PRAYER HALL PROCEDURES
Procedures in prayer hall
The Holy Presence
In the prayer hall, Guru Granth Sahib – the Holy Book, is kept open on the raised platform for the Gurdwara-Session. Unless someone is reading out of it, the Holy Book is covered with nice, clean, cloth sheets. It is better to close the Holy Book and put it back to its resting place if no one will read it throughout the day, or in the evening.
The following procedures in the prayer hall are everyday routine.
Gurdwara Morning Routine
Parkash – opening the Holy Book
Bringing the Granth to the Prayer Hall.
In the morning, Guru Granth Sahib is brought to the prayer hall carried on the head from its room, singing Shabads – Holy Hymns, or Waheguru-Sattenaamu etc.
Before carrying the Granth on the head to bring it out, the short Invocation (Chhotee Ardas) is said, standing before Guru Granth Sahib in the room where it is resting,
In the invocation, permission of the Guru is beseeched for permission to take it out and open it.
It should be kept in the mind that someone should work Chaur (hair-wisp) over the Holy Book when carrying it out of the room (or taking it back into it), at any time.
The Granth – Holy Book, is placed on the Peerrha Sahib – cot, a low small bed. This cot is also called Peerrhee or Manji Sahib.
Ardas – Short. Invocation Short
While moving Chauri, singing or saying appropriate Holy Hymns, the Holy Book is gracefully, and reverently unwrapped, and randomly opened at about its middle.
A Palak – cloth-sheet, is placed on each side (left and right) of the Holy Book.
Setting of Guru Granth Sahib is checked, needed adjustments are made, and it is covered with Romalae – cloth sheets, or scarves.
Romalae should be spread out smooth, with their margins properly level, and sides equal on both sides. To learn, watch someone doing it.
Hukam or Vaak of Guru Granth Sahib
Hukam is the Guru’s order i.e. inspiration for the day. According to the set procedure, Hukam is read (Holy Hymn is read) from top of the left page where it has been opened (right of the Granth. Even page number), from its start – may be it starts on the back of this page (previous page). This is standard procedure, but its variations can be there. Shabad, mostly starts at the lowest part of the previous page (odd page number), or at the top of the left page that has been opened.
Hukam, is commonly called a “Hukam-Namah,” but literally Hukam-Namah means a written order. In fact, it is a “Hukam,” wherein it is just read and spoken out.
Hukam – Page
In a Gurdwara, for the others to read or listen to this first Hukam of the day, the Holy Book is kept open at this page where the Hukam starts, and covered with sheets.
At the homes, this page may be covered with a few pages from your right (left of the Book), and anyone may take a new (fresh) personal Hukam at any time.
Hukam should not be taken during some other procedure at that place. For example, if Kirtan is going on, one should wait and Hukam should preferably not be taken at that very time.
Also see Hukam on Pages given in index.
Darshan – Beholding the Guru
Picking up cover of the Holy Book and merely looking at the page is not a ‘Darshan’ – seeing it. Real Darshan is reading out of it, or listening to the Holy Hymn out of it.
Service to the Guru
Taking this as a service to the Guru, the frame of a door and legs of the palanquin etc. should not be pressed like pressing the limbs of someone. The real service is reading the Holy Book.
Routine recitation of the set Scriptures. It is an important and fixed every day routine in the Gurdwara or at home to recite complete Nit-Nem fixed by the Panth. It includes –
For the morning time
Jappu ji Sahib, Jaap Sahib, Savayae Pateshahi Dassveen – “Sravag sudh smooh sidhaan kae …..”
For the evening
Rahras – It is recited in the evening at the time of or soon after the sunset. All join in the recitation. It is called “Sodar Dee Chaukee.” Chaukee is a set time for reciting some scripture.
Rahras starts with “Raag Asaa Mehalaa Pehlaa Sodar.”
In Sodar Dee Chaukee, the starting part of Rahras is rendered as Kirtan (in music) up to the end of “Sodar Tera kehaa so ghar kehaa jit beh sarab smalae” rest of the recitation is done without singing.
See more pages in index.
In a Gurdwara, Kirtan Sohela is recited at the time of Sukh-Asan – closing of Guru Granth Sahib: the Holy Book. It may be recited by heart by the one who is closing the Holy Book, or someone else may read it out.
Sohela or Kirtan Sohela. It is recited before going to sleep. At home, Kirtan Sohela is recited at the bedtime, but if Rahras gets late Sohela as well, is done along with it.
Essential or not, in almost every Gurdwara, it is recited daily. It may be done in parts to complete it in more than one day. It is mostly not recited in the historical Gurdwaras. They seem not to have enough time for it. It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to recite it.
Also see Nit Nem on pages given in index.
Asa Dee Vaar
As a set precedence, singing of some other (additional) Shabads is incorporated in the singing of Asa Dee Vaar. Such a mixed singing of Asa Dee Vaar takes about two hours to properly complete it.
Asa Dee Vaar is a pure singing and in it, no sermon-giving (discourses – talks) are permitted. Its singing time is 3 to 6, in the morning, and singing is completed before sunrise.
In most of the small and medium Gurdwaras in the Western countries, Asa Dee Vaar is not possible as it should be done very early in the morning. At other places, it is done very late. Some hold Asa Dee Vaar only on specific days, mostly Sundays.