Celebrating Birthdays – Keeping It Real

Should we celebrate our Sikh Guru’s Birthdays?

Opinion submitted by Gurpreet Kaur

All thought experts and scholars aside, let us look at this from a very practical point of view. The world follows the “fixed” dates for the most part. People celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries, etc on the set date every year. Now imaging the confusion if the date, in this example a person’s birthday, kept moving date to date each year. Fixed dates are easy to remember and historically accurate.

Do you know your date of birth? I know mine. I celebrate my birthday on that date, every year. Can you imagine have a birthday on a different date each year? For all practical purposes, my friends and family wouldn’t know when to wish me or throw me that surprise milestone birthday party. No one would know my age. My kids and grandkids, and g.g. kids (you get the picture) wouldn’t really know if my account of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic is real or a myth. Was I really there? Did I really survive it? What were the lessons learned? How did these impact future generations? No one would know…

If I can have a true date of birth because I was born on that date, then why make such a big deal about keeping Sikh history accounts consistent and accurate? Let’s simplify life – not because our history is true, but also because our people’s story needs to be told. Our Guru’s stories need to be told so they are not forgotten.

So the question is Should we celebrate Sikh Guru’s Birthdays?

We need to define celebration when asking this really good question. One might say that our Guru’s would not want publicity and “celebrating birthdays” is not really consistent with the Sikh philosophy. I ask myself, if birth and death are the same and both should be accepted as Hukam, then if a birthday is a reminder to reflect, that’s very different than “celebrating” a birthday for superficial reasons (I am guilty of the same). Until I stop celebrating my own birthday, I will continue to reflect, remember and be grateful to our Guru’s and the light they brought to the world with them as a way of celebration. In the Sikh tradition. we remember our Guru’s and reflect upon their teachings via Gurpurabs at home or the Gurdwara. Meditating on the name can be considered a way to “celebrate”.

What ever we choose to do, lets make sure that we don’t let our vanity alter historical facts of birth, shaheedi or other influential dates.

Also see a scholar’s response on this issue.

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