The Sikh Place of Worship
Discipline and procedures in a Gurdwara
The following books are recommended for references -
Sikh Reht Maryada, S.G.P.C., Amritsar,
Rehtnamae, Piara Singh Padam, Bhai Chatar
Singh Jiwan Singh, Amritsar, 1991.
Gurmatt Martand Part I and Part II, Kahn
Singh Nabha. S.G.P.C., Amritsar, 1979. It is a good book to learn about
Sada Itihsa Part I, Satbir Singh, New Book
Company, Jalandhar, 1971.
The Sikh Place of Worship
It is called Gurdwara Sahib, which can be literally translated
as follows: Gur - of the Guru; Dwara - house; and Sahib - Master, an honorific
word. It is �the Revered Gurdwara� - God's place. A Gurdwara
has no specific design. Usually, at the top, it has a central bigger dome
and smaller domes on sides. Identity of the place is that a saffron, triangular
Nishan Sahib - the Sikh flag,, with its symbols and a double edged sword
atop, flutters on the building, or in its yard.
Gurdwara Belongs to the Guru
A Gurdwara belongs to the Guru and the Khalsa Panth -
the Sikh world i.e. the Sikh community. This is a place for everyone with
no discrimination of color, caste, sex, faith, status, or country. Everyone
can go there with full liberty.
An Ideal Gurdwara
An ideal Gurdwara should have the facilities to make it
a place where everyone is welcome at all hours like an honored guest, and
he or she is provided free of any cost, food, shelter, and a place to rest
(including a bedding for the immediate and urgent need). Each Gurdwara
may not be able to comply with all this due to local restrictions, or resources.
Purpose of Gurdwara
The essential services offered by a Gurdwara -
Prayer - Worship of only one God
in the set and standard (traditional) Sikh-way, in the presence of Guru
Granth Sahib - the Sikh Holy Book. Singing of the Holy Hymns is done, sermons
are delivered, and an invocation to God for His mercy, and well-being of
everyone is made.
Langar - community, free food, served
without any discrimination. This helps to learn equality of the human beings.
Selfless service - A Gurdwara is
a place to learn and practice selfless service to the humanity.
Celebrations - Gurpurbs: Festivals
i.e. important days of the Gurus are celebrated with devotion, and great
Akhand-Path - As a set precedence, mostly
an Akhand-Paath (continuous recitation of Guru Granth Sahib - the Sikh
Holy Book) is done.
Kirtan - singing of the Holy Hymns, is
Katha (sermon) is delivered, and it includes
history of the occasion.
Additional Programs - Seminars, children's
competitions, and some other programs may be organized.
Langar - free food after the proceedings
are over, is almost an integral part of all celebrations.
Fire Works - on the appropriate days -
the days of happy celebrations.
Free Drinks, Food, Articles of Need etc. - especially
for the people outside the Gurdwara. Another service may be rendered collectively
or individually. These do not surpass the programs in the Gurdwara.
Prayer, Langar and Sewa
Prayer, Langar, and selfless service are closely linked
to attain an ethical life. Everyone is equally welcome to the prayer hall,
and to the Langar - dining hall. All these services are free.
Selfless service of any sort in the Gurdwara, or out in
the public, has great significance, but first comes the service to the
Gurdwara, Sangat (congregation), members of the community, and it cannot
be ignored or replaced with any service outside. If anyone may be from
outside your community, needs a service urgently, it should be rendered
with top priority ignoring your own people. In fact, there should be no
discrimination in performing selfless service. However, especially for
the services involving large amounts, needs of the personal community should
not be ignored. There is no binding and choice is yours. For your day to
day and usual charities, you are the best judge and you should not be under
Gurdwara Yard Service
A Superior Self Service
An essential selfless service provided with a smile and
devotion should be to dust, wipe, wash, and keep the Gurdwara building
clean and tidy. This involves maintenance of the Gurdwara yard and parking
Nishan Sahib Sewa
The Sikh flag has to be carefully maintained, and changed
every year as a precedence on the Baisakhi day. It is changed earlier if
it is damaged or its color fades away too much.
Atmosphere inside a Gurdwara is of reverence, peace,
love, serenity, sanctity, humility, silence, equality, tolerance, and of
selfless service. Everyone has to understand, adjust, and accommodate.
In case of any trespassing, beg pardon from the Guru, Sangat and the individual
if any involved.
No one is prohibited to enter a Gurdwara, but it should
be kept in the mind that a Gurdwara is a place of worship according to
the Sikh tenets - code of ethics, precedence, procedures, and routines.
No one should engage in any meaningless, negative and undesirable criticism,
argument, or interfere there, even if the problem is serious and demanding
immediate attention. The best is to bring your suggestions, complaints,
or grievances to the notice of the management.
Contributions in cash or kind are welcome in a Gurdwara.
These are accepted in the prayer, as well as in the langar halls. For this,
the cashier, secretary, or president may be contacted. Contribution is
voluntary, and if possible, it may be liberal.
Best is to take out tithe - 1/10th of the income,
for the humanitarian purposes. Service, particularly to the Gurdwara and
Sangat should be done with humility, and it should not be labeled a charity.
A very practical way is to keep some amount aside almost
everyday, for such purposes. Go on adding it to a Golak - money box, pot,
or a carton. Offerings made to Guru Granth Sahib at home serve this purpose
Collections made personally e.g. at home, may be used
Guru Granth Sahib - For purchasing Guru
Granth Sahib (Holy Book), and on any item needed for its service - Peerrhee
or Manji Sahib (cot), Chanani (canopy), Chaur (hair-wisp), Romalae (scarves,
sheets, covers), pillows, Gutkae (mini prayer books), decoration pieces,
musical instruments, Agarbattee or Dhoop (scented sticks - incandescence,
or scented paste), napkins, and any items needed for prayer room may be
Gurdwara - contributions to the Gurdwaras.
Gurpurbs - celebrations of the Sikh holy
Magazines - subscriptions to papers and
magazines of the Sikh faith or community.
Parshad - offering of Parshad (sanctified
food, including Karrah-Parshad - the holy pudding), flowers etc. to Guru
Charities - for helping others, and for
Books - For adding religious books to your
The stage should be high appropriate to the size of the
prayer hall, so that it is visible to the people sitting at the back part
of the hall. It should not have a back light - natural or artificial. It
silhouettes the people looking towards Sangat, and makes their faces dark
and indiscernible. The light should fall on the faces of those at the stage.
Palki - Palanquin
It is a wooden, metal, or masonry structure, with a raised
seat to place Guru Granth Sahib, and on its four pillars, there is a dome
at the top. It has its own canopy under the dome, but even then the palanquin
is placed under a large canopy above it. A small palanquin with dome hinders
the view and it has to be large enough.
Canopy, Chandova or Chanani
As an honor to the Holy Book, a canopy of the proper size
is kept spread above it. It should fully cover the platform with raised
seat of Guru Granth Sahib. It also protects from any dirt or insects etc.
falling from above on to the Holy Book.
Tail hair of Sura-Gae (yak - mountain ox) are used to
make it. Now, the cheap varieties are made of plastic strands. The handle
may be made of sandal or any other wood, plastic, or some metal - precious
Tosha-Khana (a store for precious or selected items) above
the main entrance of Golden Temple, Amritsar, had a Chaur made of fine
sandal-wood strands. It was offered by a Muslim devotee, perhaps from some
Arabian country (needs verification). It was destroyed in attack on Harimandir
Sahib in 1984 AD.
Canopy, wisp etc. are the signs of authority and
glory. The wisp is moved respectfully and gently, without making any showy
movements, or gestures. It should be worked calmly. Some wisps are heavy
and may need both the hands to work these.
The dais and stage are mostly decorated with real and
artificial flowers, garlands, flower vases, weapons, mini lights, beads,
ornaments, etc. A subtle scent may be used, and even applied to the cloth
covers of the Holy Book. Incense is often burnt, but it should be mild,
used sparsely, and should not bother the people on the stage. It should
be carefully used to protect from fire. The candles and lamps should also
be used very carefully. It is thoughtful to keep such things on the fireproof
plates, and to have a fire extinguisher handy. Someone should keep a watch
on such things.
Palanquins itself, and the sheet spread down in front
of it (like a train) receive most of the decoration. The stage and hall
are also decorated.
Kumbh, Jote (Jyoti), Red Cloth
During any sort of Guru Granth recitation, may be Akhand
Paath (continuous recitation), these things should not be kept there. Kumbh
represents Jall Devta (water god); Jote - burning lamp, is for Agani Devta
(fire god); and red cloth denotes a goddess. The Sikhs do not believe in
such things. A pitcher of water with covered mouth is fine as a handy fire
extinguisher. Some take this water as Amrit after culmination of the Akhand
Paath (continuous recitation of the Holy Book). They drink, distribute
it as Parshad, and sprinkle in and outside the house. The water not used
is given to plants, so that this so called �holy water� does not go to
a drain. A Jote - lamp, is good as an emergency light. At some places (Harimandir,
Amritsar), a Jot-e is kept burning in a Gurdwara, in or outside the sanctum
sanctorum, and pure Ghee (butter oil) is used in it. Perhaps, it is a memorial
to someone linked to that place. A Jot-e (jyoti) represents light - spirituality.
