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Gurupurabs are celebrations of anniversary of birth and death of any of the gurus. There are three important Gurupurabs that are celebrated in Punjab. These are the birth centenaries of Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Gobind Singh, the death anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Tej Bahadur. The installation of Guru Granth Sahib in Golden Temple (Harmandir) is also celebrated as a Gurupurab. The festival of Baisakhi and the martyrdom day of the children of Guru Gobind Singh are also observed as Gurupurabs.

On any of the Gurupurabs, a grand festival is held to mark the occasion. Observing these anniversaries is an important part of the lives of the Sikhs. The Gurupurabs are celebrated by conducting religious services and festive celebrations which include processions, fairs, song and dance performances, martial art performances and speeches by prominent people.

Significance of Gurupurabs

The old records show that gurus succeeding Guru Nanak Dev celebrated his birth anniversary with full celebrations. The date of death of the first four gurus was noted on a leaf in the first scripture prepared by the fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev. The word Gurupurab was coined in the time of the gurus. The word ‘purb' is derived from the Sanskrit work parva meaning ‘festival’. The word Gurupurab appears at least five times in the scriptures of Bhai Gurdas, which were written around the time of Guru Arjan Dev.

Date of Gurupurabs

The Gurupurab marketing the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev is usually celebrated in November. The date of the Gurupurab varies and is calculated as per the lunar calendar. Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary is usually celebrated in the months of December or January. The death anniversary of Guru Arjan Singh falls in the months of May or June. The death anniversary of Guru Tej Bahadur is observed on 11th November when he was beheaded by the Mughals. The sacrifice of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh is observed in December. The installation of the Guru Granth Sahib is observed in the months of September or October.

Celebration of Gurupurabs

Any of the Gurupurab is celebrated with religious service. An Akhand path (non-stop recitation) of the Guru Granth Sahib lasting for 48 hours is an important part of the celebration. Kirtans, bhajans and reciting hymns during early morning, daytime and evening is a worship ritual. Devotees also carry out processions with the Guru Granth Sahib. There is also firework display in the evenings. The gurudwaras are beautifully lit on the day of any of the Gurupurabs and people can be taking out processions while reciting hymns and praises.

Gurupurabs Fairs

During some of the Gurupurabs such as Baisakhi, martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons, etc. special fairs are conducted to mark the occasion. These fairs are colourful and people enjoy shopping, various rides and different types of local traditions and art forms depending on the occasion being observed.

Customs & Traditions

On Gurupurabs, people ideally get up early in the morning and cleanse themselves to visit the Gurudwaras. Celebrations start in the wee hours and go up till late night. People who are unable to attend the service at the Gurudwaras conduct paths, kirtans, ardas and langar at their homes.

Gurupurab Rituals at Gurudwaras

Special services are held in Gurudwaras on Gurupurabs. Speeches and narrations are given on the lifespan and wisdom contributed by the gurus. Langars or community meals are organized in the Gurudwaras and eating in the langar is considered as a worthy act.

The celebrations of Gurupurab of Guru Nanak Dev celebrations begin at dawn with recitation of Asa di Var and recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib. Katha, speeches and narrations follow the recitation and go on till afternoon. After this, the Prasad is given out and langar is served. Some of the Gurudwaras also organize night prayers which begin in the evening and go on till 2 AM.

Other Gurupurabs are also celebrated in the similar way across the gurudwaras in the state and country. The Gurupurab for Guru Arjan Dev is celebrated in the summer months. Cold sweetened lassi is provided in the gurudwaras.

Gurupurab Processions

Processions are held in every town and city and devout Sikhs can be seen marching in these processions wearing traditional attire and singing hymns in praise of the gurus. Being a part of these processions is a noble act.

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