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India is a land that perfectly epitomises, 'unity in diversity.' People here may practise different religions but unite when celebrating festivals. One such example of a festive celebration is Guru Nanak Jayanti. It is one of the most important Sikh festivals commemorating the birth anniversary of the first Sikh guru and the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. 

 

According to Sikh literature, the festival occurs on the full moon day of the Indian lunar month, Kartik. The festival, also called Gurupurab, is celebrated with utmost zeal and enthusiasm by Sikhs worldwide. This year, in 2022, Guru Nanak Jayanti occurs on 8th November. 

 

History of Guru Nanak Jayanti

 

Although there is no official record of the festival's origin, people from Sikh communities believe that the custom of celebrating the festival is as old as Sikhism. Sikhs worldwide celebrate the birthday of all their ten gurus, or Gurupurabs, as they call them, but Guru Nanak's birthday holds a special place for them.  

 

Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in a small village near present-day Lahore called Talwandi. During his life, the great guru travelled extensively to spread the message of love and peace. He also believed and taught people that all individuals could connect with God through prayers. 

 

To spread his message, he started writing Guru Granth Sahib and wrote 974 hymns in it. The Sikhs worldwide consider Guru Granth Sahib sacred, and it is regarded as the central holy religious scripture of Sikhism and the final, sovereign, and eternal Guru.

 

The verses in the holy book propagate the idea that the creator of the universe is one. Guru Granth Sahib also spread the message of selfless service to humanity and social justice for all, irrespective of their caste, creed, and sex.  

 

Guru Nanak Jayanti Celebrations

 

Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Parv celebrations start two days before the actual day of the festival. Two days before Guru Nanak's birthday, Gurdwaras, the place of worship for the Sikhs, hold 'Akhand Path,' which is essentially a 48-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib. 

 

On the penultimate day, people take out a procession known as 'Nagarkirtan,' which is led by Panj Pyaras, or the five beloved ones. They lead the procession and carry the Sikh flag known as Nishan Sahib and a Palanquin (Palki) of Guru Granth Sahib. 

 

A team of singers follows the Panj Pyaras, who chant the hymns from the holy book, and the devotees sing with them in chorus. A brass band following the procession plays different tunes, and a 'Gatka' team displays their swordsmanship using traditional weapons. 

 

On the festival day, the celebrations commence with 'Prabhat Pheri,' an early morning procession that begins at the Gurudwara and goes through the localities singing hymns and verses from the holy book, spreading the message of Guru Nanak Ji. 

 

People from Sikh communities decorate their homes and have family gatherings. Many Sikh and Hindu families visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar on this day to offer their prayers at the holy shrine. 

 

Langars

 

The Persian word Langar literally translates to 'alms house.' It is a place for the poor and the needy. In Sikhism, Langar is associated with the 'community kitchen.' The main idea of Langar is to feed the hungry and anyone in need. 

 

It is believed that when Guru Nanak was a 12-year-old, he used the money his father gave him to buy food for the locals who had been hungry for many days. To honour this noble act of service by the great spiritual guru, on Guru Nanak Jayanti, many Sikh families voluntarily organise Langars at the Gurudwara and feed the hungry and needy after the procession. 

Famous Gurudwaras in India

 

Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar, Punjab

 

Undoubtedly, the most famous Gurudwara in India, Gurudwara Harmandir Sahib, better known as 'The Golden Temple is the holiest site for the Sikhs. Located in Amritsar, the upper floors of the shrine are covered in gold sheets. The Gurudwara has four doors, signifying that the Sikh religion accepts people from all walks of life. 

 

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi

 

Located in the heart of Delhi, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib was built between the 17th to 18th centuries. The eighth Sikh Guru Har Krishan stayed here for some time, and this Gurudwara was constructed to commemorate him. 

 

Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurudwara, Maharashtra

 

Located in Nanded, Maharashtra, Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurudwara is one of the most beautiful Gurudwaras in India. This Gurudwara was built in 1832 by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in memory of Guru Gobind Singh Ji as he took his last breath here. 

 

Gurudwara Sri Hemkunt Sahib, Uttarakhand

 

Dedicated to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Sahib, this beautiful Gurudwara is located at about 4000 metres above sea level and is nestled amidst the snow-clad mountains in Chamoli district Uttarakhand. The picturesque setting around the Gurudwara and the undeniable peaceful vibe inside the shrine redefines spirituality.  

 

If you are planning a family holiday to Uttarakhand, you can book your stay at any of the resorts in Uttarakhand hosted by Club Mahindra. These premium resorts would be a perfect base for you to explore the local sights and have a memorable holiday. 

 

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