Q110. What is the Sikh baptism – Amrit?
Baptism is necessary before joining the Khalsa Panth. Guru Gobind Singh initiated the practice with the establishment of the order of the Khalsa in 1699.
The Amrit ceremony (baptism) is held in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. Five baptized Sikhs known for their piety are called Panj Piyaras, all wearing the five symbols – Kesh(long hair), Kanga (Comb), Kachehra (Knickers), Kara (Iron wristband), and Kirpan (Sword) sit in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. One of the five explains the principles of Sikhism to those who want to be baptized. After the candidates have signified their acceptance, one of the five offers Ardas. Then all the five sit round an iron-vessel containing fresh water an a quantity of sweets – Patasas. They recite the five Banis: the Japji, Jap, ten Swayyas, Chaupai and Anand Sahib. The reciter stirs the water with a double-edged sword, a Khanda, which he holds in his right hand. After recitation is over, the five initiators stand up, holding the vessel in their hands. Each one of them then offers prayer (one of the five Banis) for the nectar just prepared.
As each candidate receives five handfuls of Amrit (holy water) which he drinks shouting Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh. The Amrit is put five times in his eyes and five times on his hair while he repeats the above greeting. The Amrit that remains is sipped by all candidates to remove caste prejudice. The five initiators repeat the Mul Mantra five times, this is then repeated by the candidates. Then one of the five explains the vows of Sikh discipline – Rahat. The candidates are to regard themselves as sons of Guru Gobind Singh and Mata Sahib Kaur. Their home is Anandpur Sahib. They are to abstain from the four misdeeds: removing hair, eating halal meat, adultery and using tobacco. One of the five Panj Piyaras then offers Ardas and reads a passage from the Guru Granth Sahib. Those who adopt Sikhism for the first time receive a new name, ending in Singh for a male and Kaur for a female. All the baptized Sikhs then eat Karah Parsad from the same vessel. If a Sikh has done any of the four misdeeds – Kurahats – mentioned above, he has to be rebaptised after due confession and penance.