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The Sikh Tradition of Selfless Service Illustrated


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Seva, The Sikh Tradition of Selfless Service Illustrated
Shoe Seva Gurdwara Bradshaw

Shoe Seva Gurdwara Bradshaw

Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Seva, the Act of Selfless Service

One of the core concepts of Sikhism is seva, the act of selfless service. Many types of seva are performed by at the gurdwara by worshipers. Nearly every aspect of caring for the gurdwara is managed by voluntarily by members of the Sikh congregation. Any person involved in the act of selfless service is called a sevadar.

Shoe Seva, Cleaning the Worshipers Shoes

Before entering the gurdwara hall, devotees remove their shoes. In this this photograph a Sikh cares for the shoes of worshipers, cleaning, and arranging, them neatly. Shoe seva is considered to be an act of humility. Shoe Seva may sometimes be performed as a remedy for ego in an act of penance known as Tankhah.

"Jaat kuleen sevak je hoe||
If someone of high social standing becomes a selfless servant,
taa ka kehnaa kehahu na koe||
Then his praises cannot even be expressed.
Vich sanaatanee sevak hoe||
And if someone from a lowly social class becomes a selfless servant,
nanak panheeaa pehrai soe ||4||1||6||
O Nanak, he shall wear shoes of honor." SGGS||1256

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