Guru Nanak Dev, the first Sikh guru and the founder of the Sikhism was born on the full moon day in the month of Kartik as per the Hindu calendar. Hence, his birthday is celebrated as Guru Nanak Jayanti in India. The date falls in October or November in the Gregorian calendar. Guru Nanak was born in the year 1469 at Rai-Bhoi di Talwandi, some 30 miles away from Lahore, in the present Pakistan. The Sikhs visit Gurdwaras where special programmes are arranged and kirtans (religious songs) are sung. Houses of Sikhs and Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) are decorated and lit up to add to the festivities.
Guru Nanak Jayanti marks the culmination of the Prabhat Pheris, the early morning processions that start from the Gurdwaras and then proceeds around the localities singing ‘shabads’ (hymns). The celebration also includes the three-day Akhand path, during which the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously, from the beginning to the end without taking a break. On the day of the festival, the Guru Granth Sahib is also carried in a procession on a float, decorated with flowers, throughout the village or city. In Amritsar, it is wonderful to see it.
When Guru Nanak was young, he showed no signs of being different from the other children. In school, he was very bright and learnt quickly whatever the village schoolmaster would teach him. At the age of 7, he even composed a poem in praise of God which was appreciated by all. When he grew older, he started spending most of his time in the company of holy men. His father did not appreciate this since he was a businessman and wanted his son to take care of the family business. But Guru Nanak was not interested in it. His parents got him married instead. But marriage too did not deter him from pursuing his interest. He wanted to seek God. So he left his home and his wife and travelled far and wide, composing and singing hymns in praise of God. He disliked caste distinction and hated injustice. He died on September 22, 1539. This year Guru Nanak Jayanti falls on November 25.