Last week, I was invited to Guru Teg Bahadar Sahib Ji Gurdwara Leicester to do a talk on the importance and history of Lareevaar. Lareevaar is Gurbani written in continuous form, with no breaks in between the words. The opposite is Pad-Chhed, which is a modern invention of Sikhs in the early 20th century to break up the words and make it easier to read Gurbani. The Pad-Chhed Saroop is the most common form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji printed nowadays and most Gurdwaras have Pad-Chhed Saroop parkaash.
All forms of written Gurbani are worthy of worship and respect. However the original written form of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was in the distinctive written form of Lareevaar, which was the same method of writing that Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Bhai Gurdaas Ji, Bhai Mani Singh Ji, Baba Deep Singh Ji and countless Gursikhs up until modern history scribed as per the traditions set by the Gurus.
Sadly, nowadays, to have Darshan (a holy glimpse) of a handwritten Lareevaar Saroop you have to visit Sri Harmandir Sahib or any of the other Takht Sahibs. Most historical Gurdwaras controlled under the SGPC have Lareevaar Saroops. However, over time many Gurdwaras and even religious schools and centres have opted to change from the traditions set by the Gurus and have Pad-Chhed printed Saroops for Parkaash and Akhand Paaths.
On a positive note, the biggest Gurdwara in Europe, Guru Nanak Gurdwara Smethwick, last week on 13th November, announced that in the main Darbaar Sahib a handwritten Lareevaar Saroop will be Parkaash from now on. This is a great step by the progressive and active Gurdwara Committee in restoring the original traditions of the Gurus and preserving Khalsa heritage. Derby Singh Sabha Gurdwara has been doing Lareevaar Saroop's Parkaash during the weekdays for some years, and for some time Bradford Singh Sabha Gurdwara and Bradford Guru Nanak Gurdwara had Lareevaar Saroop Parkaash in the main Darbaar Sahib.
Going forward the Gurdwara Sahib sevadaars will be beginning with doing Parkaash and seva of this saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji during the weekdays, whilst building up capability of the Sangat to read Gurbani and then begin Akhand Paaths from the Lareevaar Saroop also. Classes will be provided to the Sangat so that they can also learn how to read Gurbani in this form, and so that we can all play a part in keeping the Maryada and traditions of the Guru alive, without change.
Dhan Hai Guru! Dhan Hai Teree Sikhee!