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The Ghar Ghar andar Dharamsaal transformed into THE Gurdwara

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Old 06-Jun-2010, 05:11 AM
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The Ghar Ghar andar Dharamsaal transformed into THE Gurdwara

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Gurdwara, a gateway to dharma

Gurdwara literally the Guru’s portal or the Guru’s abode, is the name given to a Sikh place of worship. Many ask the meaning of Gurdwara and its significance in the community. Gurdwara plays a central role in the life of the Sikhs and others. Wherever there are Sikhs, there will be a Gurdwara. Such place of worship are ubiquitous in the Panjab and wherever the Sikh community lives whether it is in Kuala Lumpur or San Francisco, there are Gurdwaras erected from public funds to gather the community together for worship and also a centre for education of Gurmat parchar and sangeet. It is a place for the congregation to sit and glorify the name of God and sing his praises; also a place for dissemination of Sikhi beliefs and practices. The location of Gurdwara has its own reasons as migration to another country for labour roots them to that particular spot and the need for the Gurdwara. In India, historically Gurdwaras are built to sanctify the spot to commemorate the presence of the Great Gurus who have placed their feet (charan). The location of the Gurdwara reflects its own beauty, splendour and its history. The Gurdwara is usually recognized by Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flagstaff, flying over or in front of the temple, giving the message nice clear of the Sikh presence in that area and for them to visit , pray, rest and have their nourishment(langar).

The concept of Gurdwara, is generally attributed to the Sikh faith and Gurbani and it is used to convey, “By God’s Grace”, because of God’s will” or even “God willing”. With Nanak’s birth, in 1469, Gurdwara started off as house of prayer, piety and probity and special space was set aside for the Guru Granth Sahib to be housed in the Gurdwara and for the devotees to pay obeisance to the Living Guru. In early Sikh history, the place of worship used for congregational prayers was called dhramsala, the abode of dhrama. Guru Nanak Dev Ji called upon his followers to establish dharamsalas and congregate in them to repeat God’s name, and to recite His praise. In the time of Guru Hargobind, dharamsals began to be called Gurdwaras. The Gurdwara has came about to represent the Sikh house for prayers and devotion.

Originally Gurdwaras were called dharmsala, which signifies a rest-house, a place not only to rest but to place for devotional kirtan and prayers. Bhai Gurdas Ji described it as: Centres of worship were established wherever Baba Nanak set foot. All the Siddh centres (religious centres) in the world became centres of Nanak’s teaching. Every house became a dhramasala and kirtan was sung as if it were an unending Vaisakhi festival (Var 1, pauri 27). In the B40 Janam Sakhi, God addresses the following words to Guru Nanak Dev Ji: As the Vaishavas have their temples, the yogis their asan, and the Muslims, their mosque, so your followers shall have their dhramsala.

What else one see when you enter a Gurdwara, almost anywhere in the world. The ornate canopy, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji(Sri Guru Granth Sahib), a fan(chauri), musical instruments and people sitting in the hall with men and women separate, usually dressed either in the Sikh insignia(turban, keski with 5 Ks or some may have their head covered with a cloth as a sign of respect for the Holy Scripture. The Darbar has no such segregation and whether woman or man, they all sit in the Darbar Sahib and outside or in the parakarma around the sarowar. Sitting on the floor is an indication of equality: pehle pangat, piche sangat meaning first eat together and then worship together is a major tenet of the Sikh faith. The devotees bow themselves in front of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji to mattha teakna (bowing your head with obeisance) and accept the karah parshad (made of flour, sugar, ghee) and served after blessed with the kirpan (short sword) after prayers. The rationale is to strengthen it symbolically before served and the same applies to the langar, food cooked by the devotees.

The main function of the Gurdwara is to provide the Sikhs or others with a meeting place for worship. This consists of singing the hymns, hearing kathas or lectures and sermons. It also serves as a community centre, a school, a guest house for pilgrims and travelers. Apart from the morning and evening prayers, the Gurdwaras hold special congregation to mark important births and deaths of the Gurus (Gurpurb). The aspects of Sikh faith most closely linked with Gurdwaras are Guru Ka Langar and voluntary service (sewa) as an integral part of the existence of the Sikhs.

The essential feature of a Gurdwara is the presiding presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and this unique Eternal Living Guru has since been the Guru’s places of worship where religious ceremony, like Anand Karaj, Gurpurb, celebrations of birth and deaths focuses around it. Sikh form of worship, individual or congregational consists of recitation or singing of Gurbani, the scriptural texts and ardas, the supplicatory prayer. It is a place usually for congregational worship of God, not of Guru, in the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Shabad Guru. It is also accessible to everyone without distinction of caste, class, status or gender. One of the main requirements for a Sikh place to be so known is the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Every Sikh place by that token is the house of the Guru. Hence, Guru+dwara is the name given to the guru’s door, threshold, house or abode is how the Sikhs call a place of worship. Gurdwara neither have idols nor altars in their holy places; they have no sacraments and no priestly order. At the Gurdwara, they have the Nishan Sahib (flagstaff) and the devotees before entering the Gurdwara, usually bow their head and touch it and put their hands on their forehead. As Guru Ram Das Ji said in the Bani: Wherever my Satguru goes and sits, that place is beautiful. The Guru’s disciples seek that place and take and apply its dust to their foreheads (Sri Guru Granth Sahib 540; Guru Ram Das Ji)

Historically, Gurudwara succeeded dharmsal, literally abode of dhrama. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, wherever, he went advised his devotees to assemble in sangat for congregational prayer. Sat sangat as an institution is considered to have, besides its cementing effect, for acquiring higher knowledge or spiritual awakening. Sangat is meant for practicing naam and kirtan. As Guru Nanak Dev Ji described the true sangat where only naam is described and naam is the order. Guru Ram Das Ji says: that one is a true sangat where God’s glory is sung or listened to and Guru Arjan Dev Ji declares: Singing of God’s glory in Holy congregations is the noblest of the actions. The place where the devotees usually congregated was called the Gurdwara. The place where Guru Granth Sahib was placed was properly the Guru house, Guru-ghar, i.e. Gurdwara.

Gurdwaras multiplied after the Sikhs had become masters of the Land of Five Rivers They were established at places sanctified by the Great Gurus and also in villages and towns inhabited by the Sikhs. Historical Gurdwaras sanctified by the presence of the Gurus came to be treated as places of pilgrimages, for example Sis Ganj marks the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Keshgarh Sahib where Khalsa Panth was created by Guru Gobind Singh Ji and many others. As Patwant Singh in his book Gurdwara began by saying that “Gurdwara emerged as a new edifice on India’s religious landscape in the 17th.Century. Ever since then this indestructible symbol of the Sikh faith has stirred intense and indefinable feelings in millions of Sikhs everywhere. These feelings range from a yearning for the comforting peace of its sacred precincts, and the ever abiding fragrance of marigolds and rose petals. To a longing to hear recitations from the Sri Granth Sahib Ji, and the shabads rendered in the robust and resonant voices of highly talented and devotional hymn singers (Ragis). Darbar Sahib epitomizes this description and it does not matter where one sits, one gets the sanctity of the place. There is also the urge to savour and the fragrance of the karah Prasad, the sacramental food blessed by the Lord and given to those who visit the Gurdwara. Each of these experiences is so elevating, as it affects people differently, as to bring tears to many eyes.”

Gurdwaras whose historical connection with the Great Gurus had made them especially venerable. An essential adjunct to the establishment of Gurdwaras was Guru Ka Langar initiated by Guru Nanak Dev Ji as community partaking and food. With time and history, all the historical Gurdwaras in the Panjab came under the communal control via statutory body, the SGPC, Shiromani Parbandhak Committee and important Gurdwaras are managed directly by the SGPC. The function of this body is questioned by many and over the years, it has provided guidance to other community in religious matters.

Bhai Sahib I.J Singh commented on the Rehat Maryada and the changing role of the SGPC and its duties in relation to Gurdwaras in the World according to Sikhi-2006. “Humans are social animals and, in time, their way of life evolves into a codified set of traditions and laws - a code of conduct.

For Sikhs, this code of conduct - Rehat Maryada - evolved slowly over several centuries from the time of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of the faith, who started the process of delineating Sikhism as an entity independent of the beliefs and practices of other faiths, to Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who formally established the institution of the Khalsa Panth in 1699.

A religion, in its final analysis, is a way of life that makes possible the formation, survival and growth of human societies. A society collectively determines what constitutes right conduct or what deserves censure, and also in what forms such disapproval is expressed.

We all know the message of the Sikh Gurus was simple yet universal; it empowered the powerless. What, then, is the Sikh Rehat Maryada - the Sikh code of conduct? What does it say? How and when did it evolve into a written document?

A Sikh, and even a non-Sikh who wants to understand his Sikh neighbours, cannot but be curious about these matters. It is a riveting tale, and this essay derives much of its historical information from a 2005 book by the London-based Giani Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan.

It is not entirely unexpected or odd that the formalisation of the Sikh way of life into a written structure approved by the Sikh community and its representatives took another two centuries after the canon was sealed and the Khalsa discipline established.

History tells us that agreement on major issues of Christian doctrine and dogma, for example, did not occur until several centuries after Jesus. Living religions evolve, and their practices achieve clarity only over time, sometimes not until centuries later. Some matters that appear settled at one time may continue to vex believers and may be revisited and re-explored years later.

Honest differences in interpretation are also the products of time; for instance, Christianity now comes to us with a plethora of sects and denominations. In fact, no major religion is without schisms, and Sikhism is no exception - though the latter, to date, it has fared better than all others, probably because of its youth and its inter-faith credo.

During the two centuries of the Gurus, Sikh beliefs and practices evolved and matured. The subsequent two hundred years left the Sikhs little peace or leisure to formulate their way of life into a coherent whole. In that time, Sikhs knew a scant fifty years of peace when the Misls prospered and Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled over North West India.

But his rule, beneficent as it was, also attracted many Hindus and Muslims into the Sikh fold, some not from conviction of belief but in deference to perceived needs of political expediency.

These converts of convenience never abandoned their earlier beliefs and practices but brought them along to intermix with Sikh traditions. Not unexpectedly, many contradictory practices, often drawn from the large religious traditions of Hinduism and Islam that surrounded Sikhs, a small minority, wormed their way into the Sikh way of life.

Not that there was total absence of written records on the Sikh code of conduct, but none were directly recorded at the behest of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Most were recollections of Sikhs of that time and were intermixed with biases and practices stemming from their own familial or cultural origins.

Sikhs wrested control of their historical Gurdwaras only in 1925-26 after a titanic struggle that shook the British Empire to its core; one of the results of this struggle was the formation of a Sikh elective parliamentary forum, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), whose charge was to manage the historical Gurdwaras of Panjab and resolve issues that affected Sikh community life.

In the Indian cultural context, where written historical record was never much valued and the impact of Western education was perhaps less than two generations old, the next step was quick but equally significant.

On March 15, 1927, a general meeting of the SGPC at the Akaal Takht appointed a 29-member subcommittee, convened by the Jathedar Akaal Takht, Bhai Teja Singh, to explore Sikh teachings, traditions, history and practice, and prepare a draft of a code of Sikh conduct and conventions.

It is important to note that the list of members was a veritable and venerable Who's Who of the Sikhs of that time. In the Indian tradition of careless historical record keeping, the names of only 26 members are available; 3 are listed as Jathedars of Takhts, without any names. Who were these three individuals?

Two years later, in April 1931, a preliminary draft of the code was distributed to the Sikhs and their opinions solicited. The subcommittee reconvened on October 4-5, 1931, January 3, 1932, and again on January 31 of the same year. Inexplicably, the number of attendees declined to 13; an additional 4 members appeared at some meetings. (How were they appointed or invited?)

On March 1, 1932, 4 members were dropped from the subcommittee, and an additional 8 members appointed to it. (Of the 4 ousted from the committee, Giani Sunder Singh died, Babu Teja Singh was excommunicated and an edict issued to deny Bhai Lal Singh the right to offer prayers at the Akaal Takht. What happened to the fourth, Bhai Mya Singh, is not stated.) Of the 8 new members, 5 are named; three are listed only by their titles.

How were these 8 appointed?

Agreement on the draft remained elusive. On May 9, 1932, only 10 members attended the meeting; at the September 26, 1932 meeting, only 9 members were present. (Was this a quorum?) On December 30, 1933, a conclave of the wide spectrum of the Sikh nation, somewhat akin to Sarbat Khalsa, was convened at the Akaal Takht. The president of the SGPC, Partap Singh Shankar, presided; 170 Sikh representatives attended it, but only 9 were members of the subcommittee originally appointed for the purpose.