Such a Jote is well revered. To keep it or not is a personal choice of
the local Sangat, and is not essential in a Gurdwara.
Use of pictures in a Gurdwara
Sikhs do not worship pictures of their Gurus or
related to them. Of course, these remind the great Gurus and provide a
base for our imagination. Many Gurdwaras and other holy places, or places
related to the Gurus, put such pictures on the walls. It is not in a very
good taste to place pictures before the Holy Granth, provided there is
a place to put them elsewhere. Bowing or bowing with folded hands to a
picture of the Guru with his reverence and greatness in mind, or placing
an insense or flowers before it, although not appreciated, is absolutely
a personal and different thing from worshipping a picture. It is great
if the Guru's grandeur comes to the mind when standing before his picture,
hands get folded and head bows down. If the human role models are rare
or not there, at least the pictures of the Gurus can be easily had.
Worship of a picture. It is worship of the
picture if we place incense, flowers etc. before it, sing its praise, and
practice other gestures of devotion before it, in place of Guru Granth
Sahib, and make the picture the primary object of worship like a deity.
The Sikhs do not practice such things, and do not worship pictures.
Frescos etc. are commonly seen even inside
the historical Gurdwaras. Ancient paintings of the Gurus are also seen.
We should try to derive inspiration from these pictures. Pictures or no
pictures should be left to the personal choice. In a Gurdwara, Sangat can
decide it. Some Gurdwaras put up pictures in the library or in a separate
hall. It is a good idea for a Gurdwara to have its museum.
Statues of the Gurus are not acceptable
- the Sikh world does not worship, or approve these. The Sikhs avoid purchasing,
or keeping the statues of the Gurus in their homes. Anyone preparing these
is not approved.
The Sikh Flag.
Unless a Sikh (Khalsa) Flag flutters on or at the place,
it is not considered a Gurdwara. Hoisting a Nishan Sahib dedicates a place
to the Guru, and to the Khalsa Panth - the Sikh world. It is considered
holy and is honored. It is dignity of the Khalsa, and represents spirituality
and liberty of the mind and body.
This flag is saffron colored, triangular in shape, and
has the Sikh symbol on it. The symbol is called Ik-Oankar < With time,
Khanda-Chakkar-Kirpan, > also got introduced as a symbol. This has a central
ring with double-edged sword in its center, and two curved swords on its
sides. The ring is sharp edged throwing weapon - quoit. Usually, both these
symbols are there, one on each side of the flag.
At some Gurdwaras, especially in memory of Guru Gobind
Singh e.g. at Paunta Sahib, the Sangat goes around Nishan Sahib singing
Shabads selectively of the Tenth Guru. They do so morning and evening.
Nagara, Niqara or Dhaunsa
Many Gurdwaras keep a Dhaunsa (Niqara, Ranjit-Nagara)
- kettledrum, placed on a high stand. It is a big bowl shaped drum beaten
with two sticks. It makes a booming, resonant, dull, loud sound, reaching
great distance. This is a war-drum beaten to lead the soldiers to announce
their approach or attack. This sound was encouraging and raised the morale
as well as stamina.In a Gurdwara, A Niqara is beaten twice a day, one time
at each step of Ardas - invocation, when the congregation shouts out �Waheguru,�
and continuously for some time at the end of Ardas - supplication.
A Gurdwara should have the following facilities -
Library - It should be well managed, lest
the books are lost. A library is very important. The Gurdwara should have
a good, well-managed library. There should be no shortage of the Sikh literature
and help books, particularly for children and the youth. It is important
to avail the help of electronics, including Internet, and recording facilities.
Nursery - for better control of small children,
and freedom to parents to attend Gurdwara.
Classroom - The Gurdwara should have a
school to impart education of the faith including Gurbani (Scriptures,
the Holy Hymns), history, and the Punjabi language. It should also teach
the devotional music to children, youth, and also to the adults. Learning
the Gurmukhi script is important if one needs to go deep into the real
meanings of Gurbani. Without this, we usually get only approximations of
Phonation of Gurbani. It is very important
to learn phonation for correct recitation of Gurbani. Every Lagg (addendum-
attachment) linked to a Gurmukhi letter effects phonation of the word,
and modifies its meanings. Phonation is best learnt from someone who knows
it. Where such a person is not available, the electronic media, and recordings,
can help very well.
Needed facilities in a Gurdwara
Check the Facilities. Before a Gurdwara-Session,and
after it, the concerned persons should check the facilities and utilities
to be sure that every thingis working fine - trash-cans are empty, soap
is there, toilet rolls are available, paper-towels are in plenty, flush
is working etc. Paper towels or its roll should not be kept on the hand
wash basin. Paper gets wet, spoiled and polluted..
Handicap Area. Facilities for handicapped
persons are needed. Arrangement for their sitting should be ideally located
- close to the stage, keeping in the mind respect to Guru Granth Sahib.
Sound System - If anyone desires to get
the volume of loudspeakers adjusted, rather than fumbling he or she should
approach the proper operator. The loudspeakers should be evenly distributed
throughout the hall. The volume of loudspeakers should be ideal for everyone,
including those at the rear. The volume should be assessed from the rear
of the Sangat. Keep in the mind that the people with hearing problems
might be there.
Lighting - Besides
usual light, the prayer hall needs a control for a subtle, cool
light equally spread throughout the prayer hall.
Restroom - Nobody should ever go to washroom,
restroom - bathroom, with naked feet. This will soil the feet and spoil
carpet in the hall - it will become dirty and get polluted: environment
in the hall will get spoiled. A few pairs of shoes (slippers) of different
sizes should be kept there. After using restroom (bathroom), one must wash
hands with soap and water to prevent spreading infection.
Anyone with infection e.g. flue, mumps measles, whooping
cough etc. should better stay at home till recovery.
Organizers and Management
Working of the trustees
It is duty of the management to take care of and observe
that the discipline and procedures in the Gurdwara are maintained. For
applying and watching these effectively, at least some trustees should
attend all the Gurdwara functions. One or the other trustees should be
there throughout the program, and participate actively.
Involvement of the trustees.
should try to involve the maximum number of the Sangat - members of congregation,
and share their minor as well as major responsibilities with them. This
will reduce burden of the trustees.The approach should be of understanding,
tolerance, accommodating others, compassion, humility, and of politeness,
to win the confidence, respect, and commitment of the Sangat. This will
also, promote in the members, universal love, unity, selfless service,
and sense of sharing,. It will develop in them unity, and dedication as
envisioned by the Gurus.
Involvement of the Youth.
It is very important to involve the youth. This is the
only way to create in them an eagerness for faith, and love for Gurdwara.
Sangat should be responsible for inculcating in them the pride of faith
to save them from getting astray.
It is in no way less important to actively involve the
elderly members. At least some of them may be well experienced in at least
a few of the procedures practiced in the faith.
Sangat - Congregation
Responsibilities of Sangat
The principal responsibility of the whole Sangat is to
maintain the serene and holy atmosphere in the Gurdwara, more so in the
presence of Guru Granth Sahib, which is considered the living Guru.
In the Gurdwara, everyone has to be clean, properly groomed
and dressed. The body should be covered ideally. One should be humble,
polite, and mentally in communion with Gurbani. The mind should be above
negative traits, malice, and animosity - in the calm and pure state of
One should go to the Gurdwara with full surrender to the
Guru and God to get every thingfor his spiritual enforcement, and to evolve
- to become an ethical entity.The Gurdwara is a Chatsal - a school, to
learn the Sikh discipline, and Gurmukh-Jiwan - to spiritually evolve. As
well, this is a place to learn recitation and correct phonation of Gurbani
(Scriptures), Sikh history, and basics of the Sikh Culture etc. If not
in a Gurdwara, then where to learn all this? It is not right to do recitation
of the Scriptures incorrectly. The people, without realizing or caring
for their incorrect phonation, sit down even for an Akhand-Paath - continuous
recitation of Guru Granth Sahib. The Gurbani recitation should be correct.
It is great that someone reads the Holy Book, may be incorrectly, but this
is justified for the learning stage only, and not for ever. One should
aim at learning its correct recitation.
The corrections are usually done by a monitor, and mostly
when one is reciting it. This is the practical and standard method. Afterwards,
nobody has time to attend to such things, and as well it becomes much less
effective. A correction done at the spot goes home well. This method should
be fine in a limited, casual gathering, more particularly set for this
purpose, and is not for a regular Gurdwara session. The local Sangat can
decide on the method to be adopted.
