At Gurdwara Dam Dama Sahib, Delhi
Sikhism teaches us to work hard and with honesty, to have faith in god, and to share with the needy. It also teaches us to face life’s challenges head-on. The beautiful and simple teachings, of this religion and its gurus, truly have a universal appeal. I especially love the emphasis on equality, which many people could be schooled in even today. Gurpurab or Guru Nanak Jayanti is one of the main festivals of Sikhs. The birth of the first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is celebrated on this day.
My grandfather tells me Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib in Chandni Chowk, has always been the heart of celebrations in Delhi. The Guru Granth Sahib is moved to the nearby Gandhi Park, an area large enough to hold the attending crowds on this auspicious day. He remembers visiting this Gurdwara with his large family every year since childhood. In fact, my great-grandfather allegedly never hired Sikh chauffeurs, so they couldn’t ask for the day off on Gurpurab!
The lead up to Gurpurab is usually with Prabhat Pheri’s or processions of people that travel each neighbourhood at dawn, singing hymns. On the day itself, hymns (Asa-di-var) are sung at Amrit Vela (early morning). The rest of the day is filled with katha (stories) and kirtan (hymns) in praise of the gurus. A special langar (free communal meal) is served at the Gurdwara. Everyone, regardless of caste, class and creed, eats a meal together in the spirit of service and devotion. Some Gurdwaras follow with an evening prayer or Rehras. This culminates in singing at 1:20 a.m., which was the birth time of Guru Nanak.
Gurdwara Dam Dama Sahib dressed up for Gurpurab
My family always visits Gurdwara Dam Dama Sahib, near Humayun’s Tomb, Outer Ring Road, Delhi. We followed the tradition this year too. This Gurdwara isn’t as crowded as the other historical ones, but just as beautiful. Located in a lovely Mughal-esque part of Delhi, it is far removed from the hustle-bustle. Once there, we offer prayers and a small donation, and enjoy the peace one can only find in a Gurdwara. The cherry on top is the delicious parshad, some of which we bring home for our staff.
The evenings are celebrated much like Diwali with diyas and candles lighting up the house, and the bursting of fire-crackers. This year, fortunately, the Supreme Court has banned the bursting of crackers, so we enjoy a pollution-free festival.
Gurpurab is family time
I’ll end with a quote that is often associated with this festival:-
Satguru Nanak Pargateya, Mitti Dhund Jag Chanan Hoya
Jioun Kar Sooraj Nikaliaa Taarey Chitte Andhhaer Paloaa
(With the emergence of the Holy Guru, Guru Nanak, the mist cleared and the whole world was illuminated. It was as if the sun had risen, the stars disappeared and the darkness was dispelled)
May Waheguru bless us all!
Festival Rating: 5/5 (But I may be biased!)