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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