New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government has chalked out a series of large-scale events in the next few weeks as the year-long celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak — the founder of Sikhism and first of the 10 religious gurus of the Sikhs — end next month.
This is the first time that the Modi government has planned such massive celebrations of a religious leader of a faith.
The move, among other government efforts such as signing the Kartarpur corridor agreement with Pakistan Thursday, comes ahead of the assembly elections in Delhi, which has a sizeable Sikh community of 4.43 per cent, according to Census 2011.
Guru Nanak Jayanti will be observed on 12 November this year. However, the celebrations will go on until 23 November, when the inaugural event of the year-long celebrations were held last year.
Plans across ministries
Highly-placed sources in the government told ThePrint that a flurry of activities across ministries and media units of the government is set to begin in the weeks leading to the Guru Nanak Jayanti.
The efforts are being spearheaded by the Ministry of Home Affairs, which had sought comments from all central ministries on their plans and progress on the celebrations.
The Ministry of External Affairs will organise cultural programmes in several countries, particularly the ones with large Sikh community.
A senior government official said the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for publicising commemorative stamps and coins on Guru Nanak Jayanti. It will also ensure they are available in the Indian missions in other countries for greater awareness.
The ministry will also create a social media plan for publicising the planned events to commemorate the 550th anniversary of the Sikh guru. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will execute them.
These events will come in addition to a series of similar moves announced in November last year when the Union cabinet took a decision to hold year-long celebrations at a global level. At the time, Prime Minister Modi had constituted a National Implementation Committee under then home minister Rajnath Singh, with finance minister and minister of state for culture as members.
The inaugural event for the commemoration was held on 23 November 2018 at Punjab’s Sultanpur Lodhi, where Guru Nanak had spent a considerable part of his life.
According to a press statement released then, Sultanpur Lodhi will be developed as a heritage city by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, in collaboration with the Punjab government.
Further, the Ministry of Human Resource Development in Punjab announced to set up a National Institute of Inter-Faith Studies for which the state government was to provide land free of cost. The statement added that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will install a high-powered telescope in India for the devotees to view Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan.
For all these plans, the respective ministries will spare funds from their own budgets.
Broadcast and social media plans
State-owned broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) have also planned a series of live telecasts and programmes on the occasion, sources told ThePrint.
Starting from 3 until 23 November, Doordarshan will telecast quotes of Guru Nanak as a regular feature. It will also telecast feature films on Guru Nanak’s life and teachings on 23 November.
On the same day, the state broadcaster will also telecast live kirtan darbars from the Golden Temple as well as documentaries on the guru and select gurudwaras, aside from coverage of government events.
The AIR, too, will broadcast thought of the day from the Guru Granth Sahib, and the stations will feature Gurbani in the morning devotional programmes in the same period. It will also organise special talks and kirtan darbars before a select audience.
The Bureau of Outreach Communication, a body of media units under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, will hold week-long multimedia digital exhibitions on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak in cities such as Amritsar, Nanded and Patna in November. Smaller three-day exhibitions will be held in Chennai, Haridwar, Varanasi, Srinagar, Kutch, Bidar, among others.
Light and sound shows have also been planned in Amritsar and Delhi with song and drama troupes, besides essay and quiz competitions in schools. A separate month-long out-of-home campaign on the teachings of Guru Nanak will be launched in the last week of October in Delhi, Nanded, Patna and all of Punjab.
A set of social media activities have also been planned, including the promotion of the main events and their live streaming on social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.