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Visit To Sikh Gurdwara

Aug 19, 2008
25
36
Staten Island, NY
Hello, It's been quite some time since I've been on here.
I have recently moved, and live in Staten Island, NY. I noticed that there is a Sikh Gurdwara (hope I got that right), that seems easily accessible by train. I have been tempted to visit, but am feeling rather awkward/shy about how to go about this. I have read where all are welcome in a gurdwara, but still wonder if I should call first to see if it's o.k. In this day and age, I find that most places of worship are locked, due to crime. It is a shame, but that's how it is, so I wouldn't want anyone to think I was lurking, snooping or whatever if I just showed up.
I have never been to a gurdwara, and I have a particular interest in Sikhism, as it coincides with many of my beliefs, and most of all, seems to have good common sense, which is the most important thing to me, being of a practical nature. So, if anyone has advice on how I should go about this, I would appreciate it. Thanking you in advance.
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

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Jan 29, 2011
1,496
2,169
Vancouver, Canada
I would just say go right in and pray, that's how things should ideally be. Some of the new people get stares, but it is funny no one comes and talks to them. Better find out someone to talk to and accompany you before you go in. He will get you familiarized in a way. You can surely go in, take your shoes off and talk to people in men's shoes area, telling people you are here for the first time, to help you keep in line with the formalities. I have a friend in NYC and if you want, he can meet you up and take you.
 
Aug 19, 2008
25
36
Staten Island, NY
Thank you, that was very nice of you to offer your friend to help me, but I wouldn't want to put your friend out. He would have to travel out to Staten Island, and I'm not sure I would want someone doing that for me. I guess I will just take my chances and take the train out there some day and wing it. Are you sure about leaving my shoes in the men's area though? I am a woman.
Once again, thank you for your help and kind offer.
 

Ishna

Enthusiast
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May 9, 2006
3,249
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Sat Sri Akal bhenji!

It is always a little easier to call before you attend, that way you can have someone show you where to go, where to sit and what to do.

Of course, you can go on your own and it shouldn't be any problem.

Here's some tips just off the top of my head... I'm not sure how much you already know so please forgive me if you already know this stuff:
  • Wear modest clothes (you'll need to bow so if you've got something to cover your bum it will help you feel more modest
  • Be clean (d'uh hehe)
  • Take something to cover your head with (a scarf or a bandana)
  • Take a serviette in your bag, you'll need it after you've eaten the karah prashad (sweet mushy thing they'll give you to eat at the end of the service)
  • Don't get there right at the beginning of the service, make it 30 minutes in or something so people will be there before you
  • You can take a bag inside with you (I was worried about this on my first visit!)
  • When you get inside, put your shoes wherever the other shoes are
  • Wash your hands (andy our feet if they're dirty)
  • Go to the main prayer hall
  • Walk down the 'runway' to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji - it doesn't matter if they're playing music or speaking from the Granth Sahib or the stage (but if they're speaking facing Guru Granth Sahib with their back to the audience then wait at the door)
  • If there's a lineup of people praying and bowing just get in line and wait your turn
  • When it's your turn, pop your donation into the money box (golak) - it will be where you bow or within arms reach
  • Then bow (as in, on your knees then touch your forehead to the ground)
  • Get up and go sit down on the ladies side of the prayer hall.
  • Copy everything they do after that. Usually no one gets up without bowing from where they're sitting
  • At the end, follow everyone to the langar hall and eat your lunch. Sometimes you get in line and take a plate and take the plate to people who put food on it. Sometimes you just walk in and sit down and they bring a plate and then food to you where you sit.
You can go home whenever you like.
Smile! You can say 'Sat Sri Akal Ji' to anyone you see.
With luck someone will start talking to you.
With even more luck they'll get you helping with cleaning up or something.

I really hope you enjoy your visit! Do come back and tell us how you go. :happykudi:
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

Writer
SPNer
Jan 29, 2011
1,496
2,169
Vancouver, Canada
Are you sure about leaving my shoes in the men's area though? I am a woman.
Am really sorry for the faux pas! I posted via mobile and didn't notice you were a lady. All the best.

Nice points Ishna ji, here is a pic of Sikh girls sitting in Gurudwara.
http://www.benravilious.com/photos/20070513_DSC_5705.jpg
It is advisable to go in jeans or trousers, with half sleeves.

Donation can be any amount (even a cent) and its voluntary. You can go visit even without the intent of donating. (The money is used to maintain the Gurudwara premises and community services)

And yes, if you meet some young lady, do tell them you are new. I think they would be happy to help and guide you around. All the best again.
 

Admin

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Jun 1, 2004
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5,230
SPN
Welcome Back! welcomemunda

I think mostly Sikh Gurudwaras in US are open only on Sundays, so you would like to plan your trip accordingly. On that day you can experience the congression and also whatever they do... The service usually starts at 11..AM local time. And all the best!

Gurfateh!
 
Aug 19, 2008
25
36
Staten Island, NY
Thank you so much for all the information. I wear long skirts, and always dress modestly, so no problem there. I found so much of the information you gave me so very interesting, some of which I knew, but a lot of which I didn't. To tell you the truth, I am extremely nervous now about approaching at all. I will have to give it further thought. I have a picture in my head of doing something totally stupid, like on I Love Lucy, and disaster ensuing. Perhaps I will just stick with reading for a bit.
Thank you so much though for all the info. People here are so kind and helpful.
 

Ishna

Enthusiast
Writer
SPNer
May 9, 2006
3,249
5,184
Bhenji (sister), I didn't mean to put you off with information overload. It's really not as scary as it sounds! But I hear you on the nerves. I've been going for over a year now and I still get nervous. :D

But it's worth the experience. Just keep your head covered and people are just most likely to ignore you and you can observe, no worries.

But you'll go when you're ready. :)
 

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