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Home > Religious Festivals > Sikh Festivals
Sikh Festivals
Gurupurab Baisakhi
Guru NanakSikhism, youngest religion practiced in India, was founded by Guru Nanak. He was born at Talwandi near Lahore, now in Pakistan. Sikhism started as a reaction to Hinduism that had become too ritualistic. Owing to the increasing hostility between Hindus and Muslims, Nanak tried to bring about an understanding between the two communities. He rejected the caste system of Hindus, preached monotheism and did not believe in idolatry. He accepted the Hindu doctrine of karma and transmission of souls. Nanak`s disciples came to be called Sikhs. The Sikhs have ten gurus. The last guru, Gobind Singh, organized the community in Akal Khalsa (meaning pure). He abolished the institution of the Gurus.

The first five members of the Sikh community were called Panj Pyare (the beloved five) or saint soldiers. He commanded the Sikhs to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, The five Ks. They are kesh (A Sikh never cuts or trims his hair), kanga (a wooden comb), kara (special iron bracelet), kacha (a pair of knee length shorts) and kirpan (a 6" to 9" long, dagger-like or knife-life weapon).In a move to end social divisions the five dropped their surnames and took the common name Singh, meaning "lion", a reminder of the need for courage. At the same time, the Guru gave Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning "princess", to emphasise dignity and complete equality. He gave to the Sikhs Adi Granth (a Holy Scripture of Sikhs) as the symbolic representation of the Gurus. It is also called Granth Sahib. It contains the writings of first five gurus, the ninth guru, a couplet by Guru Gobind Singh and writings of Hindu and Muslims saints, mainly of Kabir.

The Granth Sahib is the central object of Sikh worship and ritual. The non-stop reading of the Granth Sahib known as Akhand Path, lasting two days and nights, is performed on important religious festivals. Fasting is not stipulated for any festival - in fact, most are celebrated with a communal meal at the langar or with large family gatherings. Most festivals involve a visit to gurudwara (Sikh shrine) for prayer, singing of passages read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

LangarThe festivals are mainly religious and they organize kirtans (hymn-singing), katha (discourse), ardas (supplication), karah parshad (consecrated food) and langar (free food distribution from the gurudwara kitchen). Since most Sikhs were originally Hindus, a large number of Hindu festivals are still celebrated by them.

The Sikh festivals are based on a combination of the lunar calendar and the solar calendar of Northern India. Though they are not static within the year of the Gregorian calendar, they do not vary much more than by a fortnight from year to year. There are two broad categories of festivals; the celebration of the birth or martyrdom of some of the Gurus (these events are collectively known as Gurpurabs), and festivals that celebrate important events in the development of the religion itself.
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