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The Sikh Anniversary of Guru Nanak: History & Traditions

The Sikh Anniversary of Guru Nanak

The Guru Nanak Jayanti in India is one of the most important holidays in the country for those of the Sikh religion. Each year, they celebrate the birth of the first Sikh guru, and attend other festivities throughout the celebration.

Learning about this Sikh religious holiday will provide you with a more structured framework for which to continue in your Hindi studies. As any successful language-learner can tell you, understanding a country’s culture is a step you can’t miss!

In this article, you’ll learn Guru Nanak Jayanti facts to gain more insight into the culture of India and Sikh religion, including the Guru Nanak Jayanti history and current celebrations. At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

Let’s get started, and delve into this fun and relevant aspect of Indian culture!

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1. What is the Guru Nanak Jayanti?

As we mentioned earlier, the Guru Nanak Jayanti is the largest festival in the Sikh religion. This festival, first and foremost, celebrates the birth of Guru Nanak.

There are ten Gurus in the Sikh religion, and this festival celebrates the birthday of the first Sikh guru: Guru Nanak. As you may have guessed, Guru Nanak was the founder of the Sikh faith. He was born in 1469 in a small village in Punjab, and he dedicated his life to spiritual ends. He preached and taught methods to achieve enlightenment, and his teachings form part of the holy book—the Guru Granth Sahib—and are frequently sung in hymnals.

2. Guru Nanak Jayanti Date

Man Wearing Turban

Each year, the Guru Nanak Jayanti takes place on a different date, though it’s usually in November. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: November 12
  • 2020: November 30
  • 2021: November 19
  • 2022: November 8
  • 2023: November 27
  • 2024: November 15
  • 2025: November 5
  • 2026: November 24
  • 2027: November 14
  • 2028: December 2

3. Guru Nanak Jayanti Activities & Traditions


A few days before Guruparv, all Sikh temples (Gurudwaras) are decorated with lights, and street processions move through cities and towns singing religious hymns. In these processions, five disciples called Panj Pyare lead the way. Panj Pyare are five learned men of the Khalsa Sect who have dedicated their lives to the cause of community service and protection. In these processions, the Sikh flag, called Nishan Sahib, waves proudly as the group walks on singing hymns and displaying the traditional Sikh martial art, Gatka.

The day of the Guru Nanak birthday celebration (Guruparv) starts with hymns and prayers. Throughout the day, people listen to religious sermons and spiritual (Dharmik) speeches. Special community meals called Langar are organized in the temples, and people enthusiastically participate in the celebrations with their families. Guruparv is celebrated in gurudwaras all over India, but these celebrations are most prominent in the states of Punjab and Haryana.

The Guru Granth Sahib has 1,430 pages, and for every Guruparv, the entire text is read without pause. This is called the Akhand Path and takes forty-eight hours to complete. The Akhand Path is considered sanctifying, and many people attend Gurudwaras just to listen to it.

4. What is Langar?

Earlier, we mentioned a special meal called Langar, which is served in Sikh temples every day, and especially on the auspicious day of Guruparv. But what is the meaning of Langar?

Langar means “service” and refers to the kitchen run in Sikh temples where every visitor is offered a free meal. Langar food is vegetarian so that people of any faith or diet may participate. This tradition was started by Guru Nanak.

5. Essential Vocabulary for Guru Nanak Jayanti


Here’s some Hindi vocabulary you should know for the Guru Nanak Jayanti festival!

  • गिद्धा (giddha) — Giddha
  • पंजाब (punjab) — Punjab
  • ननकाना साहिब (nankana sahib) — Nankana Sahib
  • सिख (sikh) — Sikhism
  • पहले सिख गुरु (pehle sikh guru) — First sikh guru
  • गुरुद्वारा (gurudwara) — Gurudwara
  • गोल्डन टेंपल (goldan temple) — Golden Temple
  • अमृतसर (amritsar) — Amritsar
  • पगड़ी (pagdi) — Turban
  • गुरु ग्रंथ साहिब (Giddha) — Guru Granth Sahib
  • भंगरा (Bhangra) — Bhangra

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, and read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Guru Nanak Jayanti vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about how Nanak Jayanti is celebrated, and that you learned something new! How are important figures’ birthdays celebrated in your own country? Similarly, or very different from the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak? Let us know in the comments!

Learning about a country’s culture and history may be the most enriching and fascinating aspects of trying to master its language. If more cultural information is what you’re after, you may find the following pages helpful:

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