Vaisakhi is a Punjabi spring harvest festival which falls in mid-April, signifying the start of the new year in the Punjabi calendar. While it has importance for Hindus and some Muslims, it is a major event for Sikhs, who celebrate the formation of a holy body of devotees on this day.
In 2015, Vaisakhi fell on April 14, and I happened to be passing the most sacred of Sikh sites, Amritsar’s Golden Temple, at the time. The temple was decked out with thousands of lights, shimmering splendid in the surrounding amrit sarovar (“pool of nectar”).
Thousands of devotees were sleeping in the temple’s recesses, while more still were stretched out in the courtyard outside the complex. It was 1am. I had visited several times before and seen it buzzing with humanity; to be surrounded with that same humanity, but strangely silent, was an almost other-worldly experience.