Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav - The Most Celebrated Sikh Festival
Guru Nanak Jayanti, or as it is commonly called, Guru Nanak Gurpurab, is a Sikh festival which is celebrated with a lot of fervour and excitement in many parts of India by Sikh and Punjabi communities alike. Most Sikh festivities are centred around the birth of their ten Gurus, who helped shape the religion and preach the importance of religious devotion. As the name suggests, Guru Nanak Gurpurab celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who is the first Guru of the Sikhs and the founder of Sikhism.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Date
In 2019, it will be held on 12th of November which is a Tuesday and will mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
How is Gurupurab Celebrated
Guru Nanak Gurpurab, celebrated with merriment and utmost devotion, is a grand procession
1. An Akhand Path, a non-stop reading of the Sikh’s holy book Guru Granth Sahib Ji, commences two days prior to the actual day
2. Processions are held in various parts of states like Punjab and Delhi and people do a lot of Sewa, extending their selfless service, in cleaning the road ahead of the procession for the Palki or Palanquin, and distributing free food and drinks to everyone, regardless of the caste or background
3. These processions are led by the Panj Pyaras, the Five Beloved Ones carrying the Sikh flag, Nishan Sahib. The original Panj Pyaras played a major role in defining the history of Sikhism as they were the first ones to get baptised in the Sikh initiation ceremony of Amrit Sanchar 4. The procession also has devotees singing hymns in the praise of their lord and performing Gatka, a form of martial art
5. On the day of the Gurpurab, the Akhand Path is concluded by singing Asa di Var, the morning prayers. It is followed by people visiting the Gurdwaras to offer their prayers, take blessings, listen to melodious hymns and calm their minds and souls
6. All the Gurdwaras are beautifully adorned with flowers and upholstery, and at night, they are lit with light bulbs, rendering it a breath-taking view.
Food Served During Gurpurab
Since it is a special day, people flock to the Gurdwaras in astounding numbers with their friends and families. As a form of Sewa, there are usually many stalls serving all kinds of delicious food outside the Gurdwaras, and inside, Langar, the food prepared by the people, is served to everyone, regardless of their caste or community. The mouth-watering Karha Prasad is also served throughout the day. People also distribute sweets to others to show and spread their happiness.
About Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Born into a Kshatriya (warrior) family on 14th April 1469 A.D in the village Talwandi in Lahore, Pakistan, Guru Nanak was the son of Mehta Kalu Chand and Mata Tripti Devi. He got married to Bibi Sulakhani and was blessed with two sons, Srichand and Lakshmichand. Since an early age, he was religious and spent time reciting God’s name. He had a Noor, radiant glow on his face which made him stand out in the crowd. He never threw any tantrums and was a very balanced and poised child. His devotion led him to leave his family to go in the woods and meditate. He became an advocate of God’s teachings, impressing upon the fact that there is no Hindu or Sikh or Muslim, that we all are the children of God and should recite his name during duress or eustress. His hymns were recorded in Japji Sahib, a holy scripture in Sikhism, which is a part of Guru Granth Sahib as well. It is a description of the stages of a man’s life before he departs this life.
His first devotee was Mardana, and as Baba Nanak travelled across the land to preach to the public, his devotees kept increasing, regardless of any religious affiliation. There are many saakhis, or short stories, which serve as important moral lessons as part of Guru Nanak’s journey that are still famous today. They throw light on his divine journey and his profound understanding of things. During the last years of his life, he went back to his home to live with his family. Mardana, who was his faithful devotee, also followed him and lived with him. Guru Nanak took his last breath at the age of 69 in 1538 A.D.
History of Gurupurab
One of the most cherished festivals of Sikhs, Guru Nanak Gurpurab, marking the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, is a gazetted holiday in India. There is a contention between various scholars and religious groups over the date of celebrating this festival. Some believe that it should be celebrated on the festival of Vaisakhi, on 14th of April which is also in accordance with the Nanakshahi calendar provided by Sri Akal Takht (Golden Temple, Amritsar). But according to Bhai Bala Ji, who is supposedly Guru Nanak’s childhood friend and a devotee of his teachings, he was born on the Full Moon of the Lunar Month Kartik. This is the reason that Gurpurab is celebrated in the month of November.
The peace of mind and soul that one gets visiting a temple and spending time there is unparalleled. Gurdwaras are known to be a calming and soothing place, and during Gurpurab, the fervour multiplies. Next time you visit the state like Punjab or Delhi with a Sikh or Punjabi population who celebrate Gurpurab, do visit and take part in the procession, for the fun, food and frolic!