An Akhand Paath is the continuous, front to back, reading of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. This reading is an important and extremely meaningful meditative practice for Sikhs. Akhand Paths are read in honor of major life events like marriages, funerals, and births. They are important community events and conducted either by a team of granthis who take turns reading for long periods of time or by community members who take turns reading in hour-long reading slots.
I have wanted to do this prayer for almost a year now. I know I did not have the strength or confidence to do so until about a week ago. I felt strong so a very snap decision was made to do a 3 day, non stop prayer in my home consisting of the reading of 1430 pages of our Guru Granth Sahib, our living Guru.
A few of my non Sikh friends asked me what it was all about so here I am sharing with you all…..
When you do a prayer at home, your home must be clean. My door was pretty much left open for 3 days and friends and family just came at any time, day or night to listen to the prayers. Everyone sits on the floor and someone should be listening at all times throughout the 3 days.
Anyone who comes is served a meal or langar so food is prepared throughout the day so everyone can eat.
We started on Tuesday clearing up downstairs. All my furniture was removed and put into my neighbours garage! Floors cleaned and rugs covered with white sheets placed on the floors.
Meals were planned and food cooked in quantity so food available throughout. Lots of friends and family offered help so I was happy to delegate jobs. This is called seva or selfless service and just means more people can get involved in doing seva for the community. Everyone helped in one way or another it was a really lovely feeling.
I had friends coming over throughout the 3 days but my house was never over crowded. I had time to sit with everyone in meditation, feed everyone and had time to reflect and be grateful for everything.
This weekend, I found some bionic strength to cook meals for 50 people each day. I started preparing on Thursday after a mammoth shopping spree in the indian shop! Cooking started at 6am each morning and I was pretty much done by 9am.
I took lots of breaks in between and my sisters came and saved me during the day, taking over, clearing up and getting ready for the next day!
Each meal consisted of 2 curries, rice, chapattis, salad, yogurt, pickles and a sweet dish! I didnt take pics because after all the cooking and stirring, my arms were tired!!!
We started at exactly 10am on Friday morning.
The granthis stayed with us for 3 days and took turns reading in 2 hour slots, eating and resting in between.
Food or tea needed to be served for them every 2 hours. It was tiring but enjoyable at the same time! They did really enjoy my food and complimented on this which was nice!! I havent cooked in a while, I just lost my mojo but I got it all back this weekend. I did a Sal special and went from 0 to 5000 overnight !!!
Family members took turns to cover the night times with us. I did a two hour slot from 3.30 am to 5.30am on the first night but this left me quite tired for the day! We had friends and family quickly offer to cover all of saturday night so I could get my sleep which I did.
Even lying in my bed, I could hear the gentle hum of the reading downstairs and it was extremely soothing over night.
Saturday was relaxing and peaceful, I had a trickle of friends in and out all day, my front door remained unlocked and how nice it was for the door to just keep popping open and folk just to wander in who felt like sitting quietly for an hour or so.
Sunday was a big day. There were set timings. The prayer was finished at 10.30am with perfect timing.
It was quite an emotional and happy feeling. A blessing, an achievement, a sense of accomplishment. When you want to do something, the strength you need will be given to you.
Hymns were sung and everyone sat in meditation together. There was a divine peace in my house and you could feel the vibrations echoing through and around us. This was the most precious point of the whole weekend. I believe everyone felt this and many came and said the same after we finished.
At this time, we all had our meal together and what a great meal it was too with all the trimmings. You will have to guess how it looked and tasted or just take my word for it! A team just formed to serve the food or langar. Langar is served to each person on trays rather than taken yourself.
This happens in any Gurdwara around the world any day or time. A meal will always be ready and be provided to anyone that visits no matter who they are or where they come from.
At the end I just sat chatting to friends and I heard a busy buzz in the kitchen of a massive clean up operation! I just sat and listened and felt grateful that everyone jumped in to help and bring the 3 days to a lovely close.
A massive pot of indian tea was fired up and was served with a bit of sweet!
My family stayed and we just sat around on rugs and cushions for a while. I thought I would be broken, my muscles and bones hurting and I would need a few hot baths!! In fact just a little tired, not even majorly but not even exhausted.
How could this be? Even I was in shock! I counted up the trays I had bought to serve food in and calculated that we served 180 meals over the 3 days!!!!
I am so pleased with everyones efforts !!! I could never have done it all by myself. It was a real community effort and the community came together and benefitted together from this prayer.
I had an idea months ago that I wanted to have a board up in my porch with the names of ny friends who all needed a prayer. Everyone was to take one and dedicate the prayer to them but as you know I lost Christina, Alexa, Diane and Anne very recently so I didn’t do this.
There is barely a day that I don’t remember them all. I quietly prayed for my friends and the beautiful children that they left behind. I know they will be struggling without their mummies. For now this is all I can do, so I pray for them too.
I feel blessed and strong. I was a little deflated after we finished! Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have this meditation just going on every weekend and everyone close to you just joining in.
I will be spending more precious time with my loved ones over the next few weeks. There are no rules in life. There is nothing stopping you doing what you want to do.
A mammoth task…. no planning and a really beautiful and divine ceremony. With determination and strength you can achieve anything.
PS….. the funny part….. what most people didn’t know!!! Obviously, we had to have a little drama!!!
We actually had the leccy in the lounge cut off exactly at the start on Friday morning! John, our electrician came, shoes off, head covered and up on a chair to fix the job which took about an hour!!!