Guru Nanak Dev Ji – the first Sikh Guru’s birthday – is widely celebrated across the globe. The auspicious day is known as Guru Nanak Jayanti, Gurpurab or Guru Nanak Prakash Parv. This year, Guru Nanak Jayanti falls on November 30. Ahead of this day, Gurudwaras are decked up and the festive fervour can be seen as devotees offer prayers in huge numbers. However, this time due to the pandemic, things are different.
The day holds greater significance for Sikhs and is revered as one of their most important festivals. In Sikhism, birthdays of the 10 Gurus are observed as major festivals and widely celebrated. It is their teachings which the Sikhs follow to tread on their life path.
Rituals and celebrations
The celebrations begin with Prabhat Pheri. The devotees take out a procession early morning and chant prayers and hymns of the Guru. The procession begins from the Gurdwara and the group of devotees move around the localities.
As a customary practice, two days ahead of the Guru Nanak Jayanti, in almost every Gurdwara, Akhanth Path which means non-stop recitation of Guru Granth Sahib takes place. It is a 48-hour-long reading session.
One day before the birthday, Nagarkirtan procession is held where Panj Pyaras (The Five Beloves Ones) lead the troupe carrying Sikh flag, Palanquin of Guru Granth Sahib. The procession includes devotees singing songs of the Guru.
In this procession, bands playing music, swordsmanship using traditional weapons is also displayed. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s message is spread across the streets where the group is leading.
On the day of the Gurpurab or Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday, celebrations begin early morning known as Amrit Vela. Asaa-Ki-Vaar or morning prayer starts the day with immense gratitude. Then, Katha and Kirtan are organised where Guru’s teachings are talked about.
This is followed by Langar which is considered to be a form of prasad. It’s a community lunch where people volunteer to partake in offering services. They perform seva for free in the name of humanity.
In Gurdwaras, prayers are performed in the evening and night also. The Gurbani session begins after 12 in midnight at around 1.20 am which is believed to be the time of birth of the Guru. Kada Prasad is also distributed amongst the devotees.
It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born on Puranmashi of Kattak Puranmashi of Kattak in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now known as Nanakana Sahib.