What is the procedure for doing an Akhand Paath?

Akhand Paath (Akhand = uninterrupted, without break; paath = reading) is non-stop, continuous recital of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji from beginning to end. Such a recital is usually completed within 48 hours, however time should not be an issue. The entire Sacred Volume of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1430 large pages, is read through in a continuous ceremony. This reading must go on day and night, without a moment’s intermission. The relay of reciters who take turns at reciting Gurbani must ensure that no break occurs. As they change places at given intervals, one picks the line from his predecessor’s lips and continues. According to Sikh history, Akhand Paaths were rarely done. In the Guru Sahibaan’s history, only three Akhand Paaths took place, on the other hand the Guru Sahibaans held numerous Sehaj Paaths on different occasions such as jyoti jyot (physical passing) of the previous Guru or other occasions.

Conjecture traces the popularity of Akhand Paaths to the turbulent days of the 18th century when persecution had scattered the Sikhs to far-off places. In those exilic, uncertain times, the practice of accomplishing a reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji by a continuous recital is believed to have popularised Akhand Paaths due to the circumstances.


In accordance to the Panthic Sikh Rehit Maryada:

Whichever family or congregation undertakes the reading should carry it out itself through its members, relatives, friends etc. all together. The number of reciters is not prescribed. If a person, themselves cannot read, they should listen to the reading by some competent reader. However, it should never be allowed to happen that the reader carries on the reading all by himself/herself and no member of the family is listening in to the reading. The reader should be served with food and clothing to the best of the host’s means.

Placing a pitcher filled with water, jyot (ceremonial clarified-butter-fed lamp), coconut, etc. around, during the course of the Akhand Paath or any other reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, or reading other Scriptural texts (e.g. Japji Sahib) side by side with or in the course of the Akhand Paath is contrary to Gurmat (the Guru’s way).

Commencing the Reading
While undertaking a full reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Karhah Prashad (sacred pudding) should be brought for offering and after reciting Anand Sahib (six stanzas) and offering Ardaas, a Hukamnama (edict) should be taken (at random). One should, thereafter, begin the non-stop reading.

Concluding the Reading
The reading of the whole Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (intermittent or non-stop) may be concluded with the reading of Mundaavni (literally meaning ‘the seal’) or Raag Mala (an index of different Raags) according to the convention traditionally observed at the concerned place. Thereafter, after reciting Anand Sahib, Ardaas for the conclusion of the reading should be offered and Karhah Parshaad (sacred pudding) should be distributed.

On the conclusion of the reading, offering of draperies, fly-whisk and awning, having regard to the requirements of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and of other things, for Panthic causes, should be made to the best of means.

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6 Responses to “What is the procedure for doing an Akhand Paath?”

  1. Jaspreet says:

    My first question is Why is Akhand paath so prevalent? This basically originates from the view that in Akhand paath , pathis try to finish the path within the timeline ( this leads to fast reciting of path and sometimes mistakes in reciting) but my thinking says that Baani should be read in its context and spirituality with no time constraints.
    Is there a mention of Akhand paath in Guru Granth Sahib Ji ? If mentioned , then is there a time limit on it?

    Does a function of Akhand path at home in modern world has the real meaning and significance as it was when this really started?
    I dont feel it has the same relevance these days as there would be very less number of people who really listen to whole Akhand Paath held in their premises or at the Gurudwara.

    If a person or family really wants to do paath/Baani, then they should recite it themselves in whichever they want to do,Continuous or non-continuous or they should at least sit and listen to it whole when they organise it. That should be the rehat Maryada.

    I might be wrong in what i am saying , but we as Sikhs should discuss this matter and understand the real meaning of reciting Gurbani.

  2. Navdeep singh says:

    Why should we Place coconut at the time of akhand path sahib..i think it is pakhand.??

  3. Surjeet Singh says:

    Points raised by Bh. Jaspreet Singh Ji do deserve attention. My own feeling is that
    1) Reading of bani is always relevant and one should not have a second opinion about it.
    2)Yes Akhand Path saheb was the necessity of ‘the’ time. Though there is no mention of doing Akhand Paath Saheb in holy Sri Guru Granth Saheb, reading of baani has always been emphasised. All efforts need be made to read baani correctly but Satguru will excuse the reader’s unintentional mistakes as baani itself says “bhulan ander sabh ko abhul guru kartar”.

    3)The whole purpose of having Akhand Paath Saheb at homes or even at Gurdwaras with no attendance by the family to listen , is defeated though the house is purified due to presence of Guru Granth Saheb and uninterrupted recitation of gurbani.
    4)No time has been stipulated but without prolonging the reading unnecessarily, it is ok if the akhand paath reading is continuous and uninterrupted.
    5)I myself would prefer to do Sehaj paath saheb since it will give me the satisfaction that I have done the paath from aad to ant myself with the Grace of God as listening to whole Akhand Paath Saheb is never possible, leaving exceptional blessed souls cases.
    6)I agree that such small but very important issues must be discussed and clarified for our young and future
    generation. 

  4. admin says:

    It is forbidden in the Sikh Rehit Maryada.

  5. Dr Manmohan Singh says:

    I have a query regarding starting of Ahkand Path
    Is there a specific time to start -like early morning or Is it OK to start even in the afternoon?

  6. Admin says:

    There is no specific time requirement.

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