Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated across the country to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, and is considered one of the holiest festivals of the Sikh community.
This year, Gurupurab is even more special as on 12 November (Tuesday) it marks the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the first of the 10 Sikh gurus.
According to the Hindu calender, Gurupurab falls on a full moon day in the month of Kartik Puranmashi while, in the month of October and November, as the Gregorian calendar suggests.
Defined by his spirituality and devotion to the Divine, Guru Nanak Dev was a man of peace who spent his entire life emphasizing on equality and tolerance. He was born in a village called Rai Bhoi di Talwandi, presently popular as Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in Pakistan.
Guru Nanak Dev played a major role in setting up various spiritual, social and political platforms, which were constituted on the principles of quality, goodness, and virtue.
A three-day festival, Gurupurab celebrations begin with Prabhat Pheris (early morning processions) at the gurudwaras and then proceed to the localities with Sikh devotees singing hymns. It is led by Panj Pyaras or Nagarkirtan (the five beloved ones), who carry the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the palanquin of Guru Granth Sahib.
Usually two days prior to Gurupurab, an Akhand Path or the 48-hour non-stop reading of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text where the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev are preserved is organised at the Gurdwaras.
On the main day of the occasion, devotees wake up early in the morning and sing Asa-di-Var and other morning hymns from the Sikh scriptures.
In the Gurudwaras, priests recite poems in praise of Guru Nanak Dev. Langar or free community lunch is served in the afternoon to celebrate life and prophecy of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Gatka, a special type of martial art is performed by the people on this occasion with a sword.