Sikhism > Rehat Maryada

Kirtan (Devotional Hymn Singing)
(a) Only a Sikh may perform kirtan in a congregation.

(b) Kirtan means singing and scriptural compositions in traditional musical measures.

(c) In the congregation, kirtan only of Gurbani (Guru Granth's or Guru Gobind Singh's hymns) and,
for its elaboration, of the compositions of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, may be performed.

(d) It is improper, while singing hymns to rhythmic folk tunes or to traditional musical
measures, or in team singing, to induct into them improvised and extraneous refrains. Only a
line from the hymn should be a refrain.

Taking Hukam (Command)
(a) Doing obeisance to the Guru Granth Sahib, respectfully, taking a glimpse of the congregation,
an embodiment of the Guru's person, and taking the command: these together constitute the view of
the Satguru (Immortal destroyer of darkness, the true guru). Raising the drapery covering the
Guru Granth Sahib and merely taking a look or making others take a look at the exposed page,
without taking the command (reading the prescribed hymn) is contrary to gurmat (Guru's way).

(b) In the course of the congregational sessions, only one thing should be done at a time:
performing of kirtan, delivering of discourse, interpretative elaboration of the scriptures, or
reading of the scriptures.

(c) Only a Sikh, man or woman, is entitled to be in attendance of the Guru Granth during the
congregational session.

(d) Only a Sikh may read out from the Guru Granth for others. However, even a non-Sikh may read
from it for himself/herself.

(e) For taking the command (Hukam), the hymn that is continuing on the top of the left page must
be read from the beginning. If the hymn begins on the previous page, turn over the page and read
the whole hymn from the beginning to the end. If the scriptural composition that is continuing
on the top of the left hand page is a var (ode), then start from the first of the slokas
preceding the pauri and read upto the end of the pauri. Conclude the reading at the end of the
hymn with the line in which the name 'Nanak' occurs.

(f) Hukam must also be taken at the conclusion of the congregational session or after the Ardas.

Sadharan Path (Standard Scriptural Reading)
(a) Every Sikh should as far as possible, maintain a separate and exclusive place for the
 installation of the Guru Granth Sahib, in his home.
 (b) Every Sikh man, woman, boy or girl, should learn Gurmukhi to be able to read the Guru Granth
 (c) Every Sikh should take the Hukam (Command) of the Guru Granth in the ambrosial (early) hours
 of the morning before taking meal. If he/she fails to do that, he/she should read or listen to
 reading from the Guru Granth some time during the day. If he/she cannot do that either, during
 travel etc., or owing to any other impediment, he/she should not give in to a feeling of guilt.
 (d) It is desirable that every Sikh should carry on a continuous reading of the Guru Granth and
 complete a full reading in one or two months or over a longer period.
 (e) While undertaking a full reading of the Guru Granth, one should recite the Anand Sahib (the
 first five and the last stanzas) and perform the Ardas. One should, thereafter, read the Japuji.

Akhand Path (Uninterrupted Scriptural Reading)
a) The non-stop reading of the Guru Granth is carried on at hard times or on occasions of
 elation or joy. It takes forty-eight hours. The non-stop reading implies continuous
 uninterrupted reading. The reading must be clear and correct. Reading too fast, so that the
 person listening in to it cannot follow the contents, amounts to irreverence to the Scriptures.
 The reading should be correct and clear, due to care being bestowed on consonant and vowel, even
 though that takes a little longer to complete.
 (b) Whichever family or congregation undertakes the non-stop reading should carry it out itself
 through its members, relatives, friends, etc., all together. The number of reciters is not
 prescribed. If a person himself, cannot read, he should listen in 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 congregation or 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.
 (c) Placing a pitcher, ceremonial clarified butter fed lamp, coconut, etc. around during the
 course of the uninterrupted or any other reading of Guru Granth Sahib, or reading of other
 Scriptural texts side by side with or in the course of such reading is contrary to gurmat.