Birth, marriage, and death are important events in human life. Rites and rituals associated with them are also an integral part of human life. In every culture, forms of rites and rituals and the feelings associated with them are unique. For example, usually, joy is associated with birth and marriage,
Janam & Nam Sanskar | Birth & Naming Ceremony: https://app.gurugranthsahib.io/bani/BANC Anand Sanskar | Wedding Ceremony 1/2: https://app.gurugranthsahib.io/bani/ASWC1 Anand Sanskar | Wedding Ceremony 2/2: https://app.gurugranthsahib.io/bani/ASWC2 Lava: https://app.gurugranthsahib.io/bani/SuhiM
and sorrow is associated with death. But in Panjabi culture, when an older person dies after enjoying a long and happy life, their contribution to the family is remembered through both sadness and contented joy. At this time, special desserts are prepared.

As in other cultures, in Panjabi culture also many rites and rituals are performed after a person dies. Usually, friends and relatives visit the family of the deceased to share their sorrow and offer condolences. Women traditionally stand in a circle, recite some poetic words, and beat their heads, faces, bosom, and thighs. These poetic words are called Alahania, and the whole act of lamenting is called siapa.
In Panjab, after the death of someone, the women of the family mourn and weep while beating their head, face, bosom, and thighs with their hands. The act of lamenting for the deceased in this way is called siapa. -Dr. Sohinder Singh Vanjara Bedi, Panjabi Lokdhara Vishvakosh, volume 3, page 346.

Revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539 CE), Alahania is a composition that transforms this worldly wailing and lamenting to a state of tranquility and urges one to accept the will of IkOankar (the Divine). By showing the insignificance and impermanence of the visible and material world, this composition teaches the mind to remain connected with the eternal companion, IkOankar, and to be content with the will of IkOankar.

The composition of Alahania is revealed in Rag Vadahans and recorded on pages 578-582 of the Guru Granth Sahib and contains five Alahania. The third Alahani has eight stanzas of four lines each, and the word ‘dakhṇī’ is added to its title ‘vaḍahansu mahalā 1.’ All other Alahania have four stanzas of six lines each. According to the scholars of Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the term ‘dakhni’ in the title means that Rag Vadahans is to be sung while combining it with an indigenous ragini from the Deccan.
Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, part two, page 580.
There is also a line of rahau after the first stanza in this Alahani.

Generally, people who arrive at the funeral of a deceased person go to the Gurduara after the funeral. There, the composition of Alahania is recited. Sometimes, some other Sabads are also recited along with Alahania. Sant Giani Kartar Singh Khalsa and Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara have mentioned the reading of Sohila along with Alahania at the Gurduara.
Sant Giani Kartar Singh Khalsa, Khalsa Jivan Ate Gurmat Rahit Maryada, page 366; Bhai Joginder Singh Talwara, Bani Biura, page 34.
However, the ‘Sikh Rahit Maryada’
The title of the ‘Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions’ published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sri Amritsar, is 'Sikh Reht Maryada.’ But in this project, it is spelled as 'Sikh Rahit Maryada.’
specifies singing Sabads that evoke feelings of detachment, reciting Sohila and ardas
Literally meaning a prayer or supplication, ardas is usually done at the beginning or end of any ceremony or during a congregational gathering. It is also done by devotees on any auspicious occasion or when faced with a difficult situation.
while the funeral pyre of the dead burns. It also recommends the reading of the entire Guru Granth Sahib at home or at the Gurduara after the cremation and concluding its reading on the tenth day or as per the convenience of the relatives. There is no mention of reading Alahania.
Sikh Rahit Maryada, page 25.

Alahania as a form of folk poetry
Death is the inevitable truth of life. After death, the being’s physical relationship with the world is broken. For this reason, traditionally, those present at the funeral would break a piece of straw or wood into two and throw it onto the pyre. People who come to share their grief with the family remember the deceased person’s good words and deeds. The expression of such feelings forms the core of the folk poetic form Alahani.

Alahani is a mournful or sorrowful Panjabi folk song. In Panjab, when a person dies, a woman belonging to a barber family (nain) or a bard family (mirasan) recites verses of Alahani. Other women who have come to pay condolences stand in a circle around her and mourn, uttering the name or relationship of the deceased and crying to the rhythm of ‘hai hai’ (a form of lamentation).
Dr. Ratan Singh Jaggi (editor), Sahit Kosh, page 100.

These women (nain or mirasan) traditionally memorize many Alahania that induce compassion; they can also improvise new ones at the moment. They sing Alahani in such a rhythm and beat that it seems as if the aesthetic element of compassion has been created. These Alahania are passed on orally from generation to generation.

Alahania directly correlates to the age of the deceased. For this reason, the Alahania sung at the death of a child have more maternal feelings, while those sung during the death of a youth have more feelings of tenderness. The Alahania related to the death of an older person sometimes takes on a humorous tone.

Alahania are also related to the gender of the deceased. On the one hand, verses like ‘hai hai sher jawana’ (O, O, lion-like young man) are sung in the Alahania after the death of a young man. On the other hand, verses like ‘hai hai dhiye morniye’ (O, O, peahen-like daughter) are sung in the Alahania after the death of a young woman.

