The foundation of Sikhism are the teachings of the Gurus. Our spiritual guidance, sense of selflessness, and lives full of honesty and unity, have all evolved from the teachings of the first Guru, Guru Nanak, and the nine successive Gurus after him.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Sikhs celebrate and honor all ten of the Gurus with an earnestness that knows no bounds. In our community, the celebrations are called Gurupurabs, and they are quite literally “festivals of the gurus”. There are 10 separate celebrations a year.
The Gurpurab of Guru Nanak, is arguably the most important celebration. Guru Nanak brought enlightenment to both Sikhs and the world, and because of this, his celebration is the festival of light. It falls around the time of October / November.
Three Weeks before the festival(s), Prabhat Pheris will take place. This is a procession that takes place at dawn, and the devoted ones provide singing and offerings of tea and sweets in preparation for the festival. For three days, the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikhs, and the embodiment of the eternal Guru) is read, without pause. At the conclusion of Prabhat Pheris and akhand path (the reading), the Gurupurab festival begins.
The festival is a time of love, honor, and unity, and it is absolutely stunning. Houses are decorated and splashed with lights as the physical representations of our joy. The Granth Sahib is placed on a float of flowers, and is the centerpiece of a procession of devotees. Local bands accompany the procession and offer praise through their musical talents; choruses fill the air with their voices, and guards who symbolize the Panj Pyares, lead the way.
As we believe in both service and true devotion, the Gurupurab is open to everyone. No matter what your religious affiliation, during our festival, what’s ours is yours. Meals and sweets are offered to any who attend.
Each Gurupurab is a time of feverish celebration and faith. It’s a wonderful thought that Sikhs all over the world are celebrating and sharing similar moments all over the world, multiple times a year.