After two full days of heated discussion, agreement eluded them, and the issue was tabled indefinitely. A 50-member subcommittee (48 members were named and 2 were anonymous) of the SGPC that included representation from Stockton (California), Myanmar (Burma) and Malaysia, with opinions from 21 additional correspondents, approved a draft code of conduct on August 1, 1936; the SGPC ratified it on October 12, 1936.

This code was implemented while suggestions and critique continued to pour in.

The general body of the SGPC approved the document on February 3, 1945, and an 8-member subcommittee met on July 7, 1945 to fine-tune the code of conduct.

In drafting the Sikh code of conduct, the scholars drew upon the teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, as well as the unbroken oral tradition and practice. They also examined various historical documents to ferret out the common thread in them.

These documents were Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the writings of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the poetical works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal, the available Janamsakhis, Bhagat Mala (Bhagataavli, Bhagat Rachnaavli), Sarabloh, Rehatnama Bhai Chaupa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Prehlad Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Desa Singh, Rehatnama Bhai Daya Singh, Gur Sobha, Prem (Param) Sumarag, Sau Sakhi, Mahima Parkash, Gur Bilas, Gur Partap Suraj Granth, Sri Guru Panth Parkash, Gurmat Parkash (Bhag Sanskaar) and the many Hukumnamey of the Gurus that are available.

Clearly, many of these sources and documents are, at least in part, apocryphal, yet they provide rare historical information on Sikh doctrine and practice. The task of the subcommittee was daunting indeed - how to sift the wheat from the chaff? How best to capture the common thread that runs through much of Sikh history while discarding what was obviously an accretion and even contradictory to the common body and continuity of doctrine and teaching?

Starting with the definition of a Sikh, in the main body of his book on Sikh Rehat Maryada, Gulshan explores briefly but methodically each line of the code and every requirement of a Sikh in his or her personal and congregational existence.

Sikhism arose and flourished in the sub-continental culture. Sikh teachings, therefore, are cast in the language and perspective that is largely Hindu. Now that Sikhism is a universal religion, we need to re-examine, even reinterpret the language in the context of our present reality.

For instance, the language in the Rehat Maryada may appear sexist in places. I point to the admonition that a Sikh father should marry his daughter to a Sikh man, while the other side of the coin - marrying his son to a Sikh woman - is not even mentioned. The Sikh Anand Kaaraj (wedding rite), as widely practiced all over the world, shows the groom leading the bride in four circumnambulations of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The former is a cultural idiosyncrasy in favor of the male; the latter may be an idea borrowed from the Hindu practice of the bride and groom circling the fire.

Such attitudes and practices might be in tune with the Panjabi-Indian culture of the last century but are contradictory to the spirit of the Sikh message of gender equality.

Also, the most cursory reading of Sikh history and of Guru Granth Sahib Ji would convince even a skeptic that the Sikh scripture and practices have been enviably tolerant and accepting of a diverse global reality and the distant beat of the different drummer to which the world's billions march. Matters of interfaith relations need clearer definition and exploration from the Sikh perspective, now that we exist in a multi-faith world.

Guru Hargobind Ji and Guru Gobind Singh Ji bequeathed to us an ecclesiastical model of justice, but we seem to have slipped our moorings, and the Sikh Rehat Maryada does not adequately address this issue.

Where is the reading of Guru Granth Sahib Ji to be concluded: at the reading of Mundavni, or Raag Maala? When the Rehat Maryada was drafted, dissenting opinions were strong, and some issues that could not be resolved were deferred. I refer readers interested in this controversy to Giani Gurdit Singh's 2003 book, Mundavni.

It is time to revisit these issues that have divided the Sikhs so long.

With several million Sikhs in the Diaspora, such matters are of critical import and not just of academic interest and curiosity.

At least some of the participants to the drafting of the code may still be alive and their recollections or papers available. Some of the contradictions or mysteries surrounding the proceedings can and should be resolved.

Considerable evidence has probably been degraded or lost already, but every attention should be directed to capturing whatever it might still be possible to capture. To neglect or lose our national history by our own carelessness would be unforgivable.

Much as constitutions of countries are not written in stone, nor are they whimsically, lightly or arbitrarily amended; similarly, the Sikh Rehat Maryada needs a constitutional convention and exploration.

Ultimately, that is the meaning of participatory self-governance.

With minor caveats, Giani Gurbaksh Singh Gulshan, in his 2005 book Darpan Sikh Rehat Maryada, does an excellent job of explaining in detail, with scriptural and historical references, the Sikh Rehat Maryada. He successfully strips it of its mystery and frees Sikhs of the fear that many have of a document they have never read and not understood. Readers will find the code surprisingly consistent and largely free of contradictions.”

The essential and central role of Gurdwara is no doubt to function as a place of congregational worship and as the functions widen, the Gurdwara also cater for weddings, Gurpurbs. Gurdwaras tends to follow very similar architectural design; the position of prakash asthan, called sanctum sanctorium, where the Sri Granth Sahib is seated in the centre as it is in Darbar Sahib allowing the devotees to go around and worship or even congregate in the Living presence of the Living Guru. It is becoming quite common to have sarowar or bathing tank near the Gurdwara or around the Gurdwara. A prominent feature of the Gurdwara is the fluted lotus dome with ornamental pinnacle. Gurdwaras have been having buildings imitating more or less the Harimandir pattern, a mixture of Indo-Persian architecture Some Gurdwaras cater accommodation for the devotees to stay and worship. Gurdwara has also become a social centre for the devotees to meet, do sewa and learn from others regarding the faith.

Sikh ideology is not a system of sainthood alone but a society of saint-soldiers, saints in mind and soldiers in action-humble, devoted, active workers and fighters in the righteousness and justice. Part of the religious aspects of Gurdwara is the ardas, the supplicatory prayer. It is so worded and so recited by the person leading the prayer with sangat solemnly standing, their hands folded and minds focused, as to remind them every time of their heritage, history and their sacrifices; at the same time pray for the Sikhs’ maan nivan, mat uchchi (humble mind and higher understanding, and at the end of the prayer to beg to Akal Purukh for Chardhi kala (high morale) and sarbhatt da bhalla meaning the well-being of the whole world.

Gurdwara is thus the hub of Sikh life, religious, ethical, social and political. The concerns of the Sikh faith are as much temporal as they are spiritual. Committees established in Gurdwara with the intention of running the services have had problems with issues of funds and political power with different parties; this may be divisive rather than unifying the community.

Both can be deliberated in sangat assembled in Gurdwara in the presence of their spiritual-cum-temporal guide, Guru Granth Sahib. In the end, it is worthy works of the philanthropy, education, social service that the Gurdwara clearly exemplifies the Sikhs’ enduring commitment to the enlightened beliefs, both spiritually and philosophically of the Ten Gurus, whose Gurbani holds Sikh congregation in thrall in each one of the noblest edifices known as the Gurdwara.

The Sikh Missionary Society has produced the following leaflet on Gurdwaras with recommended readings and details of the requirements of a Gurdwara and its significance to the Sikhs
  • The Sikh Place of Worship
  • Discipline and procedures in a Gurdwara

The following books are recommended for references
  • Sikh Reht Maryada, S.G.P.C., Amritsar, 1998.
  • Rehtnamae, Piara Singh Padam, Bhai Chatar Singh Jiwan Singh, Amritsar, 1991.
  • Gurmatt Martand Part I and Part II, Kahn Singh Nabha. S.G.P.C., Amritsar, 1979. It is a good book to learn about the Sikhi.
  • Sada Itihsa Part I, Satbir Singh, New Book Company, Jalandhar, 1971.

GURDWARA: The Sikh Place of Worship. It is called Gurdwara Sahib, which can be literally translated as follows: Gur - of the Guru; Dwara - house; and Sahib - Master, an honorific word. It is “the Revered Gurdwara” - God's place. A Gurdwara has no specific design.

Usually, at the top, it has a central bigger dome and smaller domes on sides. Identity of the place is that saffron, triangular Nishan Sahib - the Sikh flag, with its symbols and a double edged sword atop, flutters on the building, or in its yard.

Gurdwara Belongs to the Guru: A Gurdwara belongs to the Guru and the Khalsa Panth - the Sikh world i.e. the Sikh community. This is a place for everyone with no discrimination of color, caste, sex, faith, status, or country. Everyone can go there with full liberty.

An Ideal Gurdwara:
An ideal Gurdwara should have the facilities to make it a place where everyone is welcome at all hours like an honoured guest, and he or she is provided free of any cost, food, shelter, and a place to rest (including a bedding for the immediate and urgent need). Each Gurdwara may not be able to comply with all this due to local restrictions, or resources.

Purpose of Gurdwara: The essential services offered by a Gurdwara -
  • Prayer - Worship of only one God in the set and standard (traditional) Sikh-way, in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji - the Sikh Holy Book. Singing of the Holy Hymns is done, sermons are delivered, and an invocation to God for His mercy and well-being of everyone is made.
  • Langar - community, free food, served without any discrimination. This helps to learn equality of the human beings.
  • Selfless service - A Gurdwara is a place to learn and practice selfless service to the humanity (sewa).
  • Celebrations - Gurpurbs: Festivals i.e. important days of the Gurus are celebrated with devotion, and great fanfare -
  • Akhand-Path - As a set precedence, mostly an Akhand-Paath (continuous recitation of Guru Granth Sahib - the Sikh Holy Book) is done.
  • Kirtan - singing of the Holy Hymns, is performed,
  • Katha (sermon) is delivered, and it includes history of the occasion.
  • Additional Programmes - Seminars, children's competitions, and some other programmes may be organised.
  • Langar - free food after the proceedings are over, is almost an integral part of all celebrations.
  • Fire Works - on the appropriate days - the days of happy celebrations such as Diwali and Bandi di Chhor.
  • Free Drinks, Food, Articles of Need etc. - especially for the people outside the Gurdwara. Another service may be rendered collectively or individually. These do not surpass the programmes in the Gurdwara.
  • Prayer, Langar and Sewa: Prayer, Langar, and selfless service are closely linked to attain an ethical life. Everyone is equally welcome to the prayer hall, and to the Langar - dining hall. All these services are free.

Selfless service (sewa) of any sort in the Gurdwara, or out in the public, has great significance, but first comes the service to the Gurdwara; Sangat (congregation), members of the community, and it cannot be ignored or replaced with any service outside. If anyone maybe from outside your community needs a service urgently, it should be rendered with top priority ignoring your own people. In fact, there should be no discrimination in performing selfless service. However, especially for the services involving large amounts, needs of the personal community should not be ignored.

There is no binding and choice is yours. For your day-to-day and usual charities, you are the best judge and you should not be under any obligations.

Gurdwara Yard Service:
A Superior Self Service. An essential selfless service provided with a smile and devotion should be to dust, wipe, wash, and keep the Gurdwara building clean and tidy. This involves maintenance of the Gurdwara yard and parking lot.

Nishan Sahib Sewa: The Sikh flag has to be carefully maintained, and changed every year as precedence on the Vaisakhi day. It is changed earlier if it is damaged or its colour fades away too much.

Environment: Atmosphere inside a Gurdwara is of reverence, peace, love, serenity, sanctity, humility, silence, equality, tolerance, and of selfless service. Everyone has to understand, adjust, and accommodate. In case of any trespassing, beg pardon from the Guru, Sangat and the individual if any involved.

No one is prohibited to enter a Gurdwara, but it should be kept in the mind that a Gurdwara is a place of worship according to the Sikh tenets - code of ethics, precedence, procedures, and routines. No one should engage in any meaningless, negative and undesirable criticism, argument, or interfere there, even if the problem is serious and demanding immediate attention. The best is to bring your suggestions, complaints, or grievances to the notice of the management.

Contributions:
Contributions in cash or kind are welcome in a Gurdwara. These are accepted in the prayer, as well as in the langar halls. For this, the cashier, Secretary, or President may be contacted. Contribution is voluntary, and if possible, it may be liberal.

Best is to take out tithe - 1/10th of the income (daswandh), for the humanitarian purposes. Service, particularly to the Gurdwara and Sangat should be done with humility, and without recognition. Daswandh also means dedicating two and half hours to naam simran, prayers and meditation.

A very practical way is to keep some amount aside almost everyday, for such purposes. Go on adding it to a Golak - donation box. Offerings made to Guru Granth Sahib at home serve this purpose well.

