Sikhs celebrate the birthdays of all of their ten gurus as 'Gurpurab'. The birth anniversary of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak is known and celebrated as 'Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav'. It is one of the most sacred festivals for Sikhs and will be celebrated on November 23 this year. Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji was born in 1469 in Talwandi, a village about 65 kilometers west of Lahore. During the course of his life, Guru Nanak traveled far and wide, teaching people the message of one God who dwells in every one.
He set up a unique spiritual, social, and political platform based on equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue. His words are enshrined as 974 poetic hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib. It is part of Sikh religious belief that the spirit of Guru Nanak's sanctity, divinity and religious authority descended upon each of the nine subsequent Gurus.
The celebrations usually begin with 'Prabhat Pheris' or early morning processions at Gurudwaras. Generally, two days before the birth anniversary, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is done. The day prior to Gurpurab, a procession, referred to as Nagar Kirtan is organised. It is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones).
OnGurpurab, the prayers begin at about 4 AM. This time of the day is referred to as Amrit Vela. The day begins with the singing of Asa Ki Vaar (morning hymns), combination of Katha (exposition of the scripture) and Kirtan (hymns from the Sikh scriptures), in the praise of the Guru.
Langar, a community kitchen hallmark of Sikh faith, is arranged at Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea is that everyone, irrespective of caste, class or creed should be offered food in the spirit of service and devotion.