Guru Nanak Jayanti, also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Dev Ji Jayanti, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak and will be celebrated on November 30 this year. It is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. In the Sikh faith, festivities revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh gurus. These gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as ‘Gurpurab,’ are occasions for celebration and prayer among the community. Guru Nanak Jayanti is marked with prayer processions, hymns, free sweets, martial arts (‘Gatka’), and community services.
History of Guru Nanak Jayanti
The festival is celebrated on the day of Kartik Poornima, the fifteenth lunar day in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar, and usually falls sometime in October or November as per the Gregorian calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations are generally similar for all Sikhs — only the hymns differ. The celebrations usually commence with Prabhat Pheris. Prabhat Pheris are early morning processions that begin at the Gurudwaras and proceed around the localities singing hymns. Generally, two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the ‘Gurdwaras.’
The day before the birthday, a procession called Nagarkirtan is organized. 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 Guru Granth Sahib. Teams of singers chanting hymns follow them, and devotees sing the chorus.
Brass bands play different tunes, and ‘Gatka’ teams display their swordsmanship through martial arts and mock battles using traditional weapons. Finally, the joyful procession passes through streets decorated with flags and flowers, with the leader spreading the message of Guru Nanak.
On April 15, 1469, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born at Rai Bhoi Ki Talwandi, near Lahore, the modern-day Sekhpura district of Pakistan. A Gurudwara was built in his birthplace, and the city is also known as Nankana Sahib and is located in the Punjab province of Pakistan. Guru Nanak Dev Ji is regarded as a spiritual teacher who founded Sikhism in the 15th century. He started writing the Guru Granth Sahib and wrote 974 hymns in it.
The main verses from the Guru Granth Sahib elaborate that the creator of the universe was one. His verses also propagate selfless service to humanity, prosperity, and social justice for all, irrespective of demographic differences. Sikhism also forbids the concept of messengers and reincarnation. The role of a guru as a spiritual and social master forms the base of the Sikh religion.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Timeline
Universities to remember a saint
The Punjab government announced that it would install chairs dedicated to the great saint Guru Nanak in 11 universities.
Guru Nanak passes away
Guru Nanak died at 70, appointing Bhai Lena as his successor and renaming Guru Angad.
Sikhism forms as a religion
The Sikh faith started forming around 1500 CE when Guru Nanak began teaching a faith quite distinct from Hinduism and Islam — nine gurus followed Nanak and developed the Sikh faith and community over the coming centuries.
The birth of an inspiration
On April 15, 1469, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born at Rai Bhoi Ki Talwandi, near Lahore, the modern-day Sekhpura district of Pakistan.
How to Observe Guru Nanak Jayanti
- Decorate your home
- Guru Nanak Jayanti is an auspicious and holy ceremony celebrated by those of the Sikh faith. Involve your family and friends in the celebration by decorating and brightening your home with lights, earthen lamps, and candles. This will make the remembrance even more special!
- Read verses and hymns.
- The celebrations for Guru Nanak Jayanti start three days in advance with the continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. You can also bring this to the home by reading the verses and hymns from the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib with family and loved ones as a reminder of the message of Sikhism.
- Gift food to the community
- Involve your children, friends, and family in preparing special delicacies, especially the Karah Parshad. This delicacy is a type of whole wheat flour halva made with equal portions of whole-wheat flour, clarified butter, and sugar distributed among neighbors and the pool in your locality. Make sure you join in this charitable and beautiful event.
5 Amazing Facts About Guru Nanak Jayanti
- A gifted student
- Guru Nanak started going to school at the age of seven, and it is believed that he surprised his teacher by explaining the symbolism of the first letter of the alphabet, which is a straight stroke in Persian or Arabic. It resembled the mathematical one as it symbolized God being one and united.
- A family man
- At 18, Guru Nanak married Mata Sulakkhani and had two sons, Sri Chand and Lakshmi Chand — Guru Nanak’s son Sri Chand became the founder of the Udasi religion.
- A man with a vision
- At the age of 30, Guru Nanak had a vision. One day Guru Nanak failed to return from his bath, and his clothes were found on the bank of the stream. The locals thought that he had died. After three days, he returned, and he stayed silent. Later he said that he had been taken to God’s court, where he was offered a cup full of Amrit and was blessed.
- On a different path
- Guru Nanak said, “There is neither Hindu nor Muslim, so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow God’s path. God is neither Hindu nor Muslim, and the path I follow is God’s.”
- Spreading the message
- Guru Nanak traveled the world intending to spread the holy message. He traveled to Mecca, Tibet, Kashmir, Bengal, Manipur, Rome, etc., on foot with his Muslim companion and friend Bhai Mardana.
Why We Love Guru Nanak Jayanti
- It reminds us of love.
- Guru Nanak was known for his political, social, and spiritual beliefs based on love, equality, fraternity, and virtue. He traveled far-off places and spread the message of ‘one God that God constitutes the eternal truth and resides in his creations. This is a wonderful message to appreciate, regardless of your beliefs, on the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
- Martial arts skills are amazing.
- Did you know that all Sikhs must carry a kirpan or a dagger as a mandatory article of faith? This makes it a duty for Sikhs to be able to defend the needy and suppressed ones, to defend righteousness and the freedom of expression. During Guru Nanak Jayanti, the ‘Gatka’ teams also display their swordsmanship through martial arts and in mock battles using traditional weapons.
- Sikhism is a beautiful religion.
- Guru Nanak Jayanti is a celebration of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak, who formed mostly what the religion is today. The holy festival reminds us to appreciate all our Sikh friends and family members and to learn about and respect their faith. If you look into what Sikhism is all about, the most important thing is the internal religious state of the individual and that the way to lead a good life is to keep God in heart and mind at all times. These beautiful notions are the foundation of most of the world’s religions, so it’s a great way to connect one another with shared values — at the end of the day, we are all not so different from each other as human beings.