Surely not a comprehensive list... please add and correct me, apologies if anything is correct and I hope not to offend anyone. Reading something like this would have probably made me feel more comfortable when I first entered a Gurudwara many years ago... Some points may seem obvious or there may be signs at the Gurudwara to make you aware of them anyway (e.g. prohibition of tobacco and alcohol, remove shoes, cover head etc.)

 

1- try fo find a buddy (it could be another seeker, or perhaps a Punjabi friend)

 

2- research the venue to check if there is any programme going on - perhaps you want to go on a quieter day

 

3- make sure you wear comfortable clothing that is no too tight or revealing. Bring a scarf / chunni / bandana to cover your hair (although most Gurdwaras have a basket with headcovers you can borrow) 
Bear in mind that your top may move up and your trousers slip down a little when you bow down in fron of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. One can see that a "Punjabi Suit" (Salwar Kameez) is really practical in this sense, but there is no need to wear Eastern dress if you don't feel yourself in it. The other things is that us Westerners are unfamiliar with sitting cross legged... comfortable clothing helps, but skirt unless superlong may cause a problem here.

 

4- upon entering the Gurdwara, cover your head and leave your shoes at the show rack or place. Note that Women will be to one side and men the other side.

 

5- Switch off your mobile. Alcohol, drugs and tobacco are strictly prohibited within Grudwara premises. So if you are (still) a smoker, do not carry tobacco with you. By the same token, you should not enter when smelling of alcohol or cigarettes or being under the influence of any such stuff.

 

6 - Go to the bathroom and wash your hands (and feet if you feel it is necessary). Often you will find plastic slippers at the entrance to the washroom... use them while you are in there so your feet dont get dirty.

 

(In India, Gurdwaras have a little water basin which you walk through barefoot before entering a Gurdwara... )

 

7 - From here i should say observe and do as the others do. If you cannot seem to find your way to the main hall, ask :-)

 

8 - Are you ready ??? You enter the main hall (how do you call this in Punjabi) , with carpeting and sheets or blankets on the floor for worshippers to sit down. In the middle you find a walkway leading up to a a type of podium (with a canopy over it) , on which Guru Granth Sahib ji is presented in the daytime. Women usually walk along side and men along the other side of this walkway towards Guruji.

 

9. When arriving at the front , greet Guru ji with your palms pressed together. It is customary to then leave a small donation in the collection box. Then lower your knees to the floor and bend forward so that your head comes down to the ground.  This symbolizes we are "giving your head" , dropping your ego or whatever you may call this. It does not mean that Sikhs "worship their holy book" (as some people may wonder when observing this) - the only worship is to the One God.

Related articles: http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/travelpurpose/2012/02/29/vis...

 

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Replies to This Discussion

When given parshad hold your hands out and acccept it. It would have been stirred with a Kirpan, and therefore blessed, so is customary to fold your hands around the offering a hold it up to you head (In a sort of praying position). After you have finished paying your respects to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, make sure to check out the Langar hall. The Langar hall serves strictly vegetarian food so all can be welcomed. Fellow Gora Sikhs, its take a lot of courage to enter the Gurdwara and I find even more so to try the Langar Hall, but its a great place to reflect whilst getting a bite to eat (without using knifes n forks lol) although you may get a spoon. Again they are male and female sections which i found out the hard way when i tried to sit in one lol. Ive found that you do get starred a little as you are really mixing within an communal environment. However, everytime ive been iv always been given friendly tips.

Good Luck
Taking Sikh friend with you is probably the best way to learn about gurdwara etiquette but I guess some of us have to learn it by themselves.
My first to gurdwara was in 2002 in Dublin. Our Dublin Gurdwara is very small and everyone knows Baba Ji. You can enter the kitchen, make some chai and always there are sweets to eat.

I agree the first time you should take a Sikh friend or even ask someone to help you. The main hall is called the Darbar Sahib. Try not to eat meat before you go for it has a distinct smell. Don't be nervous. Sit and listen to the Hyms and Shabads. Even if you do not understand listen to the instruments and be absorbed by the rhythm. Newer Gurudawaras will have projectors with translations that will help. And have a good time just be yourself.
Sikhi wiki

first time visit to Gurdwara

http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Visiting_a_Gurdwara


wahe guru ji ki fateh
Fi, thank you for adding to this section, very useful points. There is always some more to be learned. And it is easy to forget things when you try to explain for somebody who has never been to a Gurdwara. I am also becoming aware that after a while we automatically get used to sprinkling punjabi words in our texts... but for a newcomer they may not be sure what we mean. As there are not usually fitting translations (how do you translate parshad for instance ?) for these words I would like to encourage newcomers to check on sikhiwiki or similar. As Sikhs we are learners so there is nothing wrong with having lots of questions :-)) This is a place to share them and get an answer or perhaps many answers !

