Introduction: The birth anniversary of Sikh’s famous guru ‘Guru Nanak Dev’ is termed as the most sacred festival in Sikhism. But it signifies the same vitality and value for Hindus and other religions’ people as for Sikhs due to the philosophy of renowned guru.

The birth anniversaries of all ten Sikh gurus are the most joyous moments for the followers of this religion as they are the most iconic personalities who carved the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays are, thereby, celebrated as Gurpurab.

The guru who laid the foundation stone of this religion was none other Guru Nanak Dev who obliged his parents by taking birth on 15th April 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi. His birth-place is in the district of Pakistan, now in Nankana Sahib.

Other names: Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav

Occurrence:  The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev falls on Kartik Poornima alias the full moon in the month of Kartik. As per mention in Gregorian calendar, the day is usually celebrated in the month of November. The date of his birth differs every year as it is affiliated to Indian calendar that varies also.

Celebrated in: Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

Rituals, customs and tradition: However, every Sikh festival has been celebrated with the similar customary trends but hymns, those are recited, vary on every occasion.

  • The ceremony begins with Prabhat Pheris (the precession occurred early in the morning from Gurdwaras to nearby localities in which celebrants visit in the streets while singing hymns).
  • Akhand Path (the forty eight hour non-stop reading session of the pious Guru Granth Sahib) is organized in the gurdwaras.
  • Nagarkirtan is the procession that is also celebrated a day before Guru Nanak’s Birthday. Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones) lead the procession hoisting the Sikh flag, also known as Nishan Sahib, and carrying palanquin (Palki) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The participants recite the hymns in melodious tone unanimously as a choir.  Brass bands play heart-catching devotional music while the ‘Gatka’ teams move-on exhibiting their swordsmanship via martial arts and mock battles with traditional arms or weapons. The passage where the procession occurs, banners and gates are embellished with flags and flowers.
  • On the day of festival Gurpurab, the horn of celebration is blown at dawn, also known as Amrit Vela, about 4 to 5 a.m.  Hymn with the words Asa-di-Var is sung by the people in procession.
  • Katha (exposition of the scripture) and Kirtan in admiration of guru are also told and sung respectively. 
  • Langar or a community feast is also arranged by the volunteers regardless of caste, creed or any class that conceives the idea of fraternity and brotherhood.  Sevadars come forward as being an aide encouraging the spirit of service and devotion.
  • During night ceremony in Gurdwaras starts with the recitation of Rehras (evening prayer) around sunset. Furtherance, kirtans are held till late night.
  • The flock of people sings Gurbani at about 1:20 a.m. at night in gurdwaras since it is the time when Guru Nanak Dev took birth on the same time. The function wraps up at about 2 o’clock at night.