What is a Gurudwara?

Gurudwara is a place of worship, a temple of Sikhs, the followers of Guru Granth Sahib,  the holy book of Sikhism, the main feature of Gurdwara  is to sing/listen the praises of Lord God and true Guru in association with the true congregation of devotee worshipers and recite the scripture contained in Guru Granth Sahib and hence learn the teachings of true Guru for implementation in real life of course. 

   During the time of the early Gurus, Sikh places of workship were referred to as  dharamsalas. They were a place where Sikhs could gather to hear the Guru speak or sing hymns. As the Sikh population continued to grow Guru Hargobind introduced the word Gurudwara, meaning the gateway through which the Guru could be reached. Thereafter all Sikh places of worship came to be known as Gurudwaras. Any place where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed and treated with due respect can be referred to as a Gurudwara, whether it is a room in ones house of a separate building. 

  The main function of the Gurudwara is to provide Sikhs with a meeting-place for congregational worship through ‘Keertan’, the collective singing of God’s praise through the Shabads (Sacred Hymns) in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, and seeking support and guidance from the Guru.

   ‘Guru’ literally means ‘the Dispeller of Darkness’. ’Gu’ means light, and ‘Ru’ means darkness, representing that the Guru dispels ignorance through enlightenment. The Guru has multiple roles. The Guru inspires, leads the community, enlightens and uplifts individuals and society, as well as provides a roadmap for living a complete perfect life. The Guru is the ‘Shabad’ (Divine infinite Wisdom) revealed and manifested through the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Jee, and nine succeeding human Gurus who developed the faith and manifested the completed form of the Sikh Nation. Sikhs consider the revelation contained with the Sacred Scripture to be the living Word of God, communicated directly through the enlightened Gurus and Saints (Bhagats) who came from various socio-economic and religious backgrounds that shared the Universal religion of Guru Nanak Dev Jee and had experienced God.  

    Other two functions are carried out in all public Gurudwaras. The KATHA, Katha which is reading of the Guru Granth Sahib and explanations. The Second main function which is carried out at every Gurudwara is the Langar, free community kitchen for all visitors of all religions. Along with these main functions Gurudwaras around the worls also serve the Sikh community in many other ways including, libraries of Sikh literature, schools to teach children Gurmukhi and the Sikh scriptures and charitable work in the community on behalf of Sikhs.

 Visiting a Gurudwara 

   People of all religious backgrounds or of no religious faith are welcomed into a Sikh Gurudwara. However, it is necessary that all visitors remove their shoes, wash their hands and cover their head before entering the Gurudwara. Visitors are also forbidden to go into the gurudwara while they are inebriated or possess alcohol, cigarettes or any intoxicating substance.

 Customs and etiquette 

    Devotees will sit cross-legged on the floor. All those who enter the hall must remove their shoes, wash their hands and cover their heads before entering. On entering the hall, devotees walk slowly and respectfully to the main throne (called the takht) on which the Guru Granth Sahib rests. Devotees then stand before the Holy Scriptures, often say a silent prayer, then bow humbly.