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Sindhis of Kolkata unite to celebrate Nanak Jayanti

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Every year the Sindhis of Kolkata eagerly await Guru Nanak Jayanti. It gives a perfect opportunity to the entire community to come together and strengthen their bonds of brotherhood. During the partition of India, we Sindhis were forced to leave our home Sindh, the very land which saw the birth of the earliest human civilization. My family had first migrated to the refugee camps of Barmer, Rajasthan and later to Mumbai, then Bombay. Starting from scratch is never easy, but we Sindhis never gave up. Later, my grandfather moved to Kolkata with his family and some friends. Ever since, the ‘City of Joy’ has been our home.

The Sindhi community of Kolkata, though fairly small, is united and takes pride in our culture and traditions. We have formed several associations and panchayats which strive for the welfare of its members and the society at large. We organise various social gatherings to celebrate festivals like Holi, ‘Cheti Chand’’ (Sindhi New Year) and Guru Nanak Jayanti. On the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti this year, a grand event was organised at the Ramlila Maidan (near C.I.T. Road) by our panchayats along with the Holy Mission of Guru Nanak. Like each year, this year’s program was also a five-day event which commenced on Tuesday, 31st October with the holy invocation or ‘havan’. For the next three days, ‘Asadivar’ and ‘Shabad’ kirtans were held in the morning and evening respectively. The devotees sang hymns from the Holy Guru Granth Sahib. These verses help us understand the essence of our existence and guide us to the righteous path. These Shabads promote brotherhood, encouraging us to lead a simple life and dedicate ourselves to ‘seva’ or community service.

On the auspicious day of our Divine Guru’s birth, a procession with the Holy Guru Granth Sahib is taken out on the streets in the wee hours of the morning; whereby it gets its name- ‘Prabhat Pheri.’ Devotees rejoice the arrival of their redeemer by singing hymns all along the way. Some sweep the streets from where the pheri passes, whereas others lay flowers and welcome the Living Guru (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) with rose water and incense. Devotees whose houses lie on the route of the pheri welcome the Guru and distribute sweets, kheer, badam milk and tea to the devotees. No one feels least exhausted despite walking for hours! Later the celebrations continue in the pandal in the form of kirtan, asadivar, sahej ptah (where everyone reads from the Gurbani) followed by aarti and ardas (prayer).

Keeping the tradition started by Guru Nanak Devji alive, all the people of Sindhi community of Kolkata - rich and poor, old and young; people from various religions and walks of life, sit together and partake the ‘langar prasad.’ The famous Sindhi kadhi is served along with other delicacies prepared with love and devotion. The numbers go on to thousands as the doors are open to people from all communities and religions. A well organised group of volunteers, who believe in ‘seva before self’, help managing this grand affair.

The real celebrations however start around midnight. it is followed by kirtan, naam dhuni, phool varsha and aarti. Sindhis of Kolkata have prospered over the years and we as a community have blended well with the ethos of this vibrant city.