Guru Nanak Jayanti ranks among the popular festivals in India. It is celebrated to mark the birth of Guru Nanak Sahib and is celebrated with great zeal in the state of Punjab where the Sikh religion is widely prevalent. Punjabi communities in other states also celebrate the festival. The birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib mostly falls on Kartik Puranmashi which is the full moon day of the month Kartik according to the Indian calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with huge fanfare and excitement.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Festival is usually a three day festival. Two days prior to the birthday, Akhand Path is held in the Gurudwaras. It is the practice of forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the religious book of the Sikh religion. On the day before the birthday of Guru Nanak Jayanti, people organize a procession which is led by the Panj Pyaras. The Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palanquin of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are carried in the procession. A group of singers participate in the procession and song hymns along with brass bands. Almost in all parts of Punjab, processions are held.
On the day of the Guru Nanak Jayanti, people get up early in the morning and sing Asa-di-Var or the morning hymns from the Sikh scriptures. Priests recite poems in praise of the Guru in the Gurudwaras. In the afternoon, Langar or special community lunch is prepared and people eat these together with family members and friends. The main objective of this lunch is to offer food as a form of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion). People also perform 'Gatka', which is a type of marshal art with the sword. Devotees and pilgrims sing holy songs in praise of the Guru.