Saturday, 19 January 2008

The family that prays together, stays together

The quote above is something my maternal grandparents believe in very strongly. Growing up, every vacation spent at our family home in Ulu Yam included Rehraas (evening prayer) being done together as a family in the living room, right under a frame carrying those very words. (Japji was your own responsibility, and it didn’t matter if you had been chatting until dawn and only woke up at noon – breakfast/ lunch was not served until Japji was done!). This was a pretty amazing feat since we are quite a large family and at any time there would be at least 20 people at home :)
What may have started as a forced discipline during our adolescence has now grown to a binding knot between us. To us, the grandchildren, prayer is in a way the central theme whenever we go home. It’s really quite nice to have such a beautiful commonness in the family.
At end-2006, we had a family Akhand Paath (continuous recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib) in our home, and as we loved it so much, we’ve made it an annual family tradition and had our second one recently.
The Ulu Yam family Akhand Paath operates slightly differently from the norm.
For one thing, it was Nanaji, our aunts and uncles, and my fellow cousins who read from the Guru - roughly 30 paathis out of a family of almost 50, with ages ranging between 8 and 80 :) As you can imagine, setting the timetable was quite a challenge – we simply had too many paathis!
agonising over the timetable to make sure everyone had an opportunity to read from the Guru
Also, we ignore the usual 48-hour tradition – the point here is to take our time and enjoy Baani. In 2006 it took us 67 hours, and this time we’d been practicing a little more so we cropped off 10 hours to make it a nice 57 :) And I’d say it was just nice for everyone to truly enjoy it.
in the Darbar, we had 2 pothi sahibs and a laptop with the Gurbani computer software, so at any time, there would be a few of us in the Darbar and either following the Paath with a pothi sahib to improve our reading, or following the English translation

in meditation

Ekjot, our youngest paathi-cousin, warming up with some practice before his turn

our glorious mothers-paathis-chefs taking a break

the eternal Ulu Yam Swing – its been around forever :) Nanaji and the men catching up at tea-time

sleeping in the corridors is an age-old Ulu Yam tradition – even when there are vacant beds we all habitually charge for the floor!

Sharan and Trishvin stumble upon the ideal location for morning nitnem - the kitchen floor :)

on one evening, we headed over to our beautiful little village Gurdwara for an informal kirtan session

I like to think that it is this ‘formula’ for an Akhand Paath that brings it meaning, where the journey matters and not the destination. With everyone making the effort to read the translations, the ritual was transformed to meaningful practice. By keeping it in the family it truly becomes for the family, and with everyone having a hand in something we are reminded of the common roots that bind us.

Coming together like this is a grounding experience. It is this family, with its devotion and its tight knot; this home, with its organised confusion of 50 inhabitants; this village, with its little Gurdwara and vegetable patch, that has shaped so much of who I am.

the family paathis
Its nice to know that I’m rooted to this place. The roots are strong and go deep; they will not let go and will not let me forget. I may fly high but anytime I need to touch the ground they will find me and hold me safe, until I am ready to spread my wings again. And they will remind me that because we pray together, we will stay together.


tarsem said...

The gurdwara is not so little anymore, my dear. Got air-conditioning sumore haha.

Almost everyday in college, my thoughts wander off to the akhand paath and i'll be smiling to myself and friends think i'm crazy.

And btw, great post. Until the next time :)

Harkiren Kaur said...

To me it will always be the 'little' gurdwara.. where our parents got married and where we've spent countless hours playing football and eating ice-cream :)

I miss that weekend too! It was over to quickly.. maybe next time we should aim to go reeeaaalllyyy slow so that we spend more time together :p

Wanna start planning for 2009? Lols...

H said...

Amazing.... Nice to see the family together. It is rare to see this here as the meaning of an akhand path has been lost.

This is in between a sahaij path and akhand path. Nice to see that most of your family can do seva of maharaj and do a raul.

Thank you for the post. Makes me want to visit as well.

Enjoy :-)

Anonymous said...

wow..itz relly beautifull..blees u guys!!

sereena said...

Hi Harkiren,

WOW! Just plain simple WOW! I am speechless - to know that there are people out here who take the meaning of Akhand Paath more to than just a 3 day full fledged breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper spree! These days, people have Akhand Paath for the sake of having one. Not to actually listen, take part, and value the paath that is being read. Excellent! Keep it up!
May WaheguruJi bless you all with HIS Light!