Personal Collections:
Collections made personally e.g. at home, may be used for -Guru Granth Sahib Ji - For purchasing Guru Granth Sahib Ji (Holy Book), and on any item needed for its service - Peerrhee or Manji Sahib (cot), Chanani (canopy), Chaur (hair-wisp), Romalae (scarves, sheets, covers), pillows, Gutkae (mini prayer books), decoration pieces, musical instruments, Agarbattee or Dhoop (scented sticks - incandescence, or scented paste), napkins, and any items needed for prayer room may be added. Gurdwara - contributions to the Gurdwaras.Gurpurbs - celebrations of the Sikh holy days.

Parshad : offering of Parshad (sanctified food, including Karah-Parshad - the holy pudding), flowers etc. to Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

INFORMATION
The Stage: The stage should be high appropriate to the size of the prayer hall, so that it is visible to the people sitting at the back part of the hall. It should not have a back light - natural or artificial. It silhouettes the people looking towards Sangat, and makes their faces dark and indiscernible. The light should fall on the faces of those at the stage.

Palki – Palanquin: It is a wooden, metal, or masonry structure, with a raised seat to place Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and on its four pillars, there is a dome at the top. It has its own canopy under the dome, but even then the palanquin is placed under a large canopy above it. A small palanquin with dome hinders the view and it has to be large enough.

Canopy, Chandova or Chanani:
As an honour to the Holy Book, a canopy of the proper size is kept spread above it. It should fully cover the platform with raised seat of Guru Granth Sahib. It also protects from any dirt or insects etc. falling from above on to the Holy Book.

Chauree: A wisp or tail hair of Sura-Gae (yak - mountain ox) are used to make it. Now, the cheap varieties are made of plastic strands. The handle may be made of sandal or any other wood, plastic, or some metal - precious or ordinary.

Tosha-Khana (a store for precious or selected items) above the main entrance of Golden Temple, Amritsar, had a Chaur made of fine sandal-wood strands. It was offered by a Muslim devotee, perhaps from some Arabian country (needs verification). It was destroyed in attack on Harimandir Sahib in 1984.

Canopy, wisp etc. are the signs of authority and glory. The wisp is moved respectfully and gently, without making any showy movements, or gestures. It should be worked calmly. Some wisps are heavy and may need both the hands to work these.

Decorations:
The dais and stage are mostly decorated with real and artificial flowers, garlands, flower vases, weapons, mini lights, beads, ornaments, etc. A subtle scent may be used, and even applied to the cloth covers of the Holy Book. Incense is often burnt, but it should be mild, used sparsely, and should not bother the people on the stage. It should be carefully used to protect from fire. The candles and lamps should also be used very carefully. It is thoughtful to keep such things on the fireproof plates, and to have a fire extinguisher handy. Someone should keep a watch on such things. Palanquins itself, and the sheet spread down in front of it (like a train) receive most of the decoration. The stage and hall are also decorated.

Kumbh, Jote (Jyoti), Red Cloth:
During any sort of Guru Granth Sahi Ji, recitation, may be Akhand Paath (continuous recitation), these things should not be kept there. Kumbh represents Jall Devta (water god); Jote - burning lamp, is for Agani Devta (fire god); and red cloth denotes a Goddess. The Sikhs do not believe in such things. A pitcher of water with covered mouth is fine as a handy fire extinguisher. Some take this water as Amrit after culmination of the Akhand Paath (continuous recitation of the Holy Book). They drink, distribute it as Parshad, and sprinkle in and outside the house. The water not used is given to plants, so that this so called “holy water” does not go to a drain. A Joth - lamp, is good as an emergency light.

At some places (Harimandir, Amritsar), a Jot-e is kept burning in a Gurdwara, in or outside the sanctum sanctorum, and pure Ghee (butter oil) is used in it. Perhaps, it is a memorial to someone linked to that place. A Jot-e (jyoti) represents light - spirituality. Such a Jote is well revered. To keep it or not is a personal choice of the local Sangat, and is not essential in a Gurdwara.

Pictures: Use of pictures in a Gurdwara.Sikhs do not worship pictures of their Gurus or related to them. Of course, these remind the great Gurus and provide a base for our imagination. Many Gurdwaras and other holy places, or places related to the Gurus, put such pictures on the walls. It is not in a very good taste to place pictures before the Holy Granth, provided there is a place to put them elsewhere. Bowing or bowing with folded hands to a picture of the Guru with his reverence and greatness in mind, or placing an incense or flowers before it, although not appreciated, is absolutely a personal and different thing from worshipping a picture. It is great if the Guru's grandeur comes to the mind when standing before his picture, hands get folded and head bows down. If the human role models are rare or not there, at least the pictures of the Gurus can be easily had.

Worship of a picture:
It is worship of the picture if we place incense, flowers etc. before it, sing its praise, and practice other gestures of devotion before it, in place of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and make the picture the primary object of worship like a deity. The Sikhs do not practice such things, and do not worship pictures.

Frescos etc. are commonly seen even inside the historical Gurdwaras. Ancient paintings of the Gurus are also seen. We should try to derive inspiration from these pictures. Pictures or no pictures should be left to the personal choice. In a Gurdwara, Sangat can decide it. Some Gurdwaras put up pictures in the library or in a separate hall. It is a good idea for a Gurdwara to have its museum.

Statues of the Gurus are not acceptable . The Sikh world does not worship, or approve these. The Sikhs avoid purchasing, or keeping the statues of the Gurus in their homes. Anyone preparing these is not approved.

Nishan Sahib(The Sikh Flag):Unless a Sikh (Khalsa) Flag flutters on or at the place, it is not considered a Gurdwara. Hoisting a Nishan Sahib dedicates a place to the Guru, and to the Khalsa Panth - the Sikh world. It is considered holy and is honoured. It is dignity of the Khalsa, and represents spirituality and liberty of the mind and body.

This flag is saffron colored, triangular in shape, and has the Sikh symbol on it. The symbol is called Ik-Oankar, With time, Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan, also got introduced as a symbol. This has a central ring with double-edged sword in its centre, and two curved swords on its sides. The ring is sharp edged throwing weapon - quoit. Usually, both these symbols are there, one on each side of the flag.

At some Gurdwaras, especially in memory of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, for example at Paonta Sahib, the Sangat goes around Nishan Sahib singing Shabads selectively of the Tenth Guru. They do so morning and evening.

Nagara, Niqara or Dhaunsa:
Many Gurdwaras keep a Dhaunsa (Niqara, Ranjit-Nagara) - kettledrum, placed on a high stand. It is a big bowl shaped drum beaten with two sticks. It makes a booming, resonant, dull, loud sound, reaching great distance. This is a war-drum beaten to lead the soldiers to announce their approach or attack. This sound was encouraging and raised the morale as well as stamina. In a Gurdwara, A Niqara is beaten twice a day, one time at each step of Ardas - invocation, when the congregation shouts out “Waheguru,” and continuously for some time at the end of Ardas - supplication.

REQUIREMENTS
A Gurdwara should have the following facilities -
  • Library - It should be well managed, lest the books are lost. A library is very important. The Gurdwara should have a good, well-managed library. There should be no shortage of the Sikh literature and help books, particularly for children and the youth. It is important to avail the help of electronics, including Internet, and recording facilities.
  • Nursery - for better control of small children, and freedom to parents to attend Gurdwara.
  • Classroom - The Gurdwara should have a school to impart education of the faith including Gurbani (Scriptures, the Holy Hymns), history, and the Punjabi language. It should also teach the devotional music to children, youth, and also to the adults. Learning the Gurmukhi script is important if one needs to go deep into the real meanings of Gurbani. Without this, we usually get only approximations of the meanings.
  • Phonation of Gurbani. It is very important to learn phonation for correct recitation of Gurbani. Every Lagg (addendum- attachment) linked to a Gurmukhi letter effects phonation of the word, and modifies its meanings. Phonation is best learnt from someone who knows it. Where such a person is not available, the electronic media, and recordings, can help very well.

Facilities: Needed facilities in a Gurdwara
  • Check the Facilities. Before a Gurdwara-Session, and after it, the concerned persons should check the facilities and utilities to be sure that everything is working fine - trash-cans are empty, soap is there, toilet rolls are available, paper-towels are in plenty, flush is working etc. Paper towels or its roll should not be kept on the hand wash basin. Paper gets wet, spoiled and polluted.
  • Disabled Area. Facilities for disabled persons are needed. Arrangement for their sitting should be ideally located - close to the stage, keeping in the mind respect to Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
  • Sound System - If anyone desires to get the volume of loudspeakers adjusted, rather than fumbling, should approach the right person. The loudspeakers should be evenly distributed throughout the hall. The volume of loudspeakers should be ideal for everyone, including those at the rear.
  • The volume should be assessed from the rear of the Sangat. Keep in the mind that the people with hearing problems might be there.
  • Lighting - Besides usual light, the prayer hall needs a control for a subtle, cool light equally spread throughout the prayer hall.
  • Rest room - Nobody should ever go to washroom, rest room - bathroom, with naked feet. This will soil the feet and spoil carpet in the hall - it will become dirty and get polluted: environment in the hall will get spoiled. A few pairs of shoes (slippers) of different sizes should be kept there. After using rest room (bathroom), one must wash hands with soap and water to prevent spreading infection.
  • Anyone with infection e.g. flue, mumps measles, whooping cough etc. should better stay at home till recovery.

DISCIPLINE IN THE GURDWARA: Organisers and Management and Working of the trustees: It is duty of the management to take care of and observe that the discipline and procedures in the Gurdwara are maintained. For applying and watching these effectively, at least some trustees should attend all the Gurdwara functions. One or the other trustees should be there throughout the programme, and participate actively.
  • Member: Involvement of the Trustees. The management should try to involve the maximum number of the Sangat - members of congregation, and share their minor as well as major responsibilities with them. This will reduce burden of the Trustees. The approach should be of understanding, tolerance, accommodating others, compassion, humility, and of politeness, to win the confidence, respect, and commitment of the Sangat. This will also, promote in the members, universal love, unity, selfless service, and sense of sharing. It will develop in them unity, and dedication as envisioned by the Gurus.
  • The Youth: Involvement of the Youth. It is very important to involve the young youths. This is the only way to create in them an eagerness for faith, and love for Gurdwara. Sangat should be responsible for inculcating in them the pride of faith to save them from getting astray.
  • Elderly Persons: It is in no way less important to actively involve the elderly members. At least some of them may be well experienced in at least a few of the procedures practiced in the faith.
  • Sangat – Congregation; Responsibilities of Sangat.
  • The principal responsibility of the whole Sangat is to maintain the serene and holy atmosphere in the Gurdwara, more so in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Living Guru.

In the Gurdwara, everyone has to be clean, properly groomed and dressed. The body should be covered ideally. One should be humble, polite, and mentally in communion with Gurbani. The mind should be above negative traits, malice, and animosity - in the calm and pure state of mind.

One should go to the Gurdwara with full subjugation to the Guru and God to get every thing for his spiritual enforcement, and to evolve - to become an ethical entity. The Gurdwara is a Chatsal - a school, to learn the Sikh discipline, and Gurmukh-Jiwan - to spiritually evolve. As well, this is a place to learn recitation and correct phonation of Gurbani (Scriptures), Sikh history, and basics of the Sikh Culture etc. If not in a Gurdwara, then where to learn all this? It is not right to do recitation of the Scriptures incorrectly. The people, without realising or caring for their incorrect phonation, sit down even for an Akhand-Paath - continuous recitation of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Gurbani recitation should be correct. It is great that someone reads the Holy Book, may be incorrectly, but this is justified for the learning stage only, and not forever. One should aim at learning its correct recitation.

The corrections are usually done by a monitor, and mostly when one is reciting it. This is the practical and standard method. Afterwards, nobody has time to attend to such things, and as well it becomes much less effective. A correction done at the spot goes home well. This method should be fine in a limited, casual gathering, more particularly set for this purpose, and is not for a regular Gurdwara session. The local Sangat can decide on the method to be adopted.

PRAYER HALL DISCIPLINE.


