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Amrit the Sikh Baptism Ceremony

The Initiation of Khalsa

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Amrit Ceremony and the Panj Pyare

Amrit Ceremony and the Panj Pyare

Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

Amrit Baptism Ceremony Commencement

Amrit Baptism Ceremony Illustrated

Amrit, the Sikh ceremony of rebirth takes place in a clean and secluded location at any chosen time. To begin the Khalsa initiation ceremony, a Sikh attendant carries the Guru Granth to a low draped platform. The prayer of Ardas, is said. The attendant reads a hukam, randomly selected verse of scripture. A Sikh holds a sword, and stands guard outside. At least one new initiate must participate. Initiates stand facing the Guru Granth with their hands folded. Panj pyare interview initiates seeking re-initiation, assigning appropriate penance. The panj pyare explain the Sikh tenants to new initiates, who agree to:

  • Worship one God.
  • Read the Guru Granth.
  • Join the Sikh congregation.
  • Serve others.
  • Refrain from worshiping any created object, or living thing.

Panj Pyare, or five beloved, are previously initiated Sikh men or women who perform the ceremony and who have:

  • Pleasing personalities, good health and vision, and are without physical defects.
  • Committed no taboo, nor broken any commandment.

Initiates are mature male, or female, of any caste, color, or creed:

  • Freshly bathed, freshly washed hair (covered), and clean clothing.
  • Adorned with kes, kanga, kachhera, kirpan, and kara.
  • No ornamental body piercing.
  • No token of any other faith.
  • No sort of cap, or bare headed.

Nectar of the Sword

One Pyara offers a prayer for the preparation of Amrit, the baptismal water. The others stand by an iron bowl in which the Amrit is to be prepared. The attendant the the guru Granth reads a hukam to the others. All the panj pyare gather around the bowl kneeling in with the left knee upright, while squatting on the right heel (bir posture).

  • One pyara pours clean water into the bowl and adds crystallized sugar.
  • Another pyara holds onto the bowl with the left hand, grasps a double edged iron sword with the right hand, and stirs the sugar in to the water while reciting one of five Amrit banis, or ceremonial prayers.
  • The others hold the edge of the bowl with both hands, passing the sword and reciting prayers turn by turn, concentrating fully on the Amrit nectar.

When the ceremonial prayers have been completed every one stands and one of the panj pyara offers the formal prayer of Ardas.

Administration of Amrit

Initiates, by turn, assume the bir posture, cupping right hand, over left.

  • One pyara dips a hand into the bowl and pours Amrit into the cupped hands of an initiate saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh," (Khalsa is of the wondrous, dark dispelling light, as is victory). The initiate drinks the nectar, and answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
  • One pyara sprinkles a handful of the Amrit nectar into the initiate’s eyes, saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh." The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
  • One pyara bares the top portion of the initiates head, and wets the initiate’s hair with a handful of Amrit saying, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh". The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times.
  • The panj pyare each place one hand atop the head of the initiate and in one voice, reverberate "Waheguru", the Sikh name for God, thus imparting Gurmanter, or the mantra of the Guru, to the initiate who recites "Waheguru" with them.
When all initiates have been initiated, every one stands up. The panj pyare pass around the bowl of Amrit nectar. One of them holds it to the lips of each initiate. Everyone drinks by turns until it is finished.

Code of Conduct

The panj pyare, in one voice, reverberate "Waheguru" (the Sikh name for God) several times. Then they recite the first verse of the Guru Granth. The initiates repeat after them. The panj pyare recount the discipline of the Khalsa instructing initiates in the code of conduct:
  • Khalsa renounces all lineages of caste, creed, country, occupation, religious affiliations, prophets, incarnations, gods, and goddesses.
  • Khalsa is reborn, ending the cycle of transmigration.
  • Khalsa are sons and daughter of one father, Guru Gobind Singh and one mother, Mata Sahib Kaur.
    • Female initiates take the surname of Kaur signifying the status of a prince.
    • Male initiates take the surname of Singh signifying the kingly courage of a lion.
  • Khalsa has its origins and homeland in Kesghar of Anand Pur.
  • Khalsa accept the ten Gurus as their liberators, the Guru Granth as the way to salvation, and worships one God.
  • Khalsa must learn to read the Gurmukhi text of the scriptures.
  • Khalsa must read, recite, or listen to Nitnem, the daily prayers including:

    Required Morning Prayers:
    • Japji Sahib – composed by Guru Nanak Dev.
    • Jap Sahib – composed by Guru Gobind Singh.
    • Tev Prasaad Swaye – composed by Guru Gobind Singh.
    Required Evening Prayers:
    • Rehraas – selections from the Guru Granth.
    Required Bedtime Prayers:
    • Kirtan Sohila – composed by Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Raam Das, and Guru Arjan Dev.
  • Khalsa must keep on the person at all times five kakars, required articles of faith:
    • Kes - Unshorn hair.
    • Kanga – Wooden comb.
    • Kachherra – Loose undergarment.
    • Kirpan – Short curved sword.
    • Kara – Iron, or steel, bangle.
  • Khalsa must keep the four commandments, and refrain from:
    • HukaaTamaakoo da vartannaa, Use of tobacco and other intoxicants.
    • HajaamatKes di bedbi, Dishonoring or alteration, of any hair on the body, face, or scalp.
    • HalaalKuthaa (maas) khaanaa, Eating that which is killed (flesh, especially if slaughtered the Muslim sacrificial way).
    • HaraamPar istri ja par purash da gaman (bhoganna), Adultery (coitus with women married to another man, or of Islamic religion).
  • Khalsa who commit any transgression must apply for re-initiation.

Conclusion

The panj pyare lead the initiates to the waiting congregation. A large kettle drum is beaten as they file in one by one and bow before the Guru Granth. The initiates greet the sangat, or congregation, and the worship service resumes until it's conclusion when:

  • A Sikh offers ardas.
  • An attending Sikh reads a hukam.
  • The congregation sings Anand Sahib, the closing hymn.
  • A Sikh serves prashad, a blessed sweet, to the worshipers.
  • The congregation gather in the langar dining hall to eat from the Guru's free kitchen.

History of Khalsa Initiation

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