What is Vaisakhi?

Vaisakhi, also spelt Baisakhi, celebrates the founding of the Sikh community. It is celebrated on April 14th each year.

On 14th April 1699 group Gobind Singh summoned Sikhs from all around the world. When they were gathered together, he asked who amongst them would be prepared to give his life for his faith.

One man stepped forward and Guru Gobind Singh took him into a tent and then reappeared shortly after with a blood covered sword. The Guru repeated the question and another man stepped forward. Again he was taken into a tent and again the Guru reappeared with a blood covered sword. Three more times the question was asked and three more times a volunteer stepped forward to be taken into the tent.

After the fifth time, all five of the men stepped out of the tent. Guru Gobind Singh called them the five beloved ones and they became the first Sikh community, known as the Khalsa. He presented each of them with the 5Ks as symbols of their purity and courage, and he announced that from then on all men would be given the name Singh (meaning lion) to represent courage, and all women would be given the name Kaur (meaning princess) to represent dignity.

Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, or greater Eid, is celebrated on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijah, the 12 month of the Islamic calendar. This year this will be around 10th-11th September, depending on the sighting of the new moon.

Also known as the feast of the sacrifice, it should not be confused with Eid al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast. Eid al-Adha celebrates the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

The story tells how Allah appeared to Ibrahim in a dream and asked him to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, as a sign of his obedience. Just as Ibrahim was about to perform the sacrifice, Allah stopped him and gave him a lamb to slaughter instead. The same story is recounted by Jews and Christians who tell of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Isaac.

Many Muslims sacrifice a sheep or goat for this festival and the meat is shared equally between family, friends and the poor. Anyone in the UK who chooses to do this makes an arrangement for the sacrifice to be carried out in a slaughterhouse.

As with many Muslim festivals, the day starts with prayers at the mosque before the rest of the celebrations – getting together with family and friends and exchanging gifts – begin

Eid Mubarak