Controversial Gurdwaras 'Breaking The Sikh Code' On Meat And Alcohol

Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol
By Aftab Gulzar BBC Asian Network

Some gurdwaras in the UK are going against their religion by serving meat and alcohol on their premises, according to an association of Sikh followers.

The UK Sangat, an association of Sikh followers, has started a national campaign to stop what it says is the violation of the basic principles of Sikhism.

Some Sikhs have protested, stopping one gurdwara in Edinburgh and one in Essex from going against the teachings.

UK Sangat said there were at least another 15 temples in Britain flouting the rules, which they planned to approach.

The Sikh religion forbids the use of alcohol and other intoxicants.

Sikhs are also not allowed eat meat - the principle is to keep the body pure.

All gurdwaras are supposed to follow the Sikh code, known as the Akal Takht Sandesh, which comes from the highest Sikh authority in India.
'Worldwide disrespect'

No alcohol, meat, fish or eggs are permitted on gurdwara property.

BBC Asian Network has seen video footage on video-sharing websites showing scenes inside British gurdwaras that have shocked some Sikhs.
The footage shows meat being served, bottles of alcohol and young people dancing and partying.

The UK Sangat said this was happening on the sacred ground of the temple, which was totally against the Sikh religion.

Hardip Singh is one the Sikhs leading the national campaign to stop what is described as "disrespect for Sikhs worldwide".

He said of gurdwaras violating the basic principles of Sikhism: "We can't tolerate it happening on our holy places.

"If you want to do it privately, we are not going to fight or argue with you, that's your business.

"But to tolerate it on holy places - we can't accept that."

In the past few weeks, the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Edinburgh and Grays temple in Essex have apologised for breaking the Sikh code.

The UK Sangat organised a protest at Grays temple and 250 protesters demonstrated to stop a wedding party.

The religious wedding ceremony did take place but the wedding party did not.
'Immoral income'

BBC Asian Network has contacted the both gurdwaras but they declined to comment.

The UK Sangat said the parties where alcohol and meat were being served might be happening in halls next to the gurdwara, but they were still on property owned by the temple and therefore in breach of the Sikh code.

It also fears that some of that so-called "immoral income" could then be used for the lunger - the free meals provided around the clock at the gurdwara.

The gurdwaras are run with the help of donations, but also by generating their own income, and the UK Sangat believes the code is being broken mainly to raise money.

Mr Singh, a devout Sikh, has been put forward by the congregation of protesters to talk to the temple committees.

"Greed has overtaken religious values and this is about money," he said.

"It's the mentality of making money rather than teaching spirituality, which is the job of a house of religion."

The issue has split communities, with some Sikh committee leaders wanting to continue breaking the code.

There has been some physical and verbal abuse as emotions have run high.

Kohinoor Singh from the UK-based television station the Sikh Channel said it had been broadcasting the protests.

He said: "It is at the moment one of the biggest issues for Sikhs in this country.

"It doesn't matter whether the hall is far away from the gurdwara or next door, as long as it contains meat and alcohol - that's not going to happen any more."

According to the UK Sangat, there are at least 15 other gurdwaras believed to be flouting the rules.

In the next year, the Sikh group said it would approach the temples peacefully and ask them to stop "anti-Sikh activities".



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Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

I would just like to clarify that the debate is not about these things happening in the Gurdwara but about halls owned by the Gurdwara's, often adjacent to the main building. There was a fascinating debate raging yesterday on Asian Network radio about the issue. There are 3 main schools of thought:
-The Gurdwara's involved say they are struggling to make ends meet and want other sources of revenue as the sangat do not always give enough. They also say the sangat is becoming increasingly demanding about free services being provided and this also costs.
-Many people say we need to modernise
-The campaigners say modernise but not at the expense or our principles and basic beliefs.

I'm more inclined towards the views of the campaigners but would like to add one thing. Meat eating is not banned by Sikhi, it is personal choice. See the thread "Only fools wrangle over flesh" for further discussion. Having said that meat should not be served in Gurdwara premises in the interests of inclusivity.

From this debate another one has also sprung up. Should people who keep Guru Granth Sahib Ji in their house be allowed to keep alcohol in the house?

It'll be interesting to see how things develop peacesignkaur

Randip Singh

Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

There are Gurudwara's and sects in India that serve meat as Mahaprashad, so this article is a load of nonsense.

