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Going to Gurudwara Very First Time!

Discussion in 'New to Gurdwara' started by Tanuki, May 12, 2010.

  1. Tanuki

    Tanuki
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    Guys,

    What's the best way to approach going to a Gurdwara for the first time? I stay in Glasgow, Scotland which has a fairly 'closed' Sikh community (if I can put it that way without offending anyone) which is obviously more cultural than religious.

    In saying that though, I was probably going to go to the second largest one rather than the largest one, given where it is. I've checked and none of the four (?) in Glasgow have any websites.

    Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

    Also are jeans acceptable? For head covering, would a simple bandana do?

    Finally, if I went one week (and this sounds like a bit of an oxymoron(?)) would they mind if I went the week after and just started to go regularly?

    In peace,

    Tanuki
     

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    #1 Tanuki, May 12, 2010
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  3. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: First time

    This is so cool! First time in a gurudwara. The rules are pretty simple. You will remove your shoes and socks when you enter, so wear shoes and socks that are easy to get off and on. (No pantyhose, if you're a women!) You'll be sitting on the floor, so wear clothing loose and comfortable and modest. (You'd have sense enough to dress modestly anyway, I'm sure.) Some older people object to people, especially women, wearing jeans. It's not against the rules, but you want to make a good first impression, right? Loose dress pants are nice. A bandana to cover the head is fine. Many Sikhs use them.

    If you'd like a complete run down, you might like to download Welcome To Our Gurdwara.

    One thing no one will ever tell you, but I think it's a good idea. If you intend to mata tek (bow) to SGGS ji, practice a bit at home. Then you will be much more confident.

    The sangat at the gurdwara will probably be very cordial and happy to see you. Some might be shy, especially those who don't speak English.

    So go and enjoy yourself. The Darbar Sahib at a gurdwara is unlike any other place I've ever been. And please feel free to return any time. Sometimes I like to just go and enjoy the Darshan of Guru ji, even though nothing else is going on.
     
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  4. Tanuki

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    Re: First time

    Many thanks for the reply,

    From what I have learned thus far of the faith, it definitely appeals to my heart and my head and so I would like to follow Sikhi.

    The thing about Gurdwara is, I am a bit nervous that if I continue to go for a few weeks that all I'm going to get is weird stares with people asking who the 'wee guy is in the corner'! What if I go and no-one talks to me? Mind you I suppose these things take time.
     
  5. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: First time

    So, you are a "wee guy"? :geeksingh:

    I cannot imagine that you would not be greeted as you come in. Almost always, someone is doing shoe sewa and as they help you there will no doubt do some introduction. Sikhs are not a taciturn bunch, in fact, we are hard to shut up.

    I know that I have occasionally visited a church and not a single soul spoke to me or seemed to notice my presence. I have never known that to happen in a gurdwara, especially if you go to the langar hall.

    I should warn you that there are a few gurdwara goers who really embarrass the rest of us. They are the taliban types who feel the need to correct any break of protocol and can be a bit rude. These are not many, but they do exist.

    Oh, and never, ever point your feet toward SGGS ji. That is considered very disrespectful.

    Please go and enjoy. Gurdwara is a great experience. And over all, we Sikhs are really mostly very nice people!.:carefreekudi::happykaur::happysingh::)
     
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  6. Tanuki

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    Re: First time

    Yeah, your typical wee Scotsman! lol

    I am looking forward to going. The whole idea of the langar though really freaks me out - I hate eating in front of people at the best of times! Perhaps I'm building this up more than I need to.

    At the end of the day, I'm going to worship God and so I shouldn't worry about other people! (he says as his stomach does somersaults at the thought of being with lots of strangers)

    Are Gurdwaras open during the week? Is it more quiet?

    Sorry about the 20 questions!
     
