The Birthday of Guru Nanak

In short...

Themes: celebrating the Birthday of Guru Nanak; leadership; Sikh traditions and values; equality.

Summary: Sikhs celebrate the Birthday of Guru Nanak on the date of the full moon in the month of Katak - usually October / November. The assembly celebrates his birthday by focusing on his message, received from God, that all are equal before God and should live peacefully with one another.

Resources: gather birthday themed items or display the image (see 'Key links').

The video

Guru Nanak is the founder of the Sikh faith. As a Hindu boy, he was friends with a Muslim boy, and found it frustrating that the village holy men all seemed to be so certain that their ideas and way of life were right, often causing arguments and fights.

While bathing one day, Guru Nanak goes under the water and disappears. Three days later, he reappears out of the water, in exactly the same spot that he disappeared. He later explains that whilst he was missing, God gave him a message to share with everyone, which is what he spends the rest of his life doing: sharing the key message of Sikhism.

Duration: 5' 03"

End of speech: '...was the truth that Nanak had been searching for all his life.'

Video questions

  • What does everyone argue about in Nanak's village? (What God is like and who has the correct view of God.)
  • What does Nanak do with the goods he takes to market? (He sees poor people and gives them away.)
  • What does the cobra do as Nanak sleeps? (It spreads its hood, thus shielding the sleeping Nanak from the hot sun.)
  • How long does Nanak disappear for? (He is underwater for two days and emerges again early on the third day.)
  • What does Nanak say happened while he was in the river? (He says that he had a vision of God and that God had a message for him to share - that God loves everyone equally and that everyone should live together in peace.)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
Image - birthdays

Suggested framework

1. Entry music
Do an internet search using terms such as 'Sikh music' or 'Gudwara music'.

2. Introduction
Find some items that children might connect with a birthday - eg candle, card, party hat, etc - or display the image from 'Key links'. Show the clues to the children and ask them to say what connects each item. Explain that at about this time of year there is a special birthday - celebrated by Sikhs all around the world - the birthday of Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was born over 500 years ago and is revered by Sikhs as the founder of their religion. Ask pupils to think about why Guru Nanak is such an important person within the Sikh religion as they watch the video.

3. The video
Play the video. The duration is 5' 05" and the final words are: ‘...This message was the truth that Nanak had been searching for all his life.’

4. After the video
Use the Video questions to help children recall the story:

  • What were the villagers arguing about at the start?
  • What did Nanak do with the goods he was taking to market?
  • What does the cobra do as Nanak sleeps?
  • How long does Nanak disappear for?
  • What does Nanak say happened while he was in the river?

5. Time to talk
Ask the children to explain their ideas about why they think Guru Nanak is so important now that they’ve seen the video.

6. Opportunity to sing
If your assembly is to include a song this would be a good time to include it. Suggestions from BBC collections below.

7. Opportunity for reflection
Guru Nanak is remembered especially on his birthday each year by the Sikh community, when they will read the whole of their holy writings, the Guru Granth Sahib, over two days...
They will also think about the kind of person that Guru Nanak was…
Think what you know about him from today’s story…
He was brave…kind…generous…peaceful…
I wonder what words people might use to describe what you are like..?
In the quietness, think about that now…

8. Opportunity for prayer
Now I’m going to turn my thoughts into a prayer of thanks. Make the prayer your own if you would like to...
Dear God. Thank you for all the different qualities that make each of us special and unique - and for all that we each bring to our own school community.
Show us all how to help each other get along together and, like Guru Nanak, to be ‘peacemakers’.

Suggested songs

Chain of love - Vocal

Chain of love - Backing