PRAYER HALL DISCIPLINE
Gurdwara - This is the place for the people to pray to
God in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib - the Sikh Holy book, in their
set Sikh way. Following is the discipline for entering the prayer hall,
going to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, and Sangat (congregation).
Entering the Prayer Hall
Going to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib
Children may be left in the nursery if this facility
is available. Older children may go to the children's class, if it is held.Go
to the Gurdwara with neat, tidy self, and clean clothes. The clothes should
cover the body properly and impart soberness. They should not be showy
or gaudy. Deep neck-cut, mid-riff (belly button showing), armless, and
high or tight clothes do not seem suitable for going to the Sangat - congregation.
Avoid putting on too much makeup and too many ornaments. Piercing the nose,
ears, etc. is not approved in the Sikh world.
Do not carry any drugs, alcohol or tobacco in its any
form. Do not go to a Gurdwara after taking alcohol, tobacco, or
any other drug.
The head should be covered.
Leave your shoes. and socks out, in the place reserved
for this purpose - a room, shoe-stands etc. If need be clean your feet.
Usually, there is a small ditch (tank) mostly with the running water to
clean the feet before entering the prayer hall. It does not mean anything
just to dip a toe in the bowl of water - merely a purposeless ritual. Unless
there is water tank to wash the feet, the freshly worn socks are mostly
not removed in the usual Gurdwaras. In most of the historical Gurdwaras,
the socks are not permitted. In some rare and very special situation, the
local management may allow a clean, washed, or a new pair of socks, may
be after washing the feet immediately before entering the premises.Beepers,
phones, and such distracting devices should better be off, or left out.
Remove headphones - no playing of cassettes, digital or other CDs, or any
other voice (music)-storing devices etc.
Walk to the dias with folded hands, humility, serenity
and calmly. As far as possible, make some offering in coin or kind to Guru
Granth Sahib, bow to it, and sit down anywhere you like.
The Sikhs usually bow to the Holy Book coming down on both
knees and touching floor with forehead - not that only one knee touches
the floor. Of course, there is no strict discipline for it. A handicapped
person may not be able to bend, or go down on his or her knees.There is
no restriction, but mostly, the women and men occupy two different sides
of the hall. Properly located low chairs or other seats may be provided
for the handicapped. Those with good health should avoid to use this facility
unless essential due to some valid reason.Traditionally, everyone sits
at the same level on the floor to express equality of all. None is provided
with, or tries to find a special seat to get differentiated or distinguished.
Personal, incapacitating health problem is a different story.
After bowing to Guru Granth Sahib, or later, a devotees
may offer some cash to Ragi - the devotional singer, Kathakar - professional
sermon-giver. After making the offer gently, do not touch the stage before
them as a gesture of bowing to them.
Nobody should ever bow to the floor or touch the feet of
anyone in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. Slightly bowing or a nod of
head with folded hands, may be with a little smile to show respect, should
be enough. No talking.
Pay full attention to the recitation of the Scriptures,
divine music, and other proceedings in the prayer hall.
Do not talk to your neighbors. If essential, do it so
that you do not disturb the others. You may go out for any long talk. Better
give a written message.
You cannot disturb proceedings in a formal gathering
- no questions, and no discussions. You may quietly ask questions after
the end of proceedings. You may question a speaker if the questions are
invited. Otherwise, you can talk to him or her later at the personal level
Listen to Kirtan silently, or you may accompany
it in your own heart and do not disturb others. Quite often, singing by
Sangat is invited and encouraged.
Control your children. Do not allow them to run about,
jump, dance, shout or cry etc. Keep them calm. If needed, take the child
out of the hall till he or she calms down. It is your responsibility to
maintain the sanctity of the hall. If there is provision, take the child
to the separate enclosure, children's center, school etc.
While sitting in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, nobody
stands up if someone enters the hall however great he or she may be. This
will amount to insult of the Holy Book. If need be, a Sewak (an attendant
- the person in service) may approach such a person and conduct him to
a proper place to sit. When a distinguished person enters the hall, some
may shout Jaikaras (slogans) without getting up. This too, should not be
encouraged or appreciated. But, getting up is not at all acceptable.
Nobody claps hands, makes inappropriate gestures, or
makes any movements in the presence of the Holy Book.
A slogan should be shouted only at a reasonable, proper,
and justified occasion, and not otherwise. Try utmost not to disturb the
Many people think that it is insulting to the Holy Book
if the flower-petals are showered over anyone else except the Holy Granth
(Book). Some do so carefully so that the petals thrown over someone do
not cross over or fall on Guru Granth Sahib.
THE PRAYER HALL
Daily programs in a Gurdwara are usually set and standard
for the place, and may have the additional routines at different days.
Gurdwara may be held daily, or on specific days, mostly on Sundays. The
following are the usual routines -
Recitation of Gurbani
Prescribed Nit Nem is recited in the morning, Rehras at
the time of sunset or, and it is followed by Sohela (Kirtan Sohela). At
home, Kirtan Sohela is recited at the bedtime, but if Rehras gets late,
Sohela is as well done along with it. Reciting Sukhmai Sahib is an option.
It makes no sense to play the pre-recorded Bani, or Kirtan, as a routine
in the Gurdwara - it may be played just to fill up some free time.
Devotional singing. Harmonium and Tabla - a pair of drums,
are the usual instruments for doing Kirtan. Occasionally, some other instruments
are added, may be the Western, too. In the presence of Guru Granth Sahib,
singing only of its Holy Hymns is allowed. Compositions by Bhai Gurdas,
Bhai Nand Lal, and very short references by the old time writers are permitted.
Katha - sermon, or preaching, mostly of the historical
episode, or of Gurbani. Katha may be a routine at some places, and is usually
undertaken in the afternoon. Commonly, Ragis combine Kirtan with some Katha.
Vaar - a ballad. Dhadi - a bard
This singing in a Gurdwara is not a regular feature. A
Vaar is an episodes from the Sikh history. Bards narrate these in poetry
and use traditional instruments Dhad and Sarangi. The Vaar singing has
its great value in raising morale and valor.
Dhad is a small hand held double-drum. Sarangi is a stringed
instrument played with a bow. Guru Hargobind introduced Dhadi Vaars in
his Darbar - court.
Only the non-political talks by the scholars and others
may be allowed. Politics is not a right thing in the Gurdwara where audience
is almost always mixed. The people of the other faiths will be discouraged
to come to the Gurdwara. The environment should always be maintained neutral,
and politics can be discussed anywhere else.
Invocation - This is the prayer said at the end
of the Gurdwara session.
Everyone has to get up for Ardas, stand calmly with folded
hands, with face towards Guru Granth Sahib or its seat (where it is kept
and opened in the hall). Outside, where the Holy Book is not present, the
face should be towards Ardasia (one who leads supplication).
Listen to Ardas attentively and follow the Ardasia when
he or she says �Waheguru,� and after him or her says the slogan at the
end �Jo bole so nihaal, Satsri-Akaal.� - Blessed is the one who
utters God is great!
If you want to repeat Ardas with Ardasia, do so only
in your heart. Do not speak it out.
Bow down when Ardasia bows down, follow him to stand
up and to sit down.
Ardas is done attentively and with concentration. Nobody
should place money into his or her hands while he or she is doing Ardas.
there is any urgent instruction, preferably give it as a note neatly written
in block letters. All those attending Ardas, should stand calmly
without talking. Even if someone is holding a child in her or his arms,
it is a must to stand without moving, and if it is not possible, she or
he should go out of the hall and attend to Ardas from outside. .
We pray to God, through our Guru and Guru Granth Sahib -
i.e. the Word of the Gurus.
Edict of the Guru: an inspiration for the day.
Hukam, or Vaak - Order, edict or the Word of Guru.
The person in Tabya - in attendance, the one sitting behind the
Holy Book, will read out of it the Hukam - Order of the Guru. This
is recitation of a Hymn at random, usually from about middle portion of
Guru Granth Sahib. Maintain an absolute silence and no talking or anything
else. The same Hukam of the morning is read out throughout the day when
Keep your children under perfect control.
None else will speak out the Hukam.
We commonly use the term Hukam-Namah, but in fact it means
a written order.
All others should listen to it silently, reverently, with
folded hands and humility. This is Hukam and we should listen to what the
Guru says, and try to adopt it practically.
Karrah-Parshad - Sanctified Pudding
Parshad is a blessed gift from the Guru - Waheguru, and
even a small quantity of it should suffice.
Parshad is taken in both hands cupped together, and not
on a single hand. If the hands are not clean, it may be taken on a napkin
placed in the cupped hands. Keep sitting calmly to get it in your turn.
If you have been missed, you may request for it.
