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The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji: A Sikh celebration

To celebrate Guru Nanak and his commitment to equality.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To celebrate Guru Nanak and his commitment to equality.

Preparation and materials

  • A gift bag containing party clothes, hooter, hat, banner, CD, cupcake with candle in it and matches.
  • A picture of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. See:
  • The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469–1539) is traditionally celebrated in the month of Kartik (October/November). This assembly could be used at any time during this period.
  • ‘Guru’ means ‘teacher’; the words ‘Dev Ji’ are added as a sign of respect.


  1. Everyone is different. Just take a look around you. Can you see anyone who is exactly the same as you? No. Some of us are tall. Some of us are short. Some of us have black hair. Some of us have blond hair. Some of us are boys. Some of us are girls.

    There is no one else who is exactly the same as you in this school. In fact, there is no one else who is exactly the same as you in the whole world.

    What’s even more incredible is that there has never been and never will be anyone who is exactly the same as you. That’s amazing, don’t you think?
  2. There is one thing we all have in common, though. Each year we all have a birthday. Is that right? Let me just check: Is there anyone here who does not have a birthday every year? That’s what I thought. We all have a birthday.

    (Start getting objects out of the gift bag and putting them on the table.) We often get new party clothes. Birthday parties would not be the same without hooters, hats and banners. We love to sing and dance to our favourite CDs at parties. And then, of course, there is the cake – complete with candles to blow out and make a wish.
  3. Every year at around this time Sikhs celebrate the birthday of this man, Nanak Dev. (Show a picture of him, if possible.)

    He lived over 500 years ago and yet his birthday is still celebrated every year. Let’s find out why.
  4. Nanak was born in 1469. He was born into an ordinary family in an ordinary village in India. Like most young children, he was very inquisitive and asked lots of questions. As a boy, he looked after the family cattle and would enjoy discussing issues of life with Muslim and Hindu holy men who lived in the forests around the village.

    Nanak got married when he was 16 and had two sons. He worked as an accountant by day and in his free time enjoyed poetry, singing and making music.

    But then everything changed. This ordinary man changed. God appeared to Nanak.

    Nanak left his job and gave everything he had to the poor. He travelled far and wide telling people what God had revealed to him.

    When he became old, people travelled great distances to hear him teach in his home. This man became known as a great teacher or ‘guru’.
  5. The message from God was simple: God created everyone and God loves everyone. To God, all people are equal. Young or old. Rich or poor. Male or female. Hindu or Muslim. And God wants us all to treat one another as equals.

    This was a difficult message at that time as Hindus and Muslims were constantly arguing and fighting over religious issues. It is still a difficult message to remember today.
  6. All those who follow Guru Nanak’s teaching today are called Sikhs. He is very important to them as he was the founder of the Sikh religion. That’s why they celebrate his birthday every year with great joy and enthusiasm.
  7. In the Punjab region in India, children are given new clothes on Nanak’s birthday (hold up party clothes) and have the day off school to join in the celebrations.

    There are often processions through the streets. These processions are led by religious leaders followed by school bands (blow a party hooter) and people dressed in mock battle costumes (hold up a party hat).

    The route is decorated with flags, flowers, banners (hold up a party banner) and there are decorated gateways depicting various aspects of Sikhism.

    In the Sikh temples, which are called gurdwaras, the Sikh holy book, called the Guru Granth Sahib, is read from beginning to end.

    This reading is followed by singing (hold up a party CD), teaching and poetry.

    Everyone shares a meal from the free kitchen. Special food (hold up a cup cake with a candle on it) is eaten and served to everyone there.

    Candles are lit (light the candle) in the Sikh temples and in homes, shops and offices. Firework displays go on late into the night (blow out the candle). It sounds like quite a party, doesn’t it!

Time for reflection

Sikhs remember the birthday of Guru Nanak every year because he was a very special man with a very special message. Let us take a few moments now to remind ourselves of his message.

Whether you are a boy or a girl,

God created you.

Whether you are young or old,

God cares for you.

Whether you are rich or poor,

God loves you.

Whatever religion you follow,

God created you.

Whatever country you were born in,

God cares for you.

Whatever you can and can’t do,

God loves you.

Just as Guru Nanak did, we can choose to live out this message in our own lives today.

We can choose not to laugh at those who are different.

We can choose to be kind.

We can choose not to argue with those who are different.

We can choose to bring peace.

We can choose not to look down on those who are different.

We can choose to treat everyone as equals.

Just before we go, take another look around you.
Yes, we are all different.
But we are also all equal.


‘There are hundreds of sparrows’ (Come and Praise, 15)

Publication date: November 2012   (Vol.14 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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