Thursday, February 16, 2006

Episode 6 of India Travels: Funeral Akhand Paath Da Bhog

Day 11 of my trip. It’s Sunday 6th July 2003. My mum and I went to visit family near Philaur. On that day there was an Akhand Paat da Bhog (conclusion of three-day reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee) at the next door neighbour’s house. Their elderly grandmother, who was over 100 years old, had passed away.

People were sitting in the house and outside on the floor listening to the conclusion of the Paath. Guru Sahib’s Prakaash was inside one of the rooms. First of all we had Chaa Paani and ate few Pakoray etc. It was “help yourself style,” which I am not too keen on. However, I was assured that everyone is washing their hands and touching food. Fair enough, so I tuck into a few pakoray and one or two barfi pieces. Felt hungry so I am thinking of going back to get some more Pakoray.

Shock horror! An aunty who was sitting nearby and eating with her hands and putting her hand in her mouth went to get some Pakoray. Instead of asking someone to pour her some, she went straight for the bowl and shoved her hand RIGHT TO THE BOTTOM! She started lifted Pakoray from the bottom (probably thinking she didn’t want to eat Pakoray touched by other people’s dirty hands!!). I felt bit queasy and sick! Perhaps it’s a good way to keep off the calories (just watch how unhygienic things are and I am sure it will put you off having second helpings!)

Washed my hands and then we go to do matha tekh (bow down) to Guru Jee. I was shocked at what I saw. Sat Naam, Waheguru. Probably should say Waheguru few more times to get over the shock.

Where should I do Matha Tekh? Infront of Guru Sahib there were photos of the deceased elderly lady. So basically everyone who did Matha Tekh to Guru Sahib ended up doing Matha Tekh to these large photos of the elderly Mata jee who had passed away.

I couldn’t believe how the Amritdhari looking Paathis could allow such Manmat (contrary to Guru’s teachings) things to happen. Chalo, I walked to the side of Guru Sahib and did Matha Tekh rather than doing it from the front.

The programme finished and Guru Jee was carried with reverence back to the Gurdwara Sahib. Everyone then went to eat “Langar.” Well it wasn’t exactly Langar because it wasn’t cooked by the “Sikh Sangat” or “Saadh Sangat,” instead it was cooked by “Halwayee” or cooks. And it was served like a buffet style (again!).

I refused to eat "Langar" because I could felt uncomfortable eating. I told my cousins that I eat in steel plates and that there’s no “sucham” (hygiene) in buffet-style “Langar.” My cousins said, “Don’t worry! Amritdharis don’t eat there. You and the Granthi Singhs will be eating Daal Sabji straight from the pateelaa (cooking pot).” I was thinking to myself, “O mind! Am I hearing this correctly? There is separate langar for Amritdharis and separate langar with anyone who doesn’t mind eating in dirty plates and buffet-style “langar”.” I couldn’t believe it.

I told them that why don’t you give everyone steel plates and why don’t you make everyone sit on floor and do sewa of sangat by distributing langar. They agreed that there is no hygiene and that it is contrary to Gurmat tradition. However, their excuse was “this is how everyone does it in India.”

Had my langar and went on the look out to find the Granthi Singh incharge so I could have a word with him about why there was a large picture of deceased elderly lady resting on Guru Granth Sahib jee. I found the Granthi. He was pleased to see a Singh from abroad. When asking him about the photo he said, “Yes it is Manmat and totally wrong. It should not be there and is considered “Bipran Kee Reet” (contrary to Gurmat).”

If we read, listen and contemplate then we learn many inspiring and deep things in our Nitnem (daily prayers). People say "Why do Nitnem?" For me Nitnem is a Sikh's "daily inspiration," which every day links us back to our Guru and helps to tune our mind to Gurmat (the Guru's teachings). Every morning we read in Tva Prasaad Svaiye (early-morning Nitnem prayer composed by Guru Gobind Singh jee):

ਕੋਉ ਬੁਤਾਨ ਕੋ ਪੂਜਤ ਹੈ ਪਸੁ ਕੋਉ ਮਿ੍ਰਤਾਨ ਕੋ ਪੂਜਨ ਧਾਇਓ ॥
ko-oo butaan ko poojat hai pas, ko-oo mritaan ko poojan dhaa-i-o||
Some fool worships the idols and someone goes to worship the dead.

ਕੂਰ ਕਿ੍ਰਆ ਉਰਿਝਓ ਸਭ ਹੀ ਜਗ ਸੀ੍ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਕੋ ਭੇਦੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਓ ॥ ੧੦॥੩੦॥
koor kriaa urjhio sabh hee jag, sree bhagvaan ko bhed na paa-i-o||10||30||
The whole world is entangled in false rituals and has not known the secret of Lord-Waheguru. 10.30.

I asked the senior Granthi Singh, “Why did you not remove the photo?” “We didn’t notice the photo. We only noticed the picture today,” he replied. Sorry, but that had to be a porkie (a lie). Firstly how can someone do Paath for THREE DAYS at someone’s house and not notice a HUGE picture lying directly where one does Matha Tekh (unless you do Matha Tekh with eyes closed and keep eyes closed when doing Paath!). Secondly, there were 5 Singhs! So did none of the 5 Singhs notice the huge photos of Mata jee right infront of Guru jee?

