India is one of the ancient lands of culture and heritage thus claiming to be one of the finest resources in the study of world culture. It depicts the versatility and essence of culture irrespective of caste, creed, and religion. It is evident from the variety of festivals celebrated every year. Hence “festivals” play a key role to ignite the richness and flavor of the occasion. Different kinds of festivals for numerous occasions are celebrated all over the country having their own individuality. Each festival reflects tradition and heritage of the caste or tribe or religion from which they originate. People from all over the country participate in each kind of festivals sharing the brotherhood among them. Festival is a kind of bond which links all religions and regions of the country, redefining their unity and secularity in this modern era.
The birthday of the divine guru of Sikh community, Guru Nanak, is celebrated as the Guru Nanak Jayanti, and is one of the sacred festivals in Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji (Founder of Sikhism) was born on 14th April 1469 Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekpura District of Pakistan now known as Nankana Sahib. The occasion of his birthday is celebrated every year on the Kartik Poornima tithi as per the Lunar calendar while according to the Gregorian calendar it falls in the month of November.
The celebrations is almost alike all Guru Purabs with a few difference in hymns and prayers. The festival is usually of three days, two days before the birthday; Akhand Path (reading of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs) is practiced. A procession led by the Panj Pyaras(Five Beloved Ones),carrying the Sikh flag known as Nishan Sahib and the Palki(palanquin), of Sri Guru Grant Sahib, is organized one day before the birthday. This procession is accompanied by singers singing hymns, Gatka teams (martial arts) performing ability and art, bands playing devotional tunes, preachers, and innumerous followers. The day of the birthday is started with Asa-di-Var (morning hymns) and other hymns from the holy book followed by Kathav (exposition of the scripture).Finally the celebration ends with the serving of Langaar (community lunch) in which food is served to rich and poor people without any discrimination in the name of religion, color or sex.
Guru Nanak passed away in 1539, leaving behind a revolutionary movement participated by all religions from every part of the country to remove discrimination’s and sectarian conventions. Thus all the citizens of India should equally participate and contribute in this Guru Nanak Jayanti, paying their homage to this man who paved the way and was the guiding light to show us the path of secularity and equality.