Indian Festivals

Guru Nanak Jayanti


The religion of Sikhism preaches that there is one God but that he is formless. That is why the Sikhs do not worship idols. The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurabs, are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs. Guru Nanak Dev Ji (the First Nanak, the founder of Sikhism) was born on 20th October, 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now Nanakana Sahib. The Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib falls on Kartik Puranmashi i.e. full moon day of the month Kartik. In the Gregorian Calendar, the birthday of Guru Nanak usually comes in the month of November, but its date varies from year to year, based on the traditional dates of the Indian Calendar.


Guru Nanak Jayanti activities


The celebration is generally similar for all Gurpurabs; only the hymns are different. The birthday celebration usually lasts three days. Generally two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurdwaras.

The day prior to the birthday, a procession is organised which is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones). They head the procession carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns, brass bands playing different tunes, 'Gatka' teams (Martial Arts) display their swordmanship, and devotees sing the chorus. The procession pours into the streets of the town which are covered with buntings and decorated gates for this special occasion. The leaders also spread the message of Guru Nanak.

On the day of the Gurpurab, the day begins early in the morning with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns) and hymns from the Sikh scriptures followed by Katha (exposition of the scripture) together with lectures and recitation of poems in the praise of the Guru. Following that is the Langar or special community lunch, which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea behind the free communal lunch is that people should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion). Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated by the Sikh community all over the world and is one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar. The celebrations are especially colourful in Punjab and Haryana.

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