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Some of the most important festivals among Sikhs revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. The Sikh Gurus are spiritual masters who are known for establishing the Sikh religion over a period of more than 250 years.
Thus, the most significant and sacred festivals among Sikhs is the birth anniversary of the first Sikh Guru, who was also the founder of Sikhism - Guru Nanak. Born in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi, present-day Shekhupura District in Pakistan, Guru Nanak was a renowned spiritual thinker.
Image Source - India Today
Guru Nanak was a spiritual leader whose teachings are followed by millions of devotees even today. He travelled all across Asia to spread the message of ik onkar - one God that resides in each of his creations and comprises of the eternal truth.
His teachings and sayings have been passed on through religious songs and hymns, which are present in the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book of Sikhs). It is also believed that Guru Nanak’s divinity and holiness descended upon the other nine Skih Gurus.
When is Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrated?
According to the Hindu Calendar, the birth anniversary Guru Nanak Jayanti falls on the Full Moon Day in the lunar month of Kartik. Also known as Guru Nanak Gurupurab, this festival is signified by prayers and widespread celebration.
This is why the festival usually falls in the month of November every year. Guru Nanak Jayanti is observed as a public holiday in most Indian states and is also celebrated with much enthusiasm in different parts of the world.
How is Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrated?
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Since, Guru Nanak Jayanti is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikh religion, people eagerly await the celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti every year. Thus, the celebrations begins with the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Book of Sikhs.
Reading of the Guru Granth Sahib begins almost two days before Guru Nanak Jayanti. Popularly known as Akhand Path, it is one of the most famous traditions of this festival. This reading takes place for a total of 48 hours, until the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
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On the day prior to Guru Nanak Gurupurab, Nagarkirtan is organized. This is a holy procession that is headed by the Panj Pyaras or the “Five Beloved Ones.”
Carrying the Nishan Sahib (The Sikh Flag) and the Palkhi (Palanquin), the Panj Pyaras lead the procession. They are followed by a group of singers and other devotees. The singers recite famous prayers and hymns that talk about the teachings of Guru Nanak, while the devotees recite the chorus.
Also, a band follows the entire procession, where they showcase their skills using traditional Sikh weapons. They also display their martial arts skills along with their swordsmanship through mock battles and fights.
The streets are decorated with flowers and Sikh flags that signify the importance of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The whole procession is a way of trying to make people aware about the sacred teachings of Guru Nanak as well as his contribution to the entire community.
The Day of the Festival
After the huge processions and the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the main day of the festival arrives. The celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti can sometimes begin as early as 4 am.
People head to Gurudwaras early in the morning and recite the sacred hymns. Since, each Sikh Guru has a different set of hymns, people sing these hymns and offer their prayers to Guru Nanak. After the singing of hymns, people gather for a reading from the Guru Granth Sahib.
Once the hymns and readings are done, Langars or Grand Feasts are organized for everyone. People from all religions are welcomed for the Langar, where specially made dishes and other delicacies are offered.
The celebrations of Guru Nanak Jayanti are known to continue late into the night as people again gather in the Gurudwaras for prayers and hymns. It is believed that the birth of Guru Nanak took place at 1:20 AM.
Therefore, devotees start singing the Gurbani, that refers to various important compositions of the Sikh Gurus mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib. These hymns can continue till around 2:00 AM in the morning, after which the devotees offer their final prayers and pray for the well-being of their family and friends.
Guru Nanak Jayanti is indeed one of the most widely anticipated festivals in India. It is a day of celebration that is marked by hymns and the humble prayers of devotees. It is an important day for the Sikh community and is also celebrated with equal joy and excitement all over the world.
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