Guru Nanak Jayanti in India
Sikhs are known throughout the world for being extremely humble and helpful. Furthermore, Sikhism is the third-largest religion in India. It was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh guru who travelled across the Asian continent to preach his ideas. Likewise, just like every religion, Sikhs celebrate the birth anniversary of their founder with utmost respect and joy. This festival is termed as Guru Nanak Jayanti or Prakash Utsav.
About Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti holds great importance in the Sikh Culture as it marks the birth of the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak dev Ji. Additionally, both Hindus and Muslims equally respect the guru. Guru Nanak Jayanti falls on the full moon day of the Katak month as per the Nanakshahi Calendar. Since the lunar calendars fluctuate every year, Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated during November on different dates.
In 1469 CE, Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in Rai Bhoi Ki Talwandi, Sabo. At that time, Indian society was divided into castes. Specifically, this system ensured power to the richer class and brought misfortune to the poor. Guru Nanak Devji realized how unfair this system was and spent his life building a society that had no place for discrimination. From a young age, he could not put up with the worldly interpretation of lies and spent a great part of his life meditating. He visioned the true intent of God. According to this vision, he believed that the caste system and practices of the time were unnecessary and the society needed to abolish them. He believed that every human has a direct connection to God, and thus he rejected the concept of priests as the mediator.
The Journey of Guru Nanak
At that time, many people, mostly royalties, called Guru Nanak a heretic who was against God. However, his efforts brought a major change in the life of Dalits. They thought of him as a champion sent by God to help them out of their misery and oppression at the hands of the upper caste. Guru Nanak taught the flaws of traditions to his followers, such as Fasting and Pilgrimage.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji along with his companions, Bala and Mardana, travelled across the continent preaching his ideas and beliefs to change the way society worked. He holds the record for the longest travel on foot second only to Moroccan traveller, Ibn-e-Batuta.
In his later life, Guru Nanak became a political rival of the priests and Mughals for disrupting the caste system. He was also imprisoned by the Mughal empire Babur for challenging him. He later passed on his seat to Bhai Lehna Ji who was later renamed as the second guru, Guru Angad Dev Ji.
How is Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrated in India
The birth anniversary of Sikh Gurus is celebrated as Gurupurab. Guru Nanak Jayanti is the most widely celebrated of them all. The celebrations have variations depending on different factions of people as per their beliefs and traditions in Gurudwaras. The following are the most common practices on this Guru Nanak Jayanti:
48 hours before Guru Nanak Jayanti, continuous recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy book of Sikhs, starts in Gurudwaras. In the morning of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Sikhs gather in Gurudwaras, conclude the recitation, and serve ‘Kadah Prasad.’
On the day of Guru Nanak Jayanti, Sikhs participate in Nagar Kirtan, a procession through the city while reciting songs in honour of Guru Nanak. The ‘five beloved ones’ lead the processions, who are elderly dignitaries and Sikh flag. There are pauses along the way for snacks. The main attraction of Nagar Kirtan is Gatka, a martial art developed by Sikhs using weapons.
After concluding the Akhand Path, Sikhs serve community lunch. The lunch is not only for Sikhs but for everyone regardless of their religion or caste. You see, the Langar honours the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, bringing people of all backgrounds together.
What to Do During Guru Nanak Jayanti in India
Sikhs are one of the most helpful and humble communities in India, rescuing people in times of needs. All the credits go to the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. On this day, Everyone is welcome in Gurudwara. Here are some things you can do on this public holiday:
- Attend the Morning prayers and be a part of Nagar Kirtan.
- Witness the display of bravery and strength of skilful Sikh warriors in Gatka.
- Attend the Kirtan Darbar to learn more about the deeds and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
- Be a part of Langar. You can get served as well as serve.
- Light crackers at night and enjoyed the mesmerizing fireworks.
On this day, use your time to spend time with a community who treat everyone like family. You can also learn the reasons and intentions behind their humility. This is the best way you can devote this great day to Guru Nanak Sahib who dedicated his entire life to the people of India.