੧ਓ Ek Onkar Satnam Shri Waheguru Ji ੧ਓ

The Protocol

This House of worship is open to all. Please follow these simple rules:

  • Wear modest attire.
  • Remove shoes when entering the main hall.
  • Cover your head at all times as a sign of respect for the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Bow in front of the Guru Granth Sahib when you enter. (If you wish to leave a small donation, place it in front of the Granth Sahib).
  • Sit on the floor. It is considered impolite to point your feet towards the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Stand during the final prayer (the Ardaas).
  • Men and women sit separately in most Gurdwara. This is traditional and not required by the religion.
  • No alcohol, tobacco or intoxicants are allowed on the Gurdwara premises.

Sikhism

Sikhism (also refered to as Sikhi) is one of the youngest of the World’s major religions. It is a revealed religion, founded by Guru Nanak our first Guru in the Indian sub-continent. The revelations were written by the founders of the faith, in a poetic form, in the Holy Scripture called the Guru Granth Sahib. The script of the holy book is Punjabi, the language spoken by the common people of the region, where Sikhism was founded. Guru Nanak, our first Guru was born in 1469 and began preaching about his vision of the Sikh way of life in 1498.

Nine other Gurus followed him, the last one being Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who passed away in 1708. Before he died, Guru Gobind Singh Ji proclaimed that henceforth, the only Guru of the Sikhs would be the collection of the Scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib. It is now the focus of all services in our Gurdwara and it is the central object that you see. It is covered with decorated shawls and is read ceremoniously at the conclusion of the service.

The Major theme of the Sikh religion is strict Monotheism. We believe that there is only one God and that we are all His children. He is the Absolute Truth, our Creator, Eternal, without fear or favor, is self-created and formless. The Creator resides within the Creation, and is beyond the Creation. There is no single name for the Creator more sacred than any other, whether it is God, Allah, Ram etc. All humans, young and old, men and women, Sikhs and non-Sikhs are equal before Him. We believe that we are all part of His creation, and that a portion of His soul resides in all of us. Hence Sikhs are not superior to any other religious group, and are equal to all before God. A Sikh’s agenda is to live a life of humility, within awe and love of the Creator, abiding by the Will of the Creator, as revealed by the Holy Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikhism fervently believes that the human life is a precious gift given to the soul. The mission in life is to live a live worthy of Grace of the Creator, whereby his or her soul may be immersed in the super-soul, the Creator. Sikhism believes that there are other paths for this immersion, and each of those paths, (other religions), are to be respected. The Sikh scriptures and writings describe Him as a loving God. We begin Life without Sin. The purpose of Life is the realization of the self and then becoming aware of His presence within us. This can be done with prayer, meditation, charity and living a life with full control of ones passions. This internal struggle to detach the mind from the attractions of the senses is the one that every person has to fight.

Sikhism believes that we create our own heaven or hell, within this very lifetime. Salvation can be attained, through the Grace of the Creator, while we are alive or after death.

The Sikhs were persecuted for their belief system. Sikhism originated in the border area between India and Pakistan. (Pakistan came into existence only in 1947; before this there was only India). The dominant rulers at that time were the Mughals. As a result of this persecution, the last Guru of the Sikhs formed the order of the Khalsa with a Baptism ceremony (the Pahul). He decreed that all baptized Sikhs would wear the 5 ìkîs and would not cut their hair (the ìkesî). They would carry a ìkirpanî (a small sword); wear a steel bracelet (the ìkarraî), wear a small comb to keep the hair neat (the ìkanghaî) and wear a pair of long shorts (the ìkacheraî). This identified the Sikhs as a very visible and distinct minority. Those adult Sikhs who do not cut their hair will wear a turban to cover their head and women wear a shawl, a ìdupattaî

About the Worship Service

The singing that you will hear inside the Gurdwara is the recitation of hymns written inside the Guru Granth Sahib. The Granth Sahib contains 1430 pages and was first compiled by the 5th Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji. In addition to the writings of the Gurus, it also contains the spiritual writings of saints, both Hindu and Muslim, who lived at the time of the Gurus or before them. All of the compilations are in poetic form and most are set to music

At the conclusion of the service you will receive ìparshaadî or the offering of food. This is offered to all who come to the Gurdwara. Following that you may go downstairs to join in the meal of ìlanggarî. This is the meal offered to all who come to the Gurdwara without regard to race, religion or creed. Only vegetarian food is served and it is always provided without any payment. It signifies the equality of all who come and the spirit of charity for those who serve.

Distribution

Sikhism is the 5th largest organized religion in the world today after Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. There are 23 million Sikhs worldwide, 20 million of whom live in India. Sikhs form less than 2% of India’s population and most live in the state of Punjab, in the Northern part of India. The spiritual center is the city of Amritsar, which is the home of the Golden Temple.

Outside India, there are major Sikh diaspora communities in United Kingdom, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Kenya and several other countries. Sikhs first came to the US more than100 years ago, initially settling in the West Coast. There are now more than 500,00 Sikhs in the US, and about 100 families call the Richmond area home. There are Sikh families also in Roanoke, Charlottesville and Williamsburg areas and there is a much larger community in Northern Virginia.