Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated as Gurpurab festival across India and the world. It is one of the several auspicious religious festivals in Sikhism observed to commemorate and remember the birth and philosophy of Guru Nanak, first Sikh Guru and founder of Sikhism. Sikhs and ardent followers of Guru Nanak remember him by celebrating Guru Nanak Jayanti with great enthusiasm that usually falls on Kartik Poornima.
Background of Gurpurab
Guru Nanak (1469AD – 1539AD) was born in a village named Rai Bhoi di Talwandi. It is presently popular as Nankana Sahib, near Lahore, Pakistan. Towards his later age, he completely engrossed himself in preaching the importance and power of spirituality in one’s life that ultimately gave birth to Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev ji birthday is known as Gurpurab. Guru Nanak Jayanti is also about reliving his preaching and teachings that are quoted in the sacred Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book in which hymns of Sikh Gurus are quoted.
“Satguru Nanak Pargateya , mitti dhundh jagg chaanan hoya ,
Jiyo kri suraj nikalya, taare chhipe andher ploya “
Satguru Nanak’s emergence cleared spiritual darkness,
As sunrise dispells the darkness and stars disappear.
Now, you know what is gurpurab and why is gurpurab celebrated. Let see proceed and see how it is celebrated. Gurpurab celebration is generally similar for all the various Gurpurbs; only the Shabads (hymns sung and history of a particular occasion is different. Gurpurab is considered auspicious and important but the special significance is accorded to the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, as the Sikhs believe that Guru Nanak brought enlightenment to the world, hence the festival is also called Prakash Utsav, literally the “birth of light”.
Fifteen days before the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, celebrations begin. Religious processions called “Prabhat Pheris” are taken from house to house singing Kirtan and Shabads (hymns) from the SGGS.
A day before the festival, an enormous parade starts from the Gurdwara, usually in the afternoon. The first installation and Guruship of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji – The celebrations start with the three-day Akhand Path, in which the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs) is read continuously from beginning to end without a break. The Conclusion of the reading coincides with the day of the festival.
The Granth Sahib is also carried in procession on a float decorated with flowers throughout the village or city. Nishan Sahib is carried by five armed Sikhs, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag) and/or Kirpans. Sikhs visit gurdwaras where kirtans (religious songs) sung. Free sweets and langar (free community meals) are also offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith.
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