Guru Nanak Jayanti is the most sacred festivals of Sikhs, which commemorates the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev. The birth anniversaries are associated with the 10 Gurus of Sikhism. Guru Nanak was the first Sikh guru and the founder of Sikhism. The festival is celebrated with great religious fervor, dedication and devotion across India, chiefly in Punjab, Haryana and abroad. This holy occasion is observed on the full moon day in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar. The celebrations for this day are spread across three days. Read through the following lines to know how Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated across India.
How Is Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrated
The festive spirit of Guru Nanak Jayanti begins with the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs non-stop for 48 hours in the Gurudwara. This recitation of the Guru Granth is known as Akhand Path. The recitation ends on the day of the festival. A day prior to Guru Nanak Jayanti, a religious procession or Prabhat Pheri is carried out in the early morning that is lead by the Panj Pyares, the five armed guards. These guards head the procession carrying the Sikh flag known as the Nishan Sahib. They also carry the Guru Granth Sahib that is well set in a Palki (Palanquin) ornamented with flowers.
The procession starts from the gurudwaras and proceeds towards the localities. The guards are followed by local bands playing brass bands and a team of singers singing shabads (religious hymns). While the procession passes the local homes, the devotees sing the chorus and offer sweets and tea to the people in the procession. ‘Gatka’ teams (martial arts) display mock-battles with the traditional weapons. The route of the procession is decorated with flags, flowers and religious posters. Banners are also posted depicting various aspects of Sikhism.
On the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti, celebrations begin early in the morning at around 4 or 5 a.m. Morning hymns, known as Asa-di-Var, and hymns from the Sikh scriptures are sung, which are then followed by Katha, or the exposition of the scripture. This includes religious and historical lectures and recitation of poems to honor the Guru. The Gurudwara hall also conducts the Kirtan-Darbars and Amrit Sanchar ceremonies. A special community lunch, or Langar, follows next. This lunch is organized by the volunteers at the Gurudwara. The Sikhs consider distributing free sweets and lunch as a part of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).
The food is served to all people irrespective of caste or religion. Special pious food or Prasad known as Kara Prasad is then offered to everyone present in the Gurudwara. The gurudwaras and the homes are decked with earthen lamps and candles in the evening. Religious music played by local bands, enthusiastic Bhangra dance (Punjabi dance form) and the colorful folk drum players add to the color of the festival. The guards perform fighting skills and marital arts. The golden Temple in Amritsar is the main attraction during this festival.