he word Gurdwara (pronounced ‘Gur-Dwa-raa’) means the ‘Guru’s Door’ or ‘through the Guru’. Sikhs come here to learn how to live a spiritual and moral life and earn the Guru’s blessings. Gurdwaras are commonly known as Sikh Places of Worship in the Western world.
- Dress modestly
- Take a shower and wear modest clothes to the Gurdwara.
- Do not carry any alcohol/cigarettes/drugs into the premises or be under their influence.
- Wearing a hat or a cap is prohibited.
- Cover your head
- The Gurdwara usually has a box of scarves, handkerchiefs and bandanas. Hats and caps are inappropriate.
- Remove your shoes and socks
- This is done to maintain the cleanliness of the Gurdwara and to show respect to its owner, Guru Sahib Ji.
- It is recommended to wash and dry your feet before entering the Darbar hall
- Wash your hands with soap
- Wash your hands after taking your shoes off, before/after eating and especially before praying.
There are two main halls in a Gurdwara, a Darbar Hall (prayer hall) and a Langar Hall (free communal food hall). After all the preparation steps, you are ready to enter into the Darbar Hall. At this point, you should turn off your phone to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of the Darbar.
Feed Your Soul
Darbar means the Royal Court and will have the throne of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. We respect Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the living Spiritual Guru. We only appear in the Guru’s presence if we are clean, sober, presentable, barefoot and have our heads covered. Although Granth means Scripture, they are our Guru, and Sikhs do not treat it like a book. People queue to bow down to the Guru. Sikhs don’t aim to convert people. Non-Sikhs may choose to bow out of respect, however, this doesn’t make you a Sikh. One can only become a Sikh through their actions.
Next to Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s throne, there will be a small stage where musicians and singers sing devotional poetry. The Gurus were poets and musicians, and they encouraged singing as a type of worship. Guru Sahib Ji is our spiritual and political King and provides food and protection to all humanity. This is why you might see swords and weapons in front of the Guru (royal insignia).
In the Darbar Hall, someone will be serving Karah Parshaad, which is sweet blessed food made out of whole wheat flour, sugar, clarified butter and water. You may choose to have some. When receiving Karah Parshaad cup your hands together and sit down. Please take a tissue to clean your hands or wash them afterwards. If you use a tissue paper, be careful not get Parshaad on the tissue, as it is blessed food and should not be thrown in the garbage. Some Gurdwaras have male and female seating areas, and some are mixed. Most people will sit cross-legged on the floor facing the Guru. When sitting, do not to turn your back or point your feet towards Guru Sahib Ji.
Feed Your Body
After spending time in the Darbar Hall, make your way into the Langar Hall, where you can eat a free vegetarian meal (Langar). Langar is served to anyone from morning to night in all Gurdwaras across the world. Langar is a principle of the Sikh faith, to provide access to basic needs to everyone regardless of faith, sex, race, colour or social status. Some Gurdwaras even provide shelter, clothing and medical services. You can also volunteer to help serve or cook Langar. To volunteer (do Seva) please ask one of the other volunteers.
Getting Langar: You may need to queue up or wait to be served (depending on the Gurdwara). Please do not pour your own Langar and only take what you will eat so that Langar isn’t wasted. Everyone sits together at the same level to practice the principle that we are all equal in God’s eyes. Once you have finished eating, take your plate/glass to the washing up area. If you’d like to volunteer to wash dishes, then please ask another volunteer. The Gurus taught that meditating whilst serving others (washing up) makes us humble and purifies our mind. After eating Langar, please wash your hands.
You are welcome to visit the Darbar after having Langar and listen, meditate or sing to the music, hymns and prayers. There are usually translations displayed in English, but feel free to ask anyone if there are any literature, classes or talks available in your language.
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