Anyone receiving Parshad should be watchful and
even if a fraction of it falls on the floor, he or she should promptly
pick it up and respectfully put aside so that it does not get trampled,
or it be put in the napkin for disposal. It will maintain the respect of
Parshad and as well, if the carpet is there, it will be saved from
Do not socialize in the prayer hall especially if the
Holy Book is still there, may be it is closed. After partaking Parshad,
everyone moves to Langar - the community kitchen if the food is to be served.
LANGAR HALL - DISCIPLINE
A Langar Hall is where the community food is prepared,
served and eaten.
Entering the Langar Hall
Enter the langar hall with covered head, bare feet, and
nicely washed hands. Be calm. Do not be impatient or in any hurry.Sit with
others in a row. Everyone may chant together the Name of God, the True
Name - �Waheguru, Satte-Naamu� etc.
Start eating when the food is served to all and a signal
to eat is given. Usually the slogan is uttered �Jo bole so nihaal, Satsri-Akaal.�
Eat food quietly. If by chance you have been ignored,
or some item has not been served, you may gently remind the people serving
there, without calling aloud.
You are at liberty to ask for salt, pepper, chilly, condiments,
Take only that much which you can eat without leaving
any portion. Try not to leave Jooth - uneaten portion.
Eat with reverence to the Guru, and God. Some consider
themselves fortunate in eating Langar, and they may take it as a Parshad-
the Guru's holy gift.
After finishing, wait till others have eaten. Try to get
up with the others. You may keep sitting and continue eating till you are
done, get up only after you are finished, and do not mind even though other
new ones have started sitting down on your sides, or in the rows. There
is no need to hurry up, be calm and have your time.
Do not wash your hands or mouth into your plate, or while
sitting in the row. Get up and go to wash room. For this purpose, a devotee
may offer to some honored one e.g. a saint, a hand wash-basin and water
where he or she is sitting. It is not good to look at.
Clean the place if something gets spilled. If the Langar
Hall is carpeted, take an extra care not to let anything spill.
After eating, throw the plastic ware into the trash-bag
if someone comes to collect it. If not, pick it on getting up, and dispose
it off into a trash-bag or can. Someone may collect silver ware (metal)
or china ware. Otherwise, throw leftover in the trash-can, take it to the
sink, or to a designated place, and leave it there. You may rinse and leave
it, or clean it properly as others might be doing. The best is to clean
it with soap and water, or with cleaning powder. Wooden ash mixed with
sand worked fine at some places in India. If dishwasher facility is available,
rinse and leave such utensils there.
One should not eat, nibble or snack in the kitchen, or
at its service counter.No one busy eating, should touch utensils, food,
or service bowls, service spoons etc. in the kitchen, without first washing
the hands with soap and water. It is convenient and nice to ask someone
else to serve you rather than trying to do it your own self. At some places,
or occasions, self-service is practiced, but in a proper and organized
One Dollar Lunch
It should never come to the mind of anyone that Langar
is �one dollar lunch� i.e. you offer one dollar to the Holy Book and become
entitled to take the free lunch. It is not a �free lunch,� it is a sanctified
food. You offered a dollar or so to the Holy Book to honor it, and this
thing ended there. Leaving aside some special circumstances, you justify
taking langar after attending the Gurdwara proceedings - service to God.
Langar is free and nobody is charged for it. If someone
thinks he or she has paid, such remarks insult Langar - the holy food;
a gift from God and the Guru. The people take it with humility and eat
it with reverence. Some get one or two Chapatis (Roti - flat-bread) with
some Dall (cooked cereal), vegetable, and take these home as Parshad for
the family. Devotees may put some money into a Golak - money-box there,
to offer their thanks to the Lord for the food partaken, and not for its
In the Gurdwaras, discipline is important to maintain
the sameness. This has been laid down in the Reht (Code of Ethics) for
the faith by the Sikh-Panth - the Sikh world. It is available in the form
of a booklet from the bookstores or from S.G.P.C. The Gurdwaras of different
sects may have their own modifications. The sameness encourages brotherhood
and unity. At homes, the people may have some of their own choices. A Gurdwara
starts its program in the morning with the recitation of Sukhmani Sahib
and singing of Asa Di Var. In the overseas countries, these are usually
replaced with Jappu ji Sahib recitation. In the evening, Rehras is recited.
IN THE PRAYER HALL
The following procedures in the prayer hall are everyday
Guru Granth Sahib - The Sikh Holy Book
In the presence of the Holy Granth, or in the prayer hall,
everyone sits on the floor, and all should be treated equally. Some special
persons are invited to sit in the front, and may be on the stage itself
in special celebrations. Low stools or chairs, on one side, back, or in
an enclosure, should be provided for the handicapped.
A thin mattress covered with a cloth sheet may be used
to mark the place for Ragis - devotional singers, or for a bride and bridegroom
to sit for their marriage ceremony. Ragis may sit on the stage. Some places
provide a raised platform for Ragis - devotional singers, to make them
visible to the congregation. Such a platform should be lower than the seat
of Guru Granth Sahib.
It is appropriate to introduce to the Sangat, and as well
to honor the distinguished visitors, guest Ragis (devotional singers),
visiting speakers and new comers etc.
Nothing should be discussed, and direct questions-answers
should not be allowed in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. A question
may be put with permission of the Gurdwara official conducting the
proceedings. Provided the question is permissible, non-provocative, and
general (not insulting, jeering or belittling in any way), may be allowed.
A speaker may invite questions.
Nothing should irritate or agitate the Gurdwara Sewadars
(serving there). A Sewadar (a person serving there) who cannot adjust or
accommodate, should keep off, or mold him or herself.
Parkash Opening the Holy Book
Bringing the Granth to the Prayer Hall.
In the morning, Guru Granth Sahib is brought to the prayer hall carried
from its room on head, singing the Shabads - the Holy Hymns. If another
person is there, he or she follows working a Chaur - hair-wisp, over it.
The Granth - Holy Book, is placed on the Peerhee - cot, a low small bed.
Short Invocation. Standing before Guru Granth
Sahib, a short Ardas - invocation, is said and then singing or saying appropriate
Holy Hymns, it is gracefully, reverently, unwrapped and opened at about
its middle. A Palak - cloth-sheet, is placed on each side of the Holy Book,
its setting is checked, needed adjustments are made, and is covered with
Romalas - cloth sheets, scarves. To learn, watch someone doing it.
Opening the Holy Granth.
Working a wisp
over it, it is uncovered again and Hukam - Order of the Guru, is read out
from where it had already been opened. The Hukam, Vaak, or Shabed, is reading
of a Holy Hymn at random. - mostly from about the middle part where at
the Granth was opened. As well, it is commonly called a Hukam-Namah, but
literally it means a written order.
Hukam - Inspiration. The Hukam is taken
(the Holy Hymn is read) from top of the left page (right of the Granth),
from its start - may be it starts on the back of this page (at the previous
page). In a Gurdwara, it may be kept open at this page and covered for
others to read or listen to this first Hukam of the day i.e. that of the
morning. In the homes, this page is covered with a few pages from the right
(left of the Book), and anyone may take a new (fresh) personal Hukamat
any time. This is standard procedure, but its variations are there.
The Holy Presence - In
the prayer hall, Guru Granth Sahib - the Holy Book, is kept open on the
raised platform, for the Gurdwara-Session. Unless someone is reading out
of it, the Holy Book is covered with nice, clean, cloth sheets.
Darshan - Beholding the Guru - Picking up
cover of the Holy Book and merely looking at the page is not a `Darshan�
- seeing it. The real Darshan is reading or listening to it.
Service to the Guru - Taking this as a service
to the Guru, the frame of a door and legs of the palanquin etc. should
not be pressed like pressing the limbs of someone. The real service is
reading the Holy Book.
Kirtan - Devotional Music - Commonly, Waheguru
(God), or Satte-Naamu-Waheguru (True God) is sung together by the principal
(leading) singer and congregation. The congregation also participates in
singing some Hymns.
Kirtan is always of the Shabads - Holy Hymns: from
Gurbani. As for as possible, it should be rendered in the classical meter,
or in the style specifically prescribed in the Holy Book ,for the particular
Hymn. Most of the Ragis, render it in free or open strains not bound by
the musical measures. They usually devise their own styles and tunes. It
is good to sing some Hymns in the usual style, and others based on Nirdharat-Raags(prescribed
classical measures). A Kirtan or a katha-kirtanis usually for about
�Hallae de Shabad� style of kirtan is welcome.
These are sung with gusto and force as a chorus. The Sangat joins in, and
their usual instruments are Dholak or Mirdang (double sided drum), Chimtae
(long tongs with bronze plates), Chhaaenae (bronze plates) and kharrtaals
(wooden blocks with small bronze plates).Singing of �Jotiaan dae Shabad�
- is also practiced. In this style, two groups keep singing in turn - one
stanza by one, and the next by the second group. The same stanza may be
repeated by both the parties. Mostly, men and women sing a stanza in turn.