Infact, meat was served in langaar up until the time of the 2nd Guru when Vashanites objected and threatened to boycott langaar.

If they want to ban flesh totally, ban dholkee's, leather shoes, belts etc too.

The reason why we do not have meat in langaar is ONLY because langaar is open to all and that means that some vegetarians may object.


Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

I think the editor needs to be e-mailed and corrected.

Sikhphilosophy should do a formal response.
Randip Ji,

May i request you to formally draft a response siting verifiable references. We may wanna do it urgently.

Many Thanks!


Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

The real challenge will be getting major influences in the UK changing their stand - Sikh Channel, BOSS (the national Sikh student organisation) and AKJ.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

They will not. You know there is history and context to this, and Internet forums are helping their cause. It has been brewing for more than a year. Keep in mind that these issues fester out of internal dissent over control of gurdwara management in many instances. I wish I could believe that the controversies are sincerely thought through. And....they are going after Ramgarhia temples too. These are not nice people. They have brought Sikh Channel to its knees twice this year that I can recall. Largely through public humiliation and putting them on the defensive.

Randip Singh

Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

Here is a response I have drafted.

Dear Editor,

Re:Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

I refer to the abover article written on your website written by Aftab Gulzar on the BBC Asian Network.

There are a number of errors in this article which I suggest to clear up immeadiatly.

This article claims that Sikhs are vegetarian and believe in vegetarianism. This is un true. Vegetarianism is a poersonal choice for Sikhs and according to the Sikh Code of Conduct, only Kutha meat (or ritually killed meat) is forbidden for a baptised Sikh. Non-baptised Sikh are free to eat whatever they choose.

Only point about meat and alcohol in Sikh temples. There are old and established Sikh temples in India, that actually serve meat as part of the communual meal. These are old and established temples and serves the meat as Mahaprashad, or consecrated food.

The reason for keeping langar or the Sikh communual kitchen vegetarian is purely because that this meal s open to all. In order to avoid upsetting non-meat eaters, it was deemed to keep the langar vegetarian.

Lastly, I would like to submit a list of websites and references for you to consult further before writting up such inacurate information.

Yours faithfuly

Sikh Philosophy Network

This is my first stab at this. Please change it if you wish and submit it on behalf of SPN.



1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

Randip ji

Quite thorough. On the money. I would include the two sections from the SRM where the issue of meat is brought up, ritually slaughtered meat, and also the section on langar, as verbatim quotes, with citations. They are not long, and it adds an authoritative content to your letter.

Consider adding a sentence that alerts any reader that those behind these antics have decided to follow a personal rehats that are creations of sects within Sikhism. I would not include Wikipedia as references.
Re: Temples 'breaking the Sikh code' on meat and alcohol

Randip Singh Ji,
You have done significant research in the suject. Thank you.
I could not open the Pdf document (can you please check it could be my system at fault) and I wonder if it is necessary to put the Kuttha meat document in, as Rehat Maryada says it is forbidden.


Cleverness is not wisdom
Dear all

Interesting thread

At the risk of muddying the waters, I recall seeing a fairly prominent notice in one of the Glasgow Gurdwaras with a fairly lengthy list of prohibited practices including amongst many other things, consumption of meat, alcohol and cigarettes

Until I read this thread, I was not aware that there were Gurdwaras serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian langar


1947-2014 (Archived)
Dear all

Until I read this thread, I was not aware that there were Gurdwaras serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian langar

Seeker9 ji

In many instances the gurdwaras, that do serve non-vegetarian, do so in halls adjacent to the Gurdwara and nowhere near Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. They do this to raise funds to support gurdwara activities.

In some cases, alcohol and dancing are permitted at these affairs - again outside of the range of Darshan of Guruji.

This may be redundant of something said elsewhere on the thread. However, there are posses of self-appointed "beadbi watchers" who have been making the rounds in UK, and enforcing the "panthic way of life," by way of promising to demonstrate outside of a gurdwara unless their wishes are granted. One can ask if the pot is calling the kettle black.

Nowhere in the SRM is the consumption of meat forbidden. Only halal to amritdhari Sikhs. Alcohol is forbidden. The practice of serving only vegetarian is according to tradition, going back to Guru Angad Dev ji. There is no other dietary restriction.
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