To Sikhs, the birthday anniversaries of the Sikh Gurus are cause for joyous festivities known as Gurpurabs. On Gurpurab, Sikhs pay particular respect to their spiritual leaders by congregating at Gurdwaras. Whenever and wherever there are Sikhs, the Gurpurabs are celebrated with tremendous zeal and devotion. Gurpurabs observe the day of their martyrs with solemnity and awe.
The term “Gurpurab” originated during the era of gurus. The name “Guru” (Guru) and the word “Purab” (festival) both originate in the Sanskrit word “parva,” which implies celebration.
According to recorded history, following Guru Nanak Dev ji’s birthday celebration, the subsequent Sikh gurus did the same. Gurpurab is mentioned in the works of Bhai Gurdas (1551-1636). The book was composed during Guru Arjan Dev ji’s reign.
Gurpurab is celebrated for three days. Gurdwaras all across the world commemorate Akhand Path on the day before Gurpurab, the Sikh new year, to honour the Guru. This is something that some individuals even do to their own tenants. Sikhs complete the process by reading the Guru Granth Sahib, their sacred book, for 48 straight hours.
The second day consists of Nagarkirtan, or processions, when Sikhs recite their sacred songs through the streets of their cities and towns. On the third day, everyone is invited to the Gurdwara for a free meal (known as Guru Ka Langar) and a special assembly when the lives and teachings of the gurus are discussed.
Though all the gurpurabs are mentioned in Nanakshahi Calendar but the important Gurpurabs are:
1.Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
2.Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
3.Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji.
4.Martyrdom day of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji.
5.Putting in place of Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Gurprab of Guru Nanak Dev Ji or Guru Nanak Jayanti
Every Sikh places great value to the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the religion’s founder. Guru Nanak Jayanti, the celebration of his birth, is held annually; it is often around November but moves about each year due to the lunar nature of the Indian calendar. The festivities begin off with Prabhat Pheris, which occur several days before Guru Sahib’s actual birthday. Prabhat, derived from the Sanskrit word for sunrise, and Pheris, from which we get the word “rounds,” make a lovely pair. Prabhat Pheris is the day when Sikhs all congregate at their local Gurdwaras to begin singing devotional songs. Everyone in the procession then makes their way to the house of the person who has invited them for religious purposes. The Sangat receives Prashaad when the pheri is finished. Celebrations for Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday begin with Akhand Path and continue for the next three days. On day two, a parade is planned, with Panj Piare at the helm, to go along the city’s major thoroughfares. Flowers are used to embellish the Palki (Palanquin) carrying Guru Granth Sahib. Passers-by bow down before the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs perform a kind of martial art called “Gatka” as other devotees sing hymns throughout the parade. Asa-di-Var (morning hymns) are chanted between 4 and 5 AM on the third day, or the birthday-date. After that, Katha, the reading of poetry and discourses on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, are performed and then the songs from Guru Granth Sahib are recited. Celebrations linger till 2 p.m., when Ardas and Guru ka Langar are held in honour of the spiritual leader.
The path of Rehras Sahib is repeated in some Gurdwaras far into the night, and afterwards kirtan is performed.