The gurdwara: practices in Britain and elsewhere

The gurdwara: practices in Britain and elsewhere

  • The gurdwara, which translates as ‘gateway to the Guru’, is a place of worship for Sikhs. It is an essential community hub where Sikhs can pray, learn, socialise, and share food.

  • All gurdwaras host the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy book) in a central location. Sikhs show respect by bowing to it when entering.

  • The ‘Langar’ is an important aspect of the gurdwara. It’s a community kitchen, where food is served to all visitors, emphasising equality and sharing among all people, regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status.

  • In the gurdwara, all people must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering as a sign of respect. Hands are also washed before entering the prayer hall.

  • The ‘Darbar Sahib’ is the main prayer hall where singing hymns, reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib, and prayer takes place.

  • ‘Kirtan’ practises occur in the gurdwara. It’s the singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, often accompanied by musical instruments like the harmonium or tabla.

  • Worship in the gurdwara is led by a ‘Granthi’ who takes care of the Guru Granth Sahib, leads the congregation in prayer, and conducts the singing of hymns.

  • Gurdwaras often feature a ‘Nishan Sahib’, a Sikh triangular flag on a tall pole outside the building, which is a prominent identifier of a Sikh place of worship.

  • Gurdwaras are open to everyone, not just Sikhs. They serve as community centres and often host educational programmes, classes, and cultural events.

  • Gurdwaras play a crucial role in the festival celebrations of Sikhs, such as ‘Baisakhi’, ‘Gurpurbs’, and ‘Diwali’.

  • Gurdwaras not only exist in Britain but all around the world. Despite variations due to culture and location, the fundamental principles and practises remain the same in all gurdwaras.