When is Guru Nanak's Birthday?
The plain and simple facts are that no one knows exactly when to celebrate Guru Nanak's birthday gurpurab.
Guru Nanak's Gurpurab Celebration in Nankana Sahib
Photo © [Khalsa Panth]
It seems Sikhs have picked the most convenient time to celebrate as during the full moon which shines during the month which is exactly opposite the month of his recorded birth . It seems too many celebrations took place around the time of his actual birth (prakash), so a couple of centuries ago, (give or take a few decades depending on which calendar one happens to use), Sikhs matter-of-factly set aside a time when not a lot else happened to be going on.
Guru Nanak wrote:
"mannai mag na chalai panth ||
The faithful do not follow empty religious rituals." SGGS||3
There is nothing empty about the ritual of observing Guru Nanak's birth. In fact in many places the ritual of celebration is packed completely full for at least three days. The truth is that Sikhs make up for any confusion of dates by wholeheartedly observing the commemoration of Nanak's gurpurab.
In Guru Nanak's hometown Nankana Sahib (Pakistan) celebrations go on for at least 3 days. First, an entire reading of Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture is read over a 48 hour period of time. Next, kirtan, the singing of hymns, begins before dawn and continues for 24 hours throughout the full-moon lit night as fireworks explode. Finally, Siri Guru Granth Sahib is paraded down the streets on a float through the town for several hours in a Nagar Kirtan, accompanied by devotees singing hymns and then returned to the gurdwara. All the while, langar, the Guru's divine dining, sacred meal service, is available for any and every hungry person.