India - Guru Nanak Jayanthi

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

Guru Nanak Jayanthi

Guru Nanak Sahib - the founder of Sikhism was born on 15th April 1469 in Punjab. The Sikh community celebrates his birthday all over India. He preached the Sikh faith and spent his life teaching, writing and wandering around the world to discuss religion with Muslims and Hindus. Though he is the Guru of the Sikhs, there are millions of others who believe and worship him. The celebrations are made all over India, especially in Punjab and Haryana.

Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak’s Birthday by reading the Sikh Holy Scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. This is done by a team of Sikh men and women, who start reading the Sahib two days before and end early on the morning of the birthday. The celebrations of his birthday are made all over India, especially in Punjab and Haryana.

The Gurdwaras (places where Sikhs go to pray) are decorated with flowers, ribbons and pictures describing various features of Sikhism. Sikhs join collectively to sing, pray and feast together. On the morning of the anniversary, celebrations begin early with musical presentation of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib and speech on Sikhism. These celebrations go on until around 1 or 2 PM.

After the celebrations free sweets and neighborhood lunches are offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith. Guru Nanak Dev believed in a caste less society without any distinctions. He institutionalized the concept of common kitchen where all could sit together and enjoy a common meal, whether they were rich or poor. The idea was to offer food to the people in the spirit of service and affection.

Then in the evening, the gurudwaras and houses are decorated with earthen lamps and candles. Local bands playing religious music, the enthusiastic Bhangra dance (Punjabi dance), and the colorful folk drum players add colour to the carnival. The fighting skills or martial arts performed by guards add to the passion of the celebration. Sikhs who are unable to visit the Gurudwaras during the festival hold a similar ceremony in their own homes.

Guru Nanak’s worldwide message is applicable and true even today as it was in the past. Sikhs all over the world practice what Guru Nanak Dev preached to support their beliefs in the wisdom of their founder.


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