VISITING A GURDWARA (SIKH TEMPLE)
Using the Gurdwara sahib as a centre of activity, the Gurus built flourishing cities around them. The Gurdwaras have been a focal point of Sikh communities since the time of Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji and continuous to be so even today. They are found throughout the world, wherever Sikh Community lives. A colored flag with an emblem of a double-edged sword, two other swords, and a sharp iron ring, almost always indicates the site of a Gurdwara. Every Gurdwara provides Guru Ka Langar (a free communal meal) eaten together by everyone visiting a Gurdwara; it was started by Guru Nanak dev Ji and institutionalized by Shri Guru Amar Das ji. Guru ka Langar exemplifies an important Sikh teaching: All human beings are equal regardless of their socioeconomic status, race or religion. It was mandatory for all to partake in langar before having an audience with the guru, so that kings and untouchable alike would sit together and eat the same meal.
Gurdwaras range from majestic buildings to small rooms in someone’s home. Any place that has Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and a Sadh Sangat (congregation) present may be considered a Gurdwara. Gurdwaras are a very dear part of Sikh’s life because they provide Sikhs with an opportunity to sit with other Sikh followers and promote spiritual growth.
Usually, a Gurdwara has one or more caretakers who are proficient in reciting the Sikh scriptures. The caretaker is called ‘Granthi’ and is usually addressed as ‘Bhai sahib Ji’ (honourable brother).
- Wear modest attire i.e preferably a Punjabi traditional dress.
- Remove Shoes when entering the congregation hall. This is a sign of respect to the Sovereignty of Shri Guru Granth sahib Ji. All Gurdwaras have shoe racks.
- Cover head at all times as a sign of respect to Shri Guru Granth sahib Ji. All visitors will need to cover their heads. Head covering for boys is available in the Gurdwara but a knotted handkerchief is acceptable. Other hats (e.g. Baseball-style caps) are not appropriate. Girls will need to wear a headscarf. The Gurdwara usually has a box of scarves.
- Bow in front of Shri Guru Granth sahib ji upon joining the congregation and sit quietly and offer money and sometimes, other materials as a humble contribution towards the operation of the Gurdwara.
- Sit on the floor in the congregation.
- Stand-up during Ardas (A humble prayer to God).
- Sit on the floor when taking Guru-ka-langar (Guru’s free kitchen) and keep head covered. All visitors to the Gurdwara are served free food irrespective of their caste, creed, colour or status. You can extend helping hand in doing service.
- The Gurdwara is the best place for Simran-Meditation. Simran is actually remembering God through repeating the holy name of Akal-Purakh satnaam Waheguru, Satnaam Waheguru, Satnaam Waheguru, Satnaam Waheguru. The practice helps one to get closer to GOD and feel His presence all around. This feeling consoles one’s mind and it brings peace of mind to the tension ridden people.
- *No alcohol, tobacco, smoking or intoxicants in the Gurdwara Premises.