Q114. Describe the Sikh worship.
Generally a Sikh Temple – Gurdwara – remains open throughout the day, so that worshippers can offer prayers at any time convenient to them. However, in India, two services are held daily in every Sikh temple, one in the morning and the other in the evening. In the morning Asa-di-Var is sung or recited, this is followed by the Anand Sahib, the Ardas (supplication_ and a Hukam(a random reading of a hymn of the Scripture), then follows the distribution of Karah Prasad (consecrated cooked food, made of flour, clarified butter and sugar). In the evening, Rehras and Chaupai are recited by the Granthi (reader of the Scripture) or by the sangat (congregation). Then some hymns are sung by the ragis (musicians) or recited by the sangat. After an Ardas and a Hukam, Karah Prasad is then distributed. Finally, the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously wrapped up and taken to its special place for the night.
On festivals like Gurpurbs (Guru’s festivals) days commemorating the birth, accession, death anniversary or other special occasions and Akhand Path (continuous reading of the Scripture for about 48 hours by the relays of readers) is held and the Ardas is offered. This is followed by programme of Kirtan (hymnal singing) and Katha (discourse). On such occasions the free kitchen – Langar – is open throughout the day.
Sikhs generally bathe in mornings before going to the Gurdwara. They take off their shoes at the gate then wash their hands and feet if suitable arrangements exist. When they enter the main hall, they kneel down and bow before the Guru Granth Sahib, they also make an offering in cash or kind. Any non-Sikhs must cover their heads with a cap or a handkerchief. They are not allowed to take any form of tobacco, alcohol or narcotics inside the temple.
The congregation sits cross-legged on the floor/carpet, the use of chairs is not permitted. In some cases, old and infirm people are allowed cushions for their comfort. There is no priesthood in Sikhism, but for the benefit of the congregation, a Granthi or Seaward (care-taker) may be employed to read the scripture, perform ceremonies or help in the Langar. Often professional musicians called Ragis sing hymns from the Scripture in the prescribed ragas (melody-pattern) and talas (rhythms), accompanied by a harmonium and tabla (pair of drums). In the absense of any musicians, the congregation sings the hymns in chorus.