Celebrations for 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji

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In a fitting tribute to one of the greatest spiritual leaders who ever walked this earth, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th Prakash Utsav (birth anniversary) is drawing global attention. Year-long celebrations around the world will culminate on 12th November, the day on which Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birthday is traditionally celebrated. An exponential rise in visitors is expected in Punjab and other places of prominence in the Sikh tradition. Gurdwaras historically associated with Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji are likely to receive the maximum attention and are preparing to receive the faithful.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the Sikh faith, was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time. Raised in a Hindu home and conversant with Islamic traditions, the Guru had a deep understanding of spirituality and his teachings were original and continue to be relevant and universal to this date. His teachings, expressed through remarkable poetry, speak of equality, brotherhood and peace. He laid down a set of guiding principles that he believed led to a spiritually fulfilling life, and these are followed by millions of Sikhs globally.

Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s ideas and philosophy emerged from living in a deeply divided social environment that was entrenched in superstition and bigotry. Above all things, he wanted to liberate people from their medieval mindsets and hypocrisy. As illustrated by accounts in the janamsakhis (anecdotal life stories) about his early life and subsequent travels, he employed derision, humour, caution and informed argument to drive home his point. He questioned baseless rituals, and he spoke out emphatically and persuasively against discrimination on the lines of caste, creed and gender. He also emphasised the importance of being a responsible, involved householder and discouraged asceticism as a means to spiritual enlightenment.

In gurdwaras, devotees sit together for the community meal called langar
In gurdwaras, devotees sit together for the community meal called langar
Image courtesy: ©Shutterstock/Soloviov Vadym

Seeking to put an end to antiquated, false ideas of social difference, Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji introduced the concepts of sangat (the congregation) and pangat (neat rows). He highlighted the equality of all members of the congregation in the eyes of the creator, asking his followers to be seated together in neat rows to partake of simple meals (langar) without distinguishing between rich or poor, man or woman, high-born or otherwise.

On the occasion of Gurpurab, prayers are held in gurdwaras nationwide and people gather to sit together for the community meal called langar.

The gurdwara located in Kartarpur is the place where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the last 18 years of his life.
The gurdwara located in Kartarpur is the place where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the last 18 years of his life.
Image courtesy: ©Wikipedia/CC BY 4.0/Sinha twitter

An important development that took place on this occasion this year is the opening of Kartarpur corridor which allows Indian pilgrims an access to the holy shrine located in Pakistan near the India-Pakistan border in Punjab.

The town has a great historical importance for the Sikh community. A gurdwara located in Kartarpur is the place where Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji spent the last 18 years of his life.