The Baisakhi celebration at the Indian Embassy Residence once again was a colorful, vibrant, and ebullient event highlighting the rich culture of northern India, primarily the state of Punjab.
But this year’s celebrations were marked by 19th-century Sikh artifacts which were exhibited for the first time at the event. Comprised of musical instruments, drawings, silk embroideries, and paintings these historic artifacts were the highlight of the exhibit.
More than twenty pieces were borrowed from the Smithsonian Museum, where they were earlier exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Some of them were from the private collection of Parwinder Singh Khanuja of Phoenix, Arizona.
The artifacts included 19th-century portraits of Sikh gurus in ink and color on paper, embroidered ten gurus with Guru Nanak’s sons and Guru Granth Sahib, block printed gold colored motifs, others. The musical instruments included sarangi, tumbi, rubab, eiktara, tabla, stringed instruments, and some shields and swords.
Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla, welcoming the guests, said Baisakhi was a very special occasion for all Indians. The ambassador said that as Baisakhi was a cultural harvest festival, and that it was not only limited to Punjab or to the Sikh community. “It is celebrated in different and ways all over the country and often known by other, different names,” Shringla added.
The Ambassador said for Punjab, Baisakhi was a very significant day since it marked the birth of the Khalsa, created by the tenth Guru Gobind Singh, who brought people from all walks of life together.
During the cultural program, which included, dances (bhangra and gidda) and the art of fencing and songs, the whole neighborhood reverberated with the exhilarating sound of the dholak and bhangra beat along with the stimulating smell of Sarson ka Saag, Makki ki Roti and jalebi which were freshly prepared on the premises. Mother nature too played its part with a bright sun shining above the lush green and spacious surroundings.
More than 200 prominent Indian American men and women, including many Sikh-Americans, participated in the celebration. The two-and-a-half-hour program started with a traditional shabd kirtan presented by the Sikh Foundation of Virginia.