Gurdwara - This is the place for the people to pray to God in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji- the Sikh Holy book, in their set Sikh way. Following is the discipline for entering the prayer hall, going to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and Sangat (congregation).
  • Entering the Prayer Hall
  • Going to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji
  • Children may be left in the nursery if this facility is available. Older children may go to the children's class, if it is held.
    • Go to the Gurdwara with clean clothes, neat and tidy. The clothes should cover the body properly and impart soberness. They should not be showy or gaudy.
    • Deep neck-cut, mid-riff (belly button showing), armless, and high or tight clothes do not seem suitable for going to the Sangat - congregation. Avoid putting on too much makeup and too many ornaments.
    • Piercing the nose, ears, etc. is not approved in the Sikh world
    .
  • Do not carry any drugs, alcohol or tobacco in its any form. Do not go to a Gurdwara after taking alcohol, tobacco, or any other drug.
  • The head should be covered.
  • Leave your shoes and socks out, in the place reserved for this purpose - a room, shoe-stands etc. If need be clean your feet. Usually, there is a small ditch (tank) mostly with the running water to clean the feet before entering the prayer hall. It does not mean anything just to dip a toe in the bowl of water - merely a purposeless ritual. Unless there is water tank to wash the feet, the freshly worn socks are mostly not removed in the usual Gurdwaras. In most of the historical Gurdwaras, the socks are not permitted. In some rare and very special situation, the local management may allow a clean, washed, or a new pair of socks, may be after washing the feet immediately before entering the premises.
    • Beepers, phones, and such distracting devices should better be off on the silence or turned off. Remove headphones - no playing of cassettes, digital or other CDs, or any other voice (music)-storing devices etc.
  • Walk to the dais with folded hands, humility, serenity and calmly. As far as possible, make some offering in coin or kind to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, bow to it, and sit down anywhere you like.

The Sikhs usually bow to the Holy Book coming down on both knees and touching floor with forehead - not that only one knee touches the floor. Of course, there is no strict discipline for it. A disabled person may not be able to bend, or go down on his or her knees. There is no restriction, but mostly, the women and men occupy two different sides of the hall. Properly located low chairs or other seats may be provided for the handicapped. Those with good health should avoid to use this facility unless essential due to some valid reason.

Traditionally, everyone sits at the same level on the floor to express equality of all. None is provided with, or tries to find a special seat to get differentiated or distinguished. Personal, incapacitating health problem is a different story.

After bowing to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, or later, devotees may offer some cash to Ragi - the devotional singer, Kathakar - professional sermon-giver. After making the offer gently, do not touch the stage before them as a gesture of bowing to them.

Nobody should ever bow to the floor or touch the feet of anyone in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Slightly bowing or a nod of head with folded hands, may be with a little smile to show respect, should be enough. No talking. Pay full attention to the recitation of the Scriptures, divine music, and other proceedings in the prayer hall. Do not talk to your neighbors. If essential, do it so that you do not disturb the others. You may go out for any long talk. Better give a written message. You cannot disturb proceedings in a formal gathering - no questions, and no discussions. You may quietly ask questions after the end of proceedings. You may question a speaker if the questions are invited. Otherwise, you can talk to him or her later at the personal level. Listen to Kirtan silently, or you may accompany it in your own heart and do not disturb others. Quite often, singing by Sangat is invited and encouraged. Control your children. Do not allow them to run about, jump, dance, shout or cry etc. Keep them calm. If needed, take the child out of the hall till he or she calms down. It is your responsibility to maintain the sanctity of the hall. If there is provision, take the child to the separate enclosure, children's center, school etc.

Whilst sitting in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, nobody stands up if someone enters the hall however great he or she may be. This will amount to insult of the Holy Book. If need be, a Sewak (an attendant - the person in service) may approach such a person and conduct him to a proper place to sit. When a distinguished person enters the hall, some may shout Jaikaras (slogans) without getting up. This too, should not be encouraged or appreciated. But, getting up is not at all acceptable. Nobody claps hands, makes inappropriate gestures, or makes any movements in the presence of the Holy Book.

A slogan should be shouted only at a reasonable, proper, and justified occasion, and not otherwise. Try utmost not to disturb the Sangat.

Many people think that it is insulting to the Holy Book if the flower-petals are showered over anyone else except the Holy Granth (Book). Some do so carefully so that the petals thrown over someone do not cross over or fall on Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

ROUTINES IN THE PRAYER HALL

Daily programmes in a Gurdwara are usually set and standard for the place, and may have the additional routines at different days. Gurdwara may be held daily, or on specific days, mostly on Sundays.

The following are the usual routines -


Recitation of Gurbani
:Prescribed Nitnem is recited in the morning, Rehras at the time of sunset or, and it is followed by Sohela (Kirtan Sohela). At home, Kirtan Sohela is recited at the bedtime, but if Rehras gets late, Sohela is as well done along with it. Reciting Sukhmani Sahib (Psalms of Peace) is an option. It makes no sense to play the pre-recorded Bani, or Kirtan, as a routine in the Gurdwara - it may be played just to fill up some free time.

Kirtan: Devotional singing. Harmonium and Tabla - a pair of drums, are the usual instruments for doing Kirtan. Occasionally, some other instruments are added, may be the Western, too. In the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, singing only of its Holy Hymns is allowed. Compositions by Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nand Lal, and very short references by the old time writers are permitted.

Katha: Katha - sermon, or preaching, mostly of the historical episode, or of Gurbani. Katha may be a routine at some places, and is usually undertaken in the afternoon. Commonly, Ragis combine Kirtan with some Katha.

Dhadi Vaars: Vaar - a ballad. Dhadi - a bard. This singing in a Gurdwara is not a regular feature. A Vaar is an episode from the Sikh history. Bards narrate these in poetry and use traditional instruments Dhad and Sarangi. The Vaar singing has its great value in raising morale and valor.

Dhad is a small hand held double-drum. Sarangi is a stringed instrument played with a bow. Guru Hargobind introduced Dhadi Vaars in his Darbar - court.

Lectures: Only the non-political talks by the scholars and others may be allowed. Politics is not a right thing in the Gurdwara where audience is almost always mixed. The people of the other faiths will be discouraged to come to the Gurdwara. The environment should always be maintained neutral, and politics can be discussed anywhere else.

Ardas:
Invocation - This is the prayer said at the end of the Gurdwara session.

Everyone has to get up for Ardas, stand calmly with folded hands, with face towards Guru Granth Sahib or its seat (where it is kept and opened in the hall). Outside, where the Holy Book is not present, the face should be towards Ardasia (one who leads supplication).
Listen to Ardas attentively and follow the Ardasia when he or she says “Waheguru,” and after him or her says the slogan at the end “Jo bole so nihaal, Sat-sri-Akaal.” -Blessed is the one who utters God is great!

If you want to repeat Ardas with Ardasia, do so only in your heart. Do not speak it out.

Bow down when Ardasia bows down, follow him to stand up and to sit down.

Ardas is done attentively and with concentration. Nobody should place money into his or her hands while he or she is doing Ardas. If there is any urgent instruction, preferably give it as a note neatly written in block letters. All those attending Ardas, should stand calmly without talking. Even if someone is holding a child in her or his arms, it is a must to stand without moving, and if it is not possible, she or he should go out of the hall and attend to Ardas from outside. .

We pray to God, through our Guru and Guru Granth Sahib Ji- i.e. the Word of the Gurus.

Hukam:
Edict of the Guru: an inspiration for the day. Hukam, or Vaak - Order, edict or the Word of Guru. The person in Tabya - in attendance, the one sitting behind the Holy Book, will read out of it the Hukam - Order of the Guru. This is recitation of a Hymn at random, usually from about middle portion of Guru Granth Sahib. Maintain an absolute silence and no talking or anything else. The same Hukam of the morning is read out throughout the day when needed.

All others should listen to it silently, reverently, with folded hands and humility. This is Hukam and we should listen to what the Guru says, and try to adopt it practically.

We commonly use the term Hukamnama, but in fact it means a written order.

Parshad
; Karrah-Parshad - Sanctified Pudding made from flour, butter, cane sugar or honey. Parshad is a blessed gift from the Guru - Waheguru, and even a small quantity of it should suffice.Parshad is taken in both hands cupped together, and not on a single hand. If the hands are not clean, it may be taken on a napkin placed in the cupped hands. Keep sitting calmly to get it in your turn. If you have been missed, you may request for it. Anyone receiving Parshad should be watchful and even if a fraction of it falls on the floor, he or she should promptly pick it up and respectfully put aside so that it does not get trampled, or it be put in the napkin for disposal. It will maintain the respect of Parshad and as well, if the carpet is there, it will be saved from getting spoiled. After partaking Parshad, everyone moves to Langar - the community kitchen if the food is to be served.

LANGAR HALL - DISCIPLINE

A Langar Hall is where the community food is prepared, served and eaten. Enter the langar hall with covered head, bare feet, and nicely washed hands. Be calm. Do not be impatient or in any hurry. Sit with others in a row. Everyone may chant together the Name of God, the True Name - “Waheguru, Satnam” etc.

Start eating when the food is served to all and a signal to eat is given. Usually the slogan is uttered “Jo bole so nihaal, Sat-sri-Akaal.”
Eat food quietly. If by chance you have been ignored, or some item has not been served, you may gently remind the people serving there, without calling aloud. You are at liberty to ask for salt, pepper, chilly, condiments, sugar etc.Take only that much which you can eat without leaving any portion. Try not to leave Jooth - uneaten portion. Eat with reverence to the Guru, and God. Some consider themselves fortunate in eating Langar, and they may take it as a Parshad- the Guru's holy gift.

After finishing, wait till others have eaten. Try to get up with the others. You may keep sitting and continue eating till you are done, get up only after you are finished, and do not mind even though other new ones have started sitting down on your sides, or in the rows. There is no need to hurry up, be calm and have your time.

Do not wash your hands or mouth into your plate, or while sitting in the row. Get up and go to wash room. For this purpose, a devotee may offer to some honored one e.g. a saint, a hand wash-basin and water where he or she is sitting. It is not good to look at.

Clean the place if something gets spilled. If the Langar Hall is carpeted, take an extra care not to let anything spill.

After eating, throw the plastic ware into the trash-bag if someone comes to collect it. If not, pick it on getting up, and dispose it off into a trash-bag or can. Someone may collect silver ware (metal) or china ware. Otherwise, throw leftover in the trash-can, take it to the sink, or to a designated place, and leave it there. You may rinse and leave it, or clean it properly as others might be doing. The best is to clean it with soap and water, or with cleaning powder. Wooden ash mixed with sand worked fine at some places in India. If dishwasher facility is available, rinse and leave such utensils there.

One should not eat, nibble or snack in the kitchen, or at its service counter.No one busy eating, should touch utensils, food, or service bowls, service spoons etc. in the kitchen, without first washing the hands with soap and water. It is convenient and nice to ask someone else to serve you rather than trying to do it your own self. At some places, or occasions, self-service is practiced, but in a proper and organised way.

This holy food; a gift from God and the Guru. The people take it with humility and eat it with reverence. Some get one or two Chapatis (Roti - flat-bread) with some Dhaal (cooked pulse food), vegetable, and take these home as Parshad for the family. Devotees may put some money into a Golak – donation box, to offer their thanks to the Lord for the food partaken, and not for its price.

PROCEDURES IN THE GURDWARA: In the Gurdwaras, discipline is important to maintain the sameness. This has been laid down in the Rehat Maryada (Code of Ethics) for the faith by the Sikh-Panth - the Sikh world. It is available in the form of a booklet from the bookstores or from S.G.P.C. The Gurdwaras of different sects may have their own modifications. The sameness encourages brotherhood and unity. At homes, the people may have some of their own choices. A Gurdwara starts its programme in the morning with the recitation of Sukhmani Sahib and singing of Asa Di Var. In the overseas countries, these are usually replaced with Jap Ji Sahib recitation. In the evening, Rehras is recited.

PROCEDURES IN THE PRAYER HALL:
The following procedures in the prayer hall are everyday routine.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib- The Sikh Holy Book;In the presence of the Holy Granth, or in the prayer hall, everyone sits on the floor, and all should be treated equally. Some special persons are invited to sit in the front, and may be on the stage itself in special celebrations. Low stools or chairs, on one side, back, or in an enclosure, should be provided for the disabled.

A thin mattress covered with a cloth sheet may be used to mark the place for Ragis - devotional singers, or for a bride and bridegroom to sit for their marriage ceremony. Ragis may sit on the stage. Some places provide a raised platform for Ragis - devotional singers, to make them visible to the congregation. Such a platform should be lower than the seat of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

It is appropriate to introduce to the Sangat, and as well to honor the distinguished visitors, guest Ragis (devotional singers), visiting speakers and new comers etc.

