First Time Visitors
Services in a Sikh Gurdwara (pronounced Gurd-WAH-rah, the name for Sikh Temples) are open to everyone. When attending such services, remove your shoes and cover your head before entering. We sit on the floor, so dress accordingly; pantsuits are better than tight skirts, for instance. (If you are crippled or infirm, reach out to a volunteer and accommodations will be provided.)
Men sit to the right as you enter, and women sit on the left; children may sit with either parent or with friends. When sitting on the floor, please sit in such a way that the bottoms of your feet do not point directly towards the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Guru, which is always under a canopy.
Before sitting down, you may make an offer to the Guru if you wish.
Our services consist primarily of singing Shabads (pronounced SHUH-buds, literally hymns) from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib and other approved works by Sikh saints and poets. Feel free to sing along.
At the end of each service, we all stand while one person gives an Ardas (pronounced AHR-dass), a prayer or supplication for the whole Sangat (pronounced SUNG-gut; it means congregation) . Then one person reads a random passage from the Siri Guru Granth Sahib out loud.
After this, we cup our hands to receive a sweet–similar to warm cookie dough–to remind us of the sweetness of the Guru’s word. And then we all sit down together and share langar (pronounced LUN-gar), the meal from the Guru’s kitchen. Though men and women sit on opposite sides of the room during a Sikh service, we sit together during langar.
The Gurdwara Etiquette for Visitors
Gurdwara Sahib, Sukh Sagar, New Westminster
Welcome to Gurdwara Sahib, Sukh Sagar
Listed below are some general guidelines and etiquette for visitors to a Sikh Gurdwara, which apply to all Sikh houses of worship.
We humbly request compliance with these:
- Please dress appropriately so that you may feel comfortable sitting on a carpeted floor. Loose fitting clothing, which covers most of your body, is suggested.
- Please remove your shoes and place them in the shoe racks provided in the entry area (separate areas for men and women).
- No shoes are allowed in ny other part of the Gurdwara Building (slippers are provided for washrooms and kitchen areas).
- Please cover your heads when you are in all areas of the Gurdwara building. The Gurdwara keeps handkerchief-size cloth coverings for visitors’ use at the entrance to the shoe racks.
- Chairs are provided in the Dining Hall only for those who have difficulty sitting on the floor due to medical conditions.
- Please keep interruptions in the Prayer Hall (Darbar Sahib) to a minimum, and place cell phones/pagers on silent or off modes.
- No smoking, alcohol or drugs of any kind are not allowed on the Gurdwara premises at any time.
- Visitors under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not allowed on the Gurdwara premises.
- No weapons, other than the sacred kirpan (ceremonial sword), are allowed on the Gurdwara premises.
- When you enter the Prayer Hall, you may bow to the Guru Granth Sahib, our holy scriptures, and then join the congregation. (And as you bow to the Guru Granth Sahib, if you like, you may place a token contribution into the contribution box.)
- Men sit on the right side as you enter and women sit on the left side.
- The religious service concludes with the partaking of kara parshad by the congregation (kara parshad: sanctified food, blessed by the Guru, made of whole wheat flour, butter, and sugar). Please take the parshad graciously and not refuse it or throw it away. When it is served, feel free to say to the serving volunteer if you so desire, “a very small portion, please.”
- The religious service is followed by langar in the Langar Hall.
- Please help us in keeping the Gurdwara clean and respectable by not littering on the premises.
- If you have any questions, feel free to ask any Sikh representative in the congregation at the end of the service.