Guru Nanak Jayanti, also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Birthday, is one of the most sacred festivals for Sikhs. It commemorates the birth of Guru Nanak, who founded Sikhism and is regarded as the first of the ten Sikh Gurus. Let’s take a deeper look at the significance and celebrations marking this important religious holiday.
The Life and Teachings of Guru Nanak
Guru Nanak was born on Katak Pooranmashi of Baisakh, the full-moon day in the lunar month of Katak, according to the Nanakshahi calendar. Historians believe this date corresponds to November 27, 1469.
He was born in the village of Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib, which is located in present-day Pakistan. Even as a boy, Nanak showed signs of his spiritual talents and profound understanding of religion.
As he grew older, Nanak began traveling widely to spread his message of one universal creator God, who dwells in every one of God’s creatures. He condemned empty religious rituals and championed living a virtuous life. Some key teachings of Guru Nanak included:
- Naam Japo (Meditating on God’s name)
- Kirat Karni (Earning by honest means)
- Vand Chhako (Sharing with others)
Through his travels and spiritual verses known as shabads or baint, Guru Nanak conveyed the central tenets of Sikhism which emphasized the concepts of equality, compassion, and social justice.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrations
Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with immense joy and fervor by Sikhs worldwide on the full moon day of the Kartik month every year. This typically falls in November as per the Gregorian calendar. Here are some of the key celebrations:
Akhand Path – Continuous non-stop 48-hour reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy text.
- Kirtan – Devotional hymns are sung in praise of Guru Nanak from early morning till late night. Sikh temples hold non-stop kirtan.
- Prabhat Pheris – Special early morning processions with sangat singing shabads while carrying Palkis (palanquins) containing Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
- Langar – Communal feast where people of all religions and backgrounds sit together to partake in blessed Parshad.
- Shri Hukams – Special hymns are read from the holy Granth and donations collected for social causes.
Illuminations and fireworks late night to mark Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s arrival and spread his divine message of oneness of God and humanity.
Major activities are focused around Gurdwaras where special Shabad Kirtan programs continue for days. It’s a sight to see the joy and devotion of Sikhs celebrating their founder.
Significance of Guru Nanak Jayanti
The birthday of Guru Nanak holds tremendous significance for several important reasons:
It celebrates the birth of the enlightened spiritual master who founded Sikhism, conveying the message of one God for entire mankind.
- His teachings of equality, virtues of honest labor, sharing with others continue inspiring people of all faiths even today.
- He stressed living a family life and discouraged unnecessary renunciation of worldly matters which set Sikhism apart from other religions.
- The festival aims to remind Sikhs of Guru Nanak’s life and spread his teachings of unity, compassion through community programs and charitable initiatives.
- It provides an opportunity for Sikhs worldwide to congregate, pray together, renew faith and spread Guru Nanak’s divine mission of universal brotherhood.
Cultural programs, fairs, and exhibitions showcase Sikh arts, crafts, dance, music and help introduce the principles of Sikh faith to others.
So in many ways, Guru Nanak Jayanti venerates the enlightened spiritual master who gave a reformed faith focused on merging mankind with the almighty creator through virtuous living.
How Guru Nanak Jayanti is Celebrated Globally
The joyous occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti is marked with great zeal not just in India and Pakistan, but by Sikhs settled across the world:
In the UK, biggest celebrations are held at Gurdwaras in London, Leeds, Birmingham with Nagar Kirtans, processions participating people of all faiths.
- In Canada, Ontario sees largest congregations. City of Mississauga illuminates iconic Celebration Square in blue lights on this day.
- In the US, Gurus Los Angeles, California and Gurdwara Sachkhand in Washington DC hold major programs attended by thousands.
- In Malaysia and Singapore, street parades by Sikhs sporting traditional attires to mark the festival are a major tourist attraction.
- In India, celebrations in Punjab (Sri Anandpur Sahib, Amritsar, etc.), Delhi are larger than life events spanning days.
In neighboring countries like Nepal, devotees throng Patan Gurdwara and in Bangladesh; Dhaka sees thousands participating.
So wherever Sikhs reside globally, Guru Nanak Jayanti unites the community in celebrating their spiritual father and spreading his divine message of unity and service to mankind. It’s a global celebration of oneness and humanity’s shared spiritual destiny.
I hope this comprehensive guide on the significance of Guru Nanak Jayanti gave you deeper insights into how Sikhs commemorate the birth of their enlightened first Guru who established the principles of their great faith. His teachings of equality and compassion continue resonating strongly even today.