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Savaa - Adding a Quarter To The Whole! Why?
Sikhing Answers - X




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An old custom, still in use on the sub-continent and by the older generation across the diaspora:

When giving money for charity or anything celebratory, adding 'savaa' - that is, a quarter to the whole or in addition to the original amount, for good measure.

Thus, when a rupee had any value, giving Rs. 1.25 as alms or charity.

The expression "savaa lakh" - to describe a legion!

The custom also shows up in the figures 11, 51, 101, 501, 1001, etc., when our elders give a donation to the gurdwara or a cause. Instead of giving a straight-forward $10 or Rs. 100 ... !

Plaques acknowledging contributions - to be found in marble in every gurdwara of old, including the Darbar Sahib - are replete with such monetary configurations.

Why the added "savaa", or the single digit to each amount?

What's it's meaning? Significance? Purpose? Origin?


Posted on March 2, 2012

Closing Date: March 9, 2012


Conversation about this article

1: Dr..Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 02, 2012, 8:11 AM.

I was told by my parents and grandparents that adding a quarter to the whole sum that you have contemplated to offer or give means that you are going a little beyond than your comfortable capacity (like giving 110%) - that extra mile, despite that little extra effort and pain! I am curious to learn other viewpoints from the readership.

2: Jasbir Kaur (Patiala, Punjab), March 02, 2012, 8:54 AM.

The Sikh practice stems from the concept of chardi kalaa. In addition to saying that I am giving more than I planned to, it is a promise to give more in the future ... the added 'savaa' or "1" provides a continuity. I love the symbolism of the simple and innocuous gesture. Wish everyone understood it.

3: Balpreet Singh (Belgium), March 02, 2012, 9:15 AM.

Forgive me if I'm stretching things a bit, but the practice often triggers my thoughts into wondering about the significance of the added tail to the Oorrah, the first letter of the Gurmukhi alphabet, in turning it into Ik Oankar. It gives it an air of continuity ... towards infinity. I find this tail of a monetary sum added to our giving and sharing does something similar for me ... it changes the giving from a mere chore to an ongoing commitment.

4: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), March 02, 2012, 5:44 PM.

"Savaa Lakh se aik laraao(n)/ tabhi Gobind Singh naam kahaao(n)". Guru Gobind Singh pronounced the above to his sangat when he was questioned by the sangat how he would fight the Mughals and the Hill Rajas when his army was scant compared to the armies of his opponents. It was thereafter that every cause undertaken by Sikhs was raised to the level of savaa, and continues so to this day.

5: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), March 03, 2012, 8:55 AM.

'Savaa' appears in Guru Granth Sahib at least a dozen times, always in the context of 'chardi kalaa'. In Asa di Vaar, for example: 'tu bakhsisi agala nit deveh chareh sav-i-a' [GGS:467.2] - "You are the Great Forgiver, You give continually, more and more each day." Another example: "tu sacha dataar nit devh chareh savi-i-a" [GGS:150.12] - "You are the True Giver. You give continually. Your gift continues to increase."

6: Gurjender Singh (Maryland, U.S.A.), March 03, 2012, 9:11 AM.

This custom is not followed while giving to raagis or other who perform gurbani kirtan. Besides, the money given to raagis is the same today as it was 20 years ago.

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Sikhing Answers - X"

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