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Guru Nanak’s 550th: Lights, swords and service

| Updated on November 15, 2019 Published on November 14, 2019

The birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was celebrated across India with a host of colourful processions and delectable community langars

The year 2019 marks the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev. Believed to have been born on a full moon day in the Hindu month of Karthik, in a village in present-day Pakistan that is today venerated as Sri Nankana Sahib, his birthday is observed as Prakash Parv and was marked on November 12 this year.

Religious activities were organised throughout India to mark the occasion. In New Delhi, on November 11, a grand nagar kirtan, or procession, wound its way from Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib to Gurdwara Nanak Piao Sahib, and several kirtan durbars (gatherings) were held at different locations on November 12.

A distinctly Sikh custom, the nagar kirtan procession was accompanied by the singing of hymns, decorative floats commemorating Sikh history, gatka sword dancers — a martial art form associated with the Sikhs of the Punjab region and the Tanoli (Pathan tribe) and Gujjar communities residing in the mountainous regions of northern Pakistan.

Lakhs of people joined in the celebrations at the many illuminated gurudwaras across the Capital, which has a significant Sikh population. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) organised Guru Ka Langar (free community meals) for four days at 50 locations across the city, including hospitals, railway stations, bus stands and slum areas. Their target was to feed around 2,00,000 people a day, especially the needy and poor. The langar spread included dal, sabzi, roti, rice, fruits and kheer, which were served during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Shanker Chakravarty is a Delhi-based photojournalist

Published on November 14, 2019