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Guru Nanak (Sikh)

What is Guru Nanak?

In Sikh tradition, this is a celebration of Guru Nanak's birthday (or Gurpurb). Guru Nanak is the founder of the Sikh religion. The celebration of Guru Nanak is generally recognised as one of the (if not the) most important of the Gurpurbs

When is Guru Nanak?

Guru Nanak is tied into the Indian lunar calendar and typically falls in November, next taking place on Tuesday 12 November 2019. However, the celebrations both lead up to and follow the day itself.

What do people do during Guru Nanak?

All festivals which celebrate the lives of the Gurus involve the reading of the Sikh holy book continuously from beginning to end by a team of Sikh men and women each reading for 2-3 hours. This starts two days before the celebration and ends early on the morning of the birthday.

There are processions throughout some parts of the UK on the day before the birthday.

Celebrations at the Sikh place of worship (the Gurdwara) or at home begin as early as 4am and are followed by a celebratory community meal called langar.

Key workplace considerations

  • Although breaks should be kept, a shorter or longer lunch may make it easier for an employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to attend Gurdwara services. 
  • If an employee has been involved in some of the late night/early morning activities associated with the celebration, acknowledgment that they may be a little more tired than usual can be appreciated. 
  • Employees may ask for additional leave for religious reasons. There is no legal requirement to accommodate requests but planning ahead can help and may be met through flexible working arrangements, annual leave or unpaid leave. It is generally unadvisable to offer paid special leave for such time off requests because an employer needs to ensure they do not discriminate in favour of a particular religion. 
  • Awareness and understanding of Guru Nanak and other religious festivals can be aided by posting information on staff notice boards or newsletters etc. 
  • Guru Nanak may offer an opportunity for closer team relations and teamwork - for example, by joining in or supporting charitable events.