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  7. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Quite all right. Yes, most gurdwaras are open from early morning, usually about 6 am, as are supposed to say our morning prayers before sunrise. People wander in at all sorts of times. In fact, there is no real set day for services, as inchurches. In western countries, most people go on Sunday morning because that';s when the dominant religion worships and it's most convenient.

    I find the whole gurdwara experience much looser and more informal than churches. They tend to be a bit noisy, too.

    This video is from the Fremont Gurdwara of Sohila, bedtime prayer and putting Guru ji to bed for the night. I'm not sure why, but I am very fond of this particular video.

    YouTube - Sukh Aasan - Fremont Gurdwara Sahib - Keertan Sohila
     
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  8. ballym

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    It is a good idea to have an inviting look on the face. talk to people and let them know about your interest.make friends. you wll surely get many.
    i am surprised that none of these Gurudwaras have a website. I expect them to have a good working site with regular updates.
    This is one sure way to attract people including sikhs.
    Everyone expects to know what is going on.

    And it does not take much money or time to make one!
    many IT sikhs in England must know this for sure.
     
  9. Tanuki

    Tanuki
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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    I'm surprised they do not have a website either.

    But, Ballym, I live in Scotland not England (two very different countries although they are joined together in a union)- so it wouldn't make much difference if English Sikhs did know IT.
     
  10. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Tanuki ji,

    Maybe no website, but surely a telephone? You could get some information that way, assuming that whoever answers the phone speaks English.

    The most important things are to keep an open mind and a sense of humour. Those will serve well not only in a gurdwara, but also in life, in general.

    Lord love a duck! :veryhappykaur:
     
  11. bscheema

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    :thinkingmunda: lol my imazination hey 22ji wee guy jst go thr no need to worry
    u ll get allot of helping hands thr ...baba ji is very kind :happymunda:
     
  12. Tanuki

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Mai Harinder Kaur -

    Yeah, there is defo a phone....I think! lol I'm going to maybe pop in on a weekday first when I have time, so that it's not too busy (hopefully) just to get a feel for the place and the lie of the land! I'm hoping that there is someone there with the voice of Snatam Kaur, then all my worries will eveaporate, however, I feel that may be asking too much :cool:

    Balwinder -

    As, I said above I'll go on a weekday and see how it turns out. I have to be in Glasgow next week so I think I'll kill two birds with one stone.

    I'll call them today, and let you know what they say!
     
  13. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    I have discovered in life that about 90% of the things I worry and fret about never happen. And of the rest, about 9.99% isn't really all that bad. Gurudwara is really cool, with or without Snatam Kaur.

    I'll tell you a secret, I also avoid crowds whenever possible. But I never miss langar.
     

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  14. Tanuki

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    I hate crowds - I never used to, it's just in the last few years that I've kind of retreated into myself. This will no doubt be a good way of reclaiming my confidence.

    In relation to your post about the 'speaking english' if I call - that was why I was going to the second largest rather than largest Gurdwara, as that is in the West of the City near Glasgow Uni, so no doubt there would be a few students who attend that will be great English speakers. Probably closer to my age too!
     
  15. hpannu

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Dear Tanuki - if i am you i will just go on any day you are more comfortable with. On weekdays you might not see any students but you will get the feel of how it is inside the Gurduara Sahib ? if you go on Sunday Morning - you will definately see English Speaking people helping you out with any questions .... I will definately practise saying SAT SHRI AKAAL ( the Sikh Greeting ) at home. And when you see someone looking / staring at you just Greet them with smile and SAT SHRI AKAAL ! this will break the ice. Good Luck :thumbsupp::thumbsupp: and please write back how it went on your first visit ?
     
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  16. badshah

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Hey?? Goig to the Gurdwara is easy.....

