KathaSri Guru Nanak Dev Jee and great Sikhs of his era performed Katha and it was and is still through Katha that many people gain knowledge about Sikhism and become enlightened. Katha is both a spiritual and historical discourse, it endows the listener with spiritual and worldly knowledge, and helps Sikhs along the path of Sikhi.
Katha is the verbal explanation/discourse of Gurbani (the utterings of the Guru's) and our great history. Katha has been an integral part of Sikh practice since the revealed inception of Sikhism by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Jee.
Gurbani Katha is also a form of Amrit, as the teachings verbally expressed in Katha make us reach this sublime stage of immortality. In the same manner that Naam/Gurbani is Amrit the discourse of this Naam/Gurbani is also Amrit as Sri Guru Amar Das Jee taches us in the above quotation. The filth of our bad actions is removed by listening and practising the teachings of Katha.
Katha is not just expressed on a stage in a Gurdwara, it can exist in conversation and discussion as well, so all the above quotations are relevant if we are promoting the idealogy of Gurbani when we are discussing things. This Katha is described as the most supreme discourse to enter.
This Katha has an equally important place in Sikhi, as it helps to preserve our heritage and reminds of our moral duties as Sikhs and to live up to the high standards set by our forefathers. The majority of this Katha is done by translating the Suraj Parkash Granth written by the Great Kavi Santokh Singh Jee. The Suraj Parkah is the most extensive history of the Sikhs that has been written but it was written approximately a 100 years after the ascendancy of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Jee to Sachkand.The majority of our history was written by non-Sikhs and even the history written by Sikhs has become distorted and we can only rely on those historical references which are backed by the ideology of Gurbani. Relevant stories are told that fall within the ideology of Gurbani and those which promote hypocrisy or non-Sikh practices are discarded. Historical Katha still holds great importance in what it teaches us, in terms of stories about the Gurus and Great Sikhs of the past.
Kirtan is worship, in which Gurbani is sung and various musical instruments are played. Kirtan is integral to Sikh worship and is performed daily in Gurdwaras throughout the world.Each of the Sikh Guru’s performed Kirtan and placed much importance on this mode of worship and most Shabads in Sri Guru Granth Sahib have been written in a musical tune called Raag, there are 31 Raags that have been used throughout Sri Guru Granth Sahib.Traditionally Kirtan was sung using string instruments such as the Rabaab but nowadays Kirtan is commonly performed using the Harmonium and the Tabla. This musical form of worship entices the listener to both the musical talents of the Ragee (Kirtan performer) and the enlightening teachings of Gurbani. The Guru’s have praised Kirtan in the following manner,
mwJ mhlw 5 ] hir kIrqnu gwvhu idnu rwqI sPl eyhw hY kwrI jIau ]3]
As part of daily worship in Gurdwaras throughout the world Kirtan of Asa-Di-Var is performed in the morning and worship usually ends with Kirtan of 6 Pauris (verses) of Anand Sahib. In many Gurdwaras Kirtan of Choupai Sahib is performed prior to Anand Sahib for the Chardi Kala (High Spirits) of the Panth (Sikh Nation).
Kirtan Darbars (Kirtan concerts) are held at times of celebration and remembrance in Gurdwaras throughout the world, which usually last for a few hours and themed Shabads are sung throughout. Sometimes all-night Kirtan is performed which is referred to as a Kirtan Rensbai.
The Damdami Taksal has helped keep the tradition of Kirtan alive, by teaching many Sikhs the art of Kirtan and all Raagi’s who are taught, are taught within the tradition of singing Kirtan from memory not using Pothis when doing Kirtan. To this effect many professional and world famous Kirtani’s have been trained by the Damdami Taksal and in the past and now, various students of Damdami Taksal have performed and do perform Kirtan at Harimander Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar.