Gur gadi is a Punjabi word meaning ‘Guru’s throne’, and it is used in reference to the accession of successive Sikh Gurus as the Head of the Sikh faith. The final, eternal Sikh Guru is not a person but the Sikh Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. The Gur gadi of Guru Granth Sahib is therefore the most celebrated in the Sikh calendar. Celebrations begin two days in advance, with the commencement of the Arambh Path – an unbroken recitation of Guru Granth Sahib that takes forty-eight hours to complete. On the day itself, celebrations include a nagar kirtan (procession), kirtan (devotional hymns), langar (sacred free food) and various sporting events.
Guru Granth Sahib was compiled in 1604 by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. He collated and edited the prayers and hymns of the four previous Gurus together with his own and those of Hindu and Muslim saints where he felt the sentiments echoed those of Sikhism. The result was a new Sikh Holy Scripture which was installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) in Amritsar on 01 September 1604, and conferred the title of ‘Guru’ on 20 October that same year.
Sikhs show the same respect to Guru Granth Sahib as was shown to the human Gurus that were its predecessors. In gurdwaras (Sikh temples), the Holy Scripture rests in its own bed each night and it is ceremoniously fanned when recited from. It is not permitted to place Guru Granth Sahib on the ground, nor for any Sikh to turn their back to it. Most Sikhs do not have a copy in their own homes because it is so difficult to show it the respect it commands.
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