Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism's holy scripture, is the eternal enlightener, guide and guru of the Sikhs. Sikhism code of conduct advises every Sikh to engage in devotional reading, or paath. Sikhs are encouraged to read, or listen to, the entire 1420 pages of scripture respectfully known as Ang, or Panna, meaning "part of Guru."
- Akhand Paath - uninterrupted team reading of Guru Granth Sahib in one volume.
- Sadharan Paath - reading Guru Granth Sahib at intervals by an individual or team.
- Sahej Paath - team reading includes multiple locations, volumes, and interpretations.
- Cyber Paath - online international team reading.
Guru Granth Sahib is written in Gurmukhi, a phonetic script. Words of scripture are known as Gurbani. Every Sikh is encouraged to learn Gurmukhi so as to enable devotional reading of Gurbani paath. The original laridar script of Guru Granth Sahib is written with words linked together in an unbroken line. No translation of scripture is considered to be equal to the original, and cannot be considered as the Guru. However for study purposes to enable understanding, Guru Granth Sahib has been printed in Pad ched, or cut text, with lines divided into individual Gurmukhi words, and interpreted in Punjabi, Hindi, English and Spanish, as well as being rendered into Devanagari and Romanized phonetic versions available in multiple volumes and online.
When any important endeavor is begun, Sikhs are encouraged to conduct an Akhand Paath or entire uninterrupted reading of Guru Granth Sahib. Akhand Paath is always read from a single volume or bir of the original Gurmukhi in either lardidar or pad ched. Unbroken reading normally takes about 48 hours from start to finish. Those unable to read Gurmukhi may hire a team or four or five proficient readers, otherwise the team is made up of family or sangat. A schedule is made having 48 roles, allowing for 30 Ang to be read each hour. Readers sign up for roles and read by turn day and night until reading is complete. Reading is commenced with Arambh ceremony and concluded with Bhog ceremony. Ardas may be offered at about half way as madh is read.
The Sikhism code of conduct encourages every Sikh to develop a habit of daily devotional reading from the holy scripture, so that eventually the entire scripture is read from beginning to end. A Sadharan paath is read to completion from only one particular volume of Guru Granth Sahib by an individual or a group in any interval of time.
A Sadharan paath may be read on the occasion of a birth, wedding, or death, by family members in one or two weeks.
An individual may read a Sadharan paath over the course of a couple of months, or even years, depending on time available and skill.
- Reading 20 Ang daily it is possible to complete a Sadharan Paath in about 10 weeks.
- Reading four Ang daily Sadharan paath may be concluded with in a year.
A Sahej paath, or easy reading, may be read uninterrupted or in intervals and completed by either an individual or group. As there is no particular proscribed method, multiple readers may opt to read as a team in any language from Interpretations of Guru Granth Sahib having multiple volumes so that participants unable to read Gurmukhi are able to join in the experience of group effort required for a complete reading of scripture.
At a rate of 20 pages an hour it takes about 72 unbroken hours to completely read the eight volume Manmohan Singh's Steeks in English as the transliteration or Romanized phonetic version of one Gurmukhi Ang requires about 3 printed English pages. Roles are assigned accordingly and kept track of on a sign up sheet.
Cyber paath has no particular proscribed method and may be read entirely online by an individual, or by participants around the world, reading by turns as a group. International readers may choose to read from Guru Granth Sahib in their location, or on online, as the group decides. Cyber Paath requires scheduling using either email or a forum. Because there is no standard required words per page, there may be variances between different reading sources and sites. It's a good idea to reference a particular online version of Gurbani such as Sikhi to the MAX, which may require downloading of Gurmukhi fonts from the site chosen, or myGuru iPod app or other similar apps for iPhones and android phones. Roles may be assigned according to time zone. Participants check in before and after reading assignments.
Pothi Paath Practice
Pothi paath is good practice for beginning readers. Pothi paath is devotional reading of scripture from a hand held gutka or prayerbook, which requires more time to complete than it takes for an novice individual to read in a single session.
For example Sukhmani Sahib paath is a sizable hymn of 24 parts which is about 34 pages in length which is part of Guru Granth Sahib. An entire prayerbook is devoted to the Sukhmani Sahib hymn. An accomplished reader might complete Sukhmani paath about in 30-60 minutes whereas a novice reader may require 2-3 hours in order to read the hymn completely. A novice reader may wish to divide Sukhmandi Sahib reading time into shorter increments of 25-30 minutes sessions over 5 days or a week.
Multiple Simultaneous Paath
Multiple Akhand paaths maybe held simultaneously:
- A gurdwara may host a reading of two or more, sometimes even one hundred and one, Akhand paaths all at the same time, with multiple volumes of Guru Granth Sahib being read side by side.
Families and friends may sign up to read an entire paath scheduling in anyone one wanting to take a turn.
Successive Sequential Paath
Complete paaths of any kind may be read one after the other in uninterrupted sequential succession:
- A gurwara may host an uninterrupted schedule of multiple Akhand paaths read in succession such as one hundred and one Akhand paths read in sequence over a period of months or years by various members of sangat including familes.
- An indvidulal reader or a group of team readers my elect to read a succession of any type of complete paath over any given period of time.
- 7 Day Reading Plan
- 10 Day Reading Plan
- 14 Day Reading Plan
- 7 Week 30 Page Per Day Reading Plan
- 10 Week 20 Page Per Day Reading Plan
- 14 Week 15 Page Per Day Reading Plan
- 20 Week 10 Page Per Day Reading Plan
- 40 Week 5 Page Per Day Reading Plan
- 51 Week 4 Page Per Day Reading Plan
Sikhism code of conduct Sikh Rehit Maryada (SRM) advised reading from Guru Granth Sahib every day and specifies a particular ceremonial protocol for conducting Akhand Paath and Sadharan Paath including:
- Preparation protocol
- Commencement ceremony protocol
- Optional middle ceremony protocol
- Conclusion ceremony protocol