The birth of the Khalsa (from the Arabic khalis, meaning “pure”) by Guru Gobind Singh is a pivotal event in the psyche and imagination of the Sikhs. During the Baisakhi festivities of 1699 the guru and his wife prepared amrit, and five men from different castes sipped it from the same bowl. Their drink purified them of all mental defilements. Ending centuries of hereditary oppressions of caste, class and profession, the five were born into the egalitarian family of the Khalsa. Over time “Khalsa” and “Sikh” have become synonymous terms, and even though only a minority of Sikhs are formally initiated into the Khalsa order, all Sikh men and women trace their personality, name, religious rites, and prayers—what they do, what they wear, how they identify themselves—to this liberating Baisakhi of 1699.