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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 22 - Birthday of Guru Nanak
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22, Birthday of Guru Nanak. In Hindi, it’s called Guruparv.
In this lesson, we’ll talk about Guruparv, the largest festival in the Sikh religion. This festival is related to the birth of the Sikh Guru and falls in the month of November.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Langar is served in Sikh temples every day, and specially on the auspicious day of Guruparv. What is the meaning of Langar?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
There are ten Gurus in the Sikh religion, and this festival celebrates the birthday of the first Sikh guru – Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was the founder of the Sikh faith. He was born in 1469 in a small village in Punjab. He dedicated his life to spiritual ends and preached and taught methods to achieve enlightenment. His teachings form part of the holy book – the 'Guru Granth Sahib', and are frequently sung in hymnals.
A few days before Guruparv, all Sikh temples, or 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 this 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 Guruparv starts with hymns and prayers. Throughout the day, people listen to religious sermons and spiritual, or 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 48 hours to complete. The Akhand Path is considered sanctifying and many people attend Gurudwaras just to listen to it.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Langar is served in gurudwaras everyday, especially on the auspicious day of Guruparv. 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.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn something interesting?
How are the births of important leaders celebrated in your culture?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!

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How are the births of important leaders celebrated in your culture?