Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cremation ceremonies for Guru Granth

Thaindian News provides a feature story on the regular cremation rites for the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, in northern India:

At Angitha Sahib, the old copies of Guru Granth Sahib from all over the world are put to flames as part of funeral rites. The whole procedure is a way of bidding farewell to the scripture with utmost reverence. This is the only Gurudwara, which performs this ritual.

“Scriptures from all across the world like England, America, Canada and Pakistan have come to Angitha Sahib in Sahaspur for getting cremated. With full respect, these holy epics are first given bath, and then they are wrapped in new clothes. Then these scriptures are treated like living beings. This service is done in privacy,” said Harsharan Singh, Mukhya Sewadaar (chief helper), Angitha Sahib Gurudwara.

When old and worn out scripture reach Angitha Sahib in Sahaspur, first of all they are given bath after which every page is cleansed and later these scriptures are wrapped in white cloth and then the funeral takes place. The cremation lasts over six days and on the seventh day, the ashes are collected. ...

"And apart from Guru Granth Sahib we also cremate Holy Bible, Bhagwad Gita, Ramayana and Quran,” ...

This year about 2,000 scriptures have come from all over the world to Gurudwara Angitha Sahib for cremation, of which around 470 worn out scriptures were flown in from the Great Britain by a chartered flight. (ANI)

It is particularly interesting that the Gurudwara extends its funerary services for scriptures to Christian, Hindu and Muslim texts as well as Sikh. This illustrates the widespread tendency to extend one's own standards for manipulating scriptures to those of other traditions in a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance.

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