Why do Sikhs take out Parshaad in the name of the Panj Pyaare (5 Beloved Ones)?
The correct procedure for the distribution of the Karhaah Parshaad (Sacred Pudding which is distributed to the Congregation as a symbolic gesture of the Guru’s blessings) according to the Gurmat philosophy is given below. It will automatically explain why Parshaad is first given to Five Sikhs before it is given to the congregation (Sangat). At the conclusion of the Gurdwara function, the Parshaad is first accepted into the Guru Darbaar (Kirpaan Bhet) and then distributed according to Gur Maryada (Guru’s tradition).
(a) KIRPAN BHET (Tucking the Parshaad with a Sword)
After the Ardaas (standing formal prayer) and the recitation of the Hukamnama (Edict) from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji the Kirpaan is put into the Parshaad before it is distributed to the Sangat. This is symbolic of the acceptance of the Parshaad (which is offered by a initiated Sikh) in the Guru Darbaar.
Parshaad is accepted only after the recitation of the Guru’s hymn (Hukamnama). Hence, Kirpan Bhet has to be done thereafter and not before. Kirpaan is not to be put into the Parshaad halfway during the Ardaas when the request is made for the acceptance of the Parshaad. (This Maryada is the direction of the proper authority, Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib, and is not based on the personal opinion. Hence, it has to be observed strictly.) Ardaas should, therefore, be performed without making a Sikh to stand alert with a naked Kirpaan in his hand ready to put it in the Parshaad when the Granthi mentions Parshaad in the Ardaas (prayer).
(b) DISTRIBUTION OF PARSHAAD
(i) According to the protocol, Parshaad should first be given to the Guru and then to his minister, the person attending Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Later, if should be distributed to the Sangat without discrimination. As a result of not knowing this procedure, some omissions are being made in distribution of the Parshaad. Guru Gobind Singh Ji passed on the guruship to the ever-alive Guru Granth (the Sacred Scripture) & Guru Khalsa Panth (the fellowship of the Khalsa). Five initiated Sikhs represent the Guru Khalsa Panth. The Guru, himself, became their first Sikh by accepting Amrit from them. Five initiated Sikhs (Panj Singh) represent the living and functioning Guru in the Sangat. It is not given in the name of the first Panj Pyaare (chosen by Guru Gobind Singh Ji) hoping the Parshaad will ‘reach’ them. Because of this misunderstanding, the Parshaad is sometimes given again to these Five Singhs while distributing it to the Sangat. It is a wrong practice and is based on the ignorance of the Sikhs regarding the Sikh philosophy. According to the Maryada, the Panj Pyaare Parshaad is not to be mixed back in the total Parshaad but it to be distributed at random to the first five initiated Sikhs (Amrithdhari Singhs) who are easily approachable.
Giving Parshaad to one Singh is no reflection on his greatness or the devotion of other Singhs in the Sangat . The selection of the Panj Singhs for giving Parshaad or for any function does not rate the chosen persons to be the topmost Sikhs in the Sangat. If it were so, the selection would raise a lot of unnecessary questions about the decision made. The selection is done for a specific assignment only; thereafter, the Panj Singhs are again equal members of the Panth.
(ii) After giving Parshaad to the Panj Singh, it is given to the minister (Granthi Sahib) of the Guru. As he or she is to attend Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji whilst the Parshaad is distributed and the Diwaan is open. Parshaad is put in a bowl and placed near the Granthi’s position. It is a totally wrong belief that the Parshaad in the bowl is meant for the Guru. ‘Feeding’ Parshaad or Langar (food) to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji or pictures of the Gurus is strictly against the Gurmat philosophy. It is “Thakur Puja” (idol worship), a pure Brahmanical ritual, which is prohibited by Sikhs.
(iii) Parshaad is later distributed to the Sangat equally and without discrimination. When a Sikh gets Parshaad he bows to the Guru to thank him for this favour and then eats the Parshaad.
Incidentally it may also be mentioned here that it is wrong to bring Langar in a plate to the Guru Darbar for a Bhog ceremony as mentioned above. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji does not eat anything. It is against the Sikh philosophy to put Kirpaan into the Langar (anyway you cannot do it. How will you do it to the chapatis or water which is yet to come out of the tap? Also, more Langar is being cooked while it is being served to the Sangat.) What we ignore is that Langar already belongs to the Guru; it makes no sense to request the Guru to accept the Langar. Parshaad is offered to the Guru Darbar by a Sikh or the Sangat; putting Kirpaan into it symbolisms its acceptance by the Guru which is done after the recitation of the Hukamnama. For the Langar, we merely do Ardaas; we request the permission of the Guru for its distribution to the Sangat so they can partake of it.