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Thinking of visiting a Gurdwara

Discussion in 'Questions and Answers' started by Quantonium, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. Quantonium

    Quantonium
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    Hello again, friends!

    I am delving longer and longer into sikhism, and I am just becoming more facinated.. I'm thinking of going to my local Gurdwara, in Oslo (Norway), so I was wondering: Is there something I should remember when going there?
    i.e Should I have my hair in some kind of wrap, or does not this matter?

    In advance, thank you!
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    These are links to threads here in New to Sikhism -- taken from the blog of Sukhmandir Kaur on About.com. They are excellent and contain very fine photos to illustrate what is happening.


    1

    [​IMG] Langar - The Free Kitchen - A simple overview This thread is dedicated to newcomers to Sikhism or anyone else who may want to know more about the tradition of langar. The first post is again from the About.com blog of Sukhmander Khalsa. If you click on the pictures you will see a larger version of the photograph and a brief description of what is happening at each stage or preparation of langar and the langar itself. Langar is pronounced lun' ger. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :thumbup: ...

    2
    [​IMG] Gurdwara - What to Expect - Prayers and Hukamnama This is the second part of a set of threads devoted to understanding what is happening when you first visit a Gurdwara. The images and text are taken from the About.com blog of Sukhmandir Kaur Khalsa.

    3

    [​IMG] Gurdwara - What to Expect - A simple overview Sangat ji There are topics that many newcomers to Sikhism ask about frequently. The first visit to a gurdwara is something that I have noticed causes a little case of nerves. It is understandable because when a religion is completely new -- and when services fall completely outside of one's past experiences - well, a person just doesn't want to feel stupid, act in ways that are culturally offensive, or be so baffled that nothing is learned A gurdwara which is the Sikh place of...
     
  4. spnadmin

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    This is a bare bones description of what to expect. There are some important points that are missing. Others I tried to edit so you will understand that in some sangats variations occur. My comments are in blue.

    Visiting a Gurdwara


    From SikhiWiki

    Visiting a Gurdwara - SikhiWiki, free Sikh encyclopedia.[​IMG] [​IMG]


    All visitors to a Sikh Gurdwara should be aware of the following guidelines when visiting (most gurdwaras):

    • Please dress appropriately so that you can comfortably and with decency sit on the carpeted floor. It is recommended that all visitors to the Gurdwara wear loose fitting clothing which covers most of your legs. Low hanging or tight-fitting pants/trousers may not be suitable. Please try sitting on the carpeted floor at home for a short period to see if the clothing is suitable.

    • All visitors entering the Main Prayer Hall, called the Darbar Sahib and the Dining (Langar) Hall will have to remove their shoes and place them in the shoe racks provided. Shoes can be stored away usually in a room off the entrance hallway just as you enter from the front door. There are cubby holes where you can place your shoes. You should also remove your socks or stockings, however, you may spot some people still in socks regardless.
    You will also wash your hands and dry them. A sink, maybe more than one sink will also be near the entrance. First take off your shoes and socks, store them, and then wash your hands.

    • Strictly No Smoking is allowed in the vicinity of the Gurdwara premises. Visitors cannot enter the Gurdwara while under the influence of Alcohol or Drugs. You should not take cigarettes or tobacco with you into the premises or smoke while near the Gurdwara or soon before going into the Gurdwara.

    • All visitors MUST cover their heads while in the main Gurdwara areas ie: (Darbar Sahib and Langar Hall) A turban is not necessary. Head scarves are provided in the general vicinity of the sinks where you wash your hands.
    [​IMG] Head covering for men/boys will normally be available in the Gurdwara but a large knotted handkerchief is acceptable. (The Gurdwara may provide handkerchief sized cloth to cover the head). Other hats and caps (eg baseball-style caps) may not be appropriate (please check with the Gurdwara officials). Sikh men normally wear a Turban.
    Women/Girls will need to wear a headscarf. The Gurdwara usually has a box of scarves, but you could bring your own headscarf for this purpose. Sikh ladies usually wear a "Chunni", which is normally a long, flowing semi-transparent plain cloth with a decorated, veiled edging.

    • Chairs are not provided in the Gurdwara and so, when sitting, this will be on the carpeted floor both in the Main Prayer Hall (Darbar Sahib) and in the Langar Hall. (A few chairs may be available in the Langar Hall for visitors who have difficulty sitting on the floor due to old age or other medical conditions).
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    View of a near-empty Langar Hall (Dining Hall) inside a Gurdwara.



    • On first entering the large prayer room (called the Darbar Sahib), a small bow to the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book) shows respect to the host community. Backs should not be turned on the Guru Granth Sahib or the soles of the feet pointed towards the Sikh holy book when sitting on the carpet. It is normal to sit cross-legged yoga style. It may be a good idea to practise this at home if possible before your trip to the Gurdwara.

    • Visitors will usually be offered Kara Parshad (sweet flour and oil based food offered as a gift) in the worship hall, which is usually given in cupped hands and eaten with the right hand. If you are uncertain about your ability to eat a lot of this food – Say “very small portion” to the Sewadar (volunteer) serving the Kara Parshad. You should take a small plastic bag (or ask for one from the Sewadar (volunteer) serving the Kara Parshad) to save your Kara Parshad if it is not to your taste – Please do not refuse it or throw it away. This actually happens at the very end of the service, after the kirtan, sermon or katha, reading of the hukamnama, Ardaas, recitation of shabads.

    • You may be offered Langar (vegetarian food from the communal kitchen). If not too certain about consuming this food you can ask to be excused although most people should take langar as it is regarded as a blessing by the Guru. When in the [[Langar Hall], it is better to ask for less rather than take too much and waste the food. Say “very little” to the Sewadar (volunteer) serving the Langar. This is a little bit extreme if you ask me. The sevadars will actually check with you to see if you want a little or a normal portion. If you require more later, just wait for the Sewadar to come around.

    Langar will be offered in a different room or area of the Gurdwara. Chances are you will past the langar hall on your way to the Darshan Sahib.
    You should definitely go to langar. If the congregation is Punjabi speaking you will probably not be invited because of the language difference. But it is expected that you will partake of the langar.
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    Excellent article attached! Very well produced document. :star:
     

    Attached Files:

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  7. spnadmin

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    Quantonium ji

    To answer your specific question about head-covering. I am guessing your are a male. For men there are usually an ample supply of head scarves -- typically orange -- as you ender the Gurdwara, and to your left. These can be tied pirate-style. You will see other men, who do not wear turbans, wearing them. So don't be embarrassed, and you will see how to tie them.

    For women, a head scarf is fine. It can be tied. Or a woman can also wear a large, rectangular scarf draped over her hair.

    If you need more step-by-step direction as to how to enter the Gurdwara and what to do from the time of entry to your first encounter with Guruji, just ask. Either I or another member can "walk" you through it. I actually visited a gurdwara off-hours and asked the assitant granthi to show me what to do before going to an actual service my very first time.

    In addition the video from New Mexico covers some of the process of approaching Sri Guru Granth Sahib, bowing, kneeling down (matah tek) and then making a respectful turn to find a place to sit.
     
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  8. Quantonium

    Quantonium
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    Ah, great info! Thank you very much. I see I'll have to read up on this thoroughly before I attend a serivce, but I believe it be very interesting to listen to one!
     

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