Sikhism: Clergy Terms commonly used on the traditional role

May 24 2019 01:23 PM
Sikhism: Clergy Terms commonly used on the traditional role

Each of the following ten terms commonly used in Sikhism, describes a particular traditional role taken in a Sikh worship service, or secular service, by a religious leader, an attendant, or a gurdwara caretaker, and what it means in terms of qualifications, and duties:








Panj Pyare



In Sikhism there is no hierarchy of clergy. Although training is desirable for certain positions, anyone who is qualified, whether male, or female, regardless of age, or ethnic background, may fill any position available.

Gianni (gi-aan-ee)

The term Gianni refers one who has knowledge acquired through advancement of study, and specialized training, in subjects particular to Sikhism, and who is qualified to teach others. A Gianni may have extensive experience in any, or all, areas of Sikh studies:

Gurmukhi script.

Gurbani, or Sikh scripture.

Raag, the Indian classical musical system.

Itihaas, the stories of Sikh history.

Political science, politics relating to Sikh interests, and issues.

A Gianni has the necessary requirements to be capable of fulfilling most, if not all, roles of the Sikh clergy.

Granthi (grant-hee)

A Granthi is the attendant of the granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism Siri Guru Granth Sahib. An official Granthi has the skill to read Gurmukhi.


The attendance of Granthi is required during the Sikh worship service, and ceremonial functions wherever, and whenever, Guru Granth Sahib is present:


Prakash - Ceremony of invocation.

Sukhasan - Closing ceremony.

Anand Karaj - Wedding ceremony

Antam Sanskar - Funeral ceremony.

Amrit Sanchar - Sikh initiation ceremony.

A Granthi has any or all, duties of:


Chaur - Sitting in attendance during a worship service and waving the fly whisk.

Hukam - Reading the divine order from the scripture aloud.

Paath - Devotional reading of scripture on behalf of others.

The Granthi may hold a full time gurdwara paid position, or voluntarily sit in attendance of the Guru for just a short while, and anything in between. A Granthi position may be filled by a qualified man, women, or child, of any ethnic background.

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Jathedar (jat-hey-daar)

A Jathedar is the leader of a Jatha, or group. The group may be small and informal like a ragi jatha with just two musicians, or as large, and formal, as the entire Panth of the world wide Sikh Society, and any thing in between. Although a Jethadar may have substantial global influence, he, or she, may also be an entirely humble being.


A Jathedar may have a prominent position presiding globally over Sikh spiritual and secular affairs such as the appointed Jathedar of the Akal Takhat, the seat of temporal authority, who is given authority to issue edicts which go into effect all around the world.

A Jathedar may preside over an entire global denomination of Sikhism such as the Akhand Kirtan Jathaa (AKJ) , Dam Dami Taksal (DDT), International Institute of Gurmat Studies (IIGS) etc. or be the leader of a local chapter.

A Jathedar may be the head of a Sikh political human rights organization such as Sikhs for Justice, and Sikh Coalition, or a humanitarian organization such as United Sikhs, and even the ecology minded Eco Sikhs.

A Jathedar may even be some such as Gurpreet Kaur head, and permanent member of the Gurmat Gian Group (GGG), an all women's raga kirtan jathaa.

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