Compositions by Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nand Lal, and some as
references from the ancient Sikh books are permitted. The Holy Hymns should
not be rendered on the tunes of the ordinary street and movie songs. By
listening to such songs, wrong scenes may spring up in the mind. Neutral
type, and non-political poems related to the Sikh faith and history, may
be recited. political poems may not be permitted. The Gurdwara is a place
purely for worship.In general, even outside the Gurdwaras, songs composed
mimicking Gurbani, and rendered like a Kirtan, should not be permitted.
The people do not differentiate such singing from a Kirtan. Otherwise,
songs and poems related to the Sikh faith and their singing like songs
has its own value.
Katha - Preaching or Sermon
-Mostly it is a talk based on Gurbani, Sikh History, or explanation of
a chapter out of some standard book like Suraj-Parkash etc. It may be undertaken
after kirtan, or after Hukam but before distribution of Parshad.
Kathakar - the preacher mostly sits cross-legged on the floor, or
in the Tabya - in service (attendance) behind the Holy Granth. The management
may fix up the days and timings of such programs.
Speech - In the presence of
the Holy Book, only God, Guru, and Gurbani - Scriptures, should be discussed.
Do not take up any other thing. When the Sikhs take Holy Book as their
`Living Guru,� then they need to honor it that way. To maintain the sanctity
of the prayer hall, it is better to discuss any other thing elsewhere,
may be privately.
Any talk or discussion in the Sangat, in which a controversy
can come up, should be reserved for after langar hours, so that
those who are not interested or want to leave, are not delayed or deprived
of the holy food.
Invocation, or Supplication
Chhoti Ardas - Short invocation. It is said
before opening the Holy Book. It includes recitation only of the starting
Paurree (step), �Ardas. Ik-Oankar Vaheguroo jee kee fat.eh. Sree Bhagaut.ee
jee sahaa-ae......� to �D.assaan' Pat.shaahee-aan d.ee jot.e.....
Sree Guroo Granth Sahib ..... Bolo jee Vahaeguroo.� To it is added
a supplication to the Holy Book seeking permission to open it, and for
the Guru's Hukam. The Holy Book is opened according to the set procedure,
Panthic Ardas - Standard, full length invocation.
After the end of the prayer-session, approved Panthic Ardas - invocation
ordained by the Sikh World, is made to the open Holy Book.
A Panthic Ardas (full length) should be as short as possible,
with no repetitions and unnecessary additions. The stanzas from Gurbani
should not be quoted within the main body of Ardas. Their limited number
(a few of them) may be used before it.
Ardas, Taking Guru Granth Sahib for Rest - Chhotee
Ardas, second time. Guru Granth Sahib should not be closed till Parshad
has not been distributed.
When the Gurdwara session, or a program elsewhere is complete,
a Shabad (Hymn) is recited from the Holy Book as before (from its left
top), in the usual voice. It is reverently closed and wrapped in sheets.
A Chhotee Ardas is said again, and a request is made to the Guru to permit
taking it to the place of its rest. This Chhotee Ardas is the same as said
at the time of opening the Holy Book.
After Chhotee Ardas, Sangat keeps standing, the Holy Granth
is carried on the head, going around the cot (platform) from the left (anti
clockwise), it is taken to its special room. It is done in the form of
a small procession, singing Gurbani, and working Chaur (moving wisp) over
it. After respectfully placing it on the bed there, all say Jaikara (slogan),
�Jo bolae so nihaal, Satsri-Akal.� See �Sukh Asan.�
Ardas, Offerings - It will be nice if a
Chhoti Ardas is made by a Sewadar at the time when the offerings in kind
are made. It will protect the Panthic Ardas from becoming too long. Local
Sangat can decide it. If such offerings have to be mentioned at the end
of Ardas, this should be kept very brief and free from repetitions.
Ardasia. When doing Ardas, he or she should
stand with folded hands, make no gestures, and stand calmly, but firmly.
He or she should not hold in the hands a Kirpan: sword, arrow, or
any other weapon while doing Ardas. Invocation projects humility, but a
weapon in hand becomes its antithesis.
Krrah Parshad may be prepared by
anyone, anywhere, according to its discipline, and brought to the Gurdwara,
may be it is for start or Bhog (culmination) of any type of Paath (recitation)
of Guru Granth Sahib, may be it is an Akhand Paath - nonstop recitation.
Parshad - Bhog Lao, Parvan Karo - In Ardas,
for eatables e.g. Parshad, Langar etc., an Ardasia should not say �Bhog
lao jee� - please, eat it, but should request, �Parvaan karo jee� - please,
accept it - approve it.
Parshad Kirpan Bhaet - Do not pass Kirpan
through Parshad after Ardas, but wait and do it after Hukam. Kirpan Bhaet
means acceptance of Parshad by the Guru. Naturally, it should come after
Distribution of Parshad - Five portions
for the Panj Piarae is taken out after naming each, and these are distributed
to the Amritdhari Sikhs, or mixed back into the main Parshad (from which
these portions were taken out). After this, a portion of Parshad is taken
out to be kept as reserve, and then rest of Parshad is distributed. The
reserve may be used by the one who is in Tabya - service, and as well be
given to a visitors if Parshad is finished.
In Akhand Paath and Sampat Paath, Parshad is given to
the visitors day and night.
Raaj karae-gaa Khalsa �Ageaa
bhaee Akaal kee ......, Raj karae gaa khalsaa ..... etc.�
Most of the people think that this piece of poetry belongs
to the Tenth Master Guru Gobind Singh which it is not. It was composed
by Giani Gian Singh and is given in his book Panth-Parkash (Bhasha Vibhag
Punjab, 1987), at its page 353. Later, some others added to it the lines
like �Raj karae gaa khalsaa� etc.
In Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, this piece
of poetry is not sung at the end of Ardas. A Gurdwarais for
everyone from any faith and many avoid singing it lest someone feels hurt.
It is another thing, that some may translate Khalsa as the �pure-ones,�
but in fact Khalsa means property of the King (Guru) i.e. those who have
faith in the Guru (Gurmukhs - devotees). But apparently,
it is taken by the most as, �The Sikhs will rule,� although it may not
mean this and the real rule be of the spiritual domain.To sing the above
`Dohra' - type of poetry, is not essential, but if some need to sing something
after Ardas, suitable Hymns or quotes may be selected from Gurbani rather
than singing a composition by anyone other than the Guru. There is no shortage
of such a material in Guru Granth Sahib, and in the Bani of Guru Gobind
Singh. An example is -
Gagan dmamaa baajeou pareou neesaanaae ghaaou
Hukam - Order of the Guru
Khaetu ju maandeo suurmaa abb joojhan ko daao
Sooraa so pahechaaneeaae ju larae deen kae haet
Purjaa purjaa katt maraae kabhoo naa chhadaae khaet.u
Hukam, or Vaak - order, edict or Word of the Guru.
This is inspiration for the day. The person in Tabya - in attendance
- sitting behind the Holy Book, will read out from it the Hukam - order
of the Guru: a Holy Hymn at random. When taking Hukam, it should be carefully
read out and attempt should not be made to say any word out of it without
reading. This is to avoid any error in reading or in phonation. His Hukam
(revealed Bani) should be as it is written, with no minor error even.
Hukam should be recited in a reasonably loud voice, reverently,
steadily, with humility, and without any hurry. The Holy Book is opened
at random, usually at about its middle, and Shabad - the Holy Hymn, is
recited from its start at the top on the left side page. It may start at
the back of that (previous) page, start from there.
Shabad, Holy Hymn, is read from its start to the
end however long it may be. Some Shabads are full-page length. If it is
from the area wherein the script continues without breaks, the page of
the Holy book may be changed. This may also be done if the Hymn is not
according to the occasion, but some do not approve it. The page-change
may be made to the right or left.
Sant Nand Singh used to take three chances to get a Shabad
suitable to the need. Failing in three chances to get the right Shabad
(may be in yes or no), he would postpone it to the next day, if the time
permitted. The professional Bhai (brother - caretaker of the Holy Granth)
roughly know the areas of the Holy Book for the Shabads right for the occasions.
The right Shabad is that which takes up your need, and
it may or may not be according to your desire - it may be positive or negative
to your wish. Trying more than once to get the decisive Shabad is a personal
choice. Usually, the chance Shabad at the very first instance is relied
on, and in general the people do not accept trials.
Translation of Hukam
If the translation of the Hukam is done, it should be
direct, very short, with no elaborations, quotes and stories. If the Holy
Hymn is long one, then, only its gist should be given.