Nothing should be discussed, and direct questions-answers should not be allowed in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji. A question may be put with permission of the Gurdwara official conducting the proceedings. Provided the question is permissible, non-provocative, and general (not insulting, jeering or belittling in any way), may be allowed. A speaker may invite questions.

Nothing should irritate or agitate the Gurdwara Sewadars (serving others). A Sewadar (a person serving the community or sangat) who cannot adjust or accommodate, should keep off, or mould him or herself.

Parkash:
Opening the Holy Book: Bringing the Granth to the Prayer Hall. In the morning, Guru Granth Sahib Ji is brought to the prayer hall carried from its room on head, singing the Shabads - the Holy Hymns. If another person is there, he or she follows working a Chaur - hair-wisp, over it. The Granth - Holy Book, is placed on the Peerhee - cot, a low small bed.

Short Invocation:
Standing before Guru Granth Sahib Ji, a short Ardas - invocation, is said and then singing or saying appropriate Holy Hymns, it is gracefully, reverently, unwrapped and opened at about its middle. A Palak - cloth-sheet, is placed on each side of the Holy Book, its setting is checked, needed adjustments are made, and are covered with Romalas - cloth sheets, scarves. To learn, watch someone doing it.

Opening the Holy Granth: Working a wisp over it, it is uncovered again and Hukam - Order of the Guru, is read out from where it had already been opened. The Hukam, Vaak, or Shabad, is reading of a Holy Hymn at random. - mostly from about the middle part where at the Granth was opened. As well, it is commonly called a Hukamnama, but literally it means a written order.

Hukam - Inspiration: The Hukam is taken (the Holy Hymn is read) from top of the left page (right of the Granth), from its start - may be it starts on the back of this page (at the previous page). In a Gurdwara, it may be kept open at this page and covered for others to read or listen to this first Hukam of the day i.e. that of the morning. In the homes, this page is covered with a few pages from the right (left of the Book), and anyone may take a new (fresh) personal Hukamat any time. This is standard procedure, but its variations are there.

The Holy Presence : In the prayer hall, Guru Granth Sahib Ji - the Holy Book, is kept open on the raised platform, for the Gurdwara-Session. Unless someone is reading out of it, the Holy Book is covered with nice, clean, cloth sheets.

Darshan:
Beholding the Guru - Picking up cover of the Holy Book and merely looking at the page is not a `Darshan” - seeing it. The real Darshan is reading or listening to it.

Service to the Guru
: Taking this as a service to the Guru, the frame of a door and legs of the palanquin etc. should not be pressed like pressing the limbs of someone. The real service is reading the Holy Book.

Kirtan:
Devotional Music - Commonly, Waheguru (God), or Sat-Naam Waheguru (True God) is sung together by the principal (leading) singer and congregation. The congregation also participates in singing some Hymns.

Kirtan is always of the Shabads - Holy Hymns: from Gurbani. As for as possible, it should be rendered in the classical form, or in the style specifically prescribed in the Holy Book, for the particular Hymn. Most of the Ragis render it in free or open strains not bound by the musical measures. They usually devise their own styles and tunes. It is good to sing some Hymns in the usual style, and others based on Nirdharat-Raags (prescribed classical measures). A Kirtan or a katha-kirtanis usually for about one hour.

“Hallae de Shabad” style of kirtan is welcome. These are sung with gusto and force as a chorus. The Sangat joins in, and their usual instruments are Dholak or Mirdang (double sided drum), Chimtae (long tongs with bronze plates), Chhaaenae (bronze plates) and kharrtaals (wooden blocks with small bronze plates).Singing of “Jotiaan dae Shabad” - is also practiced. In this style, two groups keep singing in turn - one stanza by one, and the next by the second group. The same stanza may be repeated by both the parties. Mostly, men and women sing a stanza in turn.

Compositions by Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nand Lal, and some as references from the ancient Sikh books are permitted. The Holy Hymns should not be rendered on the tunes of the ordinary street and movie songs. By listening to such songs, wrong scenes may spring up in the mind. Neutral type, and non-political poems related to the Sikh faith and history, may be recited. Political poems may not be permitted. The Gurdwara is a place purely for worship. In general, even outside the Gurdwaras, songs composed mimicking Gurbani, and rendered like a Kirtan, should not be permitted. The people do not differentiate such singing from a Kirtan. Otherwise, songs and poems related to the Sikh faith and their singing like songs has its own value.

Katha: Preaching or Sermon -Mostly it is a talk based on Gurbani, Sikh History, or explanation of a chapter out of some standard book like Suraj-Parkash etc. It may be undertaken after kirtan, or after Hukam but before distribution of Parshad. Kathakar - the preacher mostly sits cross-legged on the floor, or in the Tabya - in service (attendance) behind the Holy Granth. The management may fix up the days and timings of such programmes.

Speech: In the presence of the Holy Book, only God, Guru, and Gurbani - Scriptures, should be discussed. Do not take up any other thing. When the Sikhs take Holy Book as their `Living Guru,” then they need to honour it that way. To maintain the sanctity of the prayer hall, it is better to discuss any other thing elsewhere, may be privately.

Any talk or discussion in the Sangat, in which a controversy can come up, should be reserved for after langar hours, so that those who are not interested or want to leave, are not delayed or deprived of the holy food.

Ardas; Sikh prayer indicating Invocation, or Supplication.
  • Chhoti Ardas - Short invocation. It is said before opening the Holy Book. It includes recitation only of the starting Paurree (step), “Ardas. Ik-Oankar Vaheguroo jee kee fat.eh. Sree Bhagaut.ee jee sahaa-ae......” to “D.assaan' Pat.shaahee-aan d.ee jot.e..... Sree Guroo Granth Sahib ..... Bolo jee Vahiguru.” To it is added a supplication to the Holy Book seeking permission to open it, and for the Guru's Hukam. The Holy Book is opened according to the set procedure, reciting Gurbani.
  • Panthic Ardas - Standard, full length invocation. After the end of the prayer-session, approved Panthic Ardas - invocation ordained by the Sikh World, is made to the open Holy Book.
  • A Panthic Ardas (full length) should be as short as possible, with no repetitions and unnecessary additions. The stanzas from Gurbani should not be quoted within the main body of Ardas. Their limited number (a few of them) may be used before it.
  • Ardas, Taking Guru Granth Sahib for Rest - Chhotee Ardas, second time. Guru Granth Sahib Ji, should not be closed till karah parshad has not been distributed.

When the Gurdwara session, or a program elsewhere is complete, a Shabad (Hymn) is recited from the Holy Book as before (from its left top), in the usual voice. It is reverently closed and wrapped in sheets. A Chhotee Ardas is said again, and a request is made to the Guru to permit taking it to the place of its rest. This Chhotee Ardas is the same as said at the time of opening the Holy Book.

After Chhotee Ardas, Sangat keeps standing, the Holy Granth is carried on the head, going around the cot (platform) from the left (anti clockwise), and it is taken to its special room. It is done in the form of a small procession, singing Gurbani, and working Chaur (moving wisp) over it. After respectfully placing it on the bed there, all say Jaikara (slogan), “Jo bolae so nihaal, Satsri-Akal.” See “Sukh Asan.”

Ardas, Offerings - It will be nice if a Chhoti Ardas is made by a Sewadar at the time when the offerings in kind are made. It will protect the Panthic Ardas from becoming too long. Local Sangat can decide it. If such offerings have to be mentioned at the end of Ardas, this should be kept very brief and free from repetitions.

Ardasia:
When doing Ardas, he or she should stand with folded hands, make no gestures, and stand calmly, but firmly. He or she should not hold in the hands a Kirpan: sword, arrow, or any other weapon while doing Ardas. Invocation projects humility, but a weapon in hand becomes its antithesis.

Parshad: Karah Parshad may be prepared by anyone, anywhere, according to its discipline, and brought to the Gurdwara, may be it is for start or Bhog (culmination) of any type of Paath (recitation) of Guru Granth Sahib, may be it is an Akhand Paath - nonstop recitation.

Parshad - Bhog Lao, Parvan Karo - In Ardas, for eatables e.g. Parshad, Langar etc., an Ardasia should not say “Bhog lao jee” - please, eat it, but should request, “Parvaan karo jee” - please, accept it - approve it.

Parshad Kirpan Bhaet - Do not pass Kirpan through Parshad after Ardas, but wait and do it after Hukam. Kirpan Bhaet means acceptance of Parshad by the Guru. Naturally, it should come after Hukam.

Distribution of Parshad: Five portions for the Panj Piyaras is taken out after naming each, and these are distributed to the Amritdhari Sikhs, or mixed back into the main Parshad (from which these portions were taken out). After this, a portion of Parshad is taken out to be kept as reserve, and then rest of Parshad is distributed. The reserve may be used by the one who is in Tabya - service, and as well be given to a visitor if Parshad is finished.

In Akhand Paath and Sampat Paath, Parshad is given to the visitors, day and night.

Raaj karae-gaa Khalsa “Ageaa bhaee Akaal kee ......, Raj karae gaa khalsaa ..... etc.”

Most of the people think that this piece of poetry belongs to the Tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh Ji which it is not. It was composed by Giani Gian Singh and is given in his book Panth-Parkash (Bhasha Vibhag Punjab, 1987), at its page 353. Later, some others added to it the lines like “Raj karega khalsaa” etc.

In Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, this piece of poetry is not sung at the end of Ardas. A Gurdwara is for everyone from any faith and many avoid singing it lest someone feels hurt. It is another thing, that some may translate Khalsa as the “pure-ones,” but in fact Khalsa means property of the King (Guru) i.e. those who have faith in the Guru (Gurmukhs - devotees).But apparently, it is taken by the most as, “The Sikhs will rule,” although it may not mean this and the real rule be of the spiritual domain.To sing the above `Dohra' - type of poetry, is not essential, but if some need to sing something after Ardas, suitable Hymns or quotes may be selected from Gurbani rather than singing a composition by anyone other than the Guru. There is no shortage of such a material in Guru Granth Sahib, and in the Bani of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. An example is -

Gagan dmamaa baajeou pareou neesaanaae ghaaou
Khaetu ju maandeo suurmaa abb joojhan ko daao
Sooraa so pahechaaneeaae ju larae deen kae haet
Purjaa purjaa katt maraae kabhoo naa chhadaae khaet.u
Kabir-1105-4



Hukam - Order of the Guru
. Hukam, or Vaak - order, edict or Word of the Guru. This is inspiration for the day. The person in Tabya - in attendance - sitting behind the Holy Book, will read out from it the Hukam - order of the Guru: a Holy Hymn at random. When taking Hukam, it should be carefully read out and attempt should not be made to say any word out of it without reading. This is to avoid any error in reading or in phonation. His Hukam (revealed Bani) should be as it is written, with no minor error even.

Hukam should be recited in a reasonably loud voice, reverently, steadily, with humility, and without any hurry. The Holy Book is opened at random, usually at about its middle, and Shabad - the Holy Hymn, is recited from its start at the top on the left side page. It may start at the back of that (previous) page, start from there.

Shabad,:
Holy Hymn,is read from its start to the end however long it may be. Some Shabads are full-page length. If it is from the area wherein the script continues without breaks, the page of the Holy book may be changed. This may also be done if the Hymn is not according to the occasion, but some do not approve it. The page-change may be made to the right or left.

Sant Nand Singh used to take three chances to get a Shabad suitable to the need. Failing in three chances to get the right Shabad (may be in yes or no); he would postpone it to the next day, if the time permitted. The professional Bhai (brother - caretaker of the Holy Granth) roughly know the areas of the Holy Book for the Shabads right for the occasions.

The right Shabad is that which takes up your need, and it may or may not be according to your desire - it may be positive or negative to your wish. Trying more than once to get the decisive Shabad is a personal choice. Usually, the chance Shabad at the very first instance is relied on, and in general the people do not accept trials.

Translation of Hukam:
If the translation of the Hukam is done, it should be direct, very short, with no elaborations, quotes and stories. If the Holy Hymn is long one, then, only its gist should be given.

Katha of Hukam:
It is different from the plain, straightforward translation of the Hukam. One may take his or her allotted time to elaborate and comment on the Shabad. It is a descriptive sermon on the Hukam. History, anecdotes, and quotations from Gurbani and other acceptable sources may be added.

Paath: Reciting Guru Granth Sahib; Reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib may be of any type or style - Sehaj Paath, Akhand-Paath, Saptahak-Paath, Sampat-Paath etc., for correct phonation of every word, it should be done by actual reading. Ladies can participate in every type of Paath. As a page marker, one may use a paper with a Shabad written on it.

