Commemorations and Celebrations

Since Sikhi has strong historic and present day links with Hinduism and the Punjab region of India, the Hindu calendar is generally used to fix the Sikh festival year. Since people were already gathered together on these days, the Gurus decided to use these occasions to preach their message. Gurpurbs is the term to describe days connected with the lives of the Gurus but there are also melas. Melas (fairs) were traditional Hindu celebrations.

Gurpurbs:

– Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji – November. The birth of Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru. – Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji – 5th January. The birth of the last human Guru. – Martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev Ji – 16th June. In addition to Nagar keertan (street procession) and Akhand path (continuous

reading of Guru Granth Sahib Ji), – Guru Arjun Dev Ji’s martyrdom is commemorated by Sikhs having stalls offering free drinks to passers-by. This recalls the original events when Guru Hargobind Ji offered the Sikhs sweet drinks to calm down after the execution of Guru Arjun Dev, the first Sikh martyr. – Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji – 24th November.

Akhand paths (the continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji) take place during the gurburbs. Sikhs try to attend the gurdwara during this period with the final day of the meeting falling on the day of the festival.

Different hymns are sung on the birth of Guru Nanak Dev (his own and those of Bhai Gurdas) and Guru Gobind Singh (those of Bhai Nand Lal) and the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (his own).

Melas:

– Vaisakhi – 14 April – birth of the Khalsa, which is the Sikh community but also the living Guru, the Guru Khalsa Panth. Vaisakhi is marked by amrit ceremonies as it is the most popular time of year for people to join the Khalsa. – Hola Mohalla – marked by martial arts and other competitions. – Diwali – October/November – release of Guru Hargobind in 1619 as a prisoner of conscience – celebrated with fireworks.

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