Katha of Hukam
It is different from the plain, straightforward translation
of the Hukam. One may take his or her allotted time to elaborate and comment
on the Shabad. It is a descriptive sermon on the Hukam. History, anecdotes,
and quotations from Gurbani and other acceptable sources may be added.
Paath - Reciting Guru Granth Sahib
Reading of Guru Granth Sahib may be of any type or style
- Sehj Paath, Akhand-Paath, Saptahak-Paath, Sampat-Paath etc., for correct
phonation of every word, it should be done by actual reading. Ladies can
participate in every type of Paath. As a page marker, one may use a paper
with a Shabad written on it. Do not dog-ear the corner of page.
Sehj Paath - It
is a Sidharan Path - routine recitation with no restriction of time or
days. It is a Paath at leisure, without any hurry. There is no set discipline
recitation from its start to end without any break. It usually takes 48
hours, may be slightly less or more. Some think that only Amritdharis should
do an Akhand Paath. Mostly, five persons do this recitation, but there
is no strict limit. It should be done after full bath including the head
wash, and changing to the washed, clean clothes. Ladies can equally take
part in Akhand-Paath.
Saptahak-Paath - This
reading is usually from the morning to the evening, and is completed in
7 days. Two or more persons may do it. Bhog - culmination of Paath, is
on the seventh day in the morning.
Sampatt-Paath - keeping
in mind the motive, a certain suitable Hymn is selected from the Holy Granth.
It may be written down on a paper. Paath of the Holy Book is started right
from the beginning, first by reading the selected Hymn from the paper or
by reciting it by heart from memory. Thereafter, this selected Hymn is
recited after every Shabad (Hymn)in its sequence in the Holy Book.
This selected Shabad is recited also at the end of the recitation of the
Holy Book. This is continuous reading without a break and may take 7 to
10 days or even more to complete it. Any number of persons may participate
in this recitation. Its Bhog - culmination, is performed in the morning.
Bhog ceremony. Culmination of almost
all Paaths is completed before the noon. Bhog of Paath as the last ceremony
on a death is commonly performed in the afternoon, but it is not necessary.
Akhand-Paath even of a sad occasion is mostly completed in the morning
Madh - Middle of Paath
Parshad on reaching the middle of PaathThe Holy Book,
Guru Granth Sahib, has 1430 pages. Its middle is considered at page No.
705. Shabad at the bottom of page is, �Aade pooran madhe pooran ante pooran
In every type of Paath, before reaching this Shabad, a
fresh Parshad is prepared, Ardas (full) is said on reaching this Shabad,
and it is distributed after Kirpan Bhaet.
Langar After Paath
Mostly after Akhand Paath and Sampat Paath, Langar (food)
is served to the Sangat.Langar is served may be it is the occasion of joy
or sorrow, but it is not necessary and is a personal choice. Some may serve
snacks, cold drinks, tea, or coffee. Langar or snacks may be served after
any Paath. There is no set rule for it.
Paathee to Learn Paath-recitation
Paathee is anyone reciting Paath (Scripture). It should
be a must that Paath, including recitation of Guru Granth Sahib, is learnt
from someone or by any other means - audiotapes, videotapes, CDs, computers
etc. The best is to get the live instructions.
Who can do a Paath?
Reading the Holy Book can be done by anyone who
can and desires to do it. No restrictions. Amritdhari or not, a Sikh or
anyone else, everyone can read the Holy Book. The body and clothes should
be clean. Mostly, the people open the Holy Book after taking a bath, and
changing to the clean clothes. If one is not well, the one may go to the
Holy Book after washing the face and hands (feet), provided the body and
clothes are clean. Even today, many sit down for the Raul - turn, to do
Akhand-Paath, after washing the hair, taking bath and changing to the clean
Paath and women. Women can do every type
of Paath including recitation of Guru Granth Sahib - Akhand-Paath or Sampatt-Paath..
The body and clothes should be clean.
Parshad - Sanctified Pudding
A Gurdwara where Diwan - congregation, is held daily,
fresh Parshad is prepared in the morning.
Leftover Parshad. Fresh Parshad is distributed.
If some previously prepared Parshad is leftover, it may be added to the
fresh left over Parshad. It can be be mixed to the fresh Parshad after
It is said, the leftover Parshad should not be reheated.
Can it be mixed to the freshly prepared Parshad, may be yes but to the
leftover fresh Parshad. These are minor things to need attention.
Parshad from another Gurdwara. Sometimes,
Parshad brought to Gurdwara from any other Gurdwara (Amritsar, Hazoor Sahib,
Patna Sahib etc.), is mixed with the freshly prepared Parshad and distributed
in the Sangat. This way, a small quantity can be given to a large number.
This mixing should be done after Ardas, Hukam and Kirpan Bhaet of the fresh
Re-offering Parshad. Parshad once offered,
should not be offered to the Guru, again. Only fresh Parshad is offered.
Source of Parshad. Parshad
is prepared in the Gurdwara, but it may come prepared from anywhere. It
may be sent by anyone. Condition is that it should be prepared according
to its discipline - clean body, clean clothes, head covered, recitation
of Gurbani etc.
Parshad for the Odd Hour Visitors - Mostly,
the Gurdwaras keep frosted Phullian - sugared puffed rice, or Patashae
- small sugar-cakes, or Makhanae - sugar clusters. This is a handy Parshad
for the visitors who come after the regular Parshad (Karrah-Parshad) is
In a Gurdwara, such a Parshad does not replace fresh Karrah-Parshad
usually prepared in the morning. Fresh Parshad is served after the Gurdwara
session, and if possible after other Gurdwara programs. Everyday fresh
Karah Parshad is optional for the Gurdwara where congregation is not held
Pinnee Parshad (sweet cereal balls), or
Panjeeree (sweet powder), are given as Parshad to keep for a long time.
Chhotee-Ilaechi - green cardamoms, Kooza-Misree - sugar-crystals, or dry
fruit - almonds and nuts, may be given to keep for still longer time.
Karrah-Parshad - Preparation It
is also called �Tihauli Daa Parshad�
i.e. prepared with equal
parts of three ingredients - Ataa
(wheat flour), Ghee (butter oil),
sugar, and to this is added three parts of water (. Wheat flour 1 lb, butter
oil 1 lb, sugar 1lb, water 3 lb.) -
Sugar - In the United States, a little bit
more of sugar makes it tastier, as the beetroot sugar here is not that
Wheat Flour - Wheat floor should be coarse
and not fine or white.Parshad of pure cream of wheat does not stick together
well (cohere, coalesce) and its grains easily scatter. About one third
to half of Suji (cream of wheat) and coarse whole-wheat flour make a good
Ghee - Butter oil. Less of butter oil makes
it dry and unpleasant to swallow. Some use butter in place of butter oil.
Be careful that it is not salted. Parshad is prepared with pure butter
or butter oil. Now, often, some take the liberty of using vegetable oils
or hydrogenated oils, at least for the usual occasions.
Additions to Parshad - Fruits: dry or fresh,
raisins, nuts, saffron, dyes, flavors, etc. are not added to Parshad. It
is to maintain uniformity of the preparation, and to keep it affordable
by everyone. Parshad is highly revered, it is kept covered and is touched
with clean hands.
Parshad for keeping longer, while preparing,
it is worked up with a ladle until grease (butter oil etc.) starts separating
Preparation of Parshad - Discipline
Cleanliness - Parshad is prepared
after taking bath, wearing clean clothes, and with clean hands.
Cover - Head should be kept covered
throughout cooking and while you are in the kitchen. No caps or hats. Have
a dupattaa (length of cloth), scarf, or kaeskee (short cloth wrapped on
Clean Hands - No part of body,
even the face, hair, or anything else, should be touched while preparing
Attitude - humility, reverence,
devotion should prevail. All through preparing it, Jappu ji Sahib, Gurbani
(Holy Hymn) should be recited. The Jaap of �Waheguru, Waheguru,� - God,
my Lord, or �Satte-Naamu Waheguru� the True Name - God, is continuously
Talking - No non-essential talk
while cooking or serving food. No gossips. Keep the mind fixed on God.
Remember that you are preparing a holy food for offering to the Lord.
Eating - there should not be any
eating, snacking, or nibbling in the cooking area.No one should eat at
the kitchen counter. While eating outside, do not touch the cooked food
or utensils without cleaning hands with soap and water.
Shoes - If need be, you can use
slippers inside the kitchen. They should be reserved for the kitchen and
must not be used for going to restroom (bathroom), or out of the Langar
Health is not good - Do not go
to Langar and do no cooking with cold, cough, fever, loose motions, or
motions with cramps, or with any other infectious disease like mumps, chickenpox
etc. Do not cook with injury, ulcer, boil, or eczema on hands. For a cough
or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a napkin, look away from food
and try to get away from it, dispose off napkin, and wash your hands with
soap and water.
