India’s President, Prime Minister join prayers, festivities to mark Gurpurab

New Delhi/Chandigarh (IANS): The 546th birth anniversary of the founder of Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev, was celebrated Thursday across the country and abroad including in neighbouring Pakistan.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined prayers at the Rashtrapati Bhawan premises.
Thousands of devotees thronged the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Harmandar Sahib popularly known as Golden Temple in Amritsar, and other gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country to mark ‘Gurpurab’.
Gurdwaras were illuminated since Wednesday, and there was an atmosphere of festivities to mark the occasion.
‘Langars’ or community kitchens were arranged at several places in and around gurdwaras.
A gurbani (hymn) recital was organised on the occasion at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace.
Ansari and Modi were among the dignitaries who attended the event. The gurbani was conducted by Bhai Chamanjit Singh.
In a series of tweets Thursday, Modi called on the people to follow the path of compassion, truth and peace as shown by Guru Nanak.
“I bow to the venerable Guru Nanak (Devji) on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The life and teachings of Guru Nanak (Devji) inspire us eternally. Let us follow the path of compassion, truth and peace as shown by him,” Modi said.
“Today is also a day to pledge to embrace the path of service and work towards a just and equal society, free from any kind of social evils,” he added.
At the Golden Temple, thousands lined up since early in the day to offer prayers. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) volunteers had a tough time managing the rush of devotees.
“We came here at 3 a.m… The whole atmosphere was very spiritual,” said Adhiraj Singh, a student.
Hymns were rendered at the holy shrine and hundreds of other gurdwaras across the region.
A contingent of over 1,500 Sikh devotees who arrived in Nankana Sahib, 100 km from Lahore, in Pakistan Wednesday celebrated at the historic gurdwara there.
Born in 1469 at Nankana Sahib (now in Pakistan’s Punjab province), Guru Nanak Dev founded Sikhism.
There was tight security at all leading Sikh shrines in Punjab and Haryana.
Religious processions were taken out by the Sikh community in most cities and towns in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh in the last two days.
In New Delhi, thousands of devotees thronged gurdwaras in and around the city and offered prayers.
In the afternoon, langars or community kitchens were arranged in gurdwaras and on roadsides by the devout.
“On this day, it is customary to not only pray at the gurdwara but also have the Guru’s prasad which is langar,” said Manjot Singh Arora, who came to the Bangla Sahib gurdwara in Delhi.
“I went to the Sis Ganj gurdwara last night and polished shoes and s well as cleaned the premises as part of kar sewa,” said Karan Chandhok, a Delhi University student.
Bollywood celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Lata Mangeshkar and Shah Rukh Khan took to Twitter to wish their friends and fans on the occasion of Gurpurab.
Gurpurab celebrations were held in leading gurdwaras in Patna (Bihar) and Nanded (Maharashtra) and other parts of the country.