Fi Hackett said:
Most of it has been covered already, but just to add:

If you are a late arrival to a service or walking into the darbar, then you can approach a sevadaar for prashad with both hands cupped (because everyone else will have already been offered some) but don't forget that it's customary to kneel when you do this :)

When you greet people or say goodbye it's usual to put your palms together (in prayer position) rather than shake their hand.

If there is a momentary disappearance of sevadaars serving the langar then don't serve yourself!!

You can get up at any time during a service but remember to bow (touching your head to the floor) as you leave and again when you come back. You can do this in the space you're sitting in rather than in front of the GGS.

Don't forget to wash your hands if you take a gutka to do paath or do some chauri seva. There's usually a sink behind or to the side of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Also remember that not all gurdwaras are the same and so if in doubt, take the clues from your environment- for example some langar halls do seperate men and women, but not all. Some gurdwaras have seperate doors to enter the darbar/diwan hall (for men and women) but again, not all. Also, remember that generally speaking people will be much more forgiving of you if you do something "wrong" and will put it down to unfamiliarity rather than ignorance!
I'm thinking of creating Sikh term vocabulary for beginners or may be someone knows links

" I am also becoming aware that after a while we automatically get used to sprinkling punjabi words in our texts... but for a newcomer they may not be sure what we mean. As there are not usually fitting translations (how do you translate parshad for instance ?) for these words I would like to encourage newcomers to check on sikhiwiki or similar. As Sikhs we are learners so there is nothing wrong with having lots of questions :-)) This is a place to share them and get an answer or perhaps many answers !"
Good idea...

I have found an interesting link for "frequently used words" in the Guru Granth Sahib ji...

http://www.chardikalaa.com/glvoc_fr.htm

For obvious reasons, many of these terms are always sprinkled into English by Sikhs... I would request the Punjabi speaking members to have a look at this and let us know if the translations (although not perfect for sure) are acceptable and would be helpful for a learner ?

Danka aka Desilegend said:
I'm thinking of creating Sikh term vocabulary for beginners or may be someone knows links

" I am also becoming aware that after a while we automatically get used to sprinkling punjabi words in our texts... but for a newcomer they may not be sure what we mean. As there are not usually fitting translations (how do you translate parshad for instance ?) for these words I would like to encourage newcomers to check on sikhiwiki or similar. As Sikhs we are learners so there is nothing wrong with having lots of questions :-)) This is a place to share them and get an answer or perhaps many answers !"

 

 WKWF,

              Indra Ji, i agree with all the points mentioned above by you, appropriately written.

WKWF.

Hi Peter

 

My assumption is that it has something to do with Hindu practice or supersitition.

 

Why would you want to put water under Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji anyway?

 

Ishna


Peter said:

The sikh Reht Maryada states that placing water below the Guru Granth Sahib's seat is forbidden. Can somebody tell me why?

thank you,

Peter

Hello I am new to this group and have a couple of questions I would like to ask

 

First question is a Gurdwara private property? as some years ago when I was homeless I tried to attend certain Gurdwara in Birmingham  UK for Guru Ka Langar. I was prevented from entering and was told that Gora are now allowed in and if I returned or stayed then the police would be called as I as I would be tresspassing.

 

Second question when someone goes in to the main prayer hall they bow infront of the Guru Granth Sahib ( sorry if I have spelt wrong) kneel and place there forehead on the floor. What about if they have a physical disability that prevented them from bowing and kneeling down and also sitting on the floor crossed legged afterwards.

 

Thank you for your answers in advance. 

 

Andy

Andy Ji, this is something unbelievable that you were prevented from entering Gurdwara in Birmigham. Gurdwara is not a private property at all, no matter you are white or black, of any nationality Gurdwara is open for everyone. That's what the beauty of Sikhism is all about and if someone is stopped from entering Gurdwara because of his/her skin color then i am sorry to say that Gurdwara loses it's essence and is not actually Guru's place.  A Gurdwara means Guru's place of residing and the Guru open's his arms and welcomes everyone to his house irrespective of skin color, nationality, language, creed, and sex of the Sangat, the only exception being the Sangat entering must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and must not carry any arms and ammunitions.  They must cover their heads, remove their shoes/slippers, wash their hands and feet and then enter the Guru's room.

 

Secondly, if someone has a physical disability and is unable to kneel down before Guru Granth Sahib Ji, then the person can just fold the hands in front of the Guru and bow his/her head a little standing without kneeling down and for sitting, there are few chairs kept at the Gurdwaras for those with physical disabilities or else if it's not there one can ask from the Sangat to help in getting a chair.

 

I hope things are clear to you now.  

 

Regards.

Summed up pretty well, Amarjit!

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