some designs on the outside of their jar. As they're painting explain to them that the colors they are using are called Basanti and Surmai, the traditional colors associated with the Khalsa. Basanti is Xanthic/Yellow and Surmai is Navy Blue. Remind them that there is no such thing as a holy color, these are just traditions.

  5. Once they are done painting, place the jars in a safe place to dry. It takes about 2 or 3 days for the paint to dry.

  6. After they are dry place the jars in a cool oven, turn the heat to 350F, and bake for 30 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let them to cool gradually

On Vaisakhi (April 14)

 

 

 

PREPARATION

  1. If your kids painted their jars, wash them thoroughly as your kids will be drinking out of them. If you used Acrylic Enamel paint it should be fully dry after you baked them so you don't have to worry about it washing off.

  2. Using the marker and 5 plastic cups, write the name of a Panj Pyare on each of the cups. On the opposite side of each cup, write the English translation of what his name means:

    1. Daya Singh = Compassion

    2. Dharam Singh = Righteousness

    3. Himmat Singh = Courage

    4. Mokham Singh = Determination

    5. Sahib Singh = Master                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

  3. Fill the cups of Daya Singh, Dharam Singh, Himmat Singh, and Mokham Singh 1/4 of the way with juice or soda. If you're using different juices or sodas in each cup, do a test and mix them together beforehand to make sure the mixture tastes good. I've used Sprite, Cherry Coke, Orange Fanta, and Strawberry Fanta when I did this. Never call the liquids or the mixture "Amrit" as that will confuse your kids and be a mockery of the Sikh baptismal rites.

  4. Leave the Sahib Singh cup empty

  5. Fill each child's jar with ice and put a straw in it

  6. On a table, place each child's jar prefilled with ice and a straw on the side where they will sit

  7. On the other side of the table (where you will sit), place the 5 cups representing each of the Panj Pyare in front of yourself with the name side (eg. Daya Singh) facing your kids and the English translation (eg. Compassion) facing you.

​​ACTIVITY

  1. Explain the story of Vaisakhi in a simple way that a child could grasp. Here's an example..."Long time ago the tenth Guru created the Khalsa to bring freedom and justice to the world. These are the names of the first five people who joined the Khalsa, we call them the Panj Pyare, which means Five Beloved. Each of the Pyare had a different quality that together made them strong and just"

  2. Push the Daya Singh cup to the middle of the table and explain the significance of his name..."The first person to stand up and join the Khalsa was given the name Bhai Daya Singh, Daya means Compassion. (Turn the cup around to show the English translation) Compassion is important because without it, you won't care for the suffering of others. Everything starts with compassion and when you have that, you will have the second Pyara"

  3. Push the Dharam Singh cup to the middle of the table and explain the significance of his name..."The second person to stand up and join the Khalsa was given the name Bhai Dharam Singh, Dharam means Righteousness or the 'just order of the world'. (Turn the cup around to show the English translation) Righteousness is important because without it, the moral compass of a person can be swayed. When Compassion and Righteousness come together, you will have the third Pyara"

  4. Push the Himmat Singh cup to the middle of the table and explain the significance of his name..."The third person to stand up and join the Khalsa was given the name Bhai Himmat Singh, Himmat means Courage. (Turn the cup around to show the English translation) Courage is important because doing the right thing is often risky to your freedom, your livelihood, or your life. When Compassion, Righteousness, and Courage come together, you will have the fourth Pyara"

  5. Push the Mokham Singh cup to the middle of the table and explain the significance of his name..."The fourth person to stand up and join the Khalsa was given the name Bhai Mokham Singh, Mokham means Determination. (Turn the cup around to show the English translation) Determination is important because without it, you will give up when things get hard. When Compassion, Righteousness, Courage, and Determination come together, you will have the fifth Pyara"

  6. Push the Sahib Singh cup to the middle of the table and explain the significance of his name..."The fifth person to stand up and join the Khalsa was given the name Bhai Sahib Singh, Sahib means Master"

  7. Turn the cup around to show the English translation

  8. Now take all four cups that have liquid in them and pour them one at a time into the Sahib Singh cup and as you're doing so explain the significance of mixing the first four cups into the fifth..."When Compassion, Righteousness, Courage, and Determination come together, you will be a just leader and able to stand up to powerful people"                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

  9. Stir the mixture with a spoon if you used different flavored liquids. Do not stir with a knife or other sharp object as that would be a mockery of the Sikh baptismal rites

  10. Pour equal amounts of the mixture into each child's jar and let them drink it

  11. After they're done drinking it wash out their jars and fill them halfway with water

  12. Place blue and yellow cut flowers in each jar for display in your home as long as they stay fresh or to end of the month of Baisakh. (The month of Baisakh runs from April 14th to May 14th)

​You'll know when your children have outgrown this activity and at that point you can save the last set of jars they painted and bring them out every spring to serve as flower vases during the month of Baisakh. A yearly reminder of the time when they were your little pyare.

CANDY TWIST (OPTIONAL)

If your kids already know the meaning of the Panj Pyare's names or this is the second time doing this activity, you can ask them what the name of each Pyara means before turning the cup around. If any child remembers correctly without seeing the English translation, give each child a heart shaped candy.