It’s Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday 2018 – Who was he and why is he celebrated?

(Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

He was known as a warrior, poet, and philosopher, and is especially notable for founding the Khalsa. This is the highest order that can be reached by Sikhs, and Khalsa members must abide by strict rules.

 

(Photo by Saikat Paul/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Guru Gobind Singh was born in 1666 in Patna, Bihar, India. Officially he was born on December 22nd, but due to the differences in the Gregorian and Hindu calendars and to standardise the date, the main celebration is on January 5th.

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He was made a Guru (leader of the Sikh faith) aged just nine, after his father Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam.

As well as this, he was actually the last living Guru until he was wounded by an assassin and died a few days later. After Guru Gobind Singh’s passing, the Sikh holy text the Guru Granth Sahib became the Eternal living guru which Sikhs could use for guidance and inspiration.

(Photo by Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

One of Guru Gobind Singh’s most notable actions was founding the Khalsa. At the annual harvest festival in 1699, he came out of his tent and asked if anyone there was willing to sacrifice their head for him. When someone came forward he took them into the tent, and when he exited it was without the volunteer and with a bloody sword. This happened four more times with different people who came forward.

After the fifth volunteer, he walked out with all five men completely unharmed. He called these men the Panj Pyare (five beloved ones), and the first members of the Khalsa. He performed a baptism ceremony on them, and had them instate him as part of the Khalsa too.

At this point he announced that Khalsa members would need to follow certain rules, including wearing the 5 Ks at all times.

The 5 Ks of the Khalsa
Kesh: uncut hair.

Kangha: a wooden comb.

Kara: an iron or steel bracelet worn on the wrist.

Kirpan: a sword or dagger.

Kacchera: short breeches

(Photo by Saikat Paul/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
He also introduced other rules. For example, pre-marital sex, adultery, tobacco, and eating halal meat are all forbidden for Khalsa warriors.

Guru Gobind Singh is credited for bringing equality into the Sikh faith, by allowing men and women of different castes to join the Khalsa without discriminating based on gender or social class.

Both before and after forming the Khalsa, Guru Gobind Singh was involved in a number of wars. However, he considered these to be Dharam Yudh (wars in defence of righteousness) and never took hostages or damaged anyone’s place of worship.


(Photo by Vswaroop/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

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The birthday celebrations are known as Prakash Parv or Gurpurab, and are celebrated in India and worldwide.

This includes a three day public holiday in India and a group of people known as the Akhand Path read the Guru Granth Sahib from start to finish.

There are also hymns, a procession featuring song, dance, and martial arts displays, and parties with food followed by prayers.

Some celebrations have already concluded, but for those still set to observe it, happy Prakash Parv!

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