A beautiful Shabad (Sikh Hymn) says, ‘Satgur Nanak Pargateya Miti Dhund Jag Chanan Hoya’ which means ‘With the emergence of the True Guru Nanak, the mist cleared and the world bathed in the light.’
Guru Purab is a joyous and sacred festival that celebrates the life and birth of the great saint and the first Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Nanak Devji. This is the 551st birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Devji.
Two days before Guru Purab, Akhand Path is organised in each Gurudwara, where devotees listen to the reading of the holy Guru Granth Sahib for two consecutive days.
Many days leading up to Guru Purab, followers take out Prabhat Pheri or morning processions during what is known as Amrit Bela or the auspicious time between 3 am and 6 am. The holy Guru Granth Sahib is carried around the town in a palki (palanquin), where men, women, and children move along with the palki in their respective areas and towns singing Shabad kirtan (holy kirtans).
Guru Purab is a day of reverence and reminder for the devotees to follow the teachings of Guru Nanak, to remember his wisdom and the message of selfless service to people.
After the Prabhat Pheri, devotees visit the holy Gurudwaras that are light up with lamps and lights. The day begins with hymns being sung with great devotion, followed by Kathas (stories from the lives of the great Sikh Gurus) and Kirtan, and finally Langar or community meals are organised. Devotees and visitors receive Khada prasad, which is cooked with the contribution and help of each member of the community. People contribute for the Langar in cash or kind.
“Even today Guru Nanak Dev’s teachings continue to be relevant to the world,” says global spiritual leader and humanitarian Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, at the launch of the dedicated Guru Nanak Chair for Studies in Universal Advancement at Chandigarh University, “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.” -- By Ruchira Roy
(The author is a former journalist and writer with The Art of Living.)