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Preparing ‘Karah Parshad’: Making of a sweet and sacred offering

Golden Temple’s karah parshad is made daily with the unique flavour of devotion and served in true Sikh spirit of equality among all. HT visits the shrine’s kitchen and soaks up the recipe and ritual of this delectable offering

punjab Updated: Jun 26, 2018 13:04 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindutsan Times, Amritsar
Golden Temple,Karah Parshad Golden Temple,Harminder Sahib
Karah parshad is made with almost equal quantities of whole wheat flour, desi ghee and sugar. It takes an hour to cook a steamy lot of parshad.(Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Amritsar In Sikhism, ‘karah parshad’ is a type of semolina halwa made with almost equal quantities of whole wheat flour, desi ghee and sugar.

The parshad is prepared in a two-storeyed kitchen near Akal Takht. Preparation starts at 12.30am daily and continues till late at night. “Besides two cooks and their helps, employees and devotees join the preparation,” says Nardeep Singh, the kitchen supervisor.

Children are closest to God. No wonder young devotees are big fans of karah parshad. A family partaking of its share of the offering at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

Bhupinder Singh, a cook at the kitchen, says the ‘degh’ is then taken to the sanctum sanctorum before the ‘parkash’ or installation ceremony of Guru Granth Sahib around 1.30am. This is for the sangat or devotees who perform sewa (service) of washing and cleaning the sanctum sanctorum.

Besides, it is a tradition that one ‘degh’ is brought from Dera Baba Sham Singh situated nearby.

Apart from the act of serving the ‘degh’ inside the sanctum sanctorum during Amrit Vela (early morning) diwan, the parshad is served almost throughout the day near Darshani Deodi, the entry to the sanctum sanctorum. It is served except for a few hours when doors of the ‘deodi’ are closed.

‘Degh’ is available at counters which are part of the kitchen. The devotees offer the ‘degh’ outside the sanctum sanctorum. Accepting the offering from devotees, the sewadars distribute it among the devotees after touching it with a kirpan.

EAT, PRAY, LOVE: Before the parshad, also called degh, is served to devotees, it is dedicated to the kirpan or religious sword or dagger at the ‘kirpan bhent’ ceremony. An Amritdhari (baptised) Sikh chops the degh in a metallic utensil. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

As a sign of humility and respect, visitors accept the offering with hands cupped and raised. The sewadar serves the parshad to all, irrespective of religion or caste, in equal measure.

“Though halwa is served as parshad at other places of worship, too, the taste of the karah parshad served at Golden Temple is unique,” says Meena Kumari, 35, a visitor from Jaipur.

“My children are so fond of the parshad at Harmandar Sahib that they insist I bring them here often,” says Satnam Singh, a local devotee.

My children are so fond of the parshad at Harmandar Sahib that they insist I bring them here often,” says Satnam Singh, a local devotee.

Pinni parshad is another form of karah parshad, introduced in 2012, made with lesser quantity of desi ghee and water. In the dry form, it lasts longer and is preferred by those coming from far-flung places. Counters for pinni parshad are situated in the parkarma near Ber Baba Budha Jee and the devotees get it in packets. This is prepared and packed in same kitchen where karah parshad is made.

First Published: Jun 26, 2018 11:50 IST