Nagar Kirtan Folklore, Meaning and History

Over the past few decades, Nagar kirtan has become a usual ceremony for Gurpurab. It is celebrated by taking the procession to all neighborhoods and singing praise for the Guru Granth Sahib.

The concept of performing the Nagar Kirtan is to bring the message of god to every doorstep of the community. When celebrating, one can easily find relief and harmony even when thousands are walking with you.

What is Nagar Kirtan?

Nagar Kirtan is celebrated by taking the procession to all neighborhoods and singing praise for the Guru Granth Sahib.

Nagar Kirtan Procession
Nagar Kirtan Procession

The Panj Piare who is also known as the five beloveds of the Guru normally led the procession of the Nagar Kirtan.

This is normally followed by at least one main float, which carries the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.


Let us look at certain associations that arise from the word Nagar Kirtan and what does it signifies.

Nagar –> Town or city

Kirtan –> Singing Gurbani –> Spreading the word of Guru Nanak

This means that the Nagar kirtan is meant as spreading out the word of Guru Granth Sahib Ji to all the city by singing the Gurbani.

History of Nagar Kirtan

The history behind the kirtan states that the tradition was started by Baba Buddha Ji when Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji stayed imprisoned in the jail of Jahangir at Gwalior for 40 days.

History of Nagar Kirtan
History of Nagar Kirtan

Baba Ji along with the Sangat could not bear the separation from Sri Guru Ji.

Baba Buddha led the Sangat to Gwalior and they used to do Nagar Kirtan around the jail, out of love for Sri Guru Ji.

It is said that Sri Guru Ji was extremely pleased with Baba Buddha for starting this tradition of doing kirtan of the verses of Guru Granth Sahib and expressing affection for him.

From that day, Sikhs started celebrating the Gurpurabs doing kirtan.

Sikhs found out a long time ago that Nagar kirtan was a great means of bringing unity in community and in doing promotions.

In recent history, Bhai Randhir Singh used to go from village to village, with the musical instrument around his neck, doing kirtan.

This kind of kirtan journeys did massive promotions.

It is said that Baba Attar Singh promoted Nagar kirtan on a large scale. He organized some of the largest nagar kirtan programs.

Sant Kartar Singh did some of the most memorable Nagar kirtan programs in Punjab, in the 1970s.

At one time, he organized a Nagar kirtan in Batala town of Gurdaspur.

Significance of Kirtan in Sikhism

The number five (5) is very important for the Sikhs as it was upon this day on arrival of Vaisakhi 1699 that the Tenth Guru Gobind Singh founded Khalsa Panth.

This was done by purifying through water 5 volunteers from each corners of India and various foundations.

Significance of Kirtan in Sikhism
Significance of Kirtan in Sikhism

These 5 cherished ones ‘Panj Piyaras’ were given this reference by the tenth Guru himself as they sacrificially introduced themselves at the require their lives.

It was these Panj Piyaras who among 80,000 stood up and entered the tent where Guru Gobind Singh requested the leader of his Beloved Sikhs.

It was incredible that the Panj Piyaras came out of the tent alive and in valor wearing the 5 Ks, as they had the function of Amrit Shakna performed by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Guru Gobind Singh gave a lot of respect to the Panj Pyaras as they were the first Amritdhari (immersed) Singh’s.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself bowed to the Panj Pyaras & took Amrit (Baptism) from them.

This was then followed by the whole Sangat participating in the sacred function of Amrit Sanchar and then the Khalsa Panth was formed.

Out of regard, there are a huge number of sewadars who benevolently clean the streets before the Panj Pyaras and the Guru Granth Sahib are transported.

It might be seen that numerous in the owner may not be wearing any shoes, independent of climate conditions.

This is because of the respect they show to their heavenly scripture, the holy Guru Granth Sahib.

During the Nagar kirtan, the following prayer is recited by the Sangat as they all march forward taking out the procession.

