Sikhs across India mark Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary with fervour (Roundup, combining different series)November 13th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) As dawn broke Thursday, hundreds of Sikhs across India thronged gurudwaras for morning prayers to mark the 539th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the world’s youngest religion that also has followers among the vast Indian diaspora worldwide.Taking the lead from the Golden Temple, the temporal seat of the Sikhs in Amritsar in Punjab, most gurudwaras marked Gurupurab, as the day is observed with the singing of Asa-di-var and hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book.
This was followed by religious discourses, historical lectures, recitation of poems in praise of Guru Nanak and the distribution of “Karah Parshad (sweet pudding)” and “Langar (food cooked in a community kitchen)”.
In many cities across the country, processions led by young children dressed as the Panj Pyaras, or five beloved disciples of the Guru, were taken out even as groups of youths staged martial arts displays.
This year’s Gurupurab was particularly auspicious as the 300th anniversary of the writing of the Guru Granth Sahib has just been observed.
In keeping with the spirit of the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal cleaned shoes and utensils at the Harmandar Sahib, as the Golden Temple is also known to pay obeisance to the Sikh guru.
Badal, accompanied by his wife, Surinder Kaur, reached the Golden Temple complex to pay obeisance. They first went to the shoes counter of the shrine and cleaned footwear of devotees who had come to the shrine.
Later, both went to the “Langar (community feast)” hall where they partook of the food and then washed the utensils used by the devotees.
Gurudwaras across Punjab as well as in neighbouring Haryana and Himachal Pradesh were decorated with lights to celebrate the occasion.
Langars were also organised by the devout along highways in Punjab for those travelling Thursday.
In New Delhi, early morning prayers, bathing in holy ponds and distribution of food marked Gurupurab.
Devotees in large numbers offered prayers at Bangla Sahib gurudwara, Rakabganj gurudwara and Sisganj gurudwara. All the Sikh shrines were beautifully lit and decorated to mark the occasion.
“I offered prayers at Bangla Sahab gurudwara early Thursday. There was a long queue of devotees paying obeisance at the shrine,” said Gurpreet Kaur, a devotee.
Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Mangement Committee (DSGMC) had made special arrangements at major gurudwaras to manage the large crowd of devotees.
“Several sewadars (helpers) have been deployed inside and around gurudwaras to manage the rush,” said DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna.
To mark the occasion, a US-based Sikh organization has prepared letters for diaspora Sikh parents, which will be sent along with their children to the schools, so that they can read and share the Sikh guru’s message of universal brotherhood.
On the lines of the American Church, the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) wants the teachings of the first Sikh guru to be propagated in school classrooms in the US.
“SCORE, through various mass media, is urging parents, especially of the diaspora, to take an off (on Nov 13) and spend the 539th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak with their children and narrate them stories about the life and teachings of Guru Nanak,” Rajwant Singh, the Washington-based chairman of SCORE told IANS.
The organisation is requesting Sikh parents to send with their children a note that their teachers can read in the class for the benefit of other students.
“This will definitely create a sense of pride in Sikh children and help in creating more understanding about our faith and tradition,” Singh said.
Guru Nanak Dev was born in 1469 at Nankana Sahib, a town near Lahore, now in Pakistan.
A 2,500-strong group of devotees had left for Pakistan Tuesday to take part in the Gurpurab celebrations at Nankana Sahib.