Girls take part in a Prakashotsav procession near Sonari aerodrome on Wednesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The cooking fire did not burn at any Sikh home on Wednesday. Everyone — right from the children to the elderly — was out on the street. All 34 gurdwaras of Jamshedpur were decked up with lights and served food to the entire community, which stuck together as one, huge family.
The occasion was Guru Nanak Jayanti, also known as Prakashotsav, when Sikhs remembered their first Guru on his 544th birth anniversary. This day is not only about celebrations but also about promoting and spreading the Sikh culture, which the community members did with elan as they took out a religious procession or nagar kirtan. Around 10,000 joined it.
Chief minister Arjun Munda flagged off the procession from Sonari gurdwara, which made its way through the lanes and bylanes of the city amidst performance of gatka, before culminating at the central gurdwara in Sakchi, 5km away.
Members of Stree Satsang Samiti, Naujawan Sabha and Sevak Jattha Dal also participated in the nagar kirtan.
The objective of holding the procession is to take the holy book of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib, across the city. Panch pyares, the five self-sacrificing heroes of the Khalsas, are the ones who protect the Guru Granth Sahib.
“We never cook food at home on Prakashotsav as everybody is busy with the procession. We eat at gurdwaras,” said Gurmeet Kaur, a homemaker of Sakchi.
While the women were dressed in saffron dupattas, men sported saffron turbans as the colour signifies “bravery”.
This time, children took part in gatka, a display of Sikh martial art that used to be earlier performed by teams from Punjab. The Sikh organisations feel that it is necessary to educate the young generation about their culture and hence inclusion of 40-odd young girls and boys, some of them just two-year-old.
However, it’s the participation of girls that drew attention. “Girls are no less than boys. So we want them to learn gatka too. Altogether, 12 girls — from five to 20 years old — participated,” said Baljeet Sansoa, a member of Dharam Prachar Committee.
Once the procession was over, langar was served at gurdwaras. On the menu were rice, chapatti, tadka dal, sabji and pickle.
“It is the devotion and service that make the festival grand. The Sikhs engage themselves in social activities as our religion teaches us to serve the humanity. Kiosks were set up along the procession route, which served prasad water or sherbet,” said Indarjeet Singh, president of Central Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.