Information on the role of a granthi in a Sikh gurdwara, how much influence a granthi wields concerning who can stay or speak at the gurdwara, and how many granthis would work at a gurdwara [IND16904.E]

A granthi is a person responsible for reading the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, in the proper intoned manner during public worship in the gurdwara or temple (Contemporary Religions: A World Guide 1992, 493). A granthi is not a priest and he or she need have no theological training (ibid.).

According to a representative of the World Sikh Organization in Nepean, Ontario, granthis also act as spiritual advisors to a congregation (15 Mar. 1994). The source stated that temples with small congregations may not employ a permanent granthi but that temples with larger congregations may employ several (ibid.). The representative added that on-site residences are often maintained for granthis (ibid.). The source stated that any one is free to speak in a gurdwara (ibid.).

A professor of modern Indian history at the University of Toronto stated that granthis are paid employees who are hired by the management committees elected to run sikh temples (15 Mar. 1994). He added that gurdwaras are highly politicized institutions and that political power generally resides in the management committee, as opposed to the granthi (ibid.). The source also stated that temples may have more than one granthi depending on the size of the congregation and the number of services held per week (ibid.).

A source at the American Sikh Information Centre in San Jose California, stated that a granthi has a certain level of influence since he or she is a temple's central religious figure, but that the management committee ultimately determines who is allowed to remain with the congregation (15 Mar. 1994). The source stated that if a committee was contemplating dismissing a member from the congregation, the granthi would be consulted if a clarification of religious doctrine was required (ibid.). However, the representative added that when internal political matters are at issue, the granthi is not likely to be involved in the decision-making process (ibid.).

For additional information on the role of the granthi, please refer to Response to Information Requests IND15211 of 31 August 1993 and IND15101 of 24 August 1993.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


American Sikh Information Centre, San Jose, Ca. 15 March 1994. Telephone interview with representative.

Contemporary Religions: A World Guide. 1992. Harlow, UK: Longman Group UK Ltd.

Professor of modern Indian history, University of Toronto. 15 March 1994. Telephone interview.

World Sikh Organization, Nepean, Ont. 15 March 1994. Telephone interview with representative.


Contemporary Religions: A World Guide. 1992. Harlow, UK: Longman Group UK Ltd., p. 493.