Guru Nanak (1469-1539 C.E.) was the founder of Sikhism and the first of the Sikh Gurus. As per Hindu lunar calendar, Guru Nanak’s birthday is celebrated worldwide on the day of Kartik Purnima.
Gurupurab rituals and ceremonies
A series of ceremonial rituals begin before the actual day celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The activities of the first day involve Akhand Paath, which refers to an uninterrupted reading of 48 hours of Sikh Guru Granth Sahib two days before Guru Nanak Jayanti to Gurdwaras and even in the houses. To mark the occasion, the Gurudwaras are also decorated with flowers and lights.
The second day, Prabhat Pheris, (prabhat meaning “early morning” and pheris means rounds) are performed. The faithful Sikhs visit early in the morning in the Gurdwara and begin to sing hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib. A large procession is organized, also known as Nagar Kirtan, with five armed guards called Panj Pyaras before him. The devotees who hold the Sikh flags “Nishan Sahib”, mark with a decorated palanquin bearing the sacred writing of the Sikhs Guru Granth Sahib, as sacred quotes and writing hymns that fill the air in the middle of the resonant band drums local As the procession heads towards the streets, people pay tribute to the pious Guru Granth Sahib and participate in the blessed atmosphere. A team of Sikhs dressed in traditional clothing, brandishing traditional weapons play “Gatka”, as they show their skills in fighting swords and martial arts.
On the third day, on Guru Nanak Jayanti’s day, the festivities begin with the story of Asa-di-Var (early morning hymns) early in the morning. We read poems, hymes and quotes that confirm the exemplary life of Guru Nanak. This is followed by the exhibition “katha” or Guru Granth Sahib, as well as speeches and in-depth lectures. Kirtan-Darbars or special assemblies are also held. After that, a “langar” or community kitchen is organized in which the volunteers serve food with total dedication to the people of the Sikh community, as well as to other communities. A sweet “Karah Prasad” is also served. Some Gurdwaras also celebrate night prayers or rehras.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrations
Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak becomes the hub of activity much before the auspicious day arrives. Special arrangements are made with the support of the managing committee and the state government, as Sikh pilgrims arrives in huge numbers from India, Europe and the U.S. to participate in the activities of the holy day and seek blessings. During Guru Nanak Jayanti, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India also sees a constant stream of devotees from everywhere. It is lit up beautifully and offers a most awe-inspiring sight. Gurudwaras in the Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh especially come alive with air of festivity and spirit of inner joy that emanates from the congregation. Elaborate arrangements are made for ‘langar’ as lakhs of devotees are served food by volunteers and people who wish to immerse themselves in ‘seva’ or service to humanity. The distribution of ‘Karah Prasad’ is also looked forward to by the people. Special programs are organized and religious music and kirtans keep a mystical and blessed atmosphere. After the langar, a prayer session takes place. Since Guru Nanak’s birth was after midnight, the celebrations also go on past midnight.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrations Abroad:
In the U.K., Canada and the U.S., members of the Sikh community visit the Gurudwara which hold the programs and prayer service. Devotees turn out in huge numbers to participate in all the ceremonies, reliving the values and paying homage to the teachings of Guru Nanak.