Guru Nanak Jayanti or Gurupurab, the most sacred festival of the Sikh Community, is to be celebrated on 12th November this year according to the Gregorian calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti is also known as Prakash Utsav and is observed on Kartik Purnima, i.e. on the full moon day in the Kartik month of the Hindu calendar.

Guru Nanak Dev was born to Mehta Kaloo and Mata Tripta on Puranmashi of Kartik in the English year 1469 at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura District of Pakistan, now Nankana Sahib.

Some scholars and organizations believe the birthday should be celebrated on Vaisakhi, which falls on April 14 according to the original Nanakshahi Calendar passed by Sri Akal Takht in 2003. However, the majority of Sikhs have urged to continue the observance on the full moon day itself.

The celebration is generally similar for all Sikhs, commencing with Prabhat Pheris. Prabhat Pheris are early morning processions led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones) carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Guru Granth Sahib.

They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns and devotees sing passages in chorus. The scent of flowers and the hue of the day with saffron flags and banners make the aura complete for the devotees.

Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurdwaras two days prior to the Guruparab.

Post the procession, the Gurudwara arranges Langar, a special community lunch. The idea behind the free community lunch by the devotees and volunteers is that everyone, irrespective of caste, class or creed should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).

According to a legend, at the age of 12, Nanak’s father gave him 20 rupees and asked him to do any business. He instead fed the poor with those twenty rupees. He believed helping the needy is the true kind of business. Years later, he started the langar custom which feeds everybody irrespective of social divisions.

Guru Nanak Jayanti or the Gurupurab, being the most important festival of Sikhs, is celebrated with great fervour and spirit. The Gurudwaras are decorated and hymns are sung and even fireworks are used to celebrate this special day. Devotees perform gatka, the traditional martial arts of the Sikhs to enjoy the day.