Expressing Faith through Worship
For Sikhs, attending the Gurdwara fulfils a basic human need to worship, to recognize the fire within the wood of our being.
Sikh sentiments are contained in the following verses:
‘The earth has been set up as a dharamsal, a place for righteousness’ and ‘the saints of different worlds’ (Guru Granth Sahib Ji: 7-8).
These material worlds are spaces where the Spirit let to be allowed to shine through the veil of shame and filth that is the ego. However, the traditional place of worship for Sikhs, is the Gurdwara. This means Guru’s door. A Gurdwara is not only a place of worship, it is also a centre for the community. Outside will be found a flag, the Nishan Sahib with the Sikh symbol placed on it. Inside, there will be found a worship area with a throne or takht at the centre. This is a platform for the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is treated as the ruler of the Sikh’s life. Therefore, it is placed on a throne under a canopy with an attendant waving a fan over it. Sikhs bow to it and must never turn their back to the ruler.
A verse occurs three times in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji – in the morning and evening prayers and in the main text also. It discusses planets, fire, water, Buddhas, angels, gods, goddesses and saints praising God.
Worshippers always take off their shoes when entering a Gurdwara. They also bow or prostrate themselves before the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. During worship which may last up to five hours, worshippers (the sadhsangat) sit cross-legged on carpeted floors. Hymn singing or ragas, sermons and prayers alternate during the course of the devotions. There are no priests in Sikhism so anyone may read the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
At the end of devotions a worshipper receives karah parshad, a sweet mixture of flour, semolina and butter, to indicate equality before God. As it is important to feed the physical as well as the spiritual body, food is prepared in the langar (kitchen) and worshippers have food during the course of the day.