Prayer to Guru

Sathguru Nanak pargateya miti dund jag chanan hoya||

Jiou(n) kar sooraj nikaliaa thaarae shhapae a(n)dhhaer paloaa||

Si(n)gh bukae miragaavalee bha(n)nee jaaeae n dhheer dhharoaa||

Jithhai baabaa pair dhharai poojaa aasan thhaapan soaa||

Sidhh aasan sabh jagath dhae naanak aadh mathae jae koaa||

Ghar ghar a(n)dhar dhharamasaal hovai keerathan sadhaa visoaa||

Baabae thaarae chaar chak na kha(n)dd prithhamee sachaa dtoaa||

Guramukh kal vich paragatt hoaa ||aa||

The meaning of this prayer is that with the emergence of the complete Guru, Guru Nanak, the mist cleared and the whole world was illuminated.

It was as if the sun had risen and the stars disappeared and the darkness was dispersed.

With the roar of a lion, the evading deer could not run anymore. Wherever Baba put his feet, a religious place was originated and established.

The holy places of the Sikhs have been renamed in the name of Nanak. Homes have become Dharamsala.

In every home, the songs of morality are sung. Baba liberated the 4 directions and the different divisions of the Earth.

Guru Nanak has emerged in kali yuga, the Dark Age.

Followed by the above prayer the Kirtan culminates as the holy Guru Granth Sahib reenters the Gurdwara and the entire Sikh Sangat stops for the Ardas that is reciting the finishing up Prayer.

You may see that numerous individuals from the Sangat take their shoes off in the city while the Ardas is being perused on the amplifier as this is absolutely an indication of regard of the Holy Bani.

It is likewise observable that most of the Sangat have covered their heads, this is a noteworthy indication of regard to the imminence of the holy Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

The shading Orange is to pay tribute to the Khalsa Panth, as the Panj Pyaras are robed in Orange.

Important Tips for Attending Nagar Kirtan

1. Identify when the ceremonials start and finish

Find the beginning and finish of the Nagar Kirtan march, utilizing a guide if fundamental.

Identify when the ceremonials start and finish
Identify when the ceremonials start and finish

A facilitating Gurdwara is commonly the beginning stage, just as the last stage when the Nagar Kirtan completes toward the day’s end.

In any case, on certain events, Guru Granth Sahib might be moved via vehicle to a city leave facilitating the Nagar Kirtan where the procession will begin and finish.

When facilitated at the Gurdwara the parade starts with ritualistically shipping of Guru Granth Sahib as the Guru is taken from the Gurdwara and introduced on a palanquin which will lead the parade.

The service including Ardas may occur inside a Gurdwara or out of entryways in a typical territory, for example, a parking area or park.

Everybody is welcome to respectfully watch or take an interest in ceremonial procedures.

Kirtan functions by and large begin at around 10 am.

Floats start to leave around 11 am and make take an hour or more for all to get in progress with the last inline withdrawing by early afternoon at the most recent.

Floats return around 4 pm and may take until sunset relying upon the number of floats taking an interest.

2. Identify Meeting place, Parking and Exit Plan

When going to a Nagar Kirtan march, as a rule, there is a possibility with the expectation of free parking, notwithstanding, stopping near the Gurdwara or hosting site might be rare particularly where food stalls and bazaars are found.

Identify when the ceremonials start and finish
Identify when the ceremonials start and finish

Show up sooner than expected, or be set up to stop further away and stroll to the beginning stage. It might be possible to pay for nearer private parking.

Then again you might need to stop and see from a vantage point situated along the procession course as the Kirtan cruises by.

Plan your exit strategy early to evade the pound of vehicles traveling continuously from the procession site toward the day’s end.

If climate conditions exhibit rainstorm, survey the territory cautiously so you don’t step in mud puddles or stall out during your journey.

On the off chance that you are going with your family, or in a coach, or transport, with Sangat, mobile phones are useful for staying in contact.

