Saptahik Path, (lit. seven day path) is part of the Khalsa culture wherein the entire Gurbani (the language) contained in the Guru Granth Sahib, is jointly learned in a systematically organised manner. The event takes a week's time. Sikhs believe that the Gurbani, being God's own language, is to be flawlessly learned by all those who call them self Sikhs. The Saptahik path thus is a formal and social routine in Sikh Society exactly on the lines of the environment of a traditional School in India. The atmosphere for the event draws its strength from the very name of the faith, Sikhi, which implies entire Sikh society being a huge school where in the teacher's, nay!, the principal's dictates are the ultimate words which have to be acted upon without any doubt what so ever.
The ambiance of the environment is is exactly like a classroom of students sitting and learning their lessons from their teacher. But hear the teacher is the Holy Granth Sahib which uses the mouth of the Sikh/s reading the text. In fact 'singing' rather than 'reading' may be the more appropriate word to use here.
A wonderful mix of the faith of the entire congregation in the divine Guru, format of the entire Gurbani itself, encompassing a wide range of poetic styles reflecting Indian spiritual, social, socio-political and cultural sentiments of the turbulent times of the writings, flawlessly structured in the background of pure Indian classical Raags, makes the stream of words flowing out of the reader sound like music without, however, any instrumental musical accompaniment.
Throughout the entire spiritual schedule the absence of instrumental musical accompaniment is very conspicuous, for it is the missing entity that the entire congregation yerns for. That is what comes at the end of the course—as the Saptahic path culminates with Kirtan, (singing) of selected Shabads from the Guru Granth Sahib duly supported by instrumental music. Depending upon the musical and linguistic Gurbani skills of the Singers and the time available (minus the other worldly commitments of the participants) the Singing may continue for about an hour or so.
One of the elderly leading members of the Sangat seeks volunteers out of the participants to gift his or her voice to the the Guru a few days in advance to teach others exactly like a teacher teaching his or her class for a period of, say one hour before the next teacher—neighbors, relatives or guests take a turn reading the Gurbani aloud to the others who patiently listen as they assimilate the holy messages of great Indian saints and Sikh Gurus. This way the teacher and all the students, as a unit, go through a scheduled, planned and formally structured, one week intensive course on the Gurmat (Sikh Philosophy).
Any individual, man or woman, or a group may, by this relay method, perform this path which is started seven days ahead of the coming occasion, ceremony or rite. As with a Sadharan Path, before the commencement and at the conclusion of a saptahik path, generally a simple religious service takes place at which kirtan is recited, Ardas or supplication prayer said and prasad or Sikh communion distributed.
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