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Sikhs gather from across globe at Nankana Sahib to celebrate 551st birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak

Sikhs gather from across globe at Nankana Sahib to celebrate 551st birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak

By Dr. Saeed Ahmad Ali

LAHORE, Nov 29 (APP):Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus writes in the Guru Granth Sahib, central religious scripture of Sikhism– Even emperors and kings having heaps of wealth and expanded dominion cannot make a comparison with an ant who is filled with the love of God.
Nanakism is a revolutionary movement which refuses the plethora of empty rituals, superstitions and hypocrisies in an exceedingly human society, which is holding the
people in a tight grip with the authority of an orthodox religiosity.
The most famous teachings’ crux, attributed to the Guru Nanak is that there is just only one God, and that all human beings can direct approach or access to God with no need of rituals or priests. 
His most radical social teachings denounced the class structure including caste system (particularly prevailing in Hindu society) and taught that everyone is equal on earth, regardless of any caste or gender.
According to various traditions, Baba Nanak was inspired by a unique and powerful spiritual experience that awarded him with a vision of the true nature of God.
Adopting various spiritual meditations Baba Guru Nanak concluded the idea that the way to find spiritual growth was only through thinking power, and through living in a virtuous way that reflects the feelings of presence of the divine within each human being on earth.
Guru Naka Jayanti (birth celebrations) fall on the full moon day of the Kartik month of the lunisolar (Hindu) calendar, which falls around in November, according to the western calendar.
mThis year, the 551st birth anniversary celebrations of the Guru Nanak Sahib would be celebrated from November 28 to November 30, at Nankana Sahib, Evacuee Trust Property Board official sources said.
The Birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib falls on Kartik Puranmashi (the full moon day) begins two days earlier than the actual date. It is obligatory that on the first day of the celebrations, Sikhs read their holy book – the Guru Granth Sahib, from beginning to end.
To commemorate and pay homage to their spiritual leader, a large number of Sikh pilgrims, every year from India and from different parts of the world, reach and gather at the Gurdwara Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib, which is the birth place of Guru Nanak, in Pakistan.
However, this year the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to affect festivities with a reduced number of the Sikh pilgrims.
Noted educationist and Sikh activist in Pakistan Professor Kalyan Singh told APP that on the day of the birthday celebrations, the pilgrims and followers perform the ritual Gurupurav with ‘Prabhat Pheri’, which begins with an early morning procession. 
Throughout the day, the devotees chant and sing hymns, a special prayer called ‘Rehrasi’ and is organised at sunset, he said. 
Kalyan Singh informed APP that the day prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as ‘Nagarkirtan’ is organized, which is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones).
The devotees then head the procession by holding the Sikh religious flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the famous Palki (Palanquin) of Guru Granth Sahib, he explained.
They are also followed by various teams of religious singers singing hymns, while pilgrims sing the ‘chorus’. 
The various brass bands play different tunes, and ‘Gatka’ teams display their talent of swordsmanship through various martial arts including mock battles’ display by using traditional weapons, said Ajeet Singh, a pilgrim from Peshawar who reached Lahore on Friday.
According to a quote of Guru Garanth Sahib (the Sikh holy book), it is narrated that Baba Nanak was born at around 1:20 am (late in the night). Therefore, the respect prayers start early in the evening and end late in the night till then, as worshippers sing ‘Gurbani’ (hymns from Guru Granth Sahib) to praise their spiritual leader.
This festival is closed at about 2:00 am.
This is one of the main sacred festivals in Sikh community, and they also celebrate Gurupurav ritual at the Shrine (Gurdwara), the home of Baba Kalu (Father of Guru Nanak) and Mata Tripta (his Mother), which was also known as Gurdwara Janam Asthan, which is located at Rai-Bhoi-di-Talwandi, in the present district of Nanakana Sahib, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) official sources said. 
Sikhs and devotees from all over the world gather here at Nankana Sahib and celebrate the Gurupurav every year with great devotion and enthusiasm, they informed.
It may be mentioned here that Guru Nanak birthday celebrations are organized by the Sikh community all over the world and is one of the most supreme festivals in the Sikh calendar. 
The celebrations are very special and colorful in both sides of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh (in India), the most specific at Nankana Sahib (Pakistan) including England and many other locations in the world.
Even in Pakistan some Hindus in Sindh celebrate this festival.In Nankana Sahib the procession with religious zeal pours into the streets of the city. The local Muslim community also pays respect to the great leader and help Sikh pilgrims to decorate the passage covering it with the banners.

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