Prayer Hall – Entering
Prayer Hall – Entering
Following is the discipline for going to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and Sangat (congregation), in the prayer hall –
- Children may be left in the nursery if this facility is available. Older children may go to the children’s class, if Gurmatt School – school for teaching the Sikh faith, is held.
- Go to the Gurdwara with neat, tidy self, and clean clothes. The clothes should cover the body properly, nicely, and should impart soberness. They should not be showy or gaudy. High, brief, or tight clothes do not seem suitable for going to the Sangat – congregation. Avoid putting on too much makeup and too many ornaments. Piercing the nose, ear lobes, and other body parts is not approved in the Sikh world.
- Do not carry any drugs, alcohol or tobacco in its any form. Do not go to a Gurdwara after taking alcohol, tobacco, or any other drug (Under intoxication and smelling bad).
- The head should be covered.
- Leave your shoes out. If need be clean your feet. Usually, there is a small ditch (tank) mostly with the running water to clean the feet before entering the prayer hall particularly that of an historical Gurdwara. Unless there is water tank to wash the feet, the freshly worn socks are mostly not removed in the usual Gurdwaras.
- Beepers, phones, and such distracting devices should be off. When entering the hall, remove headphones, and no playing of cassettes, digital or other CDs, or any other voice (music)-storing device. No disturbance to the gathering.
- Walk to Guru Granth Sahib with folded hands, humility, serenity and calmly. As far as possible, make some offering in coin or kind to Guru Granth Sahib, bow to it, and sit down anywhere you like. An offering is made with a free will. Sit facing Guru Granth Sahib, whether it is open or closed. If the Holy Book is not there, face the person who is leading the proceedings. Do not sit turning your back, or directing your feet in that direction.
- Sikhs bow to the Holy Book coming down on both knees and touching floor with forehead – not that only one knee touches the floor. Of course, there is no strict discipline for it. A handicapped person may not be able to bend, or go down on his or her knees.
- There is no restriction, but mostly, the women and men occupy two different sides of the hall. Ideally located low chairs or other seats may be provided for the handicapped. Those with good health should avoid to use this facility unless essential due to some valid reason.
- Traditionally, everyone sits at the same level on the floor to express equality. None is provided with or tries to find a special seat. Personal, incapacitating health problem is a different story.
- After bowing to Guru Granth Sahib, or later, a devotee may offer with his free will, some cash to Ragi – the devotional singer, or Kathakar – preacher, but not to a usual speaker from Sangat. After making the offer gently, do not touch the stage before them as a gesture of bowing to them.
- Nobody should ever bow to the floor or touch the feet of anyone in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. Slightly bowing or a nod of head with folded hands, may be with a little smile to show respect, should be enough. No talking.
- Pay full attention to recitation of the Scriptures, divine music, and other proceedings in the prayer hall.
- Do not talk to your neighbors. If essential, do it so that you do not disturb the others. You may go out for any long talk. Better give a written message.
- You cannot disturb proceedings in a formal gathering – no questions, and no discussions. You may question a speaker if the questions are invited. With permission of the stage secretary, you may politely ask questions, after the end of that proceeding. Otherwise, you can talk to him or her later at the personal level.
- Listen to Kirtan silently. You may accompany him or her, in your own heart and do not disturb others. Quite often, singing by Sangat is invited and encouraged by the leading singer.
- Control your children. Do not allow them to run amuck, jump, dance, shout or cry. Keep them calm. If needed, take the child out of the hall, till he or she calms down. It is your responsibility to maintain the sanctity of the hall. If there is a provision, take the child to the separate enclosure, children’s center, or to the Gurdwara-school.
- While sitting in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, nobody stands up to honor someone who enters the hall, however great he or she may be. Standing up like that, will amount to insult the Holy Book. If need be, a Sewak (an attendant – the person serving there) may approach such a person and conduct him to a proper place to sit. When a distinguished person enters the hall, some may shout Jaikaras (slogans) without getting up. This too, should not be done, encouraged, or appreciated. The proceedings should continue undisturbed.
- Nobody claps hands, makes inappropriate gestures, abnormal and unnecessary movements, or dances in the presence of the Holy Book.
- A slogan should be shouted only at a reasonable, proper, and justified occasion, and not otherwise. Try utmost not to disturb the Sangat.
- Many people think that it is insulting to the Holy Book if the flower-petals are showered over anyone else except the Holy Granth (Book). Some do so carefully e.g. in a marriage ceremony, so that the petals thrown over someone do not cross over or fall on Guru Granth Sahib.