    Just walk in side, you will see a shoe section, take your shoes off...... have bandana on head, walk inside prayer hall..... a carpet on the floor will take you to the SGGSJ ..... either side one place men sit the other women.,,,, walk up to SGGSJ put some money into the money box and then bow touching your floor on the floor.... then go and sit down
    ... there might be a guy that comes to you with a metal bowl full of prasad and he will give it to everyone, just hold you hands togather cuped open and he will drop some in you hands and then you can eat it


    About talking to people..... I have never spoken to any tom **** or harry unless I know them

    Anyway, when you want to go then just bow from where you are sitting and then walk out (there maybe a prasad man near the exit, just walk up-to him and kneel down with you two hands joined and cupped and he will give you some prasad) and go home or go and at some langar. Again no need to stike a conversation with anyone if you dont want to.... I never have, but hey I am sure people will chat to you if you need to know more.

    Thats it! :geeksingh:
     
  17. Tanuki

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    As it's my first time do I have to go and bow to the SGGS? I know it's respectful but I don't want to make a fool of myself, particularly as I'll be going alone and so will have no-one to keep me right.

    Why are things so difficult??? lol
     
  18. Mai Harinder Kaur

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Anything new and different seems difficult at first.

    Some may disagree with me, but I would say that only those who feel respect for SGGS ji should matha tek. For example, I would not expect a visiting Christian to bow, as most Christians (in my experience) respect only their own brand of religion. It will probably be noticed if you don't, but it won't be a big deal, if you act respectfully.

    But don't skip this if you do feel that respect. It's really not hard. Just kneel, put your hands on the ground for support, touch your forehead to the floor and get up. Some people like my Dad do this in a graceful motion, some klutzes never do. I cannot do it at all without the help of two strong people to help me get down and then back up since I had a major stroke. I so much wish I could!
     
  19. Tanuki

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    I do have respect for SGGS - I want to follow Sikhi, as my faith and way of life! Hence, why I obviously have to go to Gurdwara - 'the highest and the most beneficial deed is the Lord's praise the holy congregation'

    If I can ask, if someone goes to Gurdwara and believes in the SGGS as the Guru, etc - him long before that person could call themselves a Sikh (I know that technically they are) But how long before others looked on them as such? I know that for my part I will be a sahajdhari Sikh for a long while because I don't believe I can live up to the ideals of the Khalsa at this moment.
     
  20. Tanuki

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Ps sorry to hear of your stroke. My grandfather suffered one many years ago.
     
  21. spnadmin

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    Re: Going to Gurudwara Very First Time

    Tanuki ji

    I was scared too. It is OK to be frightened. Mata tek to Guru ji at the front of the sangat was particularly terrifying. So what I did I do? There are a lot of cultural issues involved and I took the western approach. (Though later I still feel foolish when I realized how western of me to do what I did.)

    But it worked.

    I found 2 people. One for gurdwara A and 1 for gurdwara B and asked them to help me with my first visit. I confessed a complete sense of being that "fish out of water." What do I do?

    You don't need to read my whole story. But just this part. Contact someone at the gurdwara and ask to talk things through before you go.
    Just see if a member of the management committee or the granthi would be willing to talk to you first when they can spare an hour during the week.Ask if there is someone who would be willing to partner with you for your first visit, go to langar with you, and introduce you to some people there that you can touch base with a second or third time around.

    I know that SPN forum member kaur-1 ji has done this many times for newbies at her gurdwara in UK.

    The other thing that someone has already stated. You do not have to start by going when the gurdwara is packed on Sunday afternoon. That is intimidating. The first time I attended I kept stepping on my chunni everytime I did mata tek during prayers and strangled myself. I was sure that the whole room saw it and was laughing at me. In the end it did not matter.

    So you can go in the evenings for rehras sahib. Maybe they even have an adult discussion group one night a week. If there is a schedule and you get to talk to someone ahead of time that will take a lot of pressure off.

    Of course if you strangle yourself with your chuni you also need a sense of humor. You should also watch Sunday Gurdwara service on Sikhet on Sunday because that is a very good introduction. The shots are from an overhead camera so you can see the entire sangat and what is going on from that angle.

    Keep us informed. Don't let life get the better of you.
     
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