Welcome to SPN

Register and Join the most happening forum of Sikh community & intellectuals from around the world.

Sign Up Now!

First visit to a Gurdwara!!

Discussion in 'New to Gurdwara' started by Ishna, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Oh I'm so excited! This Sunday I'm going on my first ever visit to a Gurdwara!

    *jumps around*

    I'm so nervous! I e-mailled the Gurdwara, and I've arranged with someone there to meet me. He's taking a chunni for me to wear and is going to show me how to wear it. It probably sounds lame that I don't know how, but I've never even been much of a scarf person in general. It's sort of embarrising.

    I'm also concerned about my clothes. The man said in the email that I can wear loose jeans... one of my housemates says, "Well, those jeans you're wearing are a bit tight," while the other says, "Yeah, but they're also loose..." so I hope they're okay.

    To be on the safe side I went shopping for a nice long shirt that would reach down below my butt... I only found one and it was really tight and uncomfortable. I did find one at home that I forgot I had, but it's got a fairly wide neck. I hope that's not going to be a problem. I'm counting on the chunni covering my neck and stuff.

    I'm not so concerned really... I mean it's my first visit, hopefully I'll get a better idea of what to wear after seeing the other ladies there.

    *takes a few deep breaths*

    OH!! And I'm terrified of approaching Sri Guru Granth Sahib... I mean I desperatly want to, I'm drawn to the idea... but I don't want to giggle, and I've never really bowed at anything... and what's this I hear about prostrating? I mean I don't have a problem with that, but I've never done it before!!

    Aaahhh!!! *hides under her desk until Monday*

    ---

    And thus concludes the insane, nervously excited ramblings of your resident Aussie noob to Sikhi.

    Oh I forgot!! I hope the langar isn't very spicy!!! *hyperventilates*
     
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Loading...

    Similar Threads Forum Date
    My First Visit to Gurdwara in a Decade! Inspirational Stories Oct 10, 2013
    USA Gurdwara shootout: Badal visits US, hit with federal lawsuit by Sikh group Breaking News Aug 9, 2012
    Visit to Sikh Gurdwara Questions and Answers Jul 17, 2012
    Sikh News First Turbaned Sikh officer of Canadian Air Force visited Halifax Gurdwara Breaking News May 28, 2010
    Thinking of visiting a Gurdwara Questions and Answers Nov 21, 2009

  3. Arvind

    Arvind
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    2,365
    Likes Received:
    379
    Dear Ishna,

    Your writing brought tears to my eyes. Reason: with the excitement, fear and LOVE, you are looking forward to see Guru Sahib, this longing is very inspirational.

    Looking forward to chunni reminded me the day I wore my turban for the first time. I so much wanted to do it, and was feeling so good and tried to show off - look at my turban... and still better.. give some nice Comments.. LOL :))

    Only thing which comes to my mind which I want to tell any visitor is - Do not start judging Guru Sahib or Dharma by looking at people (sometimes they are exact opposite of the teachings), just see what wonders those teachings could bring, and have brought already.

    Gurbani - Dhur ki Bani

    Please share your experience after your visit.

    Sincerely, Arvind.
     
    • Like Like x 6
  4. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Hi Arvind,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I'm home now from my first visit! I'll share the experience with you.

    I got there early, before many people were there. In fact I was one of the first in the darshan hall. But when I first arrived I went to meet the guy I who was expecting me, only it turned out he was actually a SHE! I didn't know the name "Balbir" was unisex! Hahaha

    Anyway, she gave me a chunni/dupatta to wear, just a short one so it would be easier to manage, showed me where to wash my hands and then took me upstairs to the darshan hall.

    And I kinda messed up. *blush* But I know what to do next time!

    But the hall was absolutely beautiful! And the... erm.. palki?... where SGGSJ was was decorated with pretty embroidered sheets of cloth. The place where you put your money wasn't directly in front of where you bow, which I was expecting. Instead there were two recession-sort of things to either side.

    Anyway, instead of taking me up the middle and showing me how to bow, Balbir showed me the room and took me straight over to where the kirtan is sung (she was performing today) and got me to sit down while she went to bow and stuff.

