Bradford is home to six gurdwaras, with Sikhs making up six per cent of Bradford’s population. Sikhs in Bradford are active in business and are involved in many community and charitable projects. Sikhs in Bradford and across the globe will be celebrating Guru Nanak Gurupurab today.

Guru Nanak Gurupurab also known as Guru Nanak Jayanti and Guru Nanak Prakash Utsav is dedicated to the first Sikh Guru – Guru Nanak Devji and is one of the most auspicious and celebrated days in the Sikh calendar. This years celebration will be extra special as this year will mark the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism.

Guru Nanak Devji was born on 15 April 1469, in a village called Rai Bhoi di Talwandi, (now popularly known as Nankana Sahib, near Lahore in Pakistan).

Guru Nanak Dev ji is regarded as a spiritual teacher who founded Sikhism in the 15th century. He started writing the Guru Granth Sahib and wrote 974 hymns in it.

The main verses from the Guru Granth Sahib elaborate that the creator of the universe was one. His verses also propagate selfless service to humanity, prosperity and social justice for all irrespective of any demographic differences. Sikhism also forbids the concept of messengers and reincarnation. The role of a Guru as a spiritual and social master forms the base of Sikh religion.

Celebrations for Gurpurab traditionally start two days prior to the main occasion. The three day festival begins with an early Prabhat Pheris (early morning processions) at the gurudwaras and then proceed to the localities with Sikh devotees singing hymns. It is led by Panj Pyaras or Nagarkirtan (the five beloved ones), who carry the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the palanquin of Guru Granth Sahib.

Also, traditionally, an Akhand Path or the 48-hour non-stop reading of Guru Granth Sahib – the holy text where the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev are preserved – is organised at the Gurdwaras. Some of the popular prayers are – Japji Sahid and Sidh-Ghost. The holy book of the Sikhs also involved the sayings of all the 10 gurus.

On the main day of the occasion, devotees wake up early in the morning and sing Asa-di-Var and other morning hymns from the Sikh scriptures. In the Gurudwaras, priests recite poems in praise of Guru Nanak Devji. Langar or free community lunch is served in the afternoon to celebrate life and prophecy of Guru Nanak Jayanti. Gatka, a special type of martial art is performed by the people on this occasion with a sword.

This year has particularly been significant for the Sikh community as this was also the year that saw the Kartarpur corridor inaugurated.

Shri Darbar Sahib Gurdwara, Kartarpur or Kartarpur Sahib holds special importance in Sikhism. Kartarpur Corridor, which is a border corridor between Pakistan and India, connecting the Sikh shrines of Dera Baba Nanak Sahib and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, was inaugurated on 9 November in commemoration to Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s 550th birth anniversary.

The corridor is intended to allow religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara in Kartarpur, 4.7 kilometres from the Pakistan-India border, without a visa.

Asian Sunday would like to wish the local and global Sikh community a very happy Gurupurab