Baisakhi in Kashmir was on Thursday celebrated with austerity in the wake of recent civilian killings during the by-poll day of April 9.
In his Baisakhi message, chairman All Party Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina, said the Sikh community of Kashmir shares the pain of Muslim brethren of Kashmir.
Though the Gurduwaras were decorated but the celebrations remained limited to offering of special prayers. Mughal gardens unlike past witnessed comparatively lesser rush of visitors. No crackers were also fired on this Baisakhi.
"We had unanimously decided to celebrate the Baisakhi festival with austerity in the wake of civilian killings on April 9. Sikh community shares the pain of Kashmiri Muslims. We offered special prayers but there were no celebrations. The festival was celebrated with utmost austerity," Raina said.
Raina said that senior separatist leaders had conveyed Sikh community that strike call was limited to re-poll areas in view of the Baisakhi.
"Hurriyat leaders told us that shutdown call was scheduled to be extended to entire Kashmir on re-poll day (April 13). However, they had decided to limit the strike only in re-poll areas in view of Baisakhi so that Sikh community can celebrate the festival," he said.
However, he said that Sikh community condemned the decision of authorities to hold re-poll in 38 polling stations of Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency on April 13, the day on which festival falls. "Authorities must have respected the Sikh community. Around 7000 Sikhs are inhabitants of areas where the re-poll was held today," Raina said.
Sikhs visited Gurdwaras today where langars or community feasts were arranged as part of charity on the day. They participated in the special prayer meets marked for the day. After a special ardas of kirtans and discourses, kada prasad were distributed amongst all those present.
The main function was held at Chattipadshahi, Rainawari, here.
Later people sat in rows to relish the langar or community lunch prepared and served by kar sevaks or volunteers. Baisakhi festival is celebrated as the Sikh New Year and the founding day of the Khalsa Panth.
People also exchanged greetings with friends, neighbors and relatives. Various reputed social activists from Muslim community visited the Sikh leaders and felicitated them on the occasion. They exchanged sweets on the event.
In north Kashmir, devotees from Sikh community visited the Gurudawara Chatti Padshahi in Baramulla, Khawaja Bagh and Paranpila in Uri. The markets in the area remained crowded with shoppers throughout the day.
In South Kashmir, Baisakhi was celebrated at many places. People kept pouring in at Gurudawaras at Mattan, Singhpora and Hutmora.