A Gurdwara is a Sikh place of worship.

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        A Gurdwara is a Sikh place of worship, and it has one distinguishing feature from the outside, the Nishan Sahib, or Sikh religious and national flag. This serves a similar purpose to a church steeple, or the minaret on a mosque – it guides the worshipper to the place of worship. Gurdwara means ‘the door or house of the Guru’. Guru means spiritual teacher or guide in religious Sikh language.

        When the tenth and last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was about to die, he decreed that the Sikh Holy Scripture should form then on be their Guru, and it became the Guru Granth Sahib.         

        There are Gurdwaras in most of Britain’s major cities. When you go inside a Gurdwara, the most striking feature is the palki, or canopy, over the place where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept during the day.

        The Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a specially designed wooden stool, on a raised platform called a takht. The reader sits cross legged on the takht behind the Guru Granth Sahib and a chauri, a whisk of animal hair which is a symbol of regal dignity, is waved over the Guru Granth Sahib as a mark of respect.

        There are no chairs in the Gurdwara so worshippers sit cross legged on the floor facing the Guru Granth Sahib. This emphasizes the importance of the Guru Granth Sahib; on its raised takht and stool, it is above everyone else and reminds Sikhs of one of their basic beliefs – that everyone, whatever his or her class or position, is equal before God.

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        The fifth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Arjan, was the religious teacher at a time when the Sikh community in the Punjab was becoming prosperous. He made a beautiful artificial lake at Amritsar, in the Punjab, in northern India, and on an island in the centre he built a Sikh Gurdwara, known as the Golden Temple of Amritsar. It is not a towering building, symbolizing a mountain, like a Hindu temple. It is deliberately built at a lower level to emphasize people’s humility before God, and it has doors on all four sides, because it is open to everybody.


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