On the off chance that the Nagar Kirtan is facilitated at a Gurdwara, put aside time to offer your regards and participate in free langar.

If there is a bazaar set up, make certain to permit time to check and shop.

Settle on a gathering spot, and set an opportunity to pull together, for the situation should you become isolated during the day’s celebrations.

Alternatives to get together include:

  1. Your vehicle, or coach
  2. A specific procession float
  3. A specific seller at Bazaar
  4. A specific food stall, or langar corridor

The facilitating Gurdwara worship hall, or area in a city park, or along the procession course.

3. Always wear a suitable and appropriate dress

Show regard for Sikhism, Sikhs, and worship Guru Granth Sahib by wearing proper clothing reasonable to the event of a Nagar Kirtan work.

Always wear a suitable and appropriate dress
Always wear a suitable and appropriate dress
  1. Head-Cover – Turban, chuni, scarf which makes sure that the head is covered all the time.
  2. Clothing – Traditional clothing, any style Punjabi suits, and humble pleasant present-day apparel are on the whole worthy to wear.
  3. Shoes – Shoes are optional, when walking with the procession, or while taking an interest in road clearing.

Depending upon the climate, be set up for messy conditions in the event of a heavy shower.

Pick open to walking shoes and ideally those which can be effectively taken off as shoes are not worn when sitting with feet within a float, nor when entering the Gurdwara.

In crowded conditions with hundreds of thousands of people attending its possible when footwear is removed, for shoes to be misplaced.

So you might not have any desire to wear your best pair of shoes when going to Nagar Kirtan.

4. Abstain from Alcohol and other toxic substances

This is a strict celebration held to respect the blessed sacred Guru Granth Sahib.

It is important to have regard for Sikhism which denies the utilization of tobacco, drugs, and different intoxicants.

It would be ideal if you abstain from smoking or drinking alcohol while going to any Sikh procession, any place Guru Granth Sahib or the Sikh assembly.

A lot of free non-alcoholic beverages are accessible to everybody.

5. Checking out on Parade Vehicular Movements

Many moving vehicles alongside a huge number of individuals, a considerable lot of whom are kids, require watchfulness when going to a Kirtan march.

Checking out on Parade Vehicular Movements
Checking out on Parade Vehicular Movements

Even though wounds are amazingly uncommon, it is essential to know about moving vehicles consistently in guess to you and your family.

Particularly minimal ones to keep catastrophes from happening. Sikh Parade vehicles include:

  1. Trucks of all sizes pulling floats on trailers with devotees hopping on and off as they move along.
  2. Floats that are amassed over and cover up trucks present unique visibility challenges for drivers.
  3. Red Cross ambulances and several other independent participating promotional vehicles.
  4. Biker’s clubs with any number of bikes being ridden in synchronization with one another.
  5. Police vehicles incorporate crew vehicles and bikes (even ponies) and help with barricades coordinating procession traffic and pedestrian activity.

It’s critical to tune in to orders given consistently, yet particularly by the day’s end when the procession lets out and darkness comes, making visibility hard for both car drivers and people on foot.

6. March Besides the Parade or Ride-on Floats

The number of floats taking part in any kirtan shifts with every procession.

March Besides the Parade or Ride on Floats
March Besides the Parade or Ride on Floats

At any rate, a palanquin supporting the Guru Granth Sahib is borne on the shoulders of devotees.

In a well-attended kirtan, there might be any number of floats supported by participating gurdwaras from around the nation following behind Guru Granth Sahib.

A few floats are intricate undertakings delineating scenes from Sikh history, others are straightforward trailers heaped with fans.

Sangat related to the gurdwara supporting the gliding help to enhance the buoy and assistance are constantly valued.

Buoys are pulled by volunteer truckers with decked out containers. Ragis ride and sing bani with Sangat on certain floats.

Recordings are coming out from amplifiers at a large volume. There is no limitation regarding who can ride on the boat.

For whatever length of time that there is a space to ride everybody is free to move on board and participate in the joys.

