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.
“Guru Purabs”, known as the “festival of the Gurus” are the major festivals of the Sikhs. The celebrations of the Guru Purabs are marked by celebrating the birth days of the ten Sikh Gurus. They are celebrated in various times of the year, a total of ten Guru Purabs being celebrated all throughout the year. The festivities and rituals are almost the same for all the Guru Purabs. The Gurudwaras or the place of worship of the Sikhs is thronged by the devotees on the days of the festivals and people are found to pay homage and respect to the Gurus. The Guru Granth is also decorated with flowers and woprshipped.
The celebrations are almost alike for all the 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 discriminations and sectarian coventions. The festivals are also sometimes known as “Prakash Utsav” which owes its origin to the belief of the Sikhs that Guru Nanak was the one to bring enlightment to the world.