Gurpurab is one of the most important festivals for the Sikh community in India and around the world. It is the celebration of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who was the first Sikh guru. The word Gurpurab is derived from gur, which means guru and Purab come from the word parv, which means celebration or festival. Usually, Gurpurab falls in the month of November, but since the date is decided as per the Indian lunar calendar, it has a different date every year. The celebrations for Guru Nanak Jayanti go on for three days.
The celebration of Gurpurab is similar to most Sikhs around the world. However, there can be a difference in the choice of their hymns. Usually, they start the celebrations with Prabhat Pheri. These are the processions that take place in the mornings with people singing the hymns.
There is also a 48-hour nonstop reading of the holy book of Guru Granth Sahib two days before the festival. It is held in the Gurudwaras. Also, one day before Gurpurab, a procession known as Nagarkirtan is organized. Five people head this procession with a Sikh flag that is known as Nishan Sahib. They also have a palki of the promising book of Guru Granth sahib in this procession.
There is also a display of swordsmanship through mock battles and martial arts. It is an exciting sight to witness. The parade goes through some of the major streets with banners decorated beautifully with flowers. It is something that you must see because it is not only fun but also gives a lot of information about the culture and history of Sikhism.
On the day of Gurpurab, the procession starts at Amrit Vela, which is early morning around 4 am, or 5 am. Asaa-Ki-Vaar or the morning hymns are sung by people in the morning to create positive vibrations and a good start for the festival. There is also Kirtan, where they sing hymns from the scripture and Katha, where they make an exposition of the scripture.
Following this, you must enjoy the tasty Langar food, which is a unique community lunch that is offered to everybody who comes to the Gurudwara. People from any caste, gender, or race can come and have the langar food that is prepared by the volunteers with a lot of love and devotion. It is considered a form of Seva or service to offer langar to people.
Although there are celebrations around the world, you can find the most colorful and exciting processions in Chandigarh and the states of Punjab as well as Haryana. In addition to that, there are also exciting celebrations in England, Canada, and other countries with a substantial Sikh population. A sense of giving or seva also mark this festival. Therefore, many Sikhs devote themselves to seva and help the Gurudwaras to plan langar or other activities.
So, if you have a Gurudwara around, you must go and enjoy the langar this year. It is truly amazing!