Guru Nanak Jayanti is a time for great celebration and rejoicing for the Sikh community all over the world. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh community and the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak Jayanti is also known as Gurpurab, as in literal sense too it is a day which is the festival of the Gurus.

Because Guru Nanak enlightened the world with his teachings, the day is also known as Prakash Utsav. Guru Nanak was born on the purnima in the month of Kartick as per traditional Hindu calendar, and according to Gregorian calendar he was born in the month of November on a full moon day.

He was born in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi, which is currently in the Shekhupura district near Lahore in Pakistan. In 2019, Guru Nanak Jayanti will be celebrated on the November 12th.


Life of Guru Nanak Dev

Born to the Patwari or the accountant Kalyan Chand Das Bedi and mata Tripta, Nanak had started showing sparks of what he was to become from childhood. He had one sister Bebe Nanaki and Nanak moved with her to Sultanpur when she got married. He had been exceptional in school and his matured answer had always left everyone awestruck. Certain childhood accounts talk about his miraculous escape from  near death from heat or cobra are noted. In the year 1487, Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani,who was the daughter of Mūl Chand and Chando Rāṇī. They had two sons called Sri Chand and Lakshmi Chand.

When he was nearing 30 years of age, Nanak went missing and his clothes were found near a stream called Kali Bein. Everyone took him for dead. Nanak returned after 3 days and stayed completely silent. The next day he spoke and said – that there is neither Hindu nor Mussalman, but only one man. One should follow God’s path as God was neither Hindu nor Mussalman. This was the beginning of Sikhism. Nanak apparently said that he had been to the court of the God, where he was offered a cup of nectar. It is believed that Guru Nanak four major journeys, including  Bengal, Assam, Manipur, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Ladakh till Beghdad, Mecca , Medina etc. his travels are known as Udasis. There are believed to be three essential tenets to practice and observe Sikhism-

  • Vand Chakko – this means helping the ones with less and sharing with those who are needy
  • Kirat Karo –  this means earning or making a living without any dishonesty
  • Naam Japna- meditating or jaapna of the God’s name to control and overcome our weaknesses.


Ceremonies and rituals of Guru Nanak Jayanti

Celebrations for Guru Nanak Jayanti start from almost 48 hours prior to the actual day as the Akhand Path starts.  The Akhand Path or non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib takes about 48 hours and are held in the Gurdwaras.

The day before the birthday, there is a Nagar Kirtan held. There are Prabhat Pheris held in the earl morning.  The devotees visit the Gurdwara early in the morning and start chanting the Gurus name. The Nagar Kirtan is headed by the ‘Panj Pyaras’ or the five beloved ones. The ‘Panj Pyaras’ head the procession,  carrying the Sikh flag called the Nishan Sahib and the Palki of Guru Granth sahib. These are followed by singers and devotees singing hymns. They are followed by brass bands playing different tunes and the Gatka team, or the warrior team displays their prowess with the swords and various martial arts.

The day of the birthday of Guru Nanak dawns clear and the festivities begin at 4 to 5 am.  This is the time which is known as Amrit Vela and the day starts with the Asa-di-Var or the morning hymns. This is followed by Katha, where poems, quotes and hymns based on Nanak’s life are spoken about.  After the exposition of Katha,  Kirtan in praise of the Guru is sung. This is followed by the great communal lunch called Langar. This communal lunch is organized by the Gurdwaras along with the devotees. The idea to have a communal lunch is to let everyone be the same in the eyes of the Guru and to reinstate what he preached about everyone being equal. Karseva or service to the community by cooking and helping serve in Guru Ka Langar is important on this day.

Some Gurdwaras hold the night prayer sessions, where Rehras or the evening prayer session is held, followed by Kirtan. Devotees start singing Gurbani at around 1.20 at night which continues till 2 at night. This is believed to be the time the Guru was originally born. This celebration ends at around 2 AM.


Celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti

State governments take great interest in celebrating the Guru Nanak Jayanti. It has been declared a gazette holiday by the Indian government. The Goldeb Temple or the Swarna Mandir sees a steady stream of devotees since the 3 days and particularly on the last day. All the houses are decked up with fairy lights on this day. All the Gurdwaras organize special Kirtans for the devotees to enjoy. Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh are all abuzz with activities and decorated beautifully.

Countries outside like USA, UK or Canada too celebrate the Guru Nanak Jayanti with a lot of fanfare and devotion.

The festival reinstates the importance of truth, morality and hard work in our modern lives.

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