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Explained: What is ‘Nagar Kirtan’ & its Significance to Sikhs

Explained: What is ‘Nagar Kirtan’ & its Significance to Sikhs

Explained: What is ‘Nagar Kirtan’ & its Significance to Sikhs

‘Nagar’ means a suburb, town or city. ‘Kirtan’ refers to the singing of Gurbani. It is a Sikh custom involving the processional singing of holy hymns throughout a community. The Nagar Kirtan is led by 5 Sikhs called the ‘Panj Pyare’ or beloved ones. They dressed in traditional attire with others playing drums to announce the procession as it moves through the streets. When participating in the Nagar Kirtan, one can find solace and peace even when thousands are walking with you. One can reach a state of Nirvana when indulging in the singing of Kirtan while following the Guru Granth Sahib. There are young and old, Sikh, non-Sikh that follow the Nagar Kirtan route, stand on the sides and freely distribute refreshments to all. The Nagar Kirtan is concluded as the sacred Guru Granth Sahib re-enters the Gurdwara and the whole Sadh Sangat stands still for the Ardas (concluding Prayer). It is also noticeable that the majority of the Sadh Sangat has covered their heads which is a significant sign of respect to the presence of our sacred Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Nagar kirtans are street assemblies with Sikh spiritual music, political marches, and free food distribution. They are especially organised in April during the Punjabi harvest festival of ‘Vaisakhi’ but can also take place in other months. The Panj Piare (five beloved of the Guru) normally lead the procession of the Nagar Kirtan. This is normally followed by atleast one main float, which carries the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. In the float you have several Sewadars performing Kirtan and attending to the Guru. The Sangat walked behind Guru Ji and the Panj Piaare singing shabads and enjoying the glorious day. Food and drinks are sometimes served from stationary points or from other subsequent floats. The Nagar Kirtan is started when the Panj Pyara (5 beloved ones) walk in front of the Sacred Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Panj Pyaras are donned in their colourful attrire befitting the occasion. The five are almost always Amritdhari – baptised Khalsa Singhs.

Guru Gobind Singh gave much honour to the Panj Pyaras as they were the first Amritdhari (baptised) Singhs that Guru Ji himself bowed to the Panj Pyaras and took Amrit (Baptism) from them. Everyone pays respect to the Sacred Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by bowing their heads and presented with Prashad (sacred food) by the sevadars.

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