Gurdwara – Care of Facilities
Care of facilities in a Gurdwara
Check the Facilities
Before and after a Gurdwara-Session, the persons with the assignments of the facilities, should check these to be sure that everything is working fine – trash-cans are empty, soap is there, toilet rolls are available, paper-towels are in plenty, flush (toilet) is working, water fountain is in order etc.
Paper towels or roll should never be kept on the hand washbasin. Paper gets wet, spoiled and polluted. These should always be put on or in their dispensers.
Trash cans must not touch the walls on the sides, or corners of the room. On opening, its lid hits the wall, or walls and damages it.
Shoes Service Area
Before entering the interior of the Gurdwara – prayer hall or Langar hall etc. leave the shoes outside in the shoe-stand area. This place should be neat and clean with proper shoe-racks, and footpads.
Foot Cleaning Pool – is in front of the main entrance of the prayer hall, or on a side of it. It should have running water to keep water clean. It should not be slippery. Footpads should be there on both sides of it.
Particularly the historical Gurdwaras have this foot-washing facility, and none can enter the prayer hall without washing the feet. The feet have to be properly washed and not just a token dip should be given to them or to the toes. Washing the feet is not a ceremony or tradition, but is to maintain cleanliness. Even the clean looking feet may be sweaty and smelly. At such places, no one can enter the prayer hall with socks on. Under some very important and special circumstances, permission to wear new pair of socks after washing the feet might be given by the management.
Many people out of their deep devotion, and others to seek cure from an ailment, reverently pray and sip this water (in which the Sangat washes its feet). Healthy or nor, they receive blessings due to their deep faith.
This should be well maintained. If the hands are not clean, wash them with soap and water.
Head should be covered before entering the prayer hall. Clean scarves are kept in plenty close to the shoes-off area, or the main entrance.. These scarves are put back into a separate container before leaving the Gurdwara building – prayer hall or Langar hall. These are washed every time after use.
Facilities for handicapped persons are needed. Gurdwara should arrange these. Place for handicapped to sit down should be ideally located – close to the stage, keeping in the mind respect to Guru Granth Sahib. They should not feel ignored or neglected. It is important to realize that the old people, besides other handicaps, might also be deficient in many ways – loss of hearing, poor vision etc.
If anyone desires to get the volume of loudspeakers adjusted, rather than fumbling, he or she should approach the proper operator. The loudspeakers should be evenly distributed throughout the hall. These should preferably have individual volume controls. The volume of loudspeakers should be ideal for everyone, including those sitting far away at the rear (main entrance). If the loudspeakers are fixed close to the stage, the volume should be assessed from the far end of the Sangat close to the main entrance (far away from the stage). Keep in the mind that the people with hearing problems might be there. Keep in the mind the general need and not the individual choice. If needed to benefit the deaf, handicap area should have its own loud speakers with individual controls.
Besides usual bright lights, the prayer hall needs a control to get a mild, subtle, and cool dim light equally spread throughout the prayer hall. The dim light helps concentration in the Naam-Jaap (Recitation of the Name of God), meditation, and in listening to Kirtan.
If the fans are also there in the air-conditioned building, these should be evenly and effectively distributed, and should be at a reasonable height.
Drinking Water (Fountain)
It should be working properly. Supply disposable glasses for those who cannot drink directly from the fountain.
A Gurdwara has the facility of restroom and shower. Nobody should ever go to washroom, restroom – bathroom, with naked feet. This will soil the feet and spoil carpet in the hall – it will become dirty and get polluted: environment in the hall will deteriorate. A few pairs of slippers of different sizes should be kept there.
Must Wash Hands – After using restroom (bathroom), one must wash hands with soap and water to prevent spreading infection.
Anyone with infection
Anyone with infectious disease e.g. flue, mumps measles, whooping cough etc. should better stay at home till recovery.
Fire Extinguishers, and Alarms
Fire extinguishers, fire alarms, carbon-monoxide (cooking gas) alarms, Burglar alarms, are a must on the premises. Prayer-hall stage, and Kitchen should be equipped with these. They have to be checked and batteries changed occasionally.
Gurdwara Noise Control
Separate glass screened area for the devotees with small children, will protect the congregation from the noise and disturbance by the minors.
At the time of Gurus, sources of clean and pure water were limited to water tanks and wells. Those constructed by the Gurus were mostly attached to Gurdwaras. These were very well maintained and kept clean as a selfless and devoted service by their followers. These were gifts of the Gurus, and were considered holy.
Pools or Water Tanks
Mostly the historical Gurdwaras e.g. Nankana Sahib (Now, in Pakistan), have a big water tank attached to them. Gurdwara Sahib at Taran Taran is on the bank of a very big tank. Gurdwara at Mukatsar has a real big tank. Harimandir Sahib – Golden Temple, Amritsar, is set in the big pool. Gurdwara Dookh Nivaaran Sahib, Patiala, is besides a tank. Gurdwara Sahib at Hemkunt, built in the very recent past is on the bank of about one square mile icy cold, shimmering lake, at the height of 15,200 ft. Gurdwara Panja Sahib at Hasan Abdal, now in Pakistan, has an adjoining comparatively small tank fed by the fresh spring water.
Many such tanks have specific places to reverently drink the holy water from them with a prayer for physical health, spiritual evolution, and well being of the family. These tanks are used for bathing, and are kept very clean. For this purpose, plenty of fish is kept in them. Wide and big steps of the tanks have iron chains to hold on, and the steps are kept scrubbed – non-slippery. On certain days, huge number of the people visits these Gurdwaras to have the holy dip.
Every now and then, the Sangat joins in to clean these holy pools. These are real great occasions of selfless service. Even the saints, Rajas, Sardars, and leaders, feel honored to participate.
A Bauli is a well with steps to reach the water. Gurdwara Sahib at Goindwal has 84 steps. Gurdwara Chuna Mandi, Lahore has a Bauli (Now, it is in Pakistan). Gurdwara Sahib of Guru Nanak Dev, at Jagan Nath Puri in Orissa, has a Bauli. The people drink it as the holy water, and bathe in it hoping to get emancipated. It is not the question of what the Sikh faith says about it. It is the faith of a devotee.
Some Gurdwaras have water wells with them. Gurdwara Sahib at Chheharta, in Amritsar, has a very big well. It has six wheels with chains of buckets to draw water. Gurdwara at Patna Sahib has a well in the Gurdwara building itself. Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh at Peshawar, now in Pakistan, has a well with milky sulfur water. The people bathe with this water for health. It tasted bitter.
The Sikh Gurus made tanks, Baulis and wells as the sources of fresh drinking water to the public, and for taking bath etc. These also, supplied drinking water for animals. Used, and surplus water was directed to the nearby fields. Some Gurdwaras, in their complexes or close to them, provide fresh drinking water-pools for animals. Bathing
Bathing in the holy pools, appeases the mind by virtue of the firm faith and it also gives peace. One may take such a bath anywhere, any number of times, but sins go away only by purifying the mind by Gurbani and Naam-Jaap, to become a good and ethical person. We have to take care that we do not hurt or perturb the faith of anyone by any means.