Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru and the founder of the Sikh religion, was born on the full moon day in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar. Hence, his birthday is celebrated as Guru Nanak Jayanti. The date falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar. Guru Nanak was born in 1469 A.D. at Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi, some 30 miles from Lahore, in the present Pakistan. The Sikhs visit Gurdwaras where special programs are arranged and kirtans (religious songs) are sung. Houses and Gurdwaras are decorated and lit up to add to the festivities.
Guru Nanak Jayanti marks the culmination of the Prabhat Pheris, the early morning processions that start from the Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) and then proceeds around the localities singing 'shabads' (hymns). The celebration also includes the three-day Akhand path, during which the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously, from beginning to end without a break. On the day of the festival, the Guru Granth Sahib is also carried in a procession on a float, decorated with flowers, throughout the village or city. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyaras, head the procession carrying the Nishan Sahib (the Sikh flag). Local bands playing religious music form a special part of the procession.
Free sweets and community lunches, or langar, are offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith. Men, women, and children, participate in this karseva as service to the community by cooking food and distributing it in the 'Guru ka Langar', with the traditional 'Karah Prasad'. Guru Nanak Dev's life served as a beacon light for his age. He was a great seer, saint and mystic. He was a prolific poet and a unique singer of God's laudation. A prophet of peace, love, truth and renaissance, he was centuries ahead of his times. His universal message is as fresh and true even today as it was in the past and Sikhs all over the world - practice what Guru Nanak Dev preached, to reaffirm your beliefs in the teachings of your founder.