Dharam Singh (of Akal Security) shares his memories of the Espanola, Sikh Community and Akhand Paath history:
I’m not sure when the Akhand Path began here, but when my wife Dharam Kaur and I arrived from the Tucson, Arizona ashram in January, 1974, the ashram was doing 2 Akhand Paths each week.There were approximately 35 people living here, and the people generally signed up to read in 2 hour blocks. Papaji, the Siri Singh Sahib’s father, lived here, and he read more than anyone. After a few years, we switched to the once a week schedule we have now, because most people had started working "regular" jobs, and couldn’t just stop working in the garden or ashram office to read for several hours as needed.
By 1984, we had approximately 60 members, and were divided into 7 or 8 misls. At some point after summer solstice, a decision came down from the ashram council that we would vote on whether to continue having the Akhand Path, or switch to a Sahej Path. This was proposed because many people, including all but 2 of the jethadars, felt that maintaining the Akhand Path was difficult, since we all had very busy lives and it was not easy filling those 72 hours each week. The misls voted, and the vote was to change to a Sahej Path.The only misls that voted for the Akhand Patch were the 2 located on either side of the irrigation ditch, where most of the Akal trailers are now located.
So the Sahej Paths staggered on for a few months, and then the ashram director and his family, and most of the jethadars, left in concert, literally overnight. We were in turmoil, trying to figure out how to keep up. We had frequent meetings at the Ranch, meditating, talking, doing kirtan. The Siri Singh Sahib was in constant contact. Shakti Parwha Kaur came to help us work through it all. The Siri Singh Sahib sent Guru Terath Singh and Kaur here to help. And at some point, the Siri Singh Sahib said that things fell apart because we stopped the Akhand Path, we backed off from the Guru because we thought things were just too busy for us to keep relating to the Guru in that devoted way. So we pretty quickly started up again, and now we haven’t missed for about 23 years.
While 23 years doesn’t sound as impressive as 34 years right now, it will be great a century from now at 123 years, and 523 years, and on. But we shouldn’t forget what a few months of "convenience" cost, and what we had to go through to re-establish ourselves." – Thank you, Dharam Singh (Espanola, New Mexico).
Perhaps more of you have an inspiring story concerning the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. During this 300th anniversary it is the perfect time to share with the Sangat!