Gurpurbs are festivals which celebrate the lives of the Gurus. A major festival is the celebration of Guru Nanak's birthday in late autumn. Gurpurbs may mark the birthdays, the date when they became Guru (in the case of the Guru Granth Sahib) and the dates of the death of the Gurus.
The Gurpurbs are celebrated by reading the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, continuously from beginning to end. This is done by a team of Sikh men and women, each reading for two to three hours over 48 hours. It begins two days before and ends early on the morning of the Gurpurb. This reading is called an akhand path.
On the day of the Gurpurb, or not long after, there may be a street procession known as a Nagar Kirtan. This is led by five people representing the original Panj Piare, who form an escort for the Guru Granth Sahib which is carried in honour on a decorated vehicle, followed by singers, musicians and even teams of people demonstrating the martial art of swordsmanship (gatka and shastar vidya).
Gurdwaras are decorated with flowers, flags and lights. Sikhs will join together to sing, pray and eat together.
On the morning of the anniversary, celebrations begin early, at around 4 or 5 am, with hymns sung from the Guru Granth Sahib, poems recited in praise of the Gurus and lectures on Sikhism.
As is the case every day, Karah Prasad (a cooked mixture of sugar, water, wheatflour and ghee) is blessed and served and the congregation shares a meal in the langar.