Sehaj Paath - It is a Sidharan Path - routine recitation with no restriction of time or days. It is a Paath at leisure, without any hurry. There is no set discipline for it.

Akhand-Paath - continuous recitation from its start to end without any break. It usually takes 48 hours, may be slightly less or more. Some think that only Amritdharis should do an Akhand Paath. Mostly, five persons do this recitation, but there is no strict limit. It should be done after full bath including the head wash, and changing to the washed, clean clothes. Ladies can equally take part in Akhand-Paath.

Saptahak-Paath - This reading is usually from the morning to the evening, and is completed in 7 days. Two or more persons may do it. Bhog - culmination of Paath, is on the seventh day in the morning.

Sampatt-Paath - keeping in mind the motive, a certain suitable Hymn is selected from the Holy Granth. It may be written down on a paper. Paath of the Holy Book is started right from the beginning, first by reading the selected Hymn from the paper or by reciting it by heart from memory. Thereafter, this selected Hymn is recited after every Shabad (Hymn) in its sequence in the Holy Book. This selected Shabad is recited also at the end of the recitation of the Holy Book. This is continuous reading without a break and may take 7 to 10 days or even more to complete it. Any number of persons may participate in this recitation. It’s Bhog - culmination, is performed in the morning.

Bhog ceremony:
Culmination of almost all Paaths is completed before the noon. Bhog of Paath as the last ceremony on a death is commonly performed in the afternoon, but it is not necessary. Akhand-Paath even of a sad occasion is mostly completed in the morning hours.

Madh - Middle of Paath

Parshad on reaching the middle of Paath, The Holy Book, Guru Granth Sahib Ji, has 1430 pages. Its middle is considered at page No. 705. Shabad at the bottom of page is, “Aade pooran madhe pooran ante pooran Parmaesurah.”
In every type of Paath, before reaching this Shabad, a fresh Parshad is prepared, Ardas (full) is said on reaching this Shabad, and it is distributed after Kirpan Bhaet.

Langar After Paath

Mostly after Akhand Paath and Sampat Paath, Langar (food) is served to the Sangat.Langar is served may be it is the occasion of joy or sorrow, but it is not necessary and is a personal choice. Some may serve snacks, cold drinks, tea, or coffee. Langar or snacks may be served after any Paath. There is no set rule for it.

Paathee to Learn Paath-recitation
Paathee is anyone reciting Paath (Scripture). It should be a must that Paath, including recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, is learnt from someone or by any other means - audiotapes, videotapes, CDs, computers etc. The best is to get the live instructions.

Who can do a Paath?

Reading the Holy Book can be done by anyone who can and desires to do it. No restrictions. Amritdhari or not, a Sikh or anyone else, everyone can read the Holy Book. The body and clothes should be clean. Mostly, the people open the Holy Book after taking a bath, and changing to the clean clothes. If one is not well, the one may go to the Holy Book after washing the face and hands (feet), provided the body and clothes are clean. Even today, many sit down for the Raul - turn, to do Akhand-Paath, after washing the hair, taking bath and changing to the clean clothes.
Paath and women: Women can do every type of Paath including recitation of Guru Granth Sahib - Akhand-Paath or Sampatt-Paath.. The body and clothes should be clean.

PARSYAD: Sanctified Pudding

A Gurdwara where Diwan - congregation, is held daily, fresh Parshad is prepared in the morning.

Leftover Parshad.: Fresh Parshad is distributed. If some previously prepared Parshad is leftover, it may be added to the fresh left over Parshad. It can be mixed to the fresh Parshad after Kirpan-Bheat.

It is said, the leftover Parshad should not be reheated. Can it be mixed to the freshly prepared Parshad, may be yes but to the leftover fresh Parshad. These are minor things to need attention.

Parshad from another Gurdwara: Sometimes, Parshad brought to Gurdwara from any other Gurdwara (Amritsar, Hazoor Sahib, Patna Sahib etc.), is mixed with the freshly prepared Parshad and distributed in the Sangat. This way, a small quantity can be given to a large number. This mixing should be done after Ardas, Hukam and Kirpan Bhaet of the fresh Parshad.

Re-offering Parshad: Parshad once offered, should not be offered to the Guru, again. Only fresh Parshad is offered.

Source of Parshad: Parshad is prepared in the Gurdwara, but it may come prepared from anywhere. It may be sent by anyone. Condition is that it should be prepared according to its discipline - clean body, clean clothes, head covered, and recitation of Gurbani etc.

Parshad for the Odd Hour Visitors: Mostly, the Gurdwaras keep frosted Phullian - sugared puffed rice, or Patashae - small sugar-cakes, or Makhanae - sugar clusters. This is a handy Parshad for the visitors who come after the regular Parshad (Karah-Parshad) is finished.

In a Gurdwara, such a Parshad does not replace fresh Karah-Parshad usually prepared in the morning. Fresh Parshad is served after the Gurdwara sessions and if possible after other Gurdwara programmes. Everyday fresh Karah Parshad is optional for the Gurdwara where congregation is not held daily.

Pinnee Parshad (sweet cereal *****), or Panjeeree (sweet powder), are given as Parshad to keep for a long time. Chhotee-Ilaechi - green cardamoms, Kooza-Misree - sugar-crystals, or dry fruit - almonds and nuts, may be given to keep for still longer time.

Karrah-Parshad - Preparation It is also called “Tihauli Daa Parshad” i.e. prepared with equal parts of three ingredients - Ataa (wheat flour), Ghee (butter oil), sugar, and to this is added three parts of water (. Wheat flour, butter oil, sugar and water.)

Sugar - In the United States, a little bit more of sugar makes it tastier, as the beetroot sugar here is not that sweet. Some use honey, instead.

Wheat Flour - Wheat floor should be coarse and not fine or white.Parshad of pure cream of wheat does not stick together well (cohere, coalesce) and its grains easily scatter. About one third to half of Suji (cream of wheat) and coarse whole-wheat flour make a good mixture.

Ghee - Butter oil. Less of butter oil makes it dry and unpleasant to swallow. Some use butter in place of butter oil. Be careful that it is not salted. Parshad is prepared with pure butter or butter oil. Now, often, some take the liberty of using vegetable oils or hydrogenated oils, at least for the usual occasions.

Additions to Parshad: Fruits: dry or fresh, raisins, nuts, saffron, dyes, flavors, etc. are not added to Parshad. It is to maintain uniformity of the preparation, and to keep it affordable by everyone. Parshad is highly revered, it is kept covered and is touched with clean hands.

Parshad for keeping longer, while preparing, it is worked up with a ladle until grease (butter oil etc.) starts separating from Parshad.
Preparation of Parshad - Discipline

Cleanliness: Parshad is prepared after taking bath, wearing clean clothes, and with clean hands.

Cover - Head should be kept covered throughout cooking and while you are in the kitchen. No caps or hats. Have a dupattaa (length of cloth), scarf, or kaeskee (short cloth wrapped on head).

Clean Hands - No part of body, even the face, hair, or anything else, should be touched while preparing it.

Attitude - humility, reverence, and devotion should prevail. All through preparing it, Jap Ji Sahib, Gurbani (Holy Hymn) should be recited. The Jaap of “Waheguru, Waheguru,” - God, my Lord, or “Satte-Naamu Waheguru” the True Name - God, is continuously recited calmly.

Talking - No non-essential talk while cooking or serving food. Keep the mind fixed on God. Remember that you are preparing a holy food for offering to the Lord.

Eating - there should not be any eating, snacking, or nibbling in the cooking area. No one should eat at the kitchen counter. While eating outside, do not touch the cooked food or utensils without cleaning hands with soap and water.

Shoes - If need be, you can use slippers inside the kitchen. They should be reserved for the kitchen and must not be used for going to restroom (bathroom), or out of the Langar hall.

Health is not good - Do not go to Langar and do no cooking with cold, cough, fever, loose motions, or motions with cramps, or with any other infectious disease like mumps, chickenpox etc. Do not cook with injury, ulcer, boil, or eczema on hands. For a cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a napkin, look away from food and try to get away from it, dispose off napkin, and wash your hands with soap and water.

Parshad - Discipline

Parshad should not be tasted at any stage of its preparation and afterwards.
No portion of Parshad assigned to God and Guru, should be taken out for any purpose, until it has been offered to Guru Granth Sahib, and distributed after Ardas - invocation, Hukam, and Kirpan Bhaet (Kirpan passed through it).

If this discipline (cleanliness, purity, not taking or eating a portion out of it) is not observed, Parshad is rendered unfit for offering to the Guru and God, and for distribution to the Sangat.

Before distribution, Parshad should be cooled down to a comfortable level. If it is too hot, a ladle or spoon may be used to distribute it, and it may be taken on a napkin.

Rather than using naked hands, it is best to distribute it with a spoon.

When Distributing Parshad

Take care of the following -Distribution of the napkins - Hands should be washed with soap and water immediately before distributing the napkins.

Mostly children eagerly do this job. Someone should monitor them.
Parshad - It is a boon from the Guru and Waheguru (the Lord). Immediately before touching it for distribution, hands should be nicely washed with soap and water. The nails should be kept properly trimmed.

The bowl of Parshad should be held on hand and not against body. If needed, one person may hold the bowl and the other distribute it.
The server should not try to keep mixing, kneading, pressing Parshad or making ***** of it with his hand. He should take out a portion as it is, and give to the Sangat.

Generally, Parshad is distributed with naked hands. Take care that the hands are healthy and nails are cut, and no medication has been applied to them.

It may be a good idea to use thin, plastic gloves to serve Parshad.

It may be okay if Parshad is distributed with something like a service spoon, ladle etc. It is an option but a local choice. There should be sufficient persons for the distribution of Parshad in the sections of men and as well women. If the Sangat is more, some should start distributing from the entry door side - rear of the hall, also.

Parshad is distributed in equal quantity to everyone and without any prejudice or preference. All should be considered equal. Proportionately small amount may be given to the children, so that they can finish it.

No talking or saying anything while distributing Parshad. Better, wrap a cloth across the mouth. Even “Waheguru” should be said in the heart (mind), unless the mouth is covered. It prevents its pollution and infection.

No touching of any body part - not even face or hair, or anything else, when distributing Parshad.

The Holy Book should not be closed till Parshad is distributed. The Sangat should be reminded in every session to pick up Parshad falling on the floor or carpet. Parshad should not get trampled.

It is a good idea to cover the carpet with cloth sheets before the Sangat arrives, remove and wash them after their use.

Kirpan-Bhaet

Nothing eatable becomes a Guru's Parshad unless a Kirpan (small curved dagger) is passed through it. At Hazoor Sahib, Nanded, things are usually touched with an arrow.

Offering Parshad to the Lord: At the end of the proceedings in a Gurdwara, or at home, passing Kirpan through Parshad should be done after the Hukam has been taken. This use of Kirpan turns it into the sanctified Parshad - a thing accepted by the Guru, gift of the Guru. This is the Sikh way.

At Hazoor Sahib, besides Karrah-Parshad, all other offerings made by the devotees are touched with an all steel arrow after very short supplication by a Sewadar posted especially for this.

Panj-Piyare: Distribution of Parshad


First of all, five portions naming Panj-Piarae (the five loved by the Guru) are taken out in a separate small bowl. Panj Piyare. These five names are - Daya Singh ,Dharam Singh, Himatt Singh, Mohkam Singh and Sahib Singh.

Thereafter, another portion is taken in a bowl and put aside for any urgency, and for the one in Tabya (person in attendance of the Holy Book), or for any newcomer after the Parshad is finished. Parshad taken out in the name of five Panj Piyare is distributed amongst the five Sikhs in the sangat appearing to be Amritdhari, (properly inducted into Sikh faith), or it is mixed back into Parshad from which it has been taken out. Now, Parshad is distributed in the congregation, including those five who got it first.

Sodar
Sodar Dee Chaukee - In it, Rehras is recited in a Kirtan-style, in the evening at the time of sunset. After it, Kirtan Sohla is also recited.


Sukh-Asan

Guru Granth Sahib Santokhna -taking Guru Granth Sahib for rest.
Sri Guru Granth Sahib must be closed, and should not be left open overnight unless someone is reading it e.g. an Akhand-Path.

