BENGALURU: Bengaluru traffic delays and bores people, and now it alters a tradition.
The customary Sikh religious practice of Nagar Kirtan will see a much shorter route this time than observed earlier.
Nagar Kirtan, which translates to “neighbourhood hymns”, has been practiced all over the world in cities with sizeable Sikh population. After the IT boom of the 80s, Bengaluru has seen a spike in Sikh population to over 25,000, according to Karnataka State Minorities Commission.
Nagar Kirtan is one of the most revered days for the community and it is to glorify and preach the tenets of Sikhism. The three principles of the religion ‘Kirat Karo’ (work hard), ‘Wand Ke Chhako’ (share what you have with the needy) and ‘Naam Jappo’ (remember god throughout the day,) is sung in versus as the procession proceeds.
Kirtan is celebrated twice a year marking the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. The upcoming Kirtan is to mark the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, founder of Sikhism, born on April 15, 1469. The celebration takes place in the month of November but it varies from year to year according to the Sikh calender, and different cities have a different days to celebrate. Bengaluru will be hosting it on November 6 and about 10,000 Sikhs are expected to participate.
“The participation has grown over the years but routes had to be shortened,” said Baljeet Singh, member of Karnataka State Minorities Commission and a Sikh who’s lived in the city for about 50 years.
“A lot of changes have taken place over the years. But each year it gets more difficult to get the permission from the authorities,” said Baljeet Singh.
Sikhs from all seven Gurudwaras in the city will converge to meet at Ulsoor Gurudwara at 2.30 pm. Stalls will be set up in the five kilometer route that will serve refreshments to everyone irrespective of caste or religion.
The procession will be led by five people, men and women, called Panj Pyaras or the five beloved ones. Draped in the colour of Kesar, brandishing a traditional weapon and carrying a Sikh flag, the procession will commence from Ulsoor, head to MG Road side, Cubbon Road, Safina Plaza and then back to the Gurudwara. The holy book will be carried in a decorated palanquin float. Seated on the float will will be a team of singers called ‘sewadars’ who will perform Kirtan.
A total distance of six kilometers will be covered on bare foot and covered heads. Performance of Sikh martial arts called ‘Gatka’ can also be seen during the procession.
Fifteen days prior to Guru Nanak Jayanti, various other ceremonies such as a 48-hour uninterrupted recital of the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, takes place along with ‘Prabhat Pheris’ which means they go door-to-door in the early morning hours chanting hymns.
On November 14, poems, hymns and quotes on Guru Nanak’s life is read out. ‘Langar’, a community kitchen is organised where food and sweets are distributed.