Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in Nankana a small village some 40 miles from Lahore the provincial capital of Punjab, Pakistan. Although according to the Hindu calendar his birthday falls on 14th April, it is celebrated in November in accordance with the Gregorian calendar.
Sikhism is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and the 9 other gurus that followed him. The Sikh festivals mostly revolve around the birth celebrations of its gurus and are known as GurPurabs.
Basically the birthdays of all the Gurus are celebrated in the same way only the hymns are different. These birth celebrations last for three days.
Millions of Sikhs all over the world celebrate the GurPurab with religious fervor. The celebrations begin with Akhand Path the continuous recitation of Guru Granth the Sikh Holy Book. The recitation occurs without break for 48 hours.
A team of men and women carry out the recitations for 2-3 hours each and so the process continues for till the dawn of the birthday itself. A day prior to the birthday, a procession is taken out in which the Guru Granth is carried over a float bedecked with flowers.
Five men representing the Panj Piaray (the five beloved) lead the procession carrying the Sikh flag the Nishan Sahib. They are accompanied by musicians and singers singing religious songs. During the festivals the worship places of the Sikhs the Gurdwaras are illuminated and adorned with flowers, flags and banners.
The big day commences with the sinning of the morning hymns known as the Asadi Var. These are followed by the Keertas the musical recital of the hymns from Guru Granth. In the end lectures on Sikhism called Kathas are delivered and poems praising Guru Nanak are also recited.
A lunch organized by volunteers is served in the afternoon. The recitation of hymns continues till evening and the festivities usually end with a display of fireworks.