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Re: Traditional Sikh Prayer Before Meals, restating the Question
Posted by Serjinder Singh Send Email to Author on Wednesday, 6/02/1999 1:43 AM MDT
Dear Krishna Singh ji
Waheguru ji ka khalsa
Waheguru ji ki fateh

As Yuktanand Singh ji has mentioned there is no prescribed tradition of praying before the meals apart from the Ardas for Langar. However, different traditions do exist for a prayer after the meals.
In rural Punjab, there was, and still persists in some places a tradition to invite five Sikhs to your house to be served meals especially on a Sunday or the Sangrand, the first day of the Indian months. This is called "Sikh Bithauna" The five Sikhs have to be Amritdhari and well respected. The householder arranges this invitation to earn merit or simply as a duty of a householder Sikh for other Sikhs. The five Sikhs are served meals with devotion and at the end of the meals one of the Sikhs while sitting prays to Guruji saying:

"Dana Pani Guru Ka, Tehal Seva Tere Sikhan Sevakan ki,

The rations are from the Guru, the service and care on behalf of Your Sikhs

"Sangatan Shakdian Shakaundia Rehan"

May the Sangats always remain able to provide and have meals.

"Bhandare Bharpoor Rakhane"

May the stores remain ever plentiful

Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, Tere Bhane Sarbat ka Bhala"

In the name of Nanak may there ever be high morale, May there be the welfare of all mankind as You may so will.

In some traditions, for example those of Sants of Mastuana, the above is preceded by the recitation of one of the Pada of the last Astpadis from Sukhmani Sahib, viz.,

Sarab Baikunth Mukat Mokh Pai
Ek Nimakh har ke Gun Gaye
Anik Raj Bhog Vadiaee
Har ke naam ki katha man bhaee
Bahu bhojan kapar sangeet
Rasna japti har har neet
Bhali su karni sobha dhanwant
Hirde vase pooran gurmant
Sadh Sang Prabh deh nivas
Sarab sookh Nanak Pargas.

As Yuktanand ji said Waheguru is to be remembered "Saas Grass", i.e. with every breath and with every bite of bread. This is more important than creating another ritual for ritual sake. But praying quietly at any time before or after the meal is equally meritorious.

When the Singh Sabha reform movement was at its height, prayer after the meals became an accepted norm socially so much so that in villages when a marriage party had its dinner or lunch at the bride's house the ladies overlooking the feast would taunt the guests with songs to complete the formalities by saying Ardas and would not let the party go unless the Ardas was carried out. The song used to be:

" Ardassa Sodho ji Guru ke Piyario"

O, the loved Sikhs of the Guru, complete the formalities by saying the Ardas.

If there was none in the party who could say the Ardas, the ladies would ask the party to pay a fine of one and a quarter rupee.

Invariably, the less proficient party in Gurbani or Sikh Rehat would take with them a Sikh who could oblige the ladies with an Ardas and the proper Sikh conduct. However, there is no such thing anymore in rural Punjab. Education has taken care of these innocent entreaties and traditions.


Serjinder Singh

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