Gurupurab, Guru Nanak Jayanti, and Prakash Utsav are diverse names of one festival that is the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism. The festival is celebrated by Sikh and Sindhi communities across the globe. Prabhat Pheris, 48 hours Akhand Path, and Kirtans are performed in every Gurdwara in honor of the first Guru to seek his blessings. People light their houses with Diyas and fairy lights as well as visit the Gurdwaras to do Sewa and pray for everyone’s good health and happiness.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born in Talwandi, Lahore, which is now in Pakistan, in a Hindu Kshatriya family to Mehta Kalu Chand and Mata Tripti Devi. There are two beliefs about his birth date, as per the Nanakshahi calendar he was born on April 14 on Vaisakhi, while the Hindu calendar claims that he was born in the month of Kartik on a full moon night which comes in the month of October or November. The majority Sikh community celebrates the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the Kartik month that falls in October or November.
At a very tender age, Guru Nanak Sahib developed an interest in divine studies, spirituality, studying religions, god, and meditation. Historians and local folklores claim that by the age of 34 he became a public preacher and Mardana became his first devotee. Guru Nanak Sahib then traveled to different states in the country and abroad to spread his love and teachings to enlighten the people.
All the hymns and kirtans written by Guru Nanak Sahib have been compiled in Japji Sahib a holy scripture for the Sikh community. Guru Nanak Dev Ji then returned to Kartarpur, which is near his birthplace, and lived there till his last breath along with his family and first devotee. Kartarpur is now a place that is considered holy for the Sikh community and is home to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught and asked his followers to serve humanity and be good humans first before being a good Hindu or a good Muslim. According to him, there are no Hindus and no Muslims, there are just humans, and serving humanity is the only religion. He also emphasized making an effort to escape the human traits that give rise to evil thoughts for others like ego, anger, lust, greed, and attachment.
Guru Nanak Dev Ji was also monotheistic and he believed that God is timeless, shapeless, and invisible. Apart from these beliefs, he was also an advocate of speaking the truth at all times, praying for everyone’s good, and helping the needy and unfortunate brothers and sisters.
On the pious occasion of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary Akhand Path, which is 48 hours non-stop reading of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs is carried out in every Gurdwara. The Akhand Path starts two days before the birth anniversary and the path is done in every Gurdwara in Punjab and across the globe.
A day before the Jayanti, a grand procession is carried out in every neighborhood. The procession is a part of Nagar Kirtan and is led by the Panj Pyaras, the 5 guards who carry the Nishan Sahib, the flag of Sikhism. Singers singing the hymns, children displaying their skills by performing Gatka which is a type of martial art, elders, along with the ladies of the house participate in the procession. People spread the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji through this procession.
On the main day, people get up early in the morning to sing Asa-di-var, the morning prayer. Priests in Gurdwaras also recite prayers in honor of Guru Nanak Dev. Later in the afternoon, langars are organized in every Gurdwara across Punjab wherein Sikhs do Sewa and then accept the food as prasad.
Many sweet dishes are prepared as prasad to be distributed among the visitors, especially on Gurupurab. Kada Prashad is one of the mouth-watering sweet dishes that is served in every Gurdwara throughout the year. This dish is made with sugar, desi ghee, and wheat flour. For afternoon langar (community lunch), urad and chana dal are prepared which has flavors of local Indian spices and a divine taste. Chana dal khichdi, Meethe Chawal along with rajma Chawal and Amritsari kulcha are also prepared in every household and in some Gurdwaras.
Although Guru Nanak Dev Jayanti is celebrated in every village, district, and city in Punjab yet one may visit Golden Temple in Amritsar to witness the festivities, rituals, and customs in full bloom. The city is well connected to various modes of transportation such as airways, railways, and roadways. Amritsar is nearly 450km via NH 44, 1,700km via NH 48, 1900km via NH 19, and 2,600km via NH 44 from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively.
Shree Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport is the nearest airport to the Golden temple. The airport receives direct and connecting flights from all parts of India and abroad, hence finding flights and making reservations would not be a problem. From the airport, one has to travel another 13km in a taxi, or a bus to reach the temple.
Amritsar junction railway station which is 2km away from the golden temple is the nearest. From the station, one may take locally available transportation such as a taxi, auto, or a bus to reach the Golden Temple. The station receives trains from all parts of the country hence one will not come across any inconvenience while booking train tickets. Tourists arriving from Delhi may consider traveling by Shane Punjab, or Shaheed Express, from Mumbai by Paschim Express, and from Kolkata by Durgiana Express.
If you wish to travel by roadways one may either book inter-state tourist buses to reach Amritsar or may drive to the city in a personal vehicle. Bus fares for a single passenger start from Rs.400 which may go up to Rs.1000 and above in case you select Volvo buses that are equipped with various facilities. Direct buses from Delhi to Amritsar take approximately 7 hours.