Guru Nanak Jayanti, also recognized as Gurpurab, is the most significant festival for the followers of the religion of Sikhism. It is dedicated to commemorating the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev.
The festival is observed on the day of Kartik Poornima, which is the fifteenth lunar day in the month of Kartik according to the Hindu calendar. Typically, it falls in November by the Gregorian calendar.
History of Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak was born at Rai Bhoi Ki Talwandi, near Lahore, in the Sekhpura district of modern-day Pakistan, on April 15, 1469. A Gurudwara was erected at his birthplace in the city now recognized as Nankana Sahib. It is positioned in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Guru Nanak is regarded as a spiritual teacher who established Sikhism in the 15th century. He started writing the Guru Granth Sahib and completed 974 hymns.
The main verses from the Guru Granth Sahib elaborate that the creator of the universe was one. His poems & verses also preach selfless service to humanity, prosperity, and social justice for all, irrespective of differences. The role of a Guru as a spiritual and social master forms the basis of the Sikh religion.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrations
Celebrations start in Gurudwaras two days before the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti. A 48-hour non-stop recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib, called Akhand Path, is held. Then, a day before Guru Nanak’s birthday, a procession called Nagarkirtan is organized. The parade is led by five men, the Panj Pyare, holding the Sikh triangular flag, Nishan Sahib.
The holy Guru Grant Sahib is placed in a palanquin during the procession. People sing hymns in groups and play traditional musical instruments and also display their martial art skills. The joyful procession passes through streets decorated with flags and flowers.
Originally a Persian word, Langar translates as ‘an almshouse’ or ‘a place for the poor and needy. In the Sikh tradition, that is the name given to a community kitchen. The concept of Langar is to provide food to anyone in need – irrespective of their caste, class, religion, or gender – and always welcome them as the Guru’s guest.
It is said that Guru Nanak when he was a child, was given some money and told to visit the market by his father to do ‘Sacha Sauda’ (a good bargain). His father was a well-known trader of his village and wanted young Nanak to learn the family business when he was just 12 years old. So instead of doing a worldly bargain, the Guru instead bought food with the money and fed a large group of saints who had been hungry for days. That is what he said was the “true business.” On Guru Nanak Jayanti, the processions and celebrations are followed by Langar arranged at Gurudwaras by volunteers.
Sikhism and Community Service
We have seen many gurudwaras come forward and provide food and shelter to those in need in recent times. Whether in India or abroad, wherever the need arises, the Sikh community can be seen helping people out in the best ways possible.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Holiday
Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated as a public holiday in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and West Bengal.