Gurdwara Basics and FAQ

Gurdwara Basics

The place where Sikhs gather to worship is called a Gurdwara and literally means the Guru’s Door. A Gurdwara meeting place has no specific design. It can be a bare, clean, simple room or an elaborate building, such as the Golden Temple with its marble floors, gilded frescos, and ornate domes. There might be a flag marked with the emblem of the Sikh coat of arms. The one necessary feature is the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture and Guru/Spiritual Teacher of the Sikhs.

All Gurdwara Sahibs are open 7 days a week [generally], all year round. People visit Gurdwara Sahib whenever they have time. There is no set time or day to visit the Gurdwara Sahib, however most people visit the Gurdwara on Sunday. Anyone is welcome to worship in a Gurdwara regardless of caste, color, or creed. A specific protocol exists for the Gurdwara. Cleanliness is essential.

Visiting a Gurdwara Sahib can be a life-changing experience. Be modestly dressed when visiting a Gurdwara. When entering the main hall of the Gurdwara Sahib, remove your shoes and cover your head. A basket is usually placed besides the door of the main hall, which contains small pieces of cloth. If you do not wear a turban, please pick one of the cloths from the basket and cover your head with it. Never enter a Gurdwara Sahib if you have consumed alcohol or if you have any cigarettes or tobacco on you. After you have covered your head, enter the main hall and walk up to the congregation where the Sikh Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib Ji are present. Bow your head and place offering of flowers, food items or money as a sign of respect (not compulsory) and then join the congregation seated on the carpeted floor. The common way to sit is cross-legged on the floor. Be aware that sitting with legs stretched out with feet pointing towards the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is disrespectful.

The service at the Gurdwara Sahib normally consists of a combination of sermons and singing of Shabads (hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji). All ends with the Ardaas, a special prayer that is spoken by the Granthee while the congregation stands with folded hands. The blessed pudding of Prasad (a sanctified delicacy made from flour, butter, and sugar), is then distributed to all. It is important that no part of the Parsad should fall on the floor as it is considered disrespectful. Then walk up to the dining hall for Langar (free kitchen). It is respectful that you get only what you intend to eat and do not leave food in your plate when done.

A: In the ancient times, the emperors from India had few people on the left and right side waving the wisk. The wisk in Punjabi is called a chauwr. It was a symbol of respect and higher authority. People wave the chauwr to show their respect. It is symbolically accepted by Sikhs as a culture. Sikh religion does not force or instructs to wave wisk over Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is a simple tradition and symbol of respect.

A: Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (The Holy Scripture of Sikhs) contains hymns written by the Gurus (Spiritual Masters) and devotees of God who themselves have attained salvation. They write about their experiences and the life they lead to meet God. The scripture, which is 1430 pages in length, is also composed almost wholly in musical scale and meter and is completely written in poetic verse. It contains the bani (compositions) of 6 Gurus and 21 devotees. Originally named the Adi Granth Sahib or the ‘first scripture’, the holy volume was renamed the Guru Granth Sahib Ji upon its placement as the spiritual guide of Sikhs by the tenth and last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji contains answers to question like: Who is God? What does God look like? How to meet Him? What happens after death? How to live a lifestyle what would lead to meeting God? All answers on this site have been taken from the information in Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Guru Granth Sahib Ji also states remarkable information about the universe, galaxies, stars, planets and the moons. None of the information written in the scripture contradicts with the scientific facts. Scientific facts have been supporting the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Guru Granth Sahib Ji further explains how God created the Universe. In addition, this is not the first time God created the Universe. He has created the Universe and life in the Universe many times. All life on the Earth is a creation of God and has been evolving since. Furthermore, life is not just limited to the Earth.

If one seeks to meet God and attain eternal peace, he or she should read Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The scripture does not preach Sikhism or tells people to convert to Sikhism but gives an amazing, mind opening and enlightening information about God and His creations. In addition, Guru Granth Sahib Ji shows everyone a straight path to attain salvation regardless of their background or religion.

A: There’s no hard and fast rule regarding seating arrangement. It is more cultural than religious. Indian men and women often sit on separate side of a congregation. This is because both feel more comfortable sitting with the same gender. Sometimes the whole family sits together as there is no hard and fast rule about seating arrangement for families in the Gurdwara Sahib.

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