    Anyway, after a little while the people started coming in and continued to come in for the next two and a half hours until SGGSJ was taken away.

    One man accidently came in without a rumaal and one of the kirtanees got up and ran over to him. He looked so embarrissed.

    The entire service was in Punjabi with the only English being a translation of the hukamnama. So I barely understood a word of it, but it was still good.

    Good also was the prashad!!!

    After that of course we had langaar where Balbir introduced me to some of her relatives, girls around my age and we chatted and ate and exchanged details and yeah.

    All in all a positive experience and I will be going back.

    However. There always has to be a "however".....

    I was one of three women wearing western clothes. I felt very out of place. Balbir and the girls I met spoke to me separately about obtaining a salwaar kameez, which are beautiful garments and I would indeed like to get one. I'm sure I'd feel more comfortable at gurdwara, and one of the girls assured me that it wouldn't be seen as "pretentious".

    Oh and as far as I could tell I was one of two westen women to attend....

    And that is about all I can think of to say about the whole thing right now. I was suprised at how many men are shaven, but I was equally suprised at the number of men wearing dastaars. :)

    If anything else comes to mind then I'll let you know!
     
    • Like Like x 6
  5. Arvind

    Arvind
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer Contributor Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2004
    Messages:
    2,365
    Likes Received:
    379
    You have come a long way jio... very proud of you

    Guru ang sang ji
     
    • Like Like x 6
  6. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    I want to visit one. I have asked several friends to take me. I DON'T want to go alone 1st time...I am terrified of making a horrible social faux pas. I'm pretty shy actually.

    It all depends on which friend is available soonest which works with my schedule. ;-)
     
    • Like Like x 5
  7. AngloSikhPeace

    AngloSikhPeace United Kingdom
    Expand Collapse
    SPNer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2013
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    290
    There is no faux-pas for new people, Sikhs are friendly and tolerant of all. I went alone the first time and everybody was generous, even though I was a Musalman then. And the langar hall especially is open to everyone in the world, that is its purpose in fact. :)
     
    • Like Like x 6
  8. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    I keep hearing that...and I don't doubt it BUT I am nervous still and shy. I would feel better about myself if I went with someone.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  9. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Namrita ji, try calling the Gurdwara beforehand, you can arrange to meet someone there and they will take your under their wing. It's pretty hard to stuff up in a Gurdwara - the worst thing you can do is go into darbar sahib without your head covered, basically, and don't take anything naughty inside with you (booze or smokes but I'm sure you already know that!). The very least people will just tell you what you gotta do, they're not going to demand you leave or anything. :motherlove:

    I'm really shy too so I know how it feels, and I still get nervous now although I've been going to a few years. But that's just me being scared of people, the Gurdwara itself and the people there are fine. :)
     
    • Like Like x 5
  10. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    Dhanvaad Ishna ji.

    I could call them up but I do have a few friends willing to go with me; might as well do that. Unless we just "never manage to get around to it"...
     
    • Like Like x 2
  11. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    • Like Like x 2
  12. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    Dhanvaad, I read a lot of that with interest.

    One reason I want to go with someone at least the first time, other than being nervous of doing something wrong (now that I've read a bit more I have even more idea of what to expect but STILL...), is to distract me and keep me happier. I fully anticipate, based on how I come to tears easily when thinking about visiting, that I could end up bawling when I visit one. I don't know, maybe I wouldn't, but I've been struggling a lot lately with my beliefs, identity and what to think of what happens after life. I don't know that I'll find any answers particularly in a Gurudwara but I do often have tears come to my eyes easily when I think of going there. The kinder complete strangers are to me the more emotional it makes me feel and the more likely it is to happen. :-/
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    I think they will be kind to you namritanevaeh ji ... just smile at someone... ask a question... it is a very relaxing experience... you won't make any mistakes.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  14. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    Just an update, I did finally go to a gurdwara yesterday morning. I had a delivery of some promised hot sauce for a friend who makes jalebis there Sunday mornings. :) I didn't speak to anyone except my friend however and didn't stay too long. As I said...I'm pretty shy. I had a mug of ਚਾਹ but no food. I will go again but I am not sure I will go alone still. My friend from yesterday said maybe next time he'll ask a lady I also know from elsewhere to accompany me and keep me company. That would be appreciated since I found myself with tears dripping down my nose once. It wasn't a bad experience, I need to do this for me, but I'm also pretty fragile and having someone along with me would make a difference I think. I did get a major compliment on my reading of Gurmukhi script though. I read some aloud to my friend who later said I put many Canadian born Indians to shame haha. That made me feel somewhat successful at least! ;-)
     
