Chapter IV – Gurudwaras, Congregational Etiquette, Rites

Article V – Joining the Congregation for understanding of and reflecting on Gurbani

a. One is more easily and deeply affected by gurbani (the holy bani bequeathed by the Gurus) participating in congregational gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh that he/she visit the places where the Sikhs congregate for worship and prayer (the gurduwaras), and joining the congregation, partake of the benefits that the study of the Holy Scriptures bestows.

b. The Guru Granth should be ceremonially opened in the gurdwara every day without fail. Except for special exigencies, when there is need to keep the Guru Granth open during the night, the Holy Book should not be kept open during the night. It should, generally, be closed ceremonially after the conclusion of the Rehras (evening scriptural recitation). The Holy Book should remain open so long as a granthi or attendant can remain in attendance, persons seeking darshan (seeking a view of or making obeisance to it) keep coming, or there is no risk of commission of irreverence towards it. Thereafter, it is advisable to close it ceremonially to avoid any disrespect to it.

c. The Guru Granth should be opened, read and closed ceremonially with reverence. The place where it is installed should be absolutely clean. An awning should be erected above. The Guru Granth Sahib should be placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely clean mattress and sheets. For proper installation and opening of the Guru Granth, there should be cushions/pillows of appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet covers of appropriate size). When the Guru Granth is not being read, it should remain covered with a romal. A whisk, too, should be there.

d. Anything except the a fore-mentioned reverential ceremonies, for instance, such practices as the arti with burning incense and lamps, offering of eatables to Guru Granth Sahib, burning of lights, beating of gongs, etc., is contrary to gurmat (the Guru’s way). However, for the perfuming of the place, the use of flowers, incense and scent is not barred. For light inside the room, oil or butter-oil lamps, candles, electric lamps, kerosene oil lamps, etc. may be lighted.

e. No book should be installed like and at par with the Guru Granth. Worship of any idol or any ritual or activity should not be allowed to be conducted inside the gurdwara. Nor should the festival of any other faith be allowed to be celebrated inside the gurdwara. However, it will not be improper to use any occasion or gathering for the propagation of the gurmat (The Guru’s way).

f. Pressing the legs of the cot on which the Guru Granth Sahib is installed, rubbing nose against walls and on platforms, held sacred, or massaging these, placing water below the Guru Granth Sahib’s seat, making or installing statues, or idols inside the gurduwaras, bowing before the picture of the Sikh Gurus or elders – all these are irreligious self-willed egotism, contrary to gurmat (the Guru’s way).

g. When the Guru Granth has to be taken from one place to another, the Ardas should be performed. He/she who carries the Guru Granth on his/her head should walk barefoot; but when the wearing of shoes is a necessity, no superstitions need be entertained.

h. The Guru Granth Sahib should be ceremonially opened after performing the Ardas. After the ceremonial opening, a hymn should be read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

i. Whenever the Guru Granth is brought, irrespective of whether or not another copy of the Guru Granth has already been installed at the concerned place, every Sikh should stand up to show respect.

j. While going into the gurdwara, one should take off the shoes and clean oneself up. If the feet are dirty or soiled, they should be washed with water.

k. No person, no matter which country, religion or cast he/she belongs to, is debarred from entering the gurdwara for darshan (seeing the holy shrine). However, he/she should not have on his/her person anything, such as tobacco or other intoxicants, which are tabooed by the Sikh religion.

l. The first thing a Sikh should do on entering the gurdwara is to do obeisance before the Guru Granth Sahib. He/she should, thereafter, having a glimpse of the congregation and bid in a low, quiet voice, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh”.

m. In the congregation, there should be no differentiation or discrimination between Sikh and nonSikh, persons traditionally regarded as touchable and untouchable, the so called high and low caste persons, the high and the low.

n. Sitting on a cushion, a distinctive seat, a chair, a stool, a cot, etc. or in any distinctive position in the presence of the Guru Granth or within the congregation is contrary to gurmat (Guru’s way).

o. No Sikh should sit bare-headed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or in the congregation. For Sikh women, joining the congregation with their persons uncomfortable draped and with veils drawn over their faces is contrary to gurmat (Guru’s way).

p. There are five takhts (Seats of high authority) namely:

1. The holy Akal Takht Amritsar

2. The holy Takht, Patna Sahib

3. The holy Takht, Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur

4. The holy Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded

5. The holy Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo.

q. Only an Amritdhari (baptized) Sikh man or woman, who faithfully observes the discipline ordained for the baptized Sikhs, can enter the hallowed enclosures of the takhts. (Ardas for and on behalf of any Sikh or non-Sikh, except a fallen or punished (tankhahia) Sikh, can be offered at the takhts.

r. At a high-level site in every gurdwara should be installed the nishan sahib (Sikh flag). The cloth of the flag should be either of xanthic or of greyish blue colour and on top of the flag post, there should either be a spearhead or a Khanda (a straight dagger with convex side edges leading to slanting top edges ending in a vertex).

s. There should be a drum (nagara) in the gurdwara for beating on appropriate occasions.