Sikhs celebrate the Birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, around the world. Nanak was born in April, but his birthday is celebrated on the day of the first full moon in November. In 2013, this falls on November 21. Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism, and along with nine others helped to form the Sikh religion.
Guru Nanak’s main three contributions to society were teaching about the following: the equality of humans, the equality of women and the universal message of all people. Because of his contributions to society, he is revered by the Sikhs, and they celebrate his birthday annually.
President Obama delivered this message:
“I want to extend my best wishes to all our Sikh friends, across the United States and around the world, who this weekend are observing the anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh Guru. This sacred time is an occasion to reflect on Guru Nanak’s timeless teachings and the principles that are at the heart of Sikhism, including the equality of all human beings, the pluralism we cherish in diverse societies and the compassion we owe one another. Here in the United States, we’re grateful to the many Sikh Americans who give life to these values and enrich our country every day, reminding us that these shared principles are not only at the heart of the Sikh faith, they are central to who we are as Americans.”
Sikhs celebrate Guru Nanak’s birthday by reading from the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. The book is read continuously from beginning to end, over 48 hours. The readings often take 2-3 hours a time. The readings start two days before Nanak’s birthday, and culminate on the morning of his birthday.
On the day before Nanak’s birthday there are processions held in India and England. These parades are lead by five people, which represent the original Five Beloved Ones, or the Panj Pare. There are also singers, musicians and martial arts demonstrations. Most celebrations include fireworks as well.
Many Sikhs take the day off of work to celebrate the Birthday of Guru Nanak. Gurdwaras, the prayer houses for Sikhs, are decorated with flowers, lights and flags. Sikhs join together to pray, sing and eat throughout the whole day. The day begins before sunrise, at about 4 am. Hymns are sung from the Guru Granth Sahib, along with poems and lectures about Sikhism. After this Karah Parshad is blessed and passed around. Karah Parshad is a sweet pudding, made from semolina flour, sugar and butter. The whole congregation shares the meal, and often stays up late into the next day.