Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, was born in the month of Kartik, and his birthday is known as Guru Nanak Jayanti. Guru Nanak was born in 1469 A.D. at Tolevandi some 30 miles from Lahore. The anniversaries of Sikh Guru’s are known as Gurpurabs and are celebrated with devotion and dedication. GurPurabs mark the culmination of Prabhat Pheris, the early morning procession that start from the gurdwaras and then go around localities singing ‘shabads’. The celebrations also include the three-day Akhand path, during which the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously, from beginning to end without a break.
Sikhs also visit gurdwaras where special programs are arranged and kirtans are sung.Houses and gurdwaras are lit up to add to the festivities. 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 timesThe son of a Kshatriya family, he studied Hinduism and Islam. He got married but then he abandoned his family and became an ascetic. Wandering for many years he came under the influence of both Hindus and Muslims especially Sufi. The Muslim teacher Kabir died in 1398 made a deep impression on Guru Nanak. He began preaching, “There is no Hindu, there is no Mussulman.”
Guru Nanak was succeeded by nine other Gurus. Guru Arjun 1563-1606 the fifth Guru compiled the “Granth Sahib” Noble Book and the tenth Guru, Govind Singh, gave it its final form. The two books are also known as “Adi Granth” Initial Book, and “Dasam Granth” Book of the Tenth Guru. The main shrine of the Sikhs is the Golden Temple of Amritsar, in Punjab, where Sikhism has a real hold. The Temple foundations were laid by the Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Das 1534-1581.
In 1699 Guru Govind Singh introduced the Initiation Rite, drinking sugared water , and abolished caste distinctions. Sikhs were to be distinguished by their name, always with the suffix Singh (lion), and by the five K’s: unshorn hair and beard, comb in the hair, steel bangle on the right wrist, short drawers, and steel dagger .Guru Govind Singh was also responsible for giving the Sikh Religion a marked military character. The soldier-saint became the ideal of the Khalsa or Sikh fraternity. “When all other means have failed, it is righteous to draw the sword”, was one of the basic principles of Guru Govind Singh.
God is the Supreme Guru, “Satnam, Wah Guru”. The Ten Gurus are reverenced because God spoke through them. Nanak had no other Guru but God. His followers, however, reach God through Guru Nanak and the other nine. When the line ended, the God-given “Word of the Gum”, remained embodied in the Granth and the temporal function of the Guru was bestowed on the Khalsa.