Guru Nanak Jayanti is the celebration of the birth of Guru Nanak – the founder of Sikhism. It falls on a different date every year.
Guru Nanak was the first Sikh Guru. He was born in a small town in India called Talwandi around 500 years ago. His young life was marked by acts of kindness and compassion. Early in his life people in the village he worked in began to gather to hear his ideas about how to love and how to follow God.
The word guru comes from Hindi and Punjabi, from the Sanskrit ‘guru’ meaning ‘weighty’ and ‘grave’. In the context of the Sikh guru, it refers to a teacher and a leader.
When he was 30 years old, Nanak disappeared on morning near a river. All that the villagers could find were his clothes. Nanak reappeared three days later but was silent for an entire day. When he finally spoke he told everyone that he had been with God and that He had asked Nanak to tell the villagers how they too could become closer to God. Nanak said: ‘There is only God’s path and I shall follow God’s path.’
After this Guru Nanak devoted his life to travelling India, teaching people about God’s message. The people who followed his teachings became known as ‘Sikhs’ which means ‘learners’.
Guru Nanak’s Birthday is celebrated as a way of honouring the beginning of the Sikh faith and remembering Guru Nanak’s message that everyone is equal.
Every year people celebrate Guru Nanak’s Birth with fireworks and processions through the streets. In Sikh temples – Gurdwaras – the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, is read aloud in full. Candles are lit in homes and in public places like offices and shops. Children are given new clothes to mark the day and many people have a holiday from work and school.
To all our colleagues, customers and friends observing this religious celebration, we wish you a happy Guru Nanak Jayanti!