Nagar Kirtan 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 Vaisakhi (during the month of April) and also during the Gurpurab (birthday of the Guru). Traditionally, the procession is led by the saffron-robed Panj Piare (the five beloved of the Guru), who are followed by the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh scripture, which is placed on a float (an open car, decorated with flowers). Commonly, members of the procession are unshod in deference to the scripture so displayed. Likewise, many cover their heads and don the colour orange, or saffron.
The road before the procession is cleared, often first cleaned with the broom and then washed with water and flowers are placed, in respect to the Guru Granth Sahib, by sewadars. Bystanders bow their heads to the Guru Granth Sahib. Food may be provided them from people as part of their offerings to those, who walk in the procession, that follow the Scripture or from stationary points in the vicinity of the procession.
The procession concludes at the Gurdwara with Ardas, derived from the Persian word 'Arazdashat', meaning a request, a supplication, a prayer, a petition or an address to a superior authority.
It is a Sikh prayer that is a done before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily Banis (prayers); or completion of a service like the Paath, kirtan (hymn-singing) program or any other religious program. In Sikhism, these prayers are also said before and after eating. The prayer is a plea to God to support and help the devotee with whatever he or she is about to undertake or has done.
Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh
Date: May 8, 2010