Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti Gurpurab is the birthday of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, and one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. The word Jayanti means birthday in Hindi. Sikh Guru's birthdays are known as Gurpurab.
The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known asGurpurabs, are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji (the First Guru, the founder of Sikhism) was born on 14 April 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now Nankana Sahib. The birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib falls on Kartik Poornima, i.e., the day of the full moon in the month of Kartik. In the Gregorian Calendar, the birthday of Guru Nanak usually falls in the month of November, but its date varies from year to year, based on the traditional dates of the Indian calendar.
The celebration is generally similar for all Gurpurabs; only the hymns are different. The birthday celebration usually lasts three days. Generally two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurdwaras.
The day prior to the birthday, a procession is organised which is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones). They head the procession carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns, brass bands playing different tunes, 'Gatka' teams (martial arts) display their swordmanship, and devotees sing the chorus. The procession pours into the streets of the town which are covered with buntings and decorated gates for this special occasion. The leaders also spread the message of Guru Nanak.
On the day of the Gurpurab, the day begins early in the morning with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns) and hymns from the Sikh scriptures followed by Katha (exposition of the scripture) together with lectures and recitation of poems in the praise of the Guru. Following that is the Langar or special community lunch, which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea behind the free communal lunch is that people should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).
Guru Nanak Gurpurab is celebrated by the Sikh community all over the world and is one of the most important festivals in the Sikh calendar. The celebrations are especially colourful in Punjab and Haryana.
Whenever there is a big catastrophe in the land, whenever there is decline of righteousness, whenever there are oppression and chaos in the land, whenever the faith of the people in God wanes, great men or saints appear, from time to time, to enrich sacred literature, to protect Dharma, to destroy unrighteousness and reawaken the love of God in the minds of the people. India was in a bad plight. Babar invaded India. His armies assaulted and sacked several cities. The ascetic captives were forced to do rigorous work. There was wholesale massacre everywhere. The kings were bloodthirsty, cruel and tyrannical. There was no real religion. There was religious persecution. The real spirit of religion was crushed by ritualism. The hearts of the people were filled with falsehood, cunningness, selfishness and greed. At such a time Guru Nanak came to the world with a message of peace, unity, love and devotion to God. He came at a time when there was fight between the Hindus and the Mohammedans—when real religion was replaced by mere rituals and forms. He came to preach the gospel of peace, brotherhood or the unity of humanity, love and sacrifice.
Nanak, the Khatri mystic and poet and founder of the Sikh religion, was born in 1469 A.D. in the village of Talwandi on the Ravi, in the Lahore district of Punjab. On one side of the house in which Guru Nanak was born, there stands now the famous shrine called ‘Nankana Sahib’. Nanak has been called the ‘Prophet of the Punjab and Sind’. Nanak’s father was Mehta Kalu Chand, known popularly as Kalu. He was the accountant of the village. He was an agriculturist also. Nanak’s mother was Tripta. Even in his childhood, Nanak had a mystic disposition and he used to talk about God with Sadhus. He had a contemplative mind and a pious nature. He began to spend his time in meditation and spiritual practices. He was, by habit, reserved in nature. He would eat but little.
When Nanak was a boy of seven, he was sent to Gopal Pandha to learn Hindi. The teacher told Nanak to read a book. Nanak replied, "What will it avail to know all and not have a knowledge of God?" Then the teacher wrote the Hindi alphabets for him on a wooden slate. Nanak said to the teacher, "Please tell me, sir, what books have you studied? What is the extent of your knowledge?" Gopal Pandha replied, "I know mathematics and the accounts necessary for shopkeeping". Nanak replied, "This knowledge will not in any way help you in obtaining freedom". The teacher was very much astonished at the words of the boy. He told him, "Nanak, tell me something which could help me in the attainment of salvation". Nanak said, "O teacher! Burn worldly love, make its ashes into ink and make the intellect into a fine paper. Now make the love of God your pen, and your heart the writer, and under the instructions of your Guru, write and meditate. Write the Name of the Lord and His praises and write, ‘He has no limit this side or the other’. O teacher! Learn to write this account". The teacher was struck with wonder.
Then Kalu sent his son to Pundit Brij Nath to learn Sanskrit. The Pundit wrote for him ‘Om’. Nanak asked the teacher the meaning of ‘Om’. The teacher replied, "You have no business to know the meaning of ‘Om’ now. I cannot explain to you the meaning". Nanak said, "O teacher! What is the use of reading without knowing the meaning? I shall explain to you the meaning of ‘Om’". Then Nanak gave an elaborate explanation of the significance of ‘Om’. The Sanskrit Pundit was struck with amazement.
Then Kalu tried his level best to turn Nanak’s mind towards worldly matters. He put Nanak in the work of looking after the cultivation of the land. Nanak did not pay any attention to his work. He meditated even in the fields. He went out to tend the cattle, but centred his mind on the worship of God. The cattle trespassed into a neighbour’s field. Kalu rebuked Nanak for his idleness. Nanak replied, "I am not idle, but am busy in guarding my own fields". Kalu asked him, "Where are your fields?" Nanak replied, "My body is a field. The mind is the ploughman. Righteousness is the cultivation. Modesty is water for irrigation. I have sown the field with the seed of the sacred Name of the Lord. Contentment is my field’s harrow. Humility is its hedge. The seeds will germinate into a good crop with love and devotion. Fortunate is the house in which such a crop is brought! O sir, mammon will not accompany us to t