Mohali, Punjab: Unseasonal rains this year have dampened the spirits of Punjab farmers celebrating Baisakhi. As opposed to a heap of wheat crop – enough to run a community kitchen for months – this year the farmers are offering a more humble quantity of their produce, hitting hard a centuries old tradition.
Many are yet to even make an offering at the local gurudwara in Rampur village, Mohali.
Village head Karnail Singh says, “It is our tradition to offer a part of our harvest at the gurudwara, but this year we are absolutely helpless. Our crop has been destroyed and whatever is left is not ready yet.”
This year the celebration is less of pomp and more of prayers, with farmers hoping to save whatever little crop has survived the unseasonal rains and hailstorms.
Farmers say they are not very optimistic of receiving compensation from the government. Another farmer Karan Singh told NDTV, “The Patwari (village revenue officer) has not even turned up for crop damage inspection. I have no hopes of getting any help from the government.”
Guru Gobind Singh had founded the Khalsa sect on Baisakhi day at Anandpur Sahib. Every year on Baisakhi, farmers from all over the state visit the sacred Anandpur Sahib gurudwara seek blessings for a rich harvest.
But this year, many won’t be able to take the 183 km journey from Amritsar to Anandpur Sahib.
Balbir Singh, a farmer from Majitha in Amritsar, says “We used to visit Anandpur Sahib every Baisakhi, but this year I don’t have the money to pay for the journey. Everyone is sad over this.”
The state government estimates around 3 lakh acres of crop have been affected across Punjab. The Badal government has sought Rs. 717 crores in relief from the centre.
Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal has said that his government is hopeful that Center will disburse compensation soon. He has also appealed to the union government to implement crop insurance scheme at the earliest.