Panj Bania Defined: What Are the Five Required Prayers?

Every Day Devotional Reading for Sikhs

Panj Bania - Five Daily Nitnem Prayers
Panj Bania - Five Daily Nitnem Prayers. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Definition of Panj Bania

Panj Bania refers to five prayers which are required reading for Sikhs everyday. Panj is a Punjabi word meaning five commonly used by Sikhs of all ethnic origins around the world. Bania is the Punjabi plural for bani meaning word, or scripture.

The Panj Bania

Daily prayers are an important part of individual Sikh worship. The five banis are commonly referred to as Nitnem. Panj Bania are taken from Sikh scriptures written in Gurmukhi script.

Daily prayers are an important part of individual Sikh worship. The Sikhism code of conduct advises all Sikhs to read Panj Bania every day.

Required Reading

The five prayers of Panj Bania are required daily for initiates. During Amritsanchar the initiation ceremony, the panj pyara five administrators of Sikh baptism instruct the Khalsa initiates to review the panj bania either by reading, reciting, or listening to them live, or recorded. Nitnem banis are required to be reviewed at the appropriate time of day. Panj Bania include five prayers to be performed throughout the day at specific times, in the morning at day break, in the evening at sunset, and at bedtime as the very last thing before sleeping.

The required prayers of Sikhism are generally performed while sitting or standing. Prayers in Sikhism do not involve kneeling as in Christianity, or prostration as in Islam. Prayers may be reviewed indoors or outside.

When prayers are repeated in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism holy scripture, generally the devotee respectfully sits or stands facing towards the Guru, otherwise no particular direction is decreed. Panj Bania are read or recited aloud in Gurmukhi. If the words are not understood, the 5 banis may be read from a nitnem gutka prayerbook that has Gurmukhi and transliteration, along with English translation.

Prayers may also be reviewed silently from memory. Devotees may also listen to the Panj Bania performed live or from a Nitnem recording.

Required Morning Prayers - to be performed after bathing, following morning meditation at sunrise.

  • Japji Sahib -The first prayer composed By Guru Nanak Dev, which is the opening hymn of Guru Granth Sahib has 40 verses including Mool Mantar.
  • Jap Sahib -The second prayer which is a composition of Guru Gobind Singh from Dasm Granth.
  • Tav Prasaad Swaye - The third prayer which is a composition of Guru Gobind Singh from Akal Ustat.

Required Evening Prayers - to be performed at sunset.

  • Rehras - The fourth prayer of the day includes holy scripture by various authors:
    • Nine Compositions of Guru Nanak, Guru Raam Das, and Guru Arjun Dev which immediately follow Japji Sahib in the Guru Granth starting with "Sodar" and ending with final verse of "Saran pare ki rakho sarma".
    • Compositions of Guru Gobind Singh including Benti Chaupai - "Hamaree karo hath dai rachai", Swaye - "Pae gahe jab te tumre," Dhora - "Sagal duar kau chhad kai".
    • Anand Sahib - First five verses and 40th final verse, composed by Guru Amar Daas.
    • Mandavani.
    • Tera Kita Jato Nahee.

Required Bedtime Prayers - to be performed last thing before sleeping.

  • Kirtan Sohila -The fifth prayer of the day which includes five compositions from the Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Raam Das, and Fifth Guru Arjun Dev.

As part of their morning or daily routine, many gursikhs, (very devout Sikhs), read of recite the Amrit banis performed as a part of the baptismal ritual. Selections from Guru Granth Sahib likeĀ Sukhmani Sahib, a composition of Guru Arjun Dev, and others by Guru Gobind Singh such as Shabad Hazarre and or selections from Akal Ustat may also be read.

Spelling and Pronunciation

Spelling: Panj Bania, 5 banis

Pronunciation: Panj rhymes with like sponge. Bania sounds like bonny-awe. The first syllable bani sounds like bonny. The second syllable has the sound of the a in awe.