Guru Nanak Jayanti commemorates the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev the first Sikh guru and the founder of Sikhism. It is the most sacred festivals of the Sikhs community. The festival is celebrated with great religious fervor, dedication and devotion across India, mainly in the states of 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 Guru Nanak Jayanti begins with the reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs in the Gurudwara non-stop for 48 hours. This recitation of the Guru Granth is known as Akhand Path and this recitation ends on the day of the festival. 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 near by 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 followed by a special community lunch, or Langar. 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 decorated 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. Golden Temple in Amritsar is the main attraction during this festival that is celebrated with pomp and fare.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in 1469 A.D. in a Bedi Kshatriya family in the village of Rai Bhoi di Talwandi now known as Nanakan Sahib near Lahore in Pakistan. Guru Nanak ji is the first of the 10 Sikh gurus. Nanak used to sit with holy men, pandits and mullahs and spend hours with them in long discussions. Nanak was a great seer, saint, mystic, prolific poet and unique singer of God’s laudation. His only message was to spread love, peace, truth and renaissance. Even today, Sikhs all across the world practice Guru Nanak’s preaching to reaffirm their belief in the founder’s teachings. Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with pride, honor and great respect.
Celebrations take place on large scale over the Sikh communities and Food forms are the main attraction of this festival. The essential part of any Gurudwara is the Langar or Free Kitchen. Here the food is cooked by the sevardars or volunteers and is served to all without discrimination. The practice of serving food to all was started with Guru Nanak’s Sikhs at Kartarpur. The Guru’s Langar is always vegetarian, and traditionally is made up of simple, nourishing food. Strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness are important when preparing the Langar (i.e., washed hands, never tasting it while cooking). Individuals with communicable diseases should not participate in the preparation of Langar. It is also suggested that Gurbani be recited during the preparation.
The entire Sikh community gets engaged in the true festive mood. Delectable delicacies are also prepared on this holy occasion and distributed like the Atte ka Seera, Malai Ladoo, Jabeli and Kaju barfi.
Atte ka Seera: Atte ka Seera or wheat flour halva. It’s such a simple and earthy dessert. The sweet aroma that wheat flour emanates when you are roasting it in ghee will put you in the right mood to enjoy this special occassion.
Malai Ladoo is a north Indian snack made of paneer and milk.
Kaju Barfi is made with cashew nuts soaked in water overnight (it is not prepared using milk) and ground the next day; then sugar, saffron (kesar) and other dried fruits are added. It is usually white/yellow in color. If pistachios are used in the preparation, it can be green in color.
Summary: Guru Nanak Birthday
- Guru Nanak Jayanthi
- Guru Nanak Jayanthi