DĪVĀN, in Persian, means royal court, conference, audience. Appearing as dībān or dībāṇu in Gurū Nanak's compositions, the word stands for both the divine court of justice and the law courts of the State. In the Sikh tradition, dīvān has come to mean the court of the Gurū or a congregation in the name of the Gurū. The Gurū was addressed by Sikhs as Sachchā Pātishāh or True King whose audience was given the name of dīvān or court. As the office of Gurū became vested in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, any assembly in the hall or court where the Sacred Volume was installed was called the dīvān. A gathering of devotees in the presence of the Gurū Granth Sāhib at which holy hymns are sung and the holy Name is meditated upon is a dīvān. Nowadays Sikh social and political gatherings and conferences, with Scripture presiding over them, are also designated dīvāns. The term nevertheless applies primarily to Sikh religious assemblies in gurdwārās or elsewhere.

         At a Sikh dīvān, Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated on a high pedestal or throne. Sikhs enter reverentially with folded hands and kneel down touching the ground in front of it with their foreheads and making offerings, usually of money. They will, thereafter, greet the assembly, and, where the hall is spacious enough to permit this, circumambulate the Sacred Volume in token of allegiance to the Gurū before taking their seats on the ground among the saṅgat. Dispersal is in the same reverent style; the departing member will leave his seat, stand before the Gurū Granth Sāhib, with hands clasped, fall on his knees making a low bow and retreat respectfully, taking care not to turn his back towards the Holy Book.

         In Sikh gurdwārās commonly two dīvāns take place daily - one in the morning and the second in the evening. In the morning, the service will begin with the induction and installation of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. After the ardās or supplicatory prayer, the Book will be opened to obtain from it what is called hukam, i. e. the Gurū's command or lesson for the day. This will be followed by kīrtan or chanting by a choir of musicians of holy hymns from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, if not of the entire composition entitled Āsā kī Vār. At larger gurdwārās, kīrtan will be preceded by the recitation of Gurū Arjan's Sukhmanī and of morning nitnem, i. e. texts comprising the daily regimen of Sikh prayers for that hour. Then there will take place kathā or exposition of the hukam of that morning or of any other hymn from the Gurū Granth Sāhib, followed by a discourse or lecture on Sikh theology or history. Recitation of the six cantos by the whole assembly from Gurū Amar Dās's composition, the Anand, and of the last ślokā of the Japu, ardās, proclamation of the hukam from the Gurū Granth Sāhib and distribution of kaṛāhprasad or communion will bring the dīvān to a conclusion. At the evening dīvān, besides kīrtan, two bāṇīs prescribed for the service, Rahrāsi and the kīrtan Sohilā are recited. At the central shrine at Amritsar, the Harimandar, the dīvān remains in session continuously from early hours of the morning till late in the evening, with kīrtan being recited uninterruptedly. Special dīvāns are held to mark important anniversaries on the Sikh calendar and social events in families. The format allows for variations to suit the occasion, but one binding condition is that the congregation occurs in the presence of the Gurū Granth Sāhib.

Tāran Siṅgh