India is a country of myriad festivals and celebrations. Festivals lend joy and zest to the monotonous cycle of everyday life, providing entertainment and enrichment through music and melodies, dances and rhythms of a meaningful life. Here we will discuss briefly the celebration of Guru Nanak's
Jayanti. Anniversaries associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus are referred to as Guruparvs (festivals). Gurpurbs are part and parcel of Sikhism and are celebrated with intense devotion and dedication.
Prabhat Pheris or the early morning religious procession goes around the localities singing hymns start three weeks before the festival. Devotees offer sweets and tea when the procession passes by their houses. The Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously from the beginning to the end without a break for three consecutive days. This is known as 'akhand path'. It is concluded on the day of the festival. The Granth Sahib is also carried in procession on a float decked with flowers. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Local bands play religious music and marching schoolchildren form a special part of the procession. Various school students, eminent citizens, Gatka Parties (displaying mock-battle with the traditional weapons), and devotees singing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib in chorus. The passage of the 'nagarkirtan' is decorated with flags, flowers, religious posters decorated gates and banners depicting various aspects of Sikhism. On the Gurupurab day, the Divan begins in at about 4 or 5 a.m. with the singing of Asa-di-var and hymns from Guru Granth Sahib. Sometimes it is followed by katha (discourse), religious and Sikh Historical lectures and recitation of poems in praise of the Guru. Kirtan-Darbars and Amrit Sanchar ceremonies are also held in the Gurdwara hall.
Free sweets and community lunches are also offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith. It is served with a spirit of service and bhakti devotion. The langar is open to people from all works of life. It was introduced by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji with the objective to eradicate caste system which ailed the society in those days. Men, women, and children, participate in this 'karseva' as a service to the community, cook food and distribute it in the 'Guru ka Langar', with the traditional 'Karah Prasad'.
Sikhs also visit gurdwaras where special programs are arranged and 'kirtans' (religious songs) are sung. Houses and gurdwaras are decked up in tune to the festivities.
Here are some ideas to help you to enrich the spirit of the
- Your friend or relative may have this long standing desire to visit The Golden Temple in Amritsar during the Guru Nanak Jayanti. Gift him/her an air-ticket or a travel package to realise his/her dream.
- You can also gift miniature copies of Guru Granth Sahib or a model of the Golden Temple (as a decorative item)to your friends, colleagues,kids or relatives on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti. They will treasure this for the rest of their lives.
- Gifting your mother a Guru Nanak photo frame can be a nice idea as well. It can be hung on the wall in your living room or 'puja-ghar' (worship room)just under a spot-light. This can add beauty in a 'divine' way.
- A friend or a loved one can also be gifted with a beautiful piece of "IK OANKAR" pendant that can be worn always.
- Keeping in mind the notion of service to the community, you can auction out any of your valuables like your property, antique piece of painting or jewelry. The money that will be collected thus can be given away to an orphanage or an old-age home or to an NGO catering to the needs of the
underprivileged children. I am sure that your efforts will be appreciated!
- Last but not the least burn crackers with friends and relatives as it is said that they mark the end of the day's celebrations.