harbinder singh sethi

Sikh New Year, Gurudwara Sahib Johannesburg

The previous week of the 03rd April, Sunday, in association with the United Punjab of South Africa and their generous supporters State Bank of India, Jet Airways, Sharma Group and many others, the Vaisakhi Mela Festival was hosted and the footprint of Sikhism in Africa was acknowledged in the community with about 8000 Gauteng residents present to support the Vaisakhi Mela.
Click here to read more about the festival as reported by the national print media edition of the Sunday Times Extra on the TIMESLIVE website, click here

The Sikh New Year, 10 April 2011
The Sikh New Year Festival, which also commemmorates the founding of the Khalsa by the tenth Guru (Guru Gobind Singh) in 1699. Also spelled Baisakhi.  This auspicious ceremony in South Africa’s Gurudwara Sahib of Johannesburg started on the 8th of April culminating to the 10th of April where the members of the Sikh community of Gauteng came together in unity to ring in the phase of their New Year.

The Gurudwara Sahib of Johannesburg was abuzz with activity as the community were steadfast in prayer and daily activities that you would find at any place of worship. Dignitaries at the Sikh Temple included the Indian High Commissioner’s wife Mrs Veena Gupta who rendered her beautiful voice in praise of WaheGuruji in Kirtans she sang.

A diverse audience of visitors from the Gauteng Community were present on the day to observe the day’s proceedings. Members of the Media were also present including, Spirit Sundae’s Ashvini who spent the entire day at the Temple shooting the event.

ICCR South AfricaDirector of the ICCR, Mr Vinod Sandlesh was also present as a guest at the event who supported the previous week’s Vaisakhi Mela which was hosted at the George Lea Park in Sandton.

The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) helps formulate and implement policies pertaining to India’s external cultural relations, to foster mutual understanding between India and other countries and to promote cultural exchanges with other individuals around the world.

Children and adults of Sikh background performed Kirtans in praise of WaheGuru at the Gurudwara Sahib of Johannesburg. This show of skill and talent of the younger generation of Sikhs entrenched the ideals and values and belief in the current Temple members that the efforts placed into the Temple in Johannesburg, which also celebrated its 5th anniversary will continue with the generation of children who are being taught the value of Sikhism which clearly was a proud moment for their elders. 

The cleansing of Nishan Sahib

Harbinder Singh Sethi
Cleansing of Nishan Sahib at the turn of the Sikh New Year

The Sikh flag is a saffron-coloured triangular-shaped cloth, usually reinforced in the middle with Sikh insignia in blue. It is usually mounted on a long steel pole (which is also covered with saffron-coloured cloth) headed with a Khanda. The Sikh flag is often seen near the entrance to the Gurdwara, standing firmly on the platform, overlooking the whole building. Sikhs show great respect to their flag as it is, indeed, the symbol of the freedom of the Khalsa.  Nishan Sahib is a triangular shaped Kesri (Dark Yellow or blue) coloured cloth with or inscribed on it in the middle hoisted on a pole below a steel Khanda.


It is said words “Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh” in Punjabi script (Victory of God) was inscribed on the Nishan Sahib of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. During Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s times words “Akal Sahai” in Punjabi script were unscribed on the Nishan Sahib. During times Sikh Misals, “Nishan Walia” Misal used to provide Sikhs for carrying Nishan Sahib to all the Misals during battles. Nishan Sahib on Pole of suitable height is hoisted on all Gurdwaras. This indicates the location of the Gurdwara.

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Nishan Sahib is pride of the Sikhs. Once hoisted, it is never done half-mast. Nishan Sahib, along with cover for its pole, is changed every year, or when needed, doing Shabad-Kirtan (Singing of Hymns), Ardas (Invocation), shouting Jaikaras (slogans), distribution of Parshad (sanctified sweet pudding), and rejoicing. At places (Gurdwara Hemkunt and others), the steel pole is lowered, washed with diluted milk, and cleaned before putting on the new cover cum flag. The change is generally made on the Baisakhi (13 April), birthday of the Khalsa. On this day (Baisakhi of 1699 AD), Guru Gobind Singh initiated the people into the Sikh faith by a special ceremony (giving Amrit – a holy drink), for the first time.

See below the ritual carried out by the Punjab community here in South Africa at the Gurudwara Sahib of Johannesburg yesterday.

Related Articles : Vaisakhi Mela, a taste of Punjab in Sandton click here

About Naufal Khan

Naufal Khan was the Publisher at ADISHAKTI MEDIA and the editor-in-chief of the South African Indian news service Indian Spice. Khan was former Sunday Times journalist and also an occult fiction and non-fiction writer with several published titles.