    • Like Like x 6
  15. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
    Expand Collapse

    Leader

    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    1,779
    I still remember the first time I went to the Gurdwara... I was so scared of doing something wrong or what people would think of me. Boy was I wrong! In many (ok almost ALL) ways it's actually more relaxed an atmosphere than say a Christian church. Less rigid... you can come and go freely to the Diwan Hall.

    Just start talking to people. Ask questions to show your interest and they will be happy and amazed at your interest. I have made so many friends since I started going there and I am so glad I made that first move. I totally go on my own now... a good way to get comfortable is to jump in and just help with langar... do some seva. Not only will the Sangat look good upon you for it, it will actually break the ice for you and make you feel comfortable sooner... I know it did for me! Even though my rotis still to this day are lopsided :)
     
    • Like Like x 6
  16. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    I'M just actually so painfully shy about going up to ppl & starting conversations. If someone introduces me I'm happy to talk. I can be quite talkative. But I don't like initiating. :( One of my faults.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  17. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    Did I mention I've been several times to Gurdwara now? I'm growing much more accustomed to it and feeling less out of place. I usually go to where I happen to know someone, at the same time he's there usually. Just a friend on hand *in case* I'm misunderstood somehow. But the past 2 sundays (I go early sunday morning like 7:30-8 am until around 9:30-10) I have been doing seva in the kitchen washing dishes for langar. I felt like I was kind of being useless hanging around, almost as if I was "loitering". I like the kirtan and stuff I hear there, it's peaceful but I would rather be *doing* stuff than feeling out of place doing nothing. ;-) So I asked my friend if I could help and was informed of course I could and no one needs to ask...but being the shy type I really wanted to be introduced etc., which he did graciously. I plan on keeping on going. Maybe someday I'll build up the courage to say something more than 1 word or 2 in Punjabi. I messed up a word last week which didn't help me feel more confident... ;-)
     
    • Like Like x 5
  18. Ishna

    Ishna
    Expand Collapse
    On hiatus
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    2,942
    Likes Received:
    5,002
    Namrita bhainji

    This is me to a T!!! I get spooked when I'm there and there's enough people drying dishes, enough people washing dishes, enough people everywhere, and I TOTALLY feel like I loiter, by the bench with my bag, glancing around the kitchen like a dork. Then I quickly go home. haha. Or I wander around with determination so it looks like I'm going somewhere on purpose, from the noticeboard to the kitchen to the stairs back to the kitchen... It really is awkward when you're not part of the group.

    One thing I find strange about the Gurdwara is wanting to spend time in darbar sahib meditating or just chilling out, or sitting there reading from a gutka. The first time I did that, Gyani ji was like "what are you doing?" and I told him and he was like "okaaay....". People don't really do that, apparently. Now I don't do it at all. :-/
     
    • Like Like x 5
  19. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
    Expand Collapse
    1947-2014 (Archived)
    SPNer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Messages:
    14,551
    Likes Received:
    19,200
    ishna ji

