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Guru Nanak Jayanti

Guru Nanak Jayanti 2017 and 2018

Guru Nanak Jayanti is a Sikh holiday that is celebrated throughout India each year.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
20174 NovSatGuru Nanak JayantiNational except AP, BR, DD, GA,
KA, KL, MN, ML, OR, PY,
SK, TN & TR
201823 NovFriGuru Nanak JayantiNational except AP, BR, DD, GA,
KA, KL, MN, ML, OR, PY,
SK, TN & TR

Also known as Guru Nanak’s Prakash Utsau, this holiday celebrates the birthday of Nanak, the first Sikh Guru. While Guru Nanak Jayanti is a Sikh holiday, the festival is enjoyed by many demographic groups in India, including Hindus and secular people. Of course, it is a particularly major event in the Indian state of Punjab since Sikhs make up the majority of the population there.

Guru Nanak Jayanti is a time for happiness and fun, but the festival also brings attention to the teachings of Guru Nanak. This holiday starts on the full moon day during the month of Katak. Since lunar calendars fluctuate each year, Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated during October or November on the Gregorian calendar.

The Life and Philosophy of Guru Nanak

To fully understood why this holiday is sacred to many Indian people, it’s important to understand about how Nanak’s actions that shaped the overall history of India. Prior to Nanak’s birth in 1469 CE, India was fundamentally defined by a social hierarchy known as the caste system. This system ensured that unfortunate people stayed poor and wealthy people continuously expanded their power. Guru Nanak understood that this system was unjust, so he committed his life to fighting against it.

After intense meditation and self-reflection, Guru Nanak received a vision that showed him the true intent of God. According to this vision, the formal institutions and caste system of India were unnecessary to connect with God. A fundamental aspect of Guru Nanak’s vision was that all humans have a direct connection to God. This caused Guru Nanak to reject the priests and hierarchy of the caste systems. Guru Nanak even refused to acknowledge the Vedas, the ancient holy text of Hinduism.

At first, Guru Nanak was branded as a heretic who denied the will of God. This all changed when the Dalits, or the lowest class realised that their life could be much better under the philosophy of Guru Nanak. Soon after this, Guru Nanak was viewed as a champion by many of the people. Guru Nanak also taught his followers that the traditional means of connecting to God through fasting and pilgrimages served no purpose. He suggested that his followers should simply enjoy a moral life and worship God through prayer.

After disrupting the caste system, Guru Nanak became a political enemy of the priesthood and Mughal rulers. Guru Nanak was eventually arrested for challenging the Mughal leader Babar. Guru Nanak is credited with the founding of Sikhism. After his death, the wisdom and spirit of Nanak was passed down to nine Sikh gurus.

Celebratory Activities

There are many activities that Sikhs and other Indians participate in to honor the life and teachings of Guru Nanak.

  • Akhand Path
    Before the start of Guru Nanak Jayanti, a series of readings are performed at central locations in major Sikh areas. Known as Akhand Path, this event goes on for 48 hours. During Akhand Path, some of the most important poems from Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text of Sikhism, are recited. At certain times, Sikhs also recite prayers. The most popular prayers for this holiday are Japji Sahid and Sidh-Ghost.
  • Nagarkitan
    During the day before the festival, Sikhs participate in Nagarkitan, a lively procession that attracts visitors from across the world. This procession is led by the Five Beloved Ones and the Sikh flag. The parade also consists of musicians, choreographers, and martial artists. The streets where the procession take place are often decorated with various banners and flower arrangements.
  • Langar
    On the full moon day of the month of Katak, people who observe Guru Nanak Jayanti can enjoy a free community lunch with their friends and family members. After this meal, Sikhs attend various evening prayer sessions.

Guru Nanak Jayanti is a peaceful holiday that allows people to honor Guru Nanak and his desire to eliminate the Indian caste system.