Though this poetic form, with its musical elements and its semi-dramatic nature, establishes an original Panjabi poetic form, such mournful songs are found in almost all languages, ​​with some dramatic variations and differences. In Western literature, such songs are called ‘elegies.’ Derived from the Greek word ‘elegeia,’ this word conveys the same idea as that of ‘Alahani.’ According to Castle’s Encyclopedia, ‘elegy’ is originally not related to mourning or sorrow but to songs played with a flute, which were composed in the setting of ‘elegiac meter.’ In Latin, poems expressing the ironic side of love have been called ‘elegies.’
Dr. Sohan Singh, Alahanian: Darshanik Adhyan, Guru Nanak Bani: Vichar-Vishleshan, Dr. Bhupinder Kaur ‘Kavita’ and others (editor), page 125.
In this way, the sorrow originating from separation and the praise of the beloved who has departed becomes a special feature of this poetic form.

In the Faridkot Vala Tika (a commentary on the Guru Granth Sahib), an example of verses from an old Alahani has been given as follows:
peīaṛā bal peīaṛā ambīr kā marnā surag bibān mā.
tainūṁ hari hari karte le cale siv siv karat bihāramā.
put je pote āpane hor rovai sabh parvār mā.
ghanṭe vaje ruṇjhuṇe saṅkhāṁ ke ghanghor mā.
jāi utārā gaṅg sir ambā ṭhanḍī chāu mā.
candan cīrī kāṭhīā tulsī lāṁbū dev mā.
tainūṁ khaṛe uḍīkan devate tūṁ surgā par mai āv mā.
rovan sabhe gopīāṁ mohīā jādo rāv mā.
Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Satik (Faridkot Vala Tika), volume 2, page 1209.

Similarly, the lyrics of many Panjabi Alahania can be found in Dr. Nahar Singh’s book ‘Kallar Diva Machada (Kirne Ate Alahunian)’ and on the Internet. Similarly, many Alahania are also found online. Among these, an example of an Alahani related to the death of a child is as follows:
Nain, MirasanWomen who wail
hāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
kī hoiā, kī hoiā? māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
kī hoiā hairān māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
maut pucheṁdī āī māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
baiṭhī būhā malla māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ hāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
mukkī duddha dī dhār māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
hāṇī māran vājāṁ māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
karan nā dittī galla māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
kheḍaṇ nā dittī kheḍ māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ
kī hoiā, kī hoiā? māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁhāi hā! māṁ de baccaṛe nūṁ

Alahania in the context of the Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Nanak Sahib transformed the social custom of singing Alahania after the death of a being by revealing the composition ‘Alahania’ that serves as a medium for praising and uniting with IkOankar.

Differentiating the ‘Alahania’ revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib from the cultural Alahania, Bhai Vir Singh writes that the Alahania prevalent in society contain elements of grief, thoughts of ungratefulness, and being even more mournful because of the grief. The Alahania revealed by the Guru alleviates this grief. In these, the virtues of IkOankar are described so that the saddened family and friends may accept the will of IkOankar and avoid suffering, pain, and grief by connecting with the Nam of IkOankar. In this way, the Alahania revealed by the Guru functions as an antidote to the sorrow present in the alahania prevalent in society. It is as if the cultural alahania aggravates the wound, while the Alahania revealed by the Guru acts as a balm that soothes the wound. By beginning with ‘dhannu sirandā sacā pātisāhu’ (Guru Granth Sahib 578) Alahania teaches us the way of singing praises of and remaining connected with IkOankar.
Bhai Vir Singh, Santhya Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Dr. Balbir Singh (editor), part seven, page 3532.

Dr. Sohinder Singh Vanjara Bedi writes that Alahania, epitomizing the pangs that arise from a broken heart, forms an invaluable part of literature that is meant to induce compassion. Guru Nanak Sahib realized the significance of this poetic form and revealed this composition. In it, the virtues of IkOankar are extolled, and rituals related to the mortal person are prohibited.
Dr. Sohinder Singh Vanjara Bedi, Panjabi Lokdhara Vishvakosh, volume 1 and 2, page 139.

Prof. Sahib Singh and scholars of Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji have also expressed similar views. Prof. Sahib Singh writes that in Alahania, the Guru advises the being to refrain from weeping and wailing and live in accordance with the will of and sing praises of IkOankar.
Prof. Sahib Singh, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Darpan, part four, page 420.
According to Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, in Alahania, rather than weeping for the sake of the material world, the art of dying in a true manner has been taught.
Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, part two, page 578.

In this way, the Alahania revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib connects the being with IkOankar by showing the transient nature of life through the concept and communicative power of the folk poetic form Alahania. It provides peace to the saddened hearts suffering from separation due to the death of their loved ones.
In the Guru Granth Sahib, the absence of a loving connection with the Divine is also equated with dying or death. The focus is on developing a loving relationship with the Divine and living in accordance with the teachings of the Wisdom (Guru) to break free from worldly attachments while alive. This state of freedom is known as ‘jivan-mukti.’
For this reason, this composition is recited in the presence of the sangat at the Gurduara after the cremation.