Guru Nanak Jayanti

 Guru Nanak Jayanti (Gurpurab)

Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurpurab, is the most auspicious festival of Sikh community in India. Nanakpanthi hindus and other followers of Guru Nanak’s philosophy also celebrate this festival.  This festival is celebrated on Kartik Poornima, which is a very auspicious day for hindus. In the year 2013, the date is 17 November.

Guru Nanak Dev

Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born in the month of April,but his birthday is known celebrated on Kartik Poornima known as Guru Nanak Jayanti. He was born in 1469 A.D. at Talevandi some 30 miles from Lahore. His anniversaries of Sikh Guru’s are known as Gurpurabs (festivals) and are celebrated with devotion and dedication.

Guru Nanak - Gurpurab
Guru Nanak – Gurpurab

Stories from his life give details of his divine awareness from a young age. At a very tender age, Nanak is said to have voiced interest in divine subjects. At age seven,  he started attending school. Some childhood accounts refer to strange and miraculous events about Nanak, once the sleeping child’s head was shaded from the harsh sunlight,  by the stationary shadow of a tree or by a poisonous cobra.

Cobra providing shadow to Nanak
Cobra providing shadow to Nanak

Rai Bular, the local landlord and Nanak’s sister Bibi Nanaki were the first people who recognised spiritual qualities in the boy. They encouraged and supported him to study and travel. It is stated that at around 1499, at the age of 30, he had a vision. After he failed to return from his ablutions, his clothes were found on the bank of a local stream called the Kali Bein.

The people of the town assumed he had drowned in the river; Daulat Khan had the river dragged, but no body was found. Three days after disappearing, Nanak reappeared, staying silent.
The next day, Nanak said that he had been taken to God’s court. There, he was offered a cup filled with amrita (nectar).From this point onwards, Nanak is described in accounts as a Guru. This historical event also marks the birth of Sikhism.

Guru Nanak’s teachings can be found in the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, as a vast collection of revelatory verses recorded in Gurmukhi.

The celebration of Gurpurab

Prabhat Pheris are conducted at the festival. Prabhat Pheris are processions held in early morning. These start at the Gurudwaras and proceed around the localities singing religious songs. Before two days of festival, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurudwaras.

A day prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as Nagarkirtan, is organised. This procession is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones). They head the procession carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

On the day of the Gurpurab, the celebrations commence early in the morning at about 4 to 5 am. This time of the day is referred to as Amrit Vela. The day begins with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns). This is followed by any combination of Katha (discourse of the scriptures) and Kirtan (hymns from the Sikh scriptures), praising the Guru. Following that is the Langar, a special community lunch, which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers.

Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurpurab is celebrated by the Sikh community all over the world and is one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar. The celebrations are especially colourful in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh.

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