Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Nanak Gurpurab is the day celebrated by Sikhism followers as the birth anniversary of First Sikh Guru.
Guru Nanak Jayanti honours the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji - the first Guru of the Sikhs. He founded Sikhism, thus, is respected by the entire Sikh community. Almost all the festivities in Sikhism encompass the anniversaries of the ten Sikh Gurus. They shaped the viewpoints of the Sikhs. Gurpurab or their birthdays are occasions for prayer and carnival.
Before we move on to learn more about Guru Nanak Jayanti, let’s find out who is Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak is also known as Baba Nanak and Guru Nanak Dev Ji. He dedicated his life to serve the humankind. To sermonize his teachings, Guru Nanak travelled to different parts of South Asia as well as Iranian, Arabian, and Afghanistan nations.
The date of Guru Nanak Gurpurab changes every year according to the conventional Hindu lunar calendar. Diwali generally falls on the fifteenth of the Kartik month, and the festival falls fifteen days later on the propitious occasion of Kartik Purnima. The year 2020 marked the 551st anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. In 2023, Guru Nanak’s birthday would fall on 27 November, and in 2024, it would fall on 15 November.
However, Gurupurab is public holiday in several states such as Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana.
Guru Nanak is considered by the Sikhs and plenty of others as God’s Messenger, Divine Teacher, and the Champion of Peace and Dignity. When going through the mystical revelations and centralised anchors of Sikhism, the message of universality, unity, oneness, and mutual mortality radiated and reverberated from Guru Granth Sahib.
At the tender age of 16, Guru Nanak married Sulakhni Devi, and had two sons – Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. He died in 1539 AD in the Kartarpur district. Before dying, Guru Nanak proclaimed Bhai Lehna as his heir, who later became famous as Guru Angad Dev. So, Guru Angad Dev was the second Guru of Sikhism.
When Guru Nanak was 30, he described his encounter with God. After this particular experience, he started preaching about his oneness with God via hymns. These hymns are called shabads. Nanak gradually established a small village where he continued propagating and fashioning that became the basis of Sikhism.
Guru Nanak spoke fearlessly against the prejudice of rulers, horrifying tyranny, the strangeness of the discriminating caste system, and release of burdensome superstitions. Nanak’s revolutionary vision and departure is conveyed through Sikh history, tradition, heritage, and teachings:
In Japji Sahib, the sacred composition where all the meditations and prayers for the Sikhs are specified, Guru Nanak introduced us to the nature as well as magnificence of God and his grandest creation. He also stated ways people can implement to improve their relationship with God. With Japji Sahib, you can seek eternal reunion with God:
Even five hundred years later, the message delivered through the Guru Nanak Prakash Parv remains relevant, universal, and timely. At present, Guru Nanak’s unifying message of passive accommodation with other cultures, communities, and faiths is finding resonance with the people and leaders of other faiths.
By remembering and revering Guru Nanak’s life, we can easily discover our eagerness to walk in his glorious footprints, and stand up for liberty, life, and spiritual freedoms. Together, we must all dismantle the inacceptable and unworthy boundaries; build bridges that serve causes larger than our culture, faith, and personal prayer.
The pomp and show start in the Gurudwaras two days before Guru Nanak Jayanti. The Guru Granth Sahib, known as Akhand Path, is recited continuously for two days. A day before the festival, a procession known as Nagarkirtan is arranged. The procession is directed by five men. They are called Panj Pyare. They hold Nishan Sahib or the triangular flag of the Sikhs.
The sacred Guru Granth Sahib is kept on a palanquin during Nagarkirtan. People sing hymns and play different musical instruments. They also exhibit their martial art skills. The cheerful procession passes through the streets adorned by flowers and flags.
Langar means ‘place for the needy and poor’. In Sikhism, Langar is called community kitchen. The concept is to offer food to the hungry, regardless of their religion, caste, gender, or class. The Sikhs welcome everyone as Guru Nanak’s guest. On Guru Nanak Jayanti, all celebrations are followed by langar organised at the Gurudwaras.
How is Guru Nanak birthday celebrated in the various regions of India?
In the Golden Temple, the congregation signs Gurbani at around 1:20am, which is the actual time when Guru Nanak was born. The celebrations come to an end at 2am. Gurpurab is one of the most significant festivals in the whole Sikh calendar. Since we are living in a world where everyone prioritizes digitization, wishing one another through social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are also gaining popularity. In 2019, the government of Punjab installed chairs dedicated to Guru Nanak in eleven universities.
The celebrations are incredibly colourful and they are same in Chandigarh, Haryana, and in a few parts of London and Pakistan.
Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated in Nagpur with immense gaiety and religious fervour. A wide range of religious programmes are held. On this occasion, religious prayers, hymns, Gatka performances, katha, and kirtan are held in Gurudwaras.
Gurpurab is held in different Gurudwaras throughout Navi Mumbai. The celebrations start at dawn with morning processions or Prabhat Pheris in different nodes of city, amidst hymns at the local Gurudwaras. The oldest Gurudwara in Mumbai, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, is elaborately decorated. Several hymns and scriptures are recited to praise Guru Nanak.
Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated by Kolkata, the City of Joy too. The Chief Minister contributed a lot to build a Guru Nanak Memorial to teach people about selfless service and compassion. During the festival, the Gurudwaras are decorated with various diyas. Around 550 lamps are lit. The celebrations are same as other areas in India.