Below is a very brief write-up made with the help of Gursikhs and existing articles on the Internet, which you could use to share with colleagues at work, school or college class fellows, or with the local media:
Sikh Festival – Celebrating the Birth day of Guru Nanak
|Nankana Sahib - The Bethlehem of Sikhs|
Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in town today known as Nankana Sahib in Northern India, which is now in Pakistan. Guru Nanak dedicated his life to interfaith dialogue, focusing his energies on reconciliation and peace. He categorically rejected caste or social discrimination, fought tirelessly for women's rights and preached that no one has the right to enslave another. In one of his first sermon's he said, "There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim" – highlighting that God isn't interested in our various labels but the truth that lies in our hearts and our actions.
At Guru Nanak’s time, spirituality was considered to be something you do by separating yourself from the world and waiting for the afterlife. Whereas, the Guru’s approach to spirituality was that God created the world and God resides within creation. Spirituality and experiencing God is not something we must wait in the afterlife, but must experience while alive in order to live fulfilled life. We have a potential to live a life experience the Presence of God in our lives and staying connected through meditation, divine-remembrance, and reflecting and living the scriptural teachings that he revealed.
Guru Nanak brought a universal message of peace, love, unity, mutual respect, service and dedication to all of humankind. He turned people from being destructive to peaceful; he transformed tyrants into compassionate beings; and he changed oppresive societies into blissful communities. People of all faiths listened to his message open-heartedly and all gained from his wise and sacred words.
For many, this sacred time is a profound time to reflect on Guru Nanak’s vision of Oneness — the oneness of the Divine and the oneness of humanity — and his message: “No one is my enemy, and see no one a stranger. I welcome everyone,” If we begin to see the world in this way, it inspires an unending flow of love and compassion — and also a commitment to spiritually grounded selfless service.
The essence of the Sikh faith, where God — termed Vahiguru — is shapeless, timeless, and whose divine-light shines within all creation, can be summed up by these words of Guru Nanak: “The Divine Light is within everyone; You are that Light.” A truth that when truly understood and appreciated, will result in hate, malice and divisiveness being replaced with universal love and respect for all.
Guru Nanak was revered by both Hindus and Muslims and even today many, outside of the Sikh faith, revere him. It is related that as he lay dying, his followers some formerly Hindu and others formerly Muslims argued whether his body should be cremated as Hindu tradition dictated or buried as in Islamic tradition. It is said that when they removed the sheet which had covered the Guru they found only beautiful flowers. The Hindus burned theirs, the Muslims buried theirs.
There are over 26 million people identify themselves as Sikhs worldwide, of every race and nationality, making it the world’s fifth largest religion. Guru Nanak touched the hearts of Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Sufis, Buddhists and Christians, amongst others, during his five journeys around the world. His birthday, therefore, is a worldwide celebration.
Good wishes and blessings to all on this happy occasion.