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The Guru Granth Sahib Ji
The Guru Granth Sahib is the holy text of Sikhism. The Guru Granth Sahib is seen as more than a book, as it is believed to be the living Guru of the Sikhs. Because of the holy words it contains, the scripture is treated with deep reverence and care. During the day, the text is elevated above the congregation underneath a chananni or canopy, which is changed weekly to minimize dust accumulation. During worship, the Guru Granth Sahib is fanned constantly with a chauri made of yak hair. As a six-year-old boy at the Gurdwara explained, this practice originated out of necessity to keep flies away from the text in Indian temples. Passing the chauri over the text is now a devotional ritual of deep respect, and, though typically done by a priest, can be done by anyone of any age, gender, or religion.
In explaining the deep reverence with which the Granth Sahib is treated, Param, a regular devotee at the Gurdwara, explained the constant fanning of the Granth Sahib by comparing the text to a revered community member. "You would never leave your elder alone, would you? It's the same with the Guru Granth Sahib Ji." On a separate occassion, when the Guru Granth Sahib was being put away for the night, she pointed out the care with which the scripture is wrapped in silk cloths and placed in a special room, saying that the Guru Granth Sahib must be treated like a baby, explaining that the Punjabi word for pages of the Granth Sahib is the same as the word for body parts.
Another temple devotee, Angela, spoke passionatly about the text and its messages. "The Guru Granth Sahib is … written in rhyming poems…The messages are very simplistic, things like remember God, be good to each other, don’t lie, be truthful, you know, those are all the messages, think of God in every breath, if you do, you won’t do anything bad, just kind of focusing on doing the right and good thing and as I said, it’s the same thing in the Bible, it’s all done through stories, so you hear stories and you hear scenes and that helps you remember, if that’s what he did in that situation and I’m in a similar situation, let me see if I can invite what that person did. It’s just…I think all of the faiths have their own way of just making sure you do the right thing." More of Angela's perspectives on the Guru Granth Sahib can be found in the Individual Expressions of Sikhism page.