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Sikh Festivals

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Anniversaries associated with the lives of the Sikh Gurus are referred to as Gurpurabs (festivals). The birth anniversary of each of the ten gurus of the Khalsa Pantha is celebrated as Gurpurab. Of these the important ones are the birthdays of Guru Nanak and Guru Govind Singh and the martyrdom days of Guru Arjun Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur. The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak or Guru Nanak's jayanti, which falls in the months of October-November, is enthusiastically celebrated by Sikhs as gurpurab. Akhand pathas, community feasts, kar seva and religious processions form part of the festivities. Gurpurabs mark the culmination of Prabhat Pheris, the early morning religious procession which goes around the localities singing shabads (hymns).

A special shabad called Asa ji di War is sung very early in the morning.  These pheris generally start three weeks before the festival. The celebrations start with the three-day akhand path, in which the Guru Granth Sahib is read continuously from beginning to end without a break. Conclusion of the reading coincides with the day of the festival. The Granth Sahib is also carried in procession on a float decorated with flowers throughout the village or city. Five armed guards, who represent the Panj Pyares, head the procession carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Free sweets and langar or community lunches are also offered to everyone irrespective of religious faith. Sikhs visit gurdwaras where special programmes are arranged and kirtans (religious songs) sung. Houses and gurudwaras are lit up to add to the festivities. On the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev kachi lassi (sweetened milk) is offered to the thirsty passers-by to commemorate the death of the Guru who was burnt to death during the hot months of May and June. 


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