Guru Nanak Gurpurab, also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsav and Guru Nanak Jayanti, celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. This is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism.
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 as Gurpurab (or Gurpurb), are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.
Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born on April 15, 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now Nankana Sahib. His birth is celebrated on Kartik Poornima, the full moon day in the month of Kartik. In the Gregorian Calendar, the celebration usually falls in the month of November, but its date varies from year to year, based on the traditional dates of the Indian calendar. It is a Gazetted holiday in India.
On the day of the Gurpurab, the celebrations commence early in the morning at about 4 to 5 am. This time of the day is referred to as Amrit Vela. The day begins with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns). This is followed by any combination of Katha (exposition of the scripture) and Kirtan (hymns from the Sikh scriptures), in the praise of the Guru. Following that is the Langar, a special community lunch, which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea behind the free communal lunch is that everyone, irrespective of caste, class or creed, should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).
Night Prayer sessions are also held in some Gurudwaras, which begin around sunset when Rehras(evening prayer) is recited, followed by Kirtan till late at night. The congregation starts singing Gurbani at about 1:20 am at night, which is the actual time of birth of Guru Nanak. The celebrations culminate at around 2 am.
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, Haryana, and Chandigarh. Even some Sindhis celebrate this festival.
This year Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated on 14th Nov 2016.