Thursday, October 27, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

Q113. Describe the Sikh Temple.

Guru Nanak started the first Sikh assembly at Kartarpur in 1521. This was the beginning of a religious congregation called Dharmsala (place or seat of religion). In the mornings and the evenings the followers of Guru Nanak formed a Sangat (congregation) and hymns were sung by the Guru and Mardana often in chorus with all present. Later on, such sessions were held in the homes of the Guru's followers. The second Guru, Guru Angad, added another activity to the routine of work by teaching Punjabi in the Gurmukhi script. This was called the Pataskala. Here children gathered, to learn the script of the Guru's hymns. Guru Amardas, the third Guru, extended the free kitchen. The Fourth Guru established an ideal center for work at Amritsar, while the Fifth Guru built the Harmindar Sahib later (called the Golden Temple). Almost all the Gurus set up temples wherever they went or whenever they acquired a group of followers. These temples were called Gurdwaras which mean the door (home) of the Guru.

A Sikh temple today is not only a place of worship, but also a community-center. A Free Kitchen (langar) is always a part of a temple. The Gurdwara is also used for performing the birth, marriage and death ceremonies of Sikhs. The Scripture is called Sri Guru Granth Sahib. It contains the musical compositions of the first five Gurus, the Ninth Guru and medieval-Indian saints - Bhagats - both Hindu and Muslim. It is kept in a central place on a raised platform and under a canopy. A man sits behind holding a Chauri(made from feathers or hair), which he waves from time to time in token of respect for "The Word" of the Guru. The worshippers sit on a carpet, men on one side and women on the other. They listen to the musicians or the lecturer. The most important Sikh Temples of Doctrinal Authority are the Akal Takhats Amritsar, Kesgarh Sahib at Anandpur, Patna Sahib, Hazur Sahib at Nander and Damdama Sahib.

Sikh festivals like Diwali, Baisakhi and Gurupurab are celebrated in all Gurdwaras. Then the sessions are long and well attended. Special lectures are arranged to explain to the audience the significance of each occasion or historical event. Apart from the kitchen and dining hall, there are rooms set apart for the accommodation of travelers and visitors. Some big temples have a library and reading room, a Sikh Museum and school. Welfare projects like widow-homes, orphanages, dispensaries or clinics are run by many historical Gurdwaras in India. A Gurdwara is managed by a committee elected from the congregation, according to its registered Constitution. These elections are being held annually.

The Historical temples in India follow a certain design of architecture called Indo-Arsenic. Temples in foreign countries may be housed in any building. Some of the Gurdwaras in U.K. have purchased former Christian churches and then altered them to suit their needs. Usually there is a tall flag-pole - Nissan Sahib - covered with cloth and with a yellow flag bearing the Sikh Insignia. A Sikh temple is open to all people - whoever they may be. will strive to be most comprehensive directory of Historical Gurudwaras and Non Historical Gurudwaras around the world.

The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras. brings to you a unique and comprehensive approach to explore and experience the word of God. It has the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Amrit Kirtan Gutka, Bhai Gurdaas Vaaran, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib and Kabit Bhai Gurdas . You can explore these scriptures page by page, by chapter index or search for a keyword. The Reference section includes Mahankosh, Guru Granth Kosh,and exegesis like Faridkot Teeka, Guru Granth Darpan and lot more.
Encyclopedias encapsulate accurate information in a given area of knowledge and have indispensable in an age which the volume and rapidity of social change are making inaccessible much that outside one's immediate domain of concentration.At the time when Sikhism is attracting world wide notice, an online reference work embracing all essential facets of this vibrant faithis a singular contribution to the world of knowledge.