Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti is a Sikh festival that commemorates the birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. It is a religious celebration in which prayers for prosperity are offered.
Who was Guru Gobind Singh?
Guru Gobind Singh was the tenth and last Sikh Guru, a spiritual leader, philosopher, poet, and a great warrior. Born as Gobind Rāi, he emerged as tenth Sikh Guru at age nine after his father Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was beheaded publicly by orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb as he refused to convert to Islam. Such atrocity led Guru Gobind Singh to found the Sikh warrior community called Khalsa that marked a significant event in the history of Sikhism.
He also introduced the five articles famous as the Five Ks and commanded the Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times. Other contributions of the Guru includes writing important texts on Sikhism and holding Guru Granth Sahib, the religious scripture of Sikhism, as the eternal living Guru of the Sikhs.
Gobind Singh Ji was the tenth of the Sikh Gurus. Following the death of his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, Gobind Singh became the leader of the Sikhs when he was only nine years old.
Famed as a warrior, poet, and philosopher. His contributions to Sikhism were many including the tradition of covering one’s hair with a turban.
He initiated the Khalsa order, the highest order that can be reached by Sikhs. Khalsa must abide by four restrictions; Not to disturb the natural growth of the hairs, not to eating meat slaughtered in a halal manner, not cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse and not using tobacco or a hookah.
Guru Gobind Singh died on October 7th, 1708 from wounds inflicted by an assassin.
Guru Gobind Singh was the last of the living Sikh Gurus, as while he was on his deathbed, he passed the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred Book of the Sikhs. The Granth Sahib then became the Eleventh and Eternal Sikh Guru.
Guru Govind Singh was the most influential and the last leader for the Sikhs. His contributions to the Sikh community will always make everyone bow to his personality. He was the one who had started the concept of Khalsa (The pure). Khalsa played a key role in protecting the Sikhs long after his death during the nine invasions of Panjabi. Khalsa’s are Sikhs that have undergone the sacred Amrit Ceremony initiated by the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The Khalsa order was initially created on Baisakhi Day March 30, 1699, with Guru Gobind Singh baptizing 5 Sikhs and then, in turn, asking the five Khalsa’s to baptize him. Following this, the Guru personally baptized thousands of men and women into the Khalsa order.
The Khalsa baptism ceremony is undertaken as part of one’s own personal spiritual evolution when the initiate is ready to fully live up to the high expectations of Guru Gobind Singh. All Sikhs are expected to be Khalsa or be working towards that objective. The ceremony of the Khalsa’s is about drinking to be considered Amrit which is made mixing sugar water stirred with a dagger in the presence of 5 Khalsa Sikhs as well as the Guru Granth Sahib (their sacred book). The people who follow the Khalsa will need to follow the below-mentioned rules –
1 They are not allowed to remove any hair from any part of thy body.
2 They shall not use tobacco, alcohol or any other intoxicants.
3 They are not allowed to eat the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way.
4 They shall never commit adultery. The initiate is required to wear the physical symbols of a Khalsa at all times as well as follow the Khalsa Code of Conduct.
Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings have a great impact on Sikhs. He stood against the Mughal Rulers and fought against injustice. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh baptized five men from the lower caste as his Five Beloveds, endowing them with courage and devotion to God.
His dedication to God, his fearlessness and his desire to protect the people from being oppressed made Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa, a military force of saint-soldiers. Under Guru Gobind Singh’s guidance and inspiration, the Khalsa followed a strict moral code and discipline.
Through his courage, the people rose against the oppression of the Mughal ruler in India. Aside from being a spiritual and a military leader Guru Gobind Singh was also a writer. Before his death in 1708, he declared Sikhism’s Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib to be the permanent Sikh Guru.
In Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti; thousands of devotees assemble in Golden Temple (holiest Gurdwara of Sikhism) of Amritsar to participate in prayers and sing devotional songs in the memory of their one of the greatest Sikh Guru.
The birth anniversary of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs is marked with a number of events, including offering prayers for personal prosperity and peace, as well as processions and ‘Prabhat Pheris’.
The Hindi word ‘Prabhat’ means dawn or early morning and ‘pheri’ means tiny processions, so Prabhat Pheris are small processions that are held within the neighborhood. Devotees gather at the break of dawn and sing bhajans, to the accompaniment of certain musical instruments including dholak. The procession or parade ends at the house of one aficionado, who acts as the host for the gathering.
The processions are characterized by the singing of devotional songs and a vibrant display of Sikh culture and Sikh martial arts. Members of the Sikh community also put up temporary stalls, which offer food and drinks, including sweets and sweet rose milk. Gurudwaras also host prayer meetings and the Golden Temple in Amritsar especially holds langar with hot meals offered to anyone and everyone who visits. Numerous devotees and other visitors are treated to delicious langar meals, which also include the sweet Kadha Prasad, made from semolina, whole wheat flour, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar.
Kadha Prasad is a soothing sweet or halwa that is served at Gurudwaras. Not only is the sweet dish extremely delicious, but it also holds a special significance for the followers of Sikhism. The dish is something all attendees of Gurmat seminars look forward to eating and it is said that Karah or Kadha Prasad is to be only accepted while sitting, with head bowed, hand raised in a cupped position, as a sign of humility and respect. To the Sikhs, the Kadha Prasad is a sacred food, which is an important part of their inherent hospitality protocols.