Celebrating Guru Nanak

Other than being passive participants in the gurdwara programme, maybe singing a shabad or reciting a kavita, doing some seva and having langgar, what else do we do as a family to make these occasions more meaningful, enjoyable and memorable?

By Autar Singh | OPINION |

We remember and look forward to our birthdays and various other festivals and occasions. We plan how to celebrate them and are primed up days in advance.

The sisters are excitedly waiting for rakhri, while the wives have the karva chauth all planned. The children and adults are excited about halloween, Christmas and easter. The month long fasting in preparation of Eid-ul-Fitr ramps up the excitement in the homes. Chinese new year, Vesak day, Diwali, Holi, etc are celebrated with joy by everyone involved.

All these occasions have a personal touch. They are celebrated at home with the whole family involved in the activities and traditions related to the occasion.

How do we celebrate our Gurpurbs? How do we celebrate Guru Nanak and the other Gurus? Other than being passive participants in the gurdwara programme, maybe singing a shabad or reciting a kavita, doing some seva and having langgar, what else do we do as a family to make these occasions more meaningful, enjoyable and memorable?

Please think how you and your family will be celebrating Guru Nanak this month that includes the gurdwara and more.

Let me start the ball rolling with how my family is planning to celebrate Guru Nanak this month. We have 6 grandchildren aged 6 and below, thus the celebrations are very much centred on them.

We are celebrating from 7th to 30th November. Due to the CMCO, we will be celebrating at our homes in Subang Jaya only. We kicked off our plan today in my eldest daughter’s house. We got the children to lead us in doing the mool mantar, which was followed by us doing the Japji Sahib. Our family singers then sang one Shabad (raakha ek hamara suami) and one geet (jhim jhim varse amrit dhaar). Then we all joined in ardas expressing gratitude for good health and all the blessings showered upon the family and wished for the good health and welfare of all.

The next activity was me telling the kids a story from the life of Guru Nanak highlighting the 3 principle of kirt karni, wand shakna and naam japna, after which the kids were given a picture depicting the story to colour.

We then had chah with chane and parshad as was the norm in our younger days. Later we had pakorhay, a cake and finally the kids were rewarded with ice cream.

The final activity was to put into practice the principle of kirt karni. Our 6 year old grandson set up a stall to sell chilled shakes to earn a livelihood. He gave out ‘paper money’ to the rest of us so that we could buy his shakes. He even had helpers to manage the stall. He was shown how to calculate his income after paying salaries and other costs. He made a profit of RM16.00 of which he kept aside RM2.00 to share with the needy.

The afternoon ended with a game of Monopoly Junior. It was a wonderful start to a 3 week long celebration.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating in another home. Still planning the fun and meaningful activities that we can do. All suggestions are welcome. We may plant a tree.

Please share your thoughts here so that we all can learn from each other. Thank you.

Autar Singh is the outgoing Secretary General of the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organistion (CMSO) and a former jathedar of Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.


A refreshingly contrarian view on Guru Nanak (Asia Samachar, 4 Feb 2020)


ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |


  1. An interesting sharing by Bhai Autar Singh, a long-time Sikh activist. He and his wife Bhen Rajinder Kaur have contributed much to the Sikh community in Malaysia, and beyond. So nice to see them sharing the same joy and message with their immediate family.

    I don’t have such stories to share as to how my immediate family has been celebrating the birthday of #GuruNanak. I guess binge movie watching don’t quality, right? Ops. Like most families, I guess we have been found wanting on this front.

    When it comes to celebrating Gurpurabs – the commemoration of key events related to the Sikh Gurus – it is usually connected to the gurdwara. We would attend a gurdwara event where we would join the Sanggat to listen to kirtan and maybe hear some lectures. And then there’s the Ardas, degh (ah, the heavenly gepha, I sure miss that) and langgar. And for most of us, the most important bit is catching up with friends. The networking, gossiping and just connecting.

    The Covid-19 pandemic has severely curtailed that routine. We are forced to think of new ways to celebrate those key events in the Sikh calendar.

    On a wider scale, it is time for our Sikh organisations to put on their thinking turbans and dupattas to come up with solutions. How can we have these programmes under the pandemic restrictions imposed in most places?
    Some gurdwaras have started broadcasting regular programmes for benefit of the Sanggat who cannot be present physically at the gurdwara premises. That’s a good start. But that cannot be an end in itself. We surely have to go beyond that.

    We need new, innovative ideas and solutions to continue bringing Guru Nanak’s message to the Sanggat. I’m sure our vibrant young minds out there will come up with something. I look forward to being dazzled by those new ideas and programmes.

    May we continue walking with Guru Nanak.


    Ranjit Kaur: Wow! What an interesting way to celebrate our Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Well done