Nitnem banis are the daily prayers of Sikhism. Five required daily prayers are known as panj bania. The Sikhism prayerbook is called a gutka, is treated with special respect because the daily prayers of Sikhsim are taken from the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib and the compositions of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh. The prayers of Sikhism are written in the Gurmukhi script, the sacred language of Gurbani used only for Sikh prayers. Every Sikh is expected to learn Gurmukhi and read, recite, or listen to the required daily prayers which make up the Nitnem banis.
Every Sikh is advised by the Sikhism code of conduct that the five Nitnem prayers panj bania (banis), are to be read or recited each and every day. Initiated Amritdhari Sikhs are instructed, and vow, to perform Nitnem daily without fail. When, for any reason, it is not possible to read, or recite, prayers, one may listen to daily devotionals either live, or recorded which are read, or recited, even sung aloud by another. Nitnem devotionals may be done alone or as group worship.
Daily prayers are an important part of individual Sikh worship. Five daily prayers, known as nitnem banis, taken from Sikh scriptures are written in Gurmukhi script. Nitnem banis are required to be reviewed at the appropriate time of day:
- 1.) Morning Prayers – Japji Sahib, Jap Sahib, Tav Prasad Svaiye
- 2.) Evening Prayers – Rehras Sahib
- 3.) Bedtime Prayers – Kirtan Sohila
A formal prayer of supplication, called Ardas, is offered while standing. Prayer and meditation focuses on praising God, and may take the form of singing as in kirtan. Sikhs believe prayer and meditation to be essential in attaining desirable qualities and overcoming ego. Sikh scripture counsels that each breath is an opportunity for prayer.
Guru Arjun wrote: “Twenty-four hours a day, O Nanak, meditate on the Guru, the path to enlightenment.”
The required prayers of Sikhism are performed generally while sitting or standing, by reading, recitation or by listening. Prayers in Sikhism do not involve kneeling or prostration as in Islam or Christianity. 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.