Guru Nanak Jayanti is a holy day for those who practise Sikhism. The birth anniversaries of all the Sikh saints are celebrated and the day is called Gurpurab. However Guru Nanak's birth anniversary is considered a particularly auspicious Gurpurab.
Called Guru Nanak Jayanti, this one is celebrated for three days and is one of the most important times of the year for Sikhs.
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The date of the festival varies from year to year as it's celebrated according to a traditional lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian one. It falls on the full moon of the month Katak. This year, in 2018 , it falls on the 23rd of November, according to the Gregorian calendar.
History & Significance
Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, hence his birth anniversary carries such signifiance. He was born in 1469 at Rāi Bhoi Kī Talvaṇḍī (present day Nankana Sahib, Punjab). It is said his birth and early years were marked by many strong indicators of his divinity. He believed there was one god and every human was capable of reaching him through sincere prayer, though he didn't encourage sacrificing family life to achieve this. All his teachings were compiled as hymns in the sacred book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
The festival is to honour his life, his achievements and, most importantly, his legacy. Hence his hymns are read aloud and appreciated.
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Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations go on for three days, two days before the prayer, and Akhand Path, a continous reading, of the Guru Granth Sahib is conducted at Gurudwaras.
One day before the birth anniversary, there is a procession where the Guru Granth Sahib is carried on a palanquin accompanied by music, singing and 'Gatka' teams demonstrating their swordsmanship. The town is usually decorated in advance and the procession is accompanied with festivities.
On Guru Nanak Jayanti day, there are prayers conducted in Gurudwaras(or at home if one does not have a Gurudwara close enough) first thing in the morning, as early as 4-5am! The different aspects of prayer go on til past noon, depending on when they started, and after that Langar is served.
Guru Nanak is said to have been born at 1:20 am so around this time , the congregation starts singing Gurbani.
The langar food is considered auspicious and the kadrai halwa is the traditional Prasad given out on this festival.
Sometimes night prayers are conducted as well.