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All About the Gurdwara the Worship Place of Sikhs

Where Sikhs Worship


The door to the Guru's house of worship is always open and welcoming to the worshiper. Step inside the gurdwara and leave aside differences. A sublime atmosphere of devotion greets the senses. Strains of hymns beckon the ear. An array of vivid hues engage the eye. Bow before the Guru Granth in a moment of humility. A helping of the sacred delicacy, prashad, delights the palate. The scent of food cooking promises the tongue fulfillment. Sit with the congregation and discover a sanctuary for the soul. The opportunity for selfless service presents an unparalleled inner cleansing experience while at worship in a gurdwara.

Gurdwara, the Sikh Place of Worship

Gurdwara Mathatake
Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Gurdwara means the "guru's door". A gurdwara is the Sikh meeting place for worship. The members of the congregation, welcome all people to worship in the gurdwara regardless of caste, color, or creed.

Read more:

Gurdwara - Guru's Gateway
Do Sikhs Believe in Going to Church?
Before You Visit the Gurdwara Sikh Place of Worship
Illustrated Guide to the Gurdwara
Golden Temple of the Sikhs

Nishan, the Sikh Flag

Nishan Sahib - Sikh Flag Nishan Sahib
Photo © [S Khalsa]

The Nishan or Sikh flag is displayed outside the gurdwara in a prominent spot. The Nishan is embellished with a khanda, which represents the Sikh coat of arms.

Read more:

Nishan, the Sikh Flag
Khanda, the Sikh Emblem
Nishan of Gurdwara Bradshaw

Guru Granth, the Sikh Scripture

Guru Granth - Hukam
Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Guru Granth, the Sikh scripture is considered to be the living guru of the Sikhs. In every gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, the Guru Granth is kept on a platform in a prominent place. Sikhs worshiping at the gurdwara bow before Guru Granth before sitting down. A Sikh sitting behind the Guru Granth selects a random verse called a hukam, which is believed to be the Guru's divine command.

Read more:

Guru Granth the Sikh Scripture
Who Are the Authors of Guru Granth Sahib?
Reading a Hukam from the Guru Granth
Illustrated Guide to Reading a Hukam Parkarma (Circumambulation) of Guru Granth

Prashad, the Sanctified Offering

Prashad Seva
Photo © [S Khalsa]

Prashad is a sanctified offering of a delicate sweet pudding served to each and every person who enters the gurdwara and at the close of every worship service or ceremony which takes place in the gurdwara. The recipe for prashad is outlined in the Sikh code of conduct and conventions.

Prashad Sanctified Offering
Prashad Printable Recipe
Prashad Illustrated Step by Step Recipe

Kirtan, the Divine Hymns

Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Kirtan is an important part of a gurdwara worship service when worshipers participate in singing hymns taken from the Guru Granth. An all night program called Rain Sabaee, is a popular event. Hymns are composed in the clasic music system raag.

Read more:

Raag Melodious Hue
Kirtan Adoration in Song

Illustrated Kirtan Performance

Night So Beautiful! A Gallery of Song

Anand Karaj, the Sikh Marriage Ceremony

Lavan - Wedding Rounds
Photo © [Nirmaljot Singh]

Anand Karaj, the Sikh wedding ceremony takes place inside the gurdwara. The bride and groom meet with their families in the presence of the Guru Granth. Wedding vows are made by walking around the Guru Granth four times.

Read more:

Anand Karaj, the Sikh Marriage Ceremony Guide
Sikh Wedding Anand Karaj Ceremony Illustrated
Lavan, the Sikh Wedding Hymns
The Wedding Hymn

Amrit Sanchar Intitaion and Baptism

Amrit Sanchar Ceremony of Khalsa Initiation
Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

Amrit Sanchar the Sikh baptism and initiation ceremony takes place ina secluded part of the gurdwara. New initiates join the worshipers in the gurdwara where services are held:

Important Life Events

Tiny worshippers listen to "A son Is Born" being sung.
Photo © [S Khalsa]

The gurdwara is a place for friends and family to congregate and participate in observing ceremonies involving important life events:

Langar, Nurturing Body and Soul in the Guru's Dining Hall

Langar Line-up
Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Langar is a divine dining experience of both physical and spiritual nourishment. Langar means kitchen, but the word is used also for the actual food prepared and eaten, as well as the dining hall itself. Worshipers participate in serving members of the congregation who gather to dine.

Read more:

The Sikh Dining Tradition of Langar
All About Langar and the Guru's Free Kitchen
Illustrated Gallery of the Gurdwara Langar Kitchen
The Sikh Dining Tradition
The Guru's Free Kitchen
Food and Recipes

Gurmat Learning Camp

Learning Kirtan at Gurmat Camp
Photo © [Kulpreet singh]

Gurmat learning camp gives instruction about the basics of Sikhism. Classes take place in the gurdwara hall or adjacent rooms on weekends and holidays when worship services are not in progress. Students learn:

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