Guru Nanak Devjee’s 550th Birthday: A Landmark Moment When Sikh Faith Journey Takes The World Stage
A Prayerful Reflection:
Decades from now when the history of this moment will be written, a few highlights will stand out:
There were expressions of incredible joy among the followers of Guru Nanak and our friends in other faith across the world. There were thousands of gatherings in Sikh Gurdwaras; service projects; new books, and art exhibits, Sikh Arts & Film Festivals, special documentaries, and a Special Film on the Life and Legacy of the Guru Nanak; planting of millions of trees; collection of food for community Food Banks to feed the hungry; colorful parades and special pilgrimages; and other innovative devotional experiences marked and commemorated this historic moment around the world and reminded us of the unifying precepts illuminated by the Founder and the First Guru of the Sikh faith, today the fifth largest in the world with 35 million followers, nearly one million in the USA.
The world civic and religious leaders joined the Sikh community to pay homage to the Founder of the Sikh faith and his message of Oneness of God; equality, dignity, service of humanity are among the unifying traditions that make up the core of Sikh doctrine. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 90 Ambassadors from across the world visiting Harmander Sahib; Britian’s Prince Charles visiting Gurdwara Bangla Sahib and a 550-Bed Hospital in New Delhi. Several U.S. Officials – Governors and Mayors paid a visit to the area Gurdwaras and issued special Proclamations to mark and honor the occasions. There were Awards and recognition of eminent Sikhs by the Punjab Government and other countries. Myriad of other historic intiatives and events, among them the opening of the Peace Corridor between India and Kartarpur Sahib, the final resting place of Guru Nanak, and Nankana Sahib, the Birthplace of Guru Nanak, both in Pakistan, stand out as symbolically significant.
One has to wonder, what would Guru Nanak, a rare Spiritual Light with an inspired renaissance wisdom, an enlightened humanitarian, and a brilliant poet and leading interfaith voice, think of how well we are living his championed lessons of Oneness, Peace, Compassion and Service, safeguarding the Divine mandate of Equality and Dignity of all sentient beings. How would Guru Nanak, and for that matter other Venerable Divine Messengers, be received in today’s world?
Whereas we cannot fathom or divine that, we can begin by knowing about our neighbors with whom we share this time and Planet that the Sikh scriptures remind us that, “… the Creator established the Earth as a Daramsaal (a place of worship) amidst this unfathomable universe and teeming colorful forms of life with countless names.”
Learning From And About Each Culture, Community And Faith is our first important step towards greater understanding and dispelling unfounded perceptions about our fellow beings. Respectful discourse and thoughtful exchanges are a celebration of the many faceted splendor of our collective heritage. Learning places before each generation, the many dimensions of the story of our civilization’s cultural, spiritual, and humanitarian pilgrimages through the ages. We may discover some common threads that converge at the same Source and connect us in profound and significant ways. This may explain the unmistakable inter-faith resonance and affirmation about the “…same Divine Light in each being” and that, “God is the Father and Mother of all living beings, and we are all His Children” which the Sikh scriptures and other sacred revelations proclaim and celebrate.
This is our unifying divinely-entrusted anchor that Guru Nanak sang and carried to faraway places during his marathon pilgrimages in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.
At Gurdwara Sikh Satsang In Indianapolis, the celebrations that began many weeks ago continued this weekend. It is heartwarming to see that the noble task of honoring and advancing Guru Nanak’s divinely-inspired renaissance wisdom and movement and his enlightened humanitarian legacy are getting the global recognition and spotlight. That is where, with great joy and thanksgiving, each of us have something to contribute and share with one another. Guru Nanak’s transcendent message is for all humanity.
A SPECIAL DIWAN (religious gathering with Katha, Shabd-Keertan- Langar) on November 12, the official designated 2019 Guru Nanak Birthday Celebration date, on a very cold brilliant full-moon wintry night at the Gurdwara Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, reminded us of the timeless legacy of Guru Nanak and how far his disciples have scattered over the past five centuries. A special video message of congratulations was sent by Danish-Punjabi-Hoosier international celebrity, Anita Lerche, to the global Sikh community on this joyous occasion from the Gurdwara Sikh Satsang.
Gurdwara Sikh Satsang Celebrated Guru Nanak Devjee’s 550th Birthday on Sunday, November 17 in well-established Sikh traditions: Parbhat Pheri (early morning singing of Shabads under the stars); recitations including of Sukhmani Sahib; Bhog of Akhand Pathh (continuous reading of entire Guru Granth Sahib in 48 hours); Katha (religious discourse) by Bhai Jasveer Singh; Shabad Keertan by Gyani Pritam Singh, resident Ragi Jatha Bhai Joginder Singh, and Hazoori Ragis Gurdwara Bangla Sahib Bhai Kuldeep Singh Jatha. A steady flow of multi-generational faithfuls joined in prayer for peace and goodwill for entire humanity and hundreds participated in Guru Ka Langar (vegetarian lunch) and fellowship.
We send warm greetings and congratulations to everyone on these historic commemorations around the world and thank the Indianapolis Gurdwara Sikh Satsang Planning Committee for organizing several gatherings leading to the Guru Nanak Gurpurab. The attached images give a glimpse of the ceremonies for those who attended and to others not so familiar with Sikh worship and faith traditions.
~ Sut Siri Akal
Kanwal Prakash KP Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA
November 17, 2019.
Credits: All photographs by KP Singh
except Map from internet