Our country being a cultural melting pot, is a land of diversity, colours and inspiration. Festivals are an integral part of our cultural fabric and it brings people together. Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Purab is once such a sacred festival that celebrates the life and birth of the great saint and the first Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Nanak Devji.
Guru Nanak Devji’s teachings of three principles — Kirat Karo (earn an honest living), Naam Japo (meditate) and Vand Chako (share with the needy) still reverberate in the world. This year marks the 552nd birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji.
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The day is a reminder for the devotees to follow the teachings of Guru Nanak with reverence and remember his message of selfless service to people. The celebration starts 48 hours before Guru Purab, devotees flock to Gurudwara for the Akhand Path, a non-stop recitation of hymns from Guru Granth Sahib.
On the festival day, celebrations start early in the morning; followers take out Prabhat Pheri or morning procession during what is known as Amrit Bela, an auspicious time between 3am and 6am. Devotees move along with the palki in their respective areas and towns singing holy kirtans from Guru Granth Sahib which is carried around the town in a palki.
After the morning procession, followers visit the holy gurudwaras decorated with lamps and lights. Hymns are sung with great devotion, followed by kathas (heart-warming and uplifting stories of great Sikh Gurus). Then there is langar or community meals.
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Guru Nanak Jayanti coincides with Karthik Purnima, when people light up their homes with diyas and decorate their homes. Guru Nanak Devji was born on the day of Karthik Purnima in 1469 in present-day Shekhupura, Pakistan, in a place now called Nankana Sahib, after the great saint. Every year, Sikh Jathas or pilgrims visit the holy shrine on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti.
Global spiritual leader and humanitarian Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “India and Indians are forever indebted to the sacrifice and the protection that the ten Gurus have given to the country. Even today Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings continue to be relevant to the world. Of all the rishis, sages, and seers who have blessed this planet, Guru Nanak Dev has a unique place. He put forth the essence of all the scriptures in simplest words that mankind can understand and absorb.”
(The author is a writer with The Art of Living)
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