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How To Read Akhand Paath Ceremonial Protocol Illustrated


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Ceremonial Protocol for Reading Guru Granth Sahib
Akhand Paath at the Golden Temple

Akhand Paath at the Golden Temple

Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Sikhism's holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, has 1430 pages respectfully referred to as Ang, or part of the whole. The Sikh code of conduct advises every Sikh to regularly read the entire scripture of Guru Granth Sahib. In Sikhism, devotional reading is known as paath. Two main approaches to reading the entire paath of Guru Granth Sahib outlined in code of conduct document Sikh Reht Maryada (SRM) are formally known as:

  • Akhand Paath (formal uninterrupted) - A complete reading of Guru Granth Sahib without interruption can be accomplished in as little as 48 hours when reading is done with team members. Akhand paath is read for special occasions and life events.
  • Sadharan Paath (formal ordinary) - An entire reading of Guru Granth Sahib can be accomplished in a week or two by reading with a team and taking breaks as needed. Reading alone on a daily basis can take anywhere from about eight weeks to a year depending on the schedule followed.
Devotional reading of paath make also be conducted in a less formal manner commonly known as:
  • Sahej Paath (informal easy) - To suit individual ability, there are a variety of informal easy ways to go about reading an entire paath alone or with group, in one or more locations, from one or more volumes, making use of translations if need be, or even reading online.

Whichever method is chosen, formal or informal, a specific protocol is outlined in the Sikh code of conduct for the paath ceremony:

  • Preparation
  • Arambh (commencement ceremony)
  • Madh (optional middle ceremony)
  • Bhog (conclusion ceremony)
  • Other religious rituals are not allowed.

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