Lakhs of devotees thronged brightly-lit gurdwaras across the country on Tuesday to pay obeisance to Guru Nanak Dev on his 550th birth anniversary, with the epicentre of celebrations being at the holy city of Sultanpur Lodhi.
Braving morning chill, people offered prayers at various shrines and took part in ‘langars’, ‘shabad kirtans’ and also took a dip in ‘sarovars’ (holy tanks).
President Ram Nath Kovind paid obeisance at the historic Gurdwara Ber Sahib in Sultanpur Lodhi.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also extended warm greetings and good wishes to the people of the country.
“Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a shining apostle of the sublime spiritual ethos of India. He truly democratized religion by making spiritual truths easily understandable for common man. He rejected rituals and superstitions and kindled devotion to the Supreme God,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also extended greetings on the occasion.
Devotees offered prayers at gurdwaras at several places in Punjab, including Sultanpur Lodhi, where Guru Nanak Dev spent 14 years of his life and attained enlightenment, in Kapurthala, where main festivities were held.
People also thronged Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, Golden Temple in Amritsar, Nada Sahib in Haryana’s Panchkula, among other Sikh shrines.
A long queue of devotees coming from different parts of the country could be seen at the Gurdwara Ber Sahib to offer prayers as the festive fervour peaked in Sultanpur Lodhi, where president Kovind paid obeisance at the historic Gurdwara Ber Sahib along with his wife Savita.
Sporting a suit and a turban, Kovind called upon people to follow the path shown by Guru Nanak Dev and work towards eliminating social disparities.
“He gave the ‘maha mantra’ to mankind — ‘Naam Japo, Kirat Karo and Wand Chhako’ – chant the name of God, put in hard and honest labour, and share the fruits of one’s earnings with others,” the president said.
At the event organised by the Punjab government in Sultanpur Lodhi, the ‘Bhog’ (completion) of the ‘Sehaj Path’ (recitation of complete Guru Granth Sahib with intervals) was performed.
A separate event to mark the celebrations was organised by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) at Sultanpur Lodhi.
In Haryana, devotees thronged gurdwaras at various places, including Karnal, Ambala and Yamunanagar, while there was huge rush of devotees at Sector 34 Gurdwara in Chandigarh, which is the common capital of the two states.
A number of programmes were organised across Delhi on the occasion. Volunteers also set up a free health checkup kiosk and some stalls having spiritual books in the premises of the Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.
Extending greetings on 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, Prime Minister Modi said it is a day to fulfil his dream of a just, inclusive and harmonious society.
In a series of tweets on the occasion, Union Home Minister Shah described Guru Nanak Dev as a unique symbol of India’s saint tradition and said the Modi government is devoted to the thoughts and teachings of the Sikhism founder.
“The first Guru of the Sikh Panth, the venerable Guru Nanak Dev Ji is a unique symbol of India’s rich saint tradition. His teachings, thoughts and his resolve to serve humanity are an inspiration for us,” Shah said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi also extended greeting on the occasion, saying Guru Nanak’s teachings of mutual love, truthfulness, brotherhood and righteousness are of eternal relevance having a universal and timeless appeal that cut across the sectarian, communal and regional divides.
On the occasion, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced that he would take up with Modi the issue of prevailing upon Pakistan to grant Indian devotees open access to more historic gurdwaras across the border.
Several political leaders also visited the Sikh shrines across the national capital.
While Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia paid tributes at the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Yoga guru Ramdev and Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa offered prayers at Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari also visited Gurudwara Rakab Ganj.