Guru Nanak Jayanti
Celebrated on the first full moon during the Hindu month of Kartik, which usually falls somewhere in November on the Gregorian calendar, Guru Nanak Jayanti is a day that celebrates the birth of Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru.
Born on April 15, 1469, in what is now known as Nankana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan, Guru Nanak would grow up to become the founder of Sikhism and a teacher who spread the word of the oneness of God. As the founder of Sikhism, he also taught people about the intertwining of one’s spiritual and secular life.
While many of his teachings drew on both Muslim and Hindu thought, his philosophy was not just an amalgamation of the principles found in these religions. His teachings also contained many revolutionary ideas about the true nature of God and the importance of one’s spiritual enlightenment over external rituals, penances, and pilgrimages. He also denounced the caste system of India and taught that everyone is equal, regardless of class, gender, wealth, or station of birth.
Customs, Traditions, and Celebrations
This day is usually celebrated with feasts, the telling of stories, prayers, and community activities. However, one of the most important celebrations on this day is the many Guru Nanak Jayanti parades that take place all over India.
A pre-dawn parade called ‘parbhat pheri’ occurs on this day and features many followers walking through the streets and singing spiritual songs. Many participants will also perform ‘Kar Seva’ on this day. ‘Kar Seva’ is literally “selfless service” and is work or service that is done without any thought of personal reward. Therefore, many people will perform community service on this day in food kitchens for the poor or in hospitals.
This holiday allows people to acknowledge the founding traditions of Sikhism and the principles of service to others over one’s own selfish desires. It also allows people to come together and help each other not only in secular terms but in spiritual ones as well.