Anybody sufficiently daring to climb up a gradually moving buoy is free to press in.

7. Freshen yourselves at Designated Points

Sanitary facilities for freshening up incorporate water for washing hands and are provided for the Kirtan guests at the facilitating gurdwara and in zones along the parade route.

Freshen Yourselves at Designated Points
Freshen Yourselves at Designated Points

Know that offices nearest to the gurdwara experience the heaviest use and might be over limit before the day’s over, so plan in like manner.

Make certain to utilize hand washing facilities before entering gurdwara or participating in the langar.

8. Take your food at the Langar

Sikhism has a long convention of langar.

Free food and beverages are accommodated to all Nagar Kirtan participants and all those who even are not part of the parade, but want to have food.

Take food at Langar
Take food at Langar

Roadside food corners, tents, tables, trucks stacked with a delicious display of routine langar and well-known snacks accessible up and down the Sikh procession route.

Also available at the gurdwara langar hall, and parking area, persuade the passerby.

Sevadars stroll into the roads offering the mass devotees and guests filtered water, soda, and fruit juices alongside several lavish flavorful Indian foods, just as dessert, chips and much more.

Everybody is encouraged to eat their fill, and afterward eat some more. Look out for waste containers where you can dump empty jugs, jars, utilized paper plates, and utensils.

9. Clean up the area and perform the Seva

Nagar Kirtan, similar to the mainstream Yuba City Sikh Parade, may provide food up to 200,000 guests and presents a lot of chances for Seva.

Clean up the area and perform the Seva
Clean up the area and perform the Seva

While there is positively no commitment, additional assistance is constantly welcome:

  1. Help maintain the Kirtan parade route
  2. Help with float building, decorations, or disassembling
  3. Help with gurdwara timekeeping, maintenance, and clean up
  4. Help With langar, food preparation, service, and clean up

10. Buying out Religious items kept at Market

Celebrations facilitated by gurdwaras, for example, the Yuba City Annual Sikh parade, for the most part, have a Bazaar where sellers show an assortment of religious things available to be purchased.

Buying out Religious items kept at Market
Buying out Religious items kept at Market

E.g. reference, story, and prayer books, CDs and DVDs, Sikh workmanship, bana and other profound clothing, 5 K’s, claim to fame kirpans, khanda adornments, and clocks.

These markets also have other Sikhism themed knickknacks, just as prized things, for example, Punjabi suits, fabrics, blankets, even carpets.

The New York City Annual Sikh Parade, be that as it may, is restricted by nearby mandates from permitting sellers to set up along the procession route

All these tips will help you make sure that you can enjoy and participate in the nagar kirtan whenever organized by the respective prabhandak committees.

Important Occasions when Nagar Kirtan is Celebrated

GurupurabBirth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev
Prakash ParbBirth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh
Guru GadeeInaugural anniversary honoring holy Guru Granth Sahib
Hola MohallaDemonstration of Gatka skill in Sikhism martial arts
Interfaith MarchesPromoting solidarity between people of diverse faiths
VaisakhiAnniversary of the establishment and initiation of the Khalsa warrior order.
Important Occasion List During the Ceremony


When participating in the Nagar Kirtan, one can find solace and peace even when thousands are walking with you.

One can reach a state of Nirvana when indulging in the singing of Kirtan while following the Guru Granth Sahib. This is what the Nagar Kirtan is all about.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What is the purpose of Nagar Kirtan?

It is a Sikh custom involving the processional singing of holy hymns throughout a community. While practiced at any time, it is customary in the month of Baisakhi.

When did Nagar Kirtan start?

It is believed that it started in the year 1522 first in Kartarpur, Pakistan.

Where is Nagar Kirtan at Present?

The international ‘Nagar Kirtan’ (religious procession) that commenced from Nankana Sahib, to celebrate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, arrived at Neem Sahib Gurudwara in Kaithal on 6th October last year.