The most important and widely celebrated festival in the Sikh community is the festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Devotees celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak 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 the 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.
This festival is celebrated not only in India, but also with great enthusiasm in other countries including UK, Canada and USA.
Sri Guru Nanak Dev is considered a saint and fakir. He is making his followers a medium for the world with deep knowledge of spirituality, morality, humanity, devotion and truth. This is the reason why the auspicious festival is also called ‘Prakash Utsav’.
The celebrations for Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrations are usually held for three consecutive days. Two days before his birthday, unbroken recitals are held in all Gurdwaras – a sacred place for Sikhs. It is a customary ritual in which devotees gather together and recite the Guru Granth Sahib-religious book for Sikhs for forty-eight hours continuously. The conclusion of the bhajan is finally stopped in the morning of the auspicious day.
The day before the festival, people organize a procession, led by Panj Pyaron (a group of 5 Sikhs). The devout Sikh flag, popularly known as Nishan Sahib and Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s Palaki (Palaki), is decorated with flowers.
In many gurdwaras, elder members perform kirtan and amrit sanskar ceremony. Free sweets and community lunches (known as the famous langur) are offered to everyone who comes to follow, regardless of their religious faith. Men, women and children participate in a ritual called karseva, which is a service to the community in the ‘Guru ka langar’ to cook food and distribute hunger pangs. Traditional and famous, mouth-watering ‘Kara Prasad’ is served to one and all.
Celebration for Guru Nanak Jayanti
Although, the festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with great religious reverence and devotion throughout India, the grandeur with which it is celebrated in the states of Punjab and Haryana has to be acknowledged.
To show their devotion and worship their Guru, many devotees (not just members of the Sikh community) visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which is beautifully decorated to this day. Many tourists make a beeline during this time, especially for Amritsar, just to experience the excitement of this festival!
Around the world, Sikh communities take out processions, sing hymns, and celebrate the festival by reading their holy book. Rituals are followed in their homes for religious members who cannot visit the gurudwara. Most Sikh houses are lit and decorated with fancy lights.
Devotees also decorate the gurudwaras with flowers and lights, and special seating and eating arrangements are made for these visiting devotees these days! Some Sikh families, to add their bit to the community, often join charitable funds and organizations associated with their local gurdwaras.
At night, to end the grand celebration in a grand way, firecrackers are also lit.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Date and Muhurat 2019
Guru Nanak Jayanti 2019
12 November 2019
Jayanti Tithi- Tuesday, 12 November 2019
Purnima Tithi Begins – 18:01 on (11 November 2019)
Purnima Tithi Ends – 19:04 on (12 November 2019)
There are many activities to honor the life and teachings of Guru Nanak in which Sikhs and other Indians participate.
Akhand Path: Before the beginning of Guru Nanak Jayanti, a variety of hymns are performed at central places in major Sikh regions. This program known as Akhand Path lasts for 48 hours. During the Akhand recitation, some of the most important poems of the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of Sikhism, are read. At certain times, Sikhs also worship. The most popular prayers for this holiday are Japji Sahid and Siddha-Bhoot.
Nagarkitan: A day before the festival, Sikh people participate in Nagaritan, a lively procession, which attracts visitors from all over the world. The procession is led by five beloved people and the Sikh flag. The parade also includes musicians, choreographers and martial artists. The streets on which processions take place are often decorated with various banners and flower arrangements.
Langar: On the full moon day of Cuttack month, those who celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanti can enjoy a free community lunch with their friends and family members. After this meal, Sikhs participate in various evening prayer sessions.
Life and Darshan of Guru Nanak
Before the birth of Nanak in 1469 CE, India was originally defined by a social hierarchy known as the caste system. This system ensured that the unfortunate people remained poor and rich people and continuously expanded their power. Guru Nanak understood that this system is unjust, so he devoted his life to fight against it.
After intense meditation and self-reflection, Guru Nanak attained a vision that showed him the true intention of God. According to this vision, India’s formal institutions and caste system were unnecessary to connect with God. A fundamental aspect of Guru Nanak’s vision was that all humans have direct connection with God. Due to this, Guru Nanak rejected the hierarchy of priests and caste system. Guru Nanak also refused to accept the Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of Hinduism.
First, Guru Nanak was branded as a heretic who rejected the will of God. All this changed when the Dalits or the lowest class realized that their life could be much better under the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Soon after, Guru Nanak was seen by many as a champion. Guru Nanak also taught his followers that traditional means of connecting with God through fasting and pilgrimages have no purpose. He suggested that his followers should simply enjoy a moral life and worship God through prayer.
After disrupting the caste system, Guru Nanak became the political enemy of the priests and Mughal rulers. Guru Nanak was eventually arrested for challenging the Mughal leader Babur. Guru Nanak is credited with establishing Sikhism. After his death, Nanak’s intellect and soul were given to the nine Sikh Gurus.