Parshad - Discipline
Parshad should not be tasted at any stage of its preparation
No portion of Parshad assigned to God and Guru, should
be taken out for any purpose, until it has been offered to Guru Granth
Sahib, and distributed after Ardas - invocation, Hukam, and Kirpan Bhaet
(Kirpan passed through it).
If this discipline (cleanliness, purity, not taking or
eating a portion out of it) is not observed, Parshad is rendered unfit
for offering to the Guru and God, and for distribution to the Sangat.
Before distribution, Parshad should be cooled down to
a comfortable level. If it is too hot, a ladle or spoon may be used to
distribute it, and it may be taken on a napkin.
When Distributing Parshad
Rather than using naked hands, it is best to distribute
it with a spoon.
Take care of the following -
Distribution of the napkins - Hands should be washed
with soap and water immediately before distributing the napkins. Mostly
children eagerly do this job. Someone should monitor them.
Parshad - It is a boon from the Guru and Waheguru
(the Lord). Immediately before touching it for distribution, hands should
be nicely washed with soap and water. The nails should be kept properly
The bowl of Parshad should be held on hand and not against
body. If needed, one person may hold the bowl and the other distribute
The server should not try to keep mixing, kneading, pressing
Parshad or making balls of it with his hand. He should take out a portion
as it is, and give to the Sangat.
Generally, Parshad is distributed with naked hands. Take
care that the hands are healthy and nails are cut, and no medication has
been applied to them.
It may be a good idea to use thin, plastic gloves to serve
It may be okay if Parshad is distributed
with something like a service spoon, ladle etc. It is an option but a local
choice.There should be sufficient persons for the distribution of Parshadin
the sections of men and as well women. If the Sangat is more, some should
start distributing from the entry door side - rear of the hall, also.
Parshad is distributed in equal quantity to everyone and
without any prejudice or preference. All should be considered equal. Proportionately
small amount may be given to the children, so that they can finish it.
No talking or saying anything while distributing Parshad.
Better, wrap a cloth across the mouth. Even �Waheguru� should be said in
the heart (mind), unless the mouth is covered. It prevents its pollution
No touching of any body part - not even face or hair,
or anything else, when distributing Parshad.
The Holy Book should not be closed till Parshad is distributed.
The Sangat should be reminded in every session
to pick up Parshad falling on the floor or carpet. Parshad should not get
It is a good idea to cover the carpet with cloth sheets
before the Sangat arrives, remove and wash them after their use.
Nothing eatable becomes a Guru's Parshad unless a Kirpan
(small curved dagger) is passed through it. At Hazoor Sahib things are
usually touched with an arrow.
Offering Parshad to the Lord - At the end
of the proceedings in a Gurdwara, or at home, passing Kirpan through Parshad
should be done after the Hukam has been taken. This use of Kirpan turns
it into the sanctified Parshad - a thing accepted by the Guru, gift of
the Guru. This is the Sikh way.
At Hazoor Sahib, besides Karrah-Parshad, all other offerings
made by the devotees are touched with an all steel arrow after very short
supplication by a Sewadar posted especially for this.
Distribution of Parshad
First of all, five portions naming Panj-Piarae (the five
loved by the Guru) are taken out in a separate small bowl.
These five names are -
Thereafter, another portion is taken in a bowl and put aside
for any urgency, and for the one in Tabya (person in attendance of the
Holy Book), or for any newcomer after the Parshad is finished. Parshad
taken out in the name of five Panj Piarae is distributed amongst the five
Sikhs in the sangat appearing to be Amritdhari, (properly inducted
into Sikh faith), or it is mixed back into Parshad from which it
has been taken out. Now, Parshad is distributed in the congregation,
including those five who got it first.
Sodar Dee Chaukee - In it, Rehras is recited in a Kirtan-style,
in the evening at the time of sunset. After it, Kirtan Sohla is also recited.
Guru Granth Sahib Santokhna -taking Guru Granth Sahib
Guru Granth Sahib must be closed, and should not be left
open overnight unless someone is reading it e.g. an Akhand-Path.
Without involving Sangat, a Shabad may be read silently
once again, from top of the page on left. It is not essential to read the
Shabad of the morning. Variations are there. Perhaps, Namdhari (Kookae)
read the Shabad at the bottom of the opposite i.e. right-hand page. This
has no special significance.Palkaan - the cloth pieces hanging on two sides
of the Holy Book, are removed, and it is closed. If there are extra cloth
strips of the short width on front and backsides of the closed Holy Book,
coming from the binding, these are wrapped over the front and back of the
closed Book held up (wrapped around the edge of the deck of pages). If
the binding itself has a flap, it is covered over the top of the Holy Book
held upwards on closing, and is not tucked inside binding. The Granth is
wrapped in nicely smoothed cloth sheets.
Chhoti Ardas - a short prayer (the first Paurree - first
step of Ardas and request for its retiring) is said standing before the
Holy Book, and then it is placed on the head of a person and carried as
a very small procession, walking around the dias from the right to left
for Sukh-Asan - retiring i.e. resting of the Holy Book, all along singing
together the Hymn, particularly �Jithae jaae bahae maeraa Satguru so
thann suhavaa Ram Rajae (The place is blessed to which my Lord retires),
or saying �Waheguru, Satte-Naamu� etc. Throughout, the Sangat keeps standing
and singing. As the Holy Granth passes by the people, they reverently bow
The holy Book is placed on the cot in the room. Jaikara,
�Jo Bolae so nihaal, Satsri Akaal,� is shouted. After bowing to the Guru,
Sangat comes out of the room, and door is closed. Everyone moves to the
Langar hall to take food.After Gurdwara Session, the Holy Book should be
removed to the separate room used only for it's resting, and is placed
on a cot or other dignified bed. The room should be clean, and well ventilated.
It should be especially for this purpose, and not used as a store and for
any other purpose. It should have a canopy above Guru Granth Sahib. In
the room, night-light should be left on.
The Holy Granth should not be left on the cot, or in Palki
- palanquin, in the prayer hall.
At homes, a nice closet or almirah is mostly used for
this purpose, or it is left on the cot etc. It depends on the availability
of the space and facility. The bigger Sikh homes usually have a separate
Sohela or Kirtan Sohela
This is the last Sikh prayer for the day. It is recited
as the last thing at the night before going to bed, and takes a couple
of minutes. In a Gurdwara, the person closing the Holy Book in the evening,
recites it while closing and wrapping up the Holy Book, provided he or
she knows it by heart. If need be, another person may recite or read it.
If at home, recitation of Rehras gets late, Sohela may be recited along
with Rehras, after it. Otherwise, it is recited before going to sleep.
PROCEDURES IN THE
Langar - Community Kitchen. It is
a common free kitchen, and in it the food is prepared and served jointly,
as a selfless (voluntary) service with a smile.If there is a kitchen, the
Langar may be prepared in the Gurdwara. If not, it is brought from homes,
prepared singly or jointly. The idea is to have the self-prepared food
as a voluntary service, and as far as possible it should not be ordered
from a restaurant. Langar is to teach selfless service with love.
Preparing Food - To be acceptable
to everyone, Langar is always vegetarian. The purity and cleanliness of
the kitchen, mind, body, hands, and preparations is maintained. While preparing
food, gossips are avoided, and the mind is kept occupied with Naam-Jaap
or with recitation of Gurbani. Jappu ji Sahib is the leading Bani (Scripture)
for recitation while preparing langar or Parshad. In the kitchen, head
should be kept covered, and no one should eat anything in that area.
Rasad - Uncooked Food
A rough estimate of items needed for Langar
A food prepared for 25, can conveniently be served to
35, that for 50 to 70, for 100 to 125, and for 150 to 175 and a few more.
A few minor adjustments might have to be made by adding a little water
and appropriate amount of condiments to beans and vegetables with gravy,
and a little milk to Yogurt (curds). Chillies, pepers and salt should not
be added inconsiderately for whatsoever reason there be.
If the Sangat is more than estimate, easy preparations
in the needed amount can be cooked fast. Precooked vegetable fast-foods
can be availed. Pre-baked flat breads, Naans, and other breads are freely
avaiable. Vegetable pizza can be served. Plain rice can be prepared in
a short time. These will cut down the required need of Chapatis to one
third. Those who prepare such foods, well know the quantities needed.
Langar Estimate for 150 Guests
Mrs. Parminder Kaur Grewal is expert in the Langar-service.
She has given the following estimates for some raw foods. These quantities
are for 150 guests. The quantities can be adjusted according to the number
Ata (wheat flour)
30 lb. It should make 350-400 breads, sufficient without additional rice.
The flour should not be pure white. Its breads become hard and tough, soon.
Some mix a little Maida - fine white flour to give a good look to the bread.
Full cream milk, or Yogurt added to flour keeps breads soft. The kneaded
flour may be left for a couple of hours to rise (ferment) to make it soft.