He then said, “Well actually the family wanted the photo there. We couldn’t tell them not to put it there and go against their wishes in such circumstances like a funeral.” Rab Bhalla Kare!

ਇਹੁ ਕੁਟੰਬੁ ਸਭੁ ਜੀਅ ਕੇ ਬੰਧਨ ਭਾਈ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾ ਸੈਂਸਾਰਾ
ehu kuttamb sabh jee-a ke banDhan bhaa-ee bharam bhulaa saiNsaaraa.
All of these relatives are like chains upon the soul, O Siblings of Destiny; the world is deluded by doubt.

ਬਿਨੁ ਗੁਰ ਬੰਧਨ ਟੂਟਹਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮੋਖ ਦੁਆਰਾ
bin gur banDhan tootteh naahee gurmukh mokh du-aaraa.
Without the Guru, the chains cannot be broken; the Gurmukhs find the door of salvation.

ਕਰਮ ਕਰਹਿ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਛਾਣਹਿ ਮਰਿ ਜਨਮਹਿ ਵਾਰੋ ਵਾਰਾ ॥੨॥
karam karahi gur shabad na pachhaaneh mar janmeh vaaro vaaraa. ||2||
One who performs rituals without realizing the Word of the Guru's Shabad, shall die and be reborn, again and again. ||2||
(Ang 601)


anonymous said...

omg when we went to india to perform my dads funeral we never put a picture of his infront of Guru ji.

But im not too sure about the langar either, because my dadi was a bit stingy and did not really distribute langar with sharda, so we kept her away and my mum did most of the langar sewa ;)

neways, true that happens, but chalo... if your not part of the solution, then its a bit bad to say ur part of the problem (if u get what i mean :S)

God bless you paaji and give you the courage to stop all of these 'manmat' (is that the word?)

Princess said...

paaji, i want 2 ask u something
please don't take it in an offensive way, as my intention is not to offend you, bhul chuk maaf, please forgive me.

i would like to ask this? ur feeling of 'hygienicness', does that mean when u go to India and go to your pind - don't u sit on ur manja and have gunne (sugar cane), because they are quite unhygienic, lol.

Also, i would like to ask (please dont get me wron here!!!!) imagine if you were born in india, into a very poor family who had no knowledge of hygeine what so ever, and the only thing they could associate with cleansiness was the bai da paani (which is obvioulsy not clean), or kooh (well) water, and roti cooked on cow dung,Would you still be obsessed with cleansiness??
isn't pure 'suchiness' (if that is a word)supposed to be of the mann. However, i do agree paaji that simple hygiene should be used. I prefer hygiene myself, but don't you think we are taking a few things a bit for granted?

please don't get me wrong paaji, im just expressing my views, i do think its great thet people out there are very concerned about the hygiene of themselves and individuals :D

Bhul chuk maaf, and please don't mind what i said paaji....


Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

bhenji i totally understand what you are saying. hygiene is "relative" concept. according to the resources available the level of of hygiene is set.

i have eaten out in india. i have eaten samosay from the street and restaurant. and i have also eaten from a dhaba. i am not a total hygiene freak. lol.

in regards to langar - the standard for hygiene in langar should be the same or if possible higher than the standard kept at the indidivual's home. sadly where i was staying, our relatives are not poor and they have clean and hygienic people. but when comes down to langar people for someone reason become lazy and "can't be bothered". perhaps i didn't portray that in the post.

in regards to the concept "sucham" - there are two meanings. One is "purity" and the other is "hygiene." Purity does not necessarily come from being hygienic or clean. If a Brahman touches a Soodar (untouchable), irrespective of how many times he washes himself he will feel impure.

hopefully that should make more sense now.

guru rakha :)

Gurpreet Singh said...

Vaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh!!

I love your blog singh..Please keep on inspiring :)

Vaheguroo Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguroo Ji Ki Fateh!!

Pamma said...

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateeh!!!

Awesome blogg Singh Ji...i like the the kirtan you have up

haha don't click on mine


Pamma said...

haha same with me...

like at school they serve meat and vegi. with the same hand...ewwww

yea so I don't eat, and if I did..I'd go wash my hands in the bathroom...which the tooti is I would clean that with soap..and then eat..

anyways yea..theres joot can't run away from it...unless you make it at home...or tell your mummy ji..

haha im doing my hw..and listening to kirtan on your page....

ok byeee

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateeh!

Manvir Singh Khalsa said...

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa
Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Thanks for all the comments.

Guru Rakha

Sewa Daar from Malaysia said...


What the granthi singhs should have done was to educate the family that when we seek guru ji's blessings for her atma shanti than Guru Ji is supreme and his Omni presence will bless her journey to the life hereinafter but by placing her picture in front, they are actually doing injustice to her departed soul ( Paar )by carrying out Manmat practise.

I am sure if the family were told of this they would have removed the picture, than again the granthi singhs (namesakes) were paid and if they Belled their cat, they will get more money.

So, this is an issue of the Dollar gaining from the common Cents.(sense)

Phul Chuk maaf karna Ji

Sewa daar