Time: Different dates
Venue: All over Punjab
Significance: Birthday anniversary / Martyrdom of reverent Sikh Gurus
Highlights: Prayers and proceedings in Gurdwaras, Serving of Langar (free meal)
Punjab is a land of high devotion and theism. Sikh Gurus are highly revered across the state. It is in the honor and respect of their gurus only that Punjabis observe Gurpurab every year. Gurupurabs seek to celebrate either the birthday or the martyrdom of the Sikh Gurus. Though there are a number of guru purabs observed in Punjab, the two major ones include Guru Nanak Gurpurab - falling in the month of Kartik (October - November) and Guru Gobind Singh Gurpurab - falling in the month of Pausa (December - January). On all the gurpurabs, there is the non-stop recital of the Granth Sahib and organization of religious discourses. Langars (free meals) are served to one and all, with no distinction of caste, creed or religion.
Generally, the same procedures are followed in every gurpurab. The only difference is that the sermons are recited in accordance with the Guru whose gurpurab is being celebrated. Two days before a gurpurab, Akhand Paath is performed in the gurdwaras. The next day, a procession is organized, which is led by the Panj Piare (five senior Sikhs) and the Palki (Palanquin) of Guru Granth Sahib. There is a troop of singers, brass band players, and Gatka (martial art) teams following the Panj Piare and the Palki, while performing their skilled arts. They pass through the main roads decorated for the day and during the procession, the leaders deliver messages of the Guru.
On the day of guru purab, morning hymns (Asa-di-Var) and hymns from the Sikh scriptures are recited early in the morning, at about 4.00-5.00 am. Then, there is a katha, which involves the explanation of the scriptures followed, by the recitation in praise of the Guru. After ardas and distribution of kadha prasad, the langar (free meal) is served. Some gurdwaras also hold night prayers, which begin with rehras (evening prayers) and continue with a kirtan late into the night. At around 2 am, the function ends. Those who cannot attend the function for some reason or another organize kirtan, path, ardas, karah prasad and langar at home and observe gurpurab.
Guru Nanak Gurpurab
The first gurpurab is celebrated in the month of October-November, in remembrance of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. It commemorates the birthday of Guru Nanak. He was born on 15th April 1469 at Roi-Bhoi-di Talwandi, in the present district of Shekhpura (Pakistan), now called Nankena Sahib. The birthday of Guru Nanak falls on Kartik Purnamashi i.e. full moon day of the month of Kartik. The date for the gurpurab is selected as per the lunar Indian calendar and hence, it varies every year.
Guru Gobind Singh Gurupurab
Sikhs commemorate the birthday of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh as another major Gurupurab. Guru Gobind Singh was born at Patna Sahib on 22nd December 1666. Every year, in the month of December-January (decided as per the lunar calendar), the anniversary of Guru Gobind Sigh is celebrated with great splendor.
Guru Arjan Gurupurab
The martyrdom day of Guru Arjan, the fifth Sikh Guru, is celebrated as an important gurpurab. It generally falls in the month of May or June. As per legend, the great Guru was tortured to death at Lahore, under the orders of Mughal Emporer Jahangir, on 25th May 1606. Apart from the usual proceedings, a special sweetened drink made out of milk, sugar and water, called chhabeel, is freely distributed on this day. Since the festival falls in the hottest season, this drink proves helpful in beating the heat.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Gurupurab
Every year, in the month of November, the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru, is celebrated as gurpurab. He had refused to change his religion and accept Islam, so he was beheaded by Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. This event had taken place in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, on 11th November 1675.