The Main Features of a Gurdwara
The Gurdwara is the Sikh place of worship. Gurdwara means 'the Guru's
door' or that it is God's house. It also shows that people are welcome
However, the Gurdwara is a community centre as well and many events
take place there, such as Punjabi lessons for young people. Outside
the Gurdwara building, there is a flag called the Nishan Sahib. It is
orange with the Sikh symbol on it. This shows that it is a Sikh place
of worship and that they aren't afraid to show that they are Sikhs and
they are proud of their religion. It is also a welcome to visitors.
The most important thing in the Gurdwara is the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
This is the Sikh holy book but is treated with the respect of a living
Guru, as Sikhs believe it has the Guru's spirit in it. It is placed on
a stool (manji) and a platform to show respect. This is where a human
Guru would stand so that more people could see and hear him. It is
also fanned with a Chauri, made of feathers or yak's hair, as this is
what would have happened in India to the Guru. It shows respect and
that the Guru Granth Sahib is given the same treatment as a human
The Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the Diwan Hall by day. Diwan Hall
means 'Royal Court'. The Diwan Hall is the prayer hall and is in two
parts - one for the men and one for the women and children. This is a
social custom, as Sikhism teaches equality and therefore men and women
shouldn't be separate. Everybody sits on the floor, to show the Sikh
belief in equality.
There is a box for offerings. People can give either food, money or
flowers. The flowers go round the Takht, the food goes to the Langar
and the money goes toward the upkeep of the Gurdwara. This makes the
Gurdwara belong to the people and gets them involved with it.
Before going to the Gurdwara, most Sikhs shower or bath but there are
sinks in the washing area so people can wash their hands. This shows
respect and also cleanliness, another important part of Sikhism. Shoes
are also removed prior to entering the Diwan Hall. This is for two
reasons, most importantly to show respect for the Guru Granth Sahib
and also to keep the carpets clean.
All Gurdwaras have a cooking and eating area. The Langar is a very
important part of Sikhism. It is an honour to prepare the meal as it
demonstrates Sewa (service to others), a thing Guru Nanak taught a
lot. Everyone eats together, again to show equality, because when
Sikhism was started the caste system was very strong and high caste
people wouldn't eat with lower caste people, as they felt they were
inferior and were paying for their sins in a previous life. The Gurus
would not see people unless they accepted the fact that everyone is
equal and joined in with the Langar. It also shows that God feeds
physically as well as...