For this purpose, adding baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) should preferably
be avoided, and small quantity of vegetable yeast may profitably be added
to it. It raises the floor and produces vitamin B-Complex, too. Have the
proper mix of flour for making Poorees (deep fried breads).
Rice - 20
cups (10 lb.) of rice will serve 150 persons, without additional breads.
To make both breads and rice, half the amount of rice (5-7 lb.) and 10-15
lb. of wheat flour (200-300 breads) should be sufficient. For Zarda - saffron
colored sweet rice 5-7 lb., and for Kheer 3-4 lb. of rice should do.
Vegetables - All
vegetables together - Gobhi (cauliflower), carrots, green peas, potatoes,
Dhaniaa (coriander), Pudina (mint-leaves), green onions, etc. will make
a total of 25-30 lb..
Tomatoes, and onion 3-5 lb. each, ginger 1-2
lb., and garlic lb, should be okay.Dall-lentils (pulses)
e.g. Maash (black), red beans (Raj Mah), small kidney-beans (black eyed)
etc. 8-10 lb..
Condiments, salt, peppers, green peppers should
be used with restraint to leave the dishes eatable by everyone. Minimum
use of chilies and peppers. Mostly, unnecessary addition of condiments
leave the preparation uneatable.
Butter - 4
lb., and if it is butter oil, then about 3 lb.. It will be mainly used
for preparing Parshaad. Quantity should be reasonably more if full Langar
has to cooked with pure Ghee (butter oil). Vegetable oils should preferably
be cholesterol-free. One half to 3/4 gallon oil should be in stock.
Plane Yogurt - to
make Pakaaurris (chickpea Yogurt) etc., 3 Gallons.
Mixed Pickle - like
`Panch Ranga Achar' etc. 1-2 lb.. Finely cut carrots and onions may be
added to it.
Parshad - Wheat flour 3 lb., Salt
free butter 3lbs, sugar 3 lb.. One usual cup measures one pound. Adding
a small quantity of Suji (cream of wheat) to wheat flour, renders the consistency
of Parshad pleasantly grainy. It makes it less sticky, but if it is much
more, the flour does not bind together well. If it is butter, it should
be a bit more to burn down to butter-oil. Betroth sugar is less sweet and
it should be added slightly more. Parshad should not be over sweet, over
dry, or over oily.
Discipline- Langar Preparation
Take bath and enter the kitchen with clean clothes, and
freshly washed hands using soap and water. No one busy cooking should gossip
or snack, and mind should be occupied by Gurbani - Scriptures, Shabads
- Holy Hymns, or with the Name of God (Waheguru, Waheguru, Satte-Naamu
No portion of the food assigned to langar should
be taken out for any purpose before offering it to the Guru and God, Ardas,
Hukam, and passing Kirpan through preparations.
No one should eat inside the langar - kitchen. Keep
it in the mind that when preparing langar, you are doing it for the Guru
and God. The Langar-containers, or service-pots are not touched
with unclean hands, and preparations are kept covered.
Tasting Langar - During its preparation
or afterwards, Langar should not be tasted, not even for assessing its
salt, spices and sugar. The preparations should have very mild chilies
or peppers, so that everyone can comfortably tolerate them. Be careful
even if these are green chilies. More of them can be added latter by the
person eating it, according to his or her taste.
Salt, pepper, chilies, condiments, sugar, should also
be served, like pickles or onions. After eating has commenced, salt etc,
can be adjusted after asking those who are eating, or if they themselves
inform about it. Mostly, the served food is accepted as it is.
Ardas, Kirpan-Bhaet -
Invocation and passing Kirpan through all items. According to the Sikh
way, passing Kirpan through them signifies their purification and acceptance
by God and the Guru. It turns it into the holy food.
Before serving food Ardas is said. Usually, the prepared
food is offered to Guru Granth Sahib, and is removed from there after Ardasand
passingKirpanthrough every item, may be except water: a natural commodity.
Ardas can be said in the kitchen, and Kirpan passed. Thereafter, all items
are returned to their main containers, and service started even before
the end of prayer session. Langar service may continue in the Langar hall
independent of the service in the prayer hall.
Ready-made Preparations - Sometimes, ready-made
Naans - flat breads, are ordered. Rarely, in an unforeseen emergency, vegetable
pizza, or anything else like bread and butter etc., or food from a restaurant,
might have to be purchased and served.
Langar - food, should be kept very simple,
but usually it is not. Commonly, a sweet dish is also there e.g. Kheer
- sweet rice pudding, ice cream, fine sweet noodles, or sweets. Some also
serve tea, coffee, and maybe cold drinks as well. There is no end to Sewa
- selfless service. Unless it is the Gurdwara service, the Sangat provides
Langar in turn. Sweets and fruits may be brought by other devotees.
Condiments - Pickles,
pastes), onions, and other condiments may be served. Salt, peppers and
chilies may also be provided.
Grace - Prayer - At
homes, a short prayer - grace, is said by some, before and after taking
food. A few suitable quotes from Gurbani are recited. In the Gurdwara langar,
this tradition can be adopted to the delight of the devotees.
Sitting Arrangements - At
some places, low chairs or other seats are provided, particularly for the
use of handicapped persons. In some Gurdwaras, tables and may be chairs
too, are there for anyone wishing to use them. The main idea of langar
is to sit at one level (floor) without any discrimination, and to eat with
others. It is an effort to promote equality of all, and a step to eradicate
Everyone serving in the Langar will himself or herself
eat after the Sangat has finished eating.
It is practical to spread plastic sheets on the floor
in front of Pangat - rows, to place utensils or plasticware on them.
This will protect the carpet and floor.
Nothing should be served with naked fingers. Use service
spoons, spatulas or ladles. The latex or plastic gloves may be used.
The glasses for water, tea etc. should be held close to
their bottoms, and not at their tops. Fingers should not go inside the
Service is given with a smile, without prejudice, and
all are treated equally.Service should be prompt, careful, without ignoring
anyone or any item.
In Sangat, no one should be served a different food unless
there is a sound reason for it e.g. some health problem. You cannot serve
butter to one and give usual food to the other.The choice of selection
for eating out of the served food is an individual matter. One may not
like to take rice and another may not prefer a Chapatti (Roti, a flat bread).
Some may like to eat condiments and onions, and others may not. Do not
serve anything not accepted. Take only that which you will eat.
Give only the amount that is asked for, or only a reasonable
quantity. Serve carefully that the given portion gets finished, and nothing
is left over. Serve food to children in the right proportion. Their parents
should also take care of this.
Do not talk while serving langar. It is ideal to keep
mouth covered with cloth.
When serving, do not hold service bowls, jugs, breads,
glasses etc. against your body.
When serving, put only that much portion that does not
flow over to other compartments of the plate, if such plates are used.
Absentees It is best if a prospective
absentee informs before hand of his or her missing the Gurdwara session.
This will bring economy in preparing the food and Parshad. Someone should
keep a watch and if Sangat goes above estimate, necessary adjustments in
the food to be served should be made - adding quick cooking foods - rice,
potatoes etc. .
Langar Service Langar
supposed not to be closed, and the food has to be provided to the visitor
at all hours of the day and night. But it may not be possible at every
Gurdwara, especially in the overseas countries where a resident
Sewadar - a volunteer e.g. the caretaker may not be available at all hours.
At such places, unserved (leftover) Langar is distributed for taking home
and nothing is kept for the off time service.
Sound System For Langar There
should be extension of the prayer hall sound system into Langar, for the
benefit of the Sewadars (workers) and Sangat there.
Sewa - Selfless i.e. voluntary Service.
Sewa is selfless service and it is very important in the
Sikh World. Cleaning the used utensils in Langar, and shoes of the
Sangat in the Gurdwara, are the top Sewas. Help to clean the Gurdwara-building,
cooking Langar and serving it, and maintaining Gurdwara-yard, are usual
Sewas. Still, an important service in India is serving fresh, clean, drinking
water to the people, and even to the animals. Such a water-dispensing stand
is called a Chhabeel. The people render selfless service while reciting
the Name of God.
Sewa-Panthee Saints - Selfless-Service Saints.
One sect of saints is Sewa-Panthee - saints with selfless service
as their main path. Such renowned saints have been recognized and honored
especially for renovating Gurdwara buildings, setting up educational institutions,
establishing hospitals, and for physical and spiritual services to the
human beings, and as well to the animals. Such great saints attained miraculous
powers through their selfless services.
Sewa is part and parcel of the Sikh life.
You may come across a container with the label �Sewa�
It is a can to put in trash, a `Service.'
Disposable plasticware has mostly eradicated the selfless
service of cleaning utensils, or has pushed it to the background. One can
transform it into the Sewa of another kind. Electricity has taken away
the Sewa of manually fanning Sangat.