THE SIKH HARVEST FESTIVAL
IN THE PUNJAB ELECTION CAMPAIGN
Photography by Nirvair Singh
Election day for the Lok Sabha is approaching in Punjab. Traditionally, Punjab has been the stronghold of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD, a Sikhism-centric political party), with Congress breaking their string of victories on a few occasions. This time around however, there is another party, which is the joker in the pack. The presence of AAP in Punjab, as in many other states in India, may just upset the apple cart of the age old politicos from SAD and Congress.
In the near vicinity is Dam Dama Sahib, which is one of the five religious seats of the Sikhs. Situated 30km from Bathinda in the south western Punjab, Dam Dama Sahib is the venue of Baisakhi, the traditional harvest festival of Punjab. Farmers from all over Punjab begin reaching Dam Dama Sahib a week in advance, setting up their tents and community kitchens. Simultaneously, merry-go-round carousels, circus tents and other entertainment stalls also journey to this site, giving this festival the look of a huge mela or fair. Nihangs, the traditional Sikh warriors attired in their saffron and blue robes impart a characteristic cultural flavour to the festivities.