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One of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in the Sikh community is the festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Devotees celebrate the festival to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak Ji was the founder of Sikhism and was the first of the 10 Sikh Gurus.
According to the Hindu calendar, the festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated on a full moon day in the month of Kartik. For those who follow the Gregorian calendar, the festival falls in the month of October or November.
The festival is not only celebrated in India, but is also celebrated with great enthusiasm in other countries including the UK, Canada and America.
Purnima Tithi Begins - 04:15 PM on Nov 07, 2022
Purnima Tithi Ends - 04:31 PM on Nov 08, 2022
Purnima Tithi Begins - 03:53 PM on Nov 26, 2023
Purnima Tithi Ends - 02:45 PM on Nov 27, 2023
Shri Guru Nanak Dev is believed to be a Saint and a mystic. He has been a medium for the world, enlightening his followers with deep knowledge of spirituality, morality, humanity, devotion and truth. This is why the auspicious festival is also called ‘Prakash Utsav’.
The celebrations for Guru Nanak Jayanti festival are usually carried out for three consecutive days. Two days prior to his birthday, Akhand Path is held in all Gurudwaras - the holy place of worship for Sikhs. It is a customary ritual in which devotees gather together and read the Guru Granth Sahib -the religious book for Sikhs continuously for forty-eight hours. Reciting of the hymns is finally stopped on the morning of the auspicious day.
The day before the festival, people organise a procession, which is led by the Panj Pyaras (a group of 5 Sikhs). Devotees carry the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib, and the Palanquin (Palki) of Shri Guru Granth Sahib, which is beautifully decorated with flowers.
In many Gurudwaras, elder members conduct Kirtans and Amrit Sanchar ceremonies. Free sweets and community lunches (famously known as langars) are offered to everyone who comes to pay obeisance, irrespective of their religious faith. Men, women, and children, participate in a ritual called Karseva, a service to the community by cooking food and distributing it to the hungry, in the 'Guru ka Langar'. The traditional and famous, mouth-watering 'Karah Prasad’ is served to one and all.
Although the festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with great religious fervour, and devotion all across India, the grandeur with which it is celebrated in the states of Punjab and Haryana has to be seen to be believed.
To show their devotion and to worship their Guru, many devotees (not only members of the Sikh community), visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar, which is beautifully decorated on this day. Many tourists make a beeline for Amritsar especially during this time, just to experience the fervor of this festival!
All across the world, the Sikh community celebrates the festival by carrying out processions, reciting hymns, and reading their holy book. For those religious members who cannot visit a Gurudwara, the rituals are followed in their homes. Most Sikh homes are lit up and decorated with fancy lights.
Devotees also decorate the Gurdwaras with flowers and lights, and special seating and eating arrangements are made for the huge number of devotees who visit on these days! Some Sikh families, to add their bit for the community, often join charitable funds and organisations associated with their local Gurudwaras.
At night, to end the grand festival in a fitting manner, firecrackers are also lighted.