Without involving Sangat, a Shabad may be read silently once again, from top of the page on left. Palkaan - the cloth pieces hanging on two sides of the Holy Book are removed, and it is closed. If there are extra cloth strips of the short width on front and backsides of the closed Holy Book, coming from the binding, these are wrapped over the front and back of the closed Book held up (wrapped around the edge of the deck of pages). If the binding itself has a flap, it is covered over the top of the Holy Book held upwards on closing, and is not tucked inside binding. The Granth is wrapped in nicely smoothed cloth sheets.

Chhoti Ardas - a short prayer (the first Paurree - first step of Ardas and request for its retiring) is said standing before the Holy Book, and then it is placed on the head of a person and carried as a very small procession, walking around the dais from the right to left for Sukh-Asan - retiring i.e. resting of the Holy Book, all along singing together the Hymn, particularly “Jithae jaae bahae maeraa Satguru so thann suhavaa Ram Rajae (The place is blessed to which my Lord retires), or saying “Waheguru, Satnam” etc. Throughout, the Sangat keeps standing and singing. As the Holy Granth passes by the people, they reverently bow to it.

The holy Book is placed on the cot in the room. Jaikara, “Jo Bolae so nihaal, Satsri Akaal,” is shouted. After bowing to the Guru, Sangat comes out of the room, and door is closed. Everyone moves to the Langar hall to take food. After Gurdwara Session, the Holy Book should be removed to the separate room used only for it's resting, and is placed on a cot or other dignified bed. The room should be clean, and well ventilated. It should be especially for this purpose, and not used as a store and for any other purpose. It should have a canopy above Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In the room, night-light should be left on.

The Holy Granth should not be left on the cot, or in Palki - palanquin, in the prayer hall.

At homes, a nice closet or almaree is mostly used for this purpose, or it is left on the cot etc. It depends on the availability of the space and facility. The bigger Sikh homes usually have a separate prayer room.

Sohela or Kirtan Sohela


This is the last Sikh prayer for the day. It is recited as the last thing at the night before going to bed, and takes a couple of minutes. In a Gurdwara, the person closing the Holy Book in the evening recites it while closing and wrapping up the Holy Book, provided he or she knows it by heart. If need be, another person may recite or read it. If at home, recitation of Rehras gets late, Sohela may be recited along with Rehras, after it. Otherwise, it is recited before going to sleep.

PROCEDURES IN THE LANGAR:

Langar - Community Kitchen. It is a common free kitchen, and in it the food is prepared and served jointly, as a selfless (voluntary) service with a smile. If there is a kitchen, the Langar may be prepared in the Gurdwara. If not, it is brought from homes, prepared singly or jointly. The idea is to have the self-prepared food as a voluntary service, and as far as possible it should not be ordered from a restaurant. Langar is to teach selfless service with love.
  • Discipline- Langar Preparation
  • Take bath and enter the kitchen with clean clothes, and freshly washed hands using soap and water. The mind should be occupied by Gurbani - Scriptures, Shabads - Holy Hymns, or with the Name of God (Waheguru, Waheguru, Satnam etc.).
  • No portion of the food assigned to langar should be taken out for any purpose before offering it to the Guru and God, Ardas, Hukam, and passing Kirpan through preparations.
  • No one should eat inside the langar - kitchen. Keep it in the mind that when preparing langar, you are doing it for the Guru and God. The Langar-containers, or service-pots are not touched with unclean hands, and preparations are kept covered.
  • Tasting Langar - During its preparation or afterwards, Langar should not be tasted, not even for assessing its salt, spices and sugar. The preparations should have very mild chilies or peppers, so that everyone can comfortably tolerate them. Be careful even if these are green chilies. More of them can be added latter by the person eating it, according to his or her taste.
  • Salt, pepper, chilies, condiments, sugar, should also be served, like pickles or onions. After eating has commenced, salt etc, can be adjusted after asking those who are eating, or if they themselves inform about it. Mostly, the served food is accepted as it is.
  • Ardas, Kirpan-Bhaet - Invocation and passing Kirpan through all items. According to the Sikh way, passing Kirpan through them signifies their purification and acceptance by God and the Guru. It turns it into the holy food.
  • Before serving food Ardas is said. Usually, the prepared food is offered to Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and is removed from there after Ardas and touching Kirpan through every item, may be except water: a natural commodity. Ardas can be said in the kitchen, and Kirpan passed. Thereafter, all items are returned to their main containers, and service started even before the end of prayer session. Langar service may continue in the Langar hall independent of the service in the prayer hall.
  • Ready-made Preparations - Sometimes, ready-made Naans - flat breads, are ordered. Rarely, in an unforeseen emergency, vegetable pizza, or anything else like bread and butter etc., or food from a restaurant, might have to be purchased and served.
  • Langar - food, should be kept very simple, but usually it is not. Commonly, a sweet dish is also there e.g. Kheer - sweet rice pudding, ice cream, fine sweet noodles, or sweets. Some also serve tea, coffee, and maybe cold drinks as well. There is no end to Sewa - selfless service. Unless it is the Gurdwara service, the Sangat provides Langar in turn. Sweets and fruits may be brought by other devotees.
  • Condiments - Pickles, Chutneys (ketchups, pastes), onions, and other condiments may be served. Salt, peppers and chilies may also be provided.
  • Grace - Prayer - At homes, a short prayer - grace, is said by some, before and after taking food. A few suitable quotes from Gurbani are recited. In the Gurdwara langar, this tradition can be adopted to the delight of the devotees.
  • Sitting Arrangements - At some places, low chairs or other seats are provided, particularly for the use of disabled person. In some Gurdwaras, tables and may be chairs too, are there for anyone wishing to use them.

The main idea of langar is to sit at one level (floor) without any discrimination, and to eat with others. It is an effort to promote equality of all, and a step to eradicate ego.


SERVING LANGAR:
Everyone serving in the Langar will eat after the Sangat has finished eating.It is practical to spread plastic sheets on the floor in front of Pangat - rows, to place utensils or plastic ware on them. This will protect the carpet and floor.

Nothing should be served with naked fingers. Use service spoons, spatulas or ladles. The latex or plastic gloves may be used.

The glasses for water, tea etc. should be held close to their bottoms, and not at their tops. Fingers should not go inside the glasses.

Service is given with a smile, without prejudice, and all are treated equally. Service should be prompt, careful, without ignoring anyone or any item.

In Sangat, no one should be served a different food unless there is a sound reason for it e.g. some health problem. You cannot serve butter to one and give usual food to the other. The choice of selection for eating out of the served food is an individual matter. One may not like to take rice and another may not prefer a Chapatti (Roti, a flat bread). Some may like to eat condiments and onions, and others may not. Do not serve anything not accepted. Take only that which you will eat.

Give only the amount that is asked for, or only a reasonable quantity. Serve carefully that the given portion gets finished, and nothing is left over. Serve food to children in the right proportion. Their parents should also take care of this.

Do not talk while serving langar. It is ideal to keep mouth covered with cloth.

When serving, do not hold service bowls, jugs, breads, glasses etc. against your body.

When serving, put only that much portion that does not flow over to other compartments of the plate, if such plates are used.

Langar Service. Langar is supposed not to be closed, and the food has to be provided to the visitor at all hours of the day and night. But it may not be possible at every Gurdwara, especially in the overseas countries where a resident Sewadar - a volunteer e.g. the caretaker may not be available at all hours. At such places, unserved (leftover) Langar is distributed for taking home and nothing is kept for the off time service.

Sound System For Langar There should be extension of the prayer hall sound system into Langar, for the benefit of the Sewadars (workers) and Sangat there.

SERVICE: Some services.
Sewa - Selfless i.e. voluntary Service.

Sewa is selfless service and it is very important in the Sikh World. Cleaning the used utensils in Langar, and shoes of the Sangat in the Gurdwara, are the top Sewas. Help to clean the Gurdwara-building, cooking Langar and serving it, and maintaining Gurdwara-yard, are usual Sewas. Still, an important service in India is serving fresh, clean, drinking water to the people, and even to the animals. Such a water-dispensing stand is called a Chhabeel. The people render selfless service while reciting the Name of God.

Sewa-Panthee Saints - Selfless-Service Saints. One sect of saints is Sewa-Panthee - saints with selfless service as their main path. Such renowned saints have been recognised and honoured especially for renovating Gurdwara buildings, setting up educational institutions, establishing hospitals, and for physical and spiritual services to the human beings, and as well to the animals. Such great saints attained miraculous powers through their selfless services.

Sewa is part and parcel of the Sikh way of life.

The architecture and the lay out of a Gurdwara is very important. Just look at the wonderful design by Guru Ram Das Ji and it’s sarowar of Harimandir Sahib; lots of thought has gone into it. The Darbar Sahib is located on the lower level to reflect humility and for devotees to bow humbly and pay their obeisance to the Eternal Guru. As one ascends the cool marble stairs, the descend and the view of the Darbar Sahib is spectacular. Some of the newly erected Gurdwaras have taken a converse turn of events. The Darbar Sahib is upstairs and one wonders what this reflects from the original thinking of the Gurus. It is the genuine prayers by the devotees that brings the sangat together to be involved in sewa and at the same time preserving the environment by our final prayers to keep that balance. It would be tragic if the environment turns into deserts and the Gurdwaras are covered by sandunes. Before that happens, fear God and respect what is bestowed on us and preserve the eco-system that we are living in at the moment.

Inspired by Guru Nanak’s creative mysticism, Sikh architecture is a mute harbinger of holistic humanism based on pragmatic spirituality, says the prolific author SS. Bhatti:

So little has been written about Sikh architecture that it is difficult for anyone to believe that such a style of architecture exists at all. It is ironic that whereas the Sikhs are known the world over for their characteristic vigour, valour, versatility — above all, their distinct physical, moral and spiritual identity — their architecture should have remained so abjectly unidentified.

Apart from buildings of a religious order, Sikh architecture has secular building-types such as forts, palaces, bungas (residential places), colleges, etc. The religious structure is the Gurdwara, a place where the Guru dwells. A Gurdwara is not only the all-important building of the faith, as masjid or mosque of the Islam and mandir or temple of the Hindus, it is also, like its Islamic and Hindu counterparts, the key-note of Sikh architecture.

Dwara (gateway or seat) and, therefore, has an architectural connotation. Sikh temples are by and large commemorative buildings connected with the 10 Gurus in some way, or with places and events of historical significance. For example, Gurdwara Dera (halting place) Sahib in Batala in Gurdaspur district was erected to commemorate the brief stay there of Guru Nanak, along with the party, on the occasion of his marriage, Gurdwara Sheesh Mahal (hall of mirrors) in Kiratpur in Ropar district was built where the eighth Guru, Harkishan, was born, and so on. Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj (martyrs’ memorial) in Muktsar in Faridkot district commemorates the place where the bodies of the Sikhs, who were killed in the battle fought between Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Mughal forces in 1705 AD, were cremated, Gurdwara Ram Sar (God’s pool) in Amritsar stands on a site where the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, compiled the Adi Granth, the Sikh Bible, with Bhai Gurdas Ji, his maternal uncle, acting as the amanuensis.

The main requirement of a Gurdwara is that of a room in which the Adi Granth, the Holy Book, can be placed and a small sangat (congregation) can be seated to listen to the path or readings from the Holy Book and to sing and recite the sacred verses. Gurdwaras have entrances on all the (four) sides signifying that they are open to one and all without any discrimination whatsoever. This distinguishing feature also symbolises the essential tenet of the faith that God is omnipresent. In some cases, however, space restriction does not permit entry from all the four sides, as in Gurdwara Sis Ganj in Delhi.

Many Sikh temples have a deorhi, an entrance gateway, through which one has to pass before reaching the shrine. A deorhi is often an impressive structure with an imposing gateway, and sometimes provides accommodation for office and other uses. The visitors get the first glimpse of the sanctum sanctorum from the deorhi. There are over 500 gurdwaras, big and small, which have an historical past.

Darbar Sahib exemplifies deorhi, an entrance gateway, which leads the devotees to the Darbar Hall where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed.

The buildings of Sikh shrines, when classified according to their plan-form, are of four basic types: the square, the rectangular, the octagonal, and the cruciform. On the basis of the number of storeys, gurdwaras have elevations which may be one, two, three, five, or nine-storey high. One comes across several interesting variations of Gurdwara-design worked out on the permutations and combinations of the aforesaid basic plan and elevation-types.

