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Dates for assembly

November 8-11: Guru Nanak's birthday

The founder of the Sikh faith was born in 1469, his birthday being traditionally celebrated on the day of the full moon in the Sikh month of Katik.

Outline script for assembly leader

Suppose you're planning a birthday party for your best friend. What kind of party will it be? The answer depends on who your best friend is. Other people's birthdays can be as much fun as our own. Christians and many other people enjoy celebrating the birthday of Jesus - at Christmas. At this time of the year, Sikhs celebrate the birth of the man who started their religion. That birth happened in a small town called Talwandi near Lahore in what's now Pakistan. A government tax collector called Kalu was anxiously waiting for his wife Tripta to give birth. Suddenly, the nurse ran out to give the good news to Kalu. "Congratulations. Your wife has given birth to a fine boy."

"But I haven't heard a baby crying," said Kalu. "That was the strange thing," said the nurse. "Instead of crying, the baby smiled as he was born.

I think he will be very special."

The baby was named Nanak, meaning "the unique one". When he grew up, he spent his life travelling and teaching and became known as Guru Nanak - the word "guru" meaning teacher or "enlightener".

Sikhs mark his birthday with a three-day celebration. During this time, there is a non-stop reading of the Sikh holy book (the Guru Granth Sahib) in all Sikh temples (gurdwaras). People stay as long as possible, returning after work or looking after children. During this time, food is prepared in the kitchen that is attached to all gurdwaras for the readers and worshippers. On the third day (the actual birthday) the holy book is carried on a platform under a canopy in a procession through the streets.

Everyone then returns to their homes for a special meal together.

Follow-up

Discuss the importance of birthdays or ways that eating a meal together can be a significant experience. Share memories of special birthday parties.

Organise a sponsored non-stop "read-in" of a book that is important to a particular group of students.

The DfES Standards site contains a practical unit for Year 8: "Beliefs and practice: how do the beliefs of Sikhs affect their actions?" at www.standards.dfes.gov.ukschemes2secondary_RErel8dview=listamp;column=activ ity

E-cards for the festival can be found at www.123greetings.comeventsgurunanaks_birthday

David Self

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