Sangat Ji, #11 of 40 Punjabi Q&As – Question: Chaur Sahib kyo hai? (What is the Chaur Sahib and it’s importance?)
Question. Why do we do Chaur on the Guru Granth Sahib? Why do we put the Granth Sahib on a bed? Why the Chanani or canopy?
Answer: This is to express our regards and our respect for the Holy Scripture, a gift of God. In ancient days the king commanded the greatest power, hence also the maximum respect and honor. Guru Nanak said that the true kings are those who love God and help others to do that. They are the rulers of the hearts of the people. The political kings are temporary kings and their authority ends with their death. For Sikhs the Gurus were often called “The True King”; they taught Truth and the Sri Guru Granth Sahib the Guru of the Sikhs today still guides us in loving our fellow man and the one True God. The Guru Granth Sahib is the embodiment of the spirit of all the Sikh Gurus and many other holy men whose hymns are included in the Holy Granth.
We respect them as true Earthly kings. The Emperors and Rajas of India sat on cushioned thrones under a canopy as a fan like structure was waved over their heads during their darbar both as a symbol of respect and as a powerful message that only the ruler was being fanned as every one else was not afforded the same luxury.
The Sikh Gurus then and today the Guru Granth Sahib, being our true earthly emperor, is provided all the ancient regal paraphernalia in the Gurdwara. We install the scripture on a throne (called Manji Sahib) with pillows around which support it. A canopy (Chanani) is provided above the scripture in the same way as it was put over the head of a king while he attended his court. During the session (Diwan), a person, with Chaur in his hand, is always in attendance on the scripture installed respectfully in the hall. To maintain due regard and respect, we carry this holy scripture to another room when the hall is to be cleaned or when the session is over for the day. Before we bring the Guru Granth Sahib in the hall, we set everything in the hall properly. This is the court of the Guru.
In the ancient darbars the ruler’s Gaddi (throne) provided the monarch with a level of comfort not afforded to the courtiers. His throne, often studded with precious stones, gold and silver, was always higher, sometimes even in a loft, as one sees in the Diwan of Dilli’s Lal Killa or the one at Fatehpur Sikri’s Diwan-i-Khas. The canopy, often of lavish materials protected the ruler from birds and other falling objects or even the sun. On warm days only he was fanned.
You may understand the whole ceremony better if you bring to mind the scene of a modern courtroom where everything is set and made ready before a judge enters his court. The Guru Granth Sahib is, for Sikhs, the Emperor of Emperors, hence the use of all these ancient ceremonial trappings.
A fan made of yak hair, sometimes of peacock feathers, was waved over our living Gurus and so now we continue the practice over the Granth Sahib Ji, designating the Royal Authority invested in it by Guru Gobind Singh ji. No one in the Gurdwara is seated above the SGGS, at theHarmandir Sahib there is and opening on the second floor in the Shish Mahall area so that no one may stand or walk above the SGGS.
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