    From more experience the gurdwara is a place of congregation - and congregational prayer, not individual contemplation. However there are exceptions. Smaller gurdwaras that are open 24/7 do not rule out quiet time with the Guru.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  20. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
    Expand Collapse
    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2012
    Messages:
    209
    Likes Received:
    296
    I thought I might update a bit. I've actually been regularly visiting a gurdwara since almost around about this time, when I finally worked up the courage to do so. The first time I set foot in one, was to take a gift to a friend. I didn't stay for long but he showed me around a bit. I went to another one or two that were different, in my area. I never ate anything much though until four or five visits into it when I started doing sewa. I go every Sunday morning really early, somewhere between 6:30-7:30 and wash dishes for an hour or so...and then eat. I do it not because I'm religious but because I believe in the goodness of langar and what it gives the community, but I also feel it's wrong of me to go in and only take, and never give back. I often sit a while and listen to kirtan or other sounds ("sermons"?) and I find it peaceful. I found it VERY hard the first 2-3 times I went; I was in tears several times...due to my own issues I've been working through, depression and what not. I also didn't want to do things wrong. I WAS actually approached once by a sardar who told me something less than positive about an aspect that made me upset. But on the whole I have had mostly good experiences. There are a few regulars who say hi to me and smile, everyone knows me as the only gori who comes to do sewa. One sweet old granny-ji is just my favourite person...she always asks if my kids are ok.

    The gurdwara I go to is the same one I first took a present to my friend at. I go there for two reasons. 1) many of the sangat don't speak a lot of English. I hear more punjabi to practice then. The lovely granny doesn't speak to me in English ever...if she understands it I do not know. I say some very small sentences to her in punjabi sometimes but I'm still very shy. Once it took me half an hour to work out what to say, pre-rehearsed and then I recited it to her finally. I think she understood though. And the second reason is my friend who I took the gift to is a regular there, at that time. He is not a close friend by any stretch of the imagination, not someone I'd get coffee with regularly or anything. I nod hello to him if he's looking up or sometimes he comes to say hi very briefly if he has to wash out something at the sink but really I mostly don't talk to him much while there. As much as I want to learn punjabi, as I also explained to him once, I don't go to "gossip and chat" either. The fact of the matter is, in a place where I still consider I could have some misunderstanding (and have had a minor one or two), especially where lots of people don't have as much English, I feel much safer having someone I know who can help if there is any issue that needs translating.

    All in all though, I've learned a lot about Sikhi both from there and from one of the regular members here who is also a dear "pen pal friend" (cyber buddy) and last week I actually even took two Muslim friends with me (a couple) to the gurdwara. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and he even donated some money because he said it is evidently a very good cause...sewa and langar and all that. :)
    :tablakudi:
     
    • Like Like x 7
  21. Harkiran Kaur

    Harkiran Kaur Canada
    Expand Collapse

    Leader

    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    1,779
    I look back now, and I can hardly believe how far I have come!!!

    Not only have I successfully integrated myself in the sangat here... they ask where I am and if I am ok if I happen to not make it one Sunday. I usually try to help make rotis, or if I stay later I sometimes help dry dishes (we have a dishwasher so no need to wash by hand). Sometimes, depending who is doing the langar that week, thinsg will be forgotten like setting out spoons with the trays etc. So any time I notice something amiss, I jump up and grab what is needed without even thinking anymore. I guess that's my military training in practice... use initiative and never wait to be told to do something, always try to notice the small things and resolve them myself instead of waiting for someone else to. That has over time earned me a lot of respoect there I think. (though thats not why I do it)

    Now.... I am one of only two girls who tie a dastar in the sanget here. I have stopped wearing most jewelry (aside from my medic alert necklace) though I do still wear nice salwar kameezes. Even out in public I tie dastar now, and I am doing Amrit soon (~10 weeks from now I will be Amritdhari). Sikhs here locally know me now... most of them. If they see me in public they all say hello, and more recently instead of Sat Sri Akal, they greet me with Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh - they all know I am taking Amrit soon.

    I am lucky because it's a small community here, and they are such very nice people and I feel so fortunate that they have accepted me. But really, Sikhi is for the whole world, not just Punjabis, and though they do not try to convert people, they still acknowledge that fact and accept anyone who wants to live this path.

    As for feeling odd because there are enough people helping with langar etc. Just remember not everyone has to do every time. Just as long as you do sometimes, thats ok. Ideally if everyone pitches in sometimes, each person would only have to do every second or 3rd time they went. Instead, use the time to talk to others. If the Gurdwara has a library, then ask to see books you can borrow etc. or ask questions you would like to know answers to. Bug thing is just interact!

    Gurfateh!
     
    • Like Like x 5

Share This Page