The following examples should suffice to illustrate the above categories. Darbar Sahib at Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district is constructed on a square plan and is a single-storey structure. Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj at Muktsar in Faridkot district has one storey built on a rectangular plan. Examples of this plan-shape are extremely rare. Gurdwara Loh Garh in Anandpur Sahib in Ropar district has an octagonal plan and a single-storey elevation. Gurdwara Tamboo (tent) Sahib in Muktsar is a two-storey building constructed on a square plan, on a raised basement.

Gurdwara Chobara (room-on-terrace) Sahib at Goindwal in Amritsar district is a three-storey structure elevated on a square plan. Gurdwara Tham (pillar) Sahib at Kartarpur in Jalandhar district has square plan and five-storey elevation. Gurdwara Shaheedan (martyrs) in Amritsar was originally built as a three-storey octagonal structure. Gurdwara Baba Atal (immutable) in Amritsar, basically a smadh (cenotaph) purported to have been raised in memory of Baba Atal, the revered son of the sixth Guru, Har Gobind is a nine-storey building standing on an octagonal plan. It reminds one of Firoze Minar in Gaur.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/30839-ghar-ghar-andar-dharamsaal-transformed-into.html

Gurdwara Dera Baba Gurditta at Kiratpur in Ropar district is a square structure placed on a high plinth which has a ten-side plan. This polygonal plan-shape is quite unusual. Baolis (stepped wells) are also not uncommon in Sikh architecture. Gurdwara Baoli Sahib at Goindwal in Amritsar district is a representative example of such structures which belong to the miscellaneous class. Gurdwara Nanak Jheera in Bidar in Karnataka stands on a cruciform plan.

There are five historical shrines which have been given the status of takhts (thrones), where the gurmattas (spiritual-temporal decisions) of a binding character are taken through a consensus of the sangat (congregation). Such consensus edicts had great importance, affecting, as they did, the social and political life of the Sikh community. The five takhts are: Akal Takht, Amritsar; Harmandir Sahib, Patna (Bihar state); Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur (Ropar district); Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo (Gurdaspur district); and Hazoor Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra state). Among these five takhts, Akal Takht (the immutable throne) is the most important by virtue of its location in Amritsar, the Vatican City of the Sikhs.

As a rule, a gumbad (dome) is the crowning feature of a Gurdwara. Rarely, a shrine may be flat-roofed, as in the case of Gurdwara Guru-ka-Lahore near Anandpur Sahib in Ropar district. Sometimes, a small one-room shrine is topped by a palaki, a palanquin-like roof, derived from Bengal regional style of architecture, as can be seen in Gurdwara Tahli Sahib in village Tahla in Bathinda district. Gurdwara Bahadurgarh in Patiala district has a palaki instead of a dome as its crowning feature.

More often than not, a dome is fluted or ribbed but a plain dome has also been used in some cases, as in Manji Sahib at Damdama Sahib in Bathinda district. Several dome-shapes are to be found in Sikh shrines: torus, hemi-spherical, three-quarters of a sphere, etc. although the last-mentioned is more frequently used. The shape of the dome of Gurdwara Pataal Puri at Kiratpur in Ropar district has a remarkable likeness to the domes to be seen in Bijapur provincial style of architecture.

The dome is usually white, though sometimes gilded, as in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Darbar Sahib at Tarn Taran, and Sis Ganj in Delhi. Alternatively, in some cases, domes have been covered with brass. Usually, domes on Sikh shrines spring from a floral base, and have inverted lotus-symbol-top from which rises the kalasa. Based on Mount Kailasa, held sacred in Hindu mythology, the kalasa shoots up in the form of a cylindrical construction, often with some concentric discs, spheroids, culminating in a small canopy with pendants dangling at the outer rim.

An interesting point to note is the manner in which the dome is related to the cuboid structure of the shrine. As a rule, the lower part dominates the domical structure, and looks somewhat austere in comparison with it.

Apart from the large central dome, there are often four other smaller cupolas, one on each corner of the usually-cuboid structure of the shrine. The parapet may be embellished with several turrets, or small rudimentary domes, or crenellations, or replicas of arcades with domical toppings, or strings of guldastas (bouquets), or similar other embellishments. Minarets — the ubiquitous symbols of Mughal architecture-- are rarely seen in a gurdwara. An exception is Gurdwara Katalgarh (place of execution) at Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district which has several minarets.

A recurrent element of Gurdwara-design is the preferred use of two storeys to gain sufficient elevation for the shrine. However restrained the design may be, the elevation is usually treated by dividing the facade in accordance with the structural lines of columns, piers, and pilasters, with vertical divisions creating areas of well-modelled surfaces. The most important division is, of course, the entrance which receives more ornate treatment than other areas. The treatment often creates bas-reliefs of geometrical, floral, and other designs. Where magnificence is the aim, repousse-work in brass or copper-gilt sheeting is introduced often with a note of extravagance.

Jaratkari, intricate in-lay work, gach, plaster-of-Paris work, tukri work, fresco-painting, pinjra (lattice work) are the techniques used for the embellishment of exterior surfaces as well as for interior decoration. Jaratkari is both a very expensive and time-consuming technique of studding semi-precious and coloured stones into marbles slabs. The slabs often have florid or geometrical borders which enclose painstakingly executed in-lay work using floral shapes and patterns. Beautiful designs are made on the walls with gach which is subsequently gilded. Excellent examples of this work can be seen in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=30839

Sometimes, the gach-work is rendered highly ornamental by means of coloured and mirrored cut-glass as well as semi-precious stones. This is called tukri (small piece) work. Frescoes, depicting popular episodes from the lives of the ten Gurus, are to be found in some shrines. Designs employed are based on vine, plant, flower, bird, and animal motifs. The largest numbers of such frescoes have been painted on the first floor of Baba Atal at Amritsar. Pinjras, delicate stone grills, are used for screens, enclosures, and parapets.

Brick, lime mortar as well as lime or gypsum plaster, and lime concrete have been the most favoured building materials, although stone, such as red sandstone and white marble, has also been used in a number of shrines. The latter found use more as cladding or decorative material than for meeting structural needs for well over two hundred years. Nanak Shahi (of the times of Nanak) brick was most commonly used for its intrinsic advantages. It was a kind of brick-tile of moderate dimensions used for reinforcing lime concrete in the structural walls and other components which were generally very thick. The brick-tile made mouldings, cornices, pilasters, etc. easy to work into a variety of shapes. More often than not, the structure was a combination of the two systems, viz., trabeated, or post-and-lintel, and arcuated, based on vaults and arches. The surfaces were treated with lime or gypsum plaster which was moulded into cornices, pilasters, and other structural features as well as non-structural embellishments. Sikh architecture represents the last flicker of religious architecture in India. The Golden Temple at Amritsar is its most celebrated example as this is the only monument in which all the characteristics of the style are fully represented. Golden Temple, being the sheet-anchor of the stylistic index of Sikh architecture, may be detailed.

Almost levitating above, and in the middle of, an expansive water-body, the "Pool of Nectar" (Amrit-Sar), the Darbar (court) Sahib, or Harimandar (Lord’s Temple), as it is called, stirs one deeply with glitters of its golden dome, kiosks, parapets, and repousse-work, and the enchanting evanescence of its shimmering reflections in the pool. With the temple and tank as the focus, a complex of buildings, most of which repeat in their architectural details and the characteristics of the central structure, have come up in the vicinity of the shrine in the course of time.

Although Sikh architecture undoubtedly originated with the idea of devotion, it had to undergo rigours of compulsively transforming itself into buildings meant for defence purposes. It assumed the character of military fortification which was reflected in a number of buildings throughout Punjab. Gurdwara Baba Gurditta, Kiratpur, is a representative example of this type of Sikh architecture.

As a style of building-design, Sikh architecture might strike the lay onlooker as eclectic : a pot-pourri of the best features picked up from here and there. But it embodies much more than meets the casual eye. It shares its stringent regulation with the awesome austerity of Islam’s uncompromising monotheism. And celebrates its lush exuberance with the playful polytheism of Hinduism.

Eclecticism might have been its starting-point, but Sikh architecture has flourished to a state of artistic autonomy so as to work out its own stylistic idiosyncrasies. It is now an apt expression of spontaneous outbursts of psycho-spiritual energy that celebrates the immaculate majesty of Being within the churning melange of opposites encountered during workaday existence -- the arena for continual becoming. Inspired by Guru Nanak’s creative mysticism, Sikh architecture is a mute harbinger of holistic humanism based on pragmatic spirituality.

Sikh architecture reflects a lively blend of Mughal and Rajput styles. Onion-shaped domes, multi-foil arches, paired pilasters, in-lay work frescoes, etc. are doubtless of Mughal extraction, more specifically of Emperor-Architect Shah Jehan’s period, while oriel windows, bracket-supported eaves at the string-course, chhattris, richly-ornamented friezes, etc. are reminiscent of elements of Rajput architecture such as is seen in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, and other places in Rajasthan.

Use of water as an element of design has been frequently exploited in Mughal and Hindu architecture, but nowhere in so lively a manner as in Sikh architecture. Water becomes a sine qua non of Sikh building-design, as in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, or Darbar Sahib at Tarn Taran, and not merely an appendage to the main shrine. The Gurdwara is placed lower down than the structures in the vicinity, unlike a masjid or a mandir which are usually placed on raised platforms.

While sticking to the same basic requirements, different Sikh shrines have developed their own characteristic expressions. It may be recalled that most of the Gurdwaras are commemorative buildings, and therefore the sites, on which they have been built, had the intrinsic challenges and advantages which were more fortuitous than premeditated. Most situations have been handled with remarkable imagination and ingenuity. Eventually, no two shrines look exactly alike although there are exceptions such as Dera Sahib in Lahore, and Panja (Palm-impression) Sahib, both in Pakistan. Also, the low metal-gilt fluted dome of the Golden Temple has been copied in these two shrines as well as in the Darbar Sahib at Tarn Taran.

Sometimes, the difference in design is so great that it would be difficult to recognise a gurdwara if the standard Sikh pole-mark or Nishan Sahib were not there to help its identification. Some of the gurdwaras look more like gateways, as is the case with Fatehgarh (town of victory) Sahib, Sirhind, or like an educational institution, as is the case with Ber (berry) Sahib, Sultanpur Lodhi, or like a Rajput palace, as is the case with Gurdwara Bahadurgarh (fort of the valiant) in Patiala district, when one first encounters the shrine’s enclosing structures. But all this deviation, if somewhat baffling, does not detract one from the essentials of Sikh architecture. On the contrary it substantiates the very basis of creative freedom on which it is built.

It may be mentioned that two of the historic examples of Sikh architecture were designed by late Sardar Balwant Singh Bhatti (a selfmade man of many parts).They were Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) now in Pakistan, and Takht Sri Keshgarh, Anandpur Sahib.

Among the secular buildings of Sikh architecture, Khalsa College at Amritsar is the most outstanding example. Designed by Sardar Bahadur Sardar Ram Singh, a self-taught genius of prodigious dimensions, this institution is unsurpassed for its architectural conception, quiet nobility, and ambient exuberance. Ram Singh was conferred the coveted title of MVO (Member of the Victorian Order). The Queen of England had unqualified admiration for this Sardar’s many-splendoured creativity.

The Five Takhats, Seat of Authority are the five main historic Gurdwaras of special significance. It has both the spiritual and temporal role for the general welfare of the Sikh community. These Takhats are thus the seats of the Sikh authority, responsible for taking important and major decisions consultatively and collectively in a spirit of democracy, on behalf of and for the whole Sikh community. There are 5 Takhats and with the exception of the Akal Takhat, the rest are all associated with Guru Gobind Singh Ji. They are Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Amritsar, Takhat Sri Patna Sahib, Patna, Takhat Sri Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur, Takhat Sri Hazoor Sahib, Nanded and Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Saboo in Bhatinda. Each Takhat has it s own history and splendour. The websites and books, show pictures and details of the location of Gurdwaras throughout the world. The numbers are growing day by day as the Sikh Diaspora unfolds.

References:
Patwant Singh, Gurdwaras in India and around the world
Cole, Owen W and Piara Singh Sambhi; The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices.
Late Professor Harbans Singh, The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, Panjabi University, Patiala.
Gurmukh Singh, Historical Sikh Shrines


Daljit Singh
Boodar269@aol.com



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Kabir says..Where Gyaan Knowledge is present..so is Dharma religion...in places where Jhooth-False/untruth resides..there resides Paap-distance form Him..Where LOBH- greed avarice resides its accompanied by Kaal DEATH of conscience.where there is abundance of Forgiveness, compassion..there resides HE HIMSELF.

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