Guru Nanak Gurpurab also known as Guru Nanak's Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Jayanti, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. This is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. Apart from Sikhs, Hindus and other followers of Guru Nanak's philosophy also celebrate this festival.
The festivities in the Sikh religion 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 (or Gurpurb), are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born on 15 April 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now Nankana Sahib. His birth is celebrated on Kartik Poornima, the full moon day in the month of Kartik. In the Gregorian Calendar, the celebration usually falls in the month of November, but its date varies from year to year, based on the traditional dates of the Indian calendar. It is a Gazetted holiday in India.
The celebration is generally similar for all Gurpurabs; only the hymns are different. 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 prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as Nagarkirtan, is organised. 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. They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns and devotees sing the chorus. There are brass bands playing different tunes and 'Gatka' teams display their swordmanship through various martial arts and as mock battles using traditional weapons. The procession pours into the streets of the town. The passage is covered with banners and gates decorated flags and flowers, for this special occasion. The leaders spreading the message of Guru Nanak.
On the day of the Gurpurab, the celebrations commence early in the morning at about 4 to 5 am. This time of the day is referred to as Amrit Vela. The day begins with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns). This is followed by any combination of Katha (exposition of the scripture) and Kirtan (hymns from the Sikh scriptures), in the praise of the Guru. Following that is the Langar, a special community lunch, which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea behind the free communal lunch is that everyone, irrespective of caste, class or creed, should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).
1. I am not the born; how can there be either birth or death for me?
2. Let no man in the world live in delusion. Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore.
3. Even Kings and emperors with heaps of wealth and vast dominion cannot compare with an ant filled with the love of God.
4. God is one, but he has innumerable forms. He is the creator of all and He himself takes the human form.
5. Thou has a thousand eyes and yet not one eye; Thou host a thousand forms and yet not one form.
6. The lord can never be established nor created; the formless one is limitlessly complete in Himself. Death would not be called bad, O people, if one knew how to truly die.
7. There is but One God, His name is Truth, He is the Creator, He fears none, he is without hate, He never dies, He is beyond the cycle of births and death, He is self illuminated, He is realized by the kindness of the True Guru. He was True in the beginning, He was True when the ages commenced and has ever been True, He is also True now.
8. From its brilliancy everything is illuminated.
9. Sing the songs of joy to the Lord, serve the Name of the Lord, and become the servant of His servants.
10. Through shallow intellect, the mind becomes shallow, and one eats the fly, along with the sweets.