Guru Nanak Jayanti or Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurupurab is the festival where Sikhs celebrate the birth of their first guru — Guru Nanak. The literal meaning of the word Gurupurab is ‘the day of Guru’. According to the Hindu calendar, Puranmashi of Kartik month in 1469 is the birthdate of the guru who is the founder of Sikhism.
This year, the date is falling on November 30 and it is the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. He was born in the Talwindi region. His birthplace is now called Nankanan Sahib and is located in Pakistan.
To celebrate this important day, Sikhs take out Prabhat Pheris. They are early morning processions wherein people start gathering at the gurdwara and then go around the locality singing hymns.
In most gurdwaras, a non-stop reading of the holy book of the Sikhs called Guru Granth Sahib is also done. This ritual is called Akhand Path.
A day before Gurupurab, a procession called Nagarkirtan is organised. There are devotional singers in the procession who sing hymns. The procession has a palanquin of Guru Granth Sahib and the Sikh flag called Nishan Sahib.
On Guru Nanak Jayanti, the celebrations start with Amrit Vela at around 4 am in the morning. Starting the day with the morning hymns called Asaa-ki-Vaar, devotees then move on to the reading of the scripture called Katha. The devotees then sing hymns in the praise of Guru Nanak.
A community meal called Langar is then organised for the devotees who come for the celebration. Langar is organised by volunteers at gurdwaras. It is open to all, irrespective of caste, class and gender, and generally happens at most gurdwaras on other days as well apart from Guru Nanak Jayanti.
After evening prayer sessions, there are also night prayers organised at some gurdwaras. There is a kirtan and followers of the Guru sing Gurbani late in the night, with celebrations going on as late as 2 am.
It is an important festival for the followers of Sikhism and they celebrate it fervently.