A gurudwara ( _pa. ਗੁਰਦੁਆਰਾ, "IAST|gurduārā" or _pa. ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰਾ, "IAST|gurdwārā"; sometimes transliterated from Punjabi as gurdwara), meaning "the doorway to the Guru", is the Sikh place of worship and is sometimes popularly referred to as a "Sikh temple". One of the most famous gurudwaras is the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, in northern India.

Visiting a Gurudwara

Gurudwara is a said to be the house of the Guru, the term being derived from Punjabi ( _pa. ਗੁਰ), gurū, "A teacher, religious guide" and Punjabi ( _pa. ਦੁਆਰਾ) duārā, m.s., "A door." People of all religious backgrounds or of no religious faith are welcomed into a Sikh Gurudwara. However, it is necessary that any visitors remove their shoes, wash their hands and cover their head with a rumāl before entering the Darbar Sahib. Visitors are also forbidden to go into the gurudwara while they are inebriated or possess alcohol, cigarettes or any intoxicating substance.

Customs and etiquette

Devotees will sit cross-legged on the floor and must never point their feet towards the holy Guru Granth Sahib. All those who enter the hall must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering. On entering the hall, devotees walk slowly and respectfully to the main throne on which the Guru Granth Sahib rests. Devotees then stand before the Holy Scriptures, often say a silent prayer, offer a donation (if able), then bow humbly. These manners and practices, though seemingly ritualistic in modern times are actually a well preserved extension of the ancient Punjabi practice of respect (for elders, ruling or religious persons).

When visiting a Gurudwara the following guidelines should be followed:

*Head covering for men/boys will normally be available in the Gurudwara but a knotted handkerchief is acceptable. (The Gurudwara may provide handkerchief sized cloth to cover the head). Other hats (eg baseball-style caps) are now seen not to be appropriate.

* Women/Girls will need to wear a headscarf or such head covering but they can also wear a knotted handkerchief. The Gurudwara usually has a box of scarves but not always so you should bring your own headscarf for this reason.

* On first entering the large prayer room (called the Darbar Sahib), a small bow to the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book) shows respect to the 'Guru'. It is normal to sit cross-legged.

* Visitors will be offered Kara Parshad (sweet flour and oil based food offered as prashad) in the worship hall, which is usually given into the cupped hands of a visitor. If you are uncertain about your ability to eat a lot of this prashad – Say "thoda", which means “very small portion” to the Sewadar (volunteer) serving the Kara Parshad. You should take a small plastic bag (or ask for one from the Sewadar serving the Kara Parshad) to save your Kara Parshad for consumption later.

* No meat is allowed in the gurudwara. Only vegetables and organic food is allowed, due to the Sikh society not eating meat in a religious temple.

* You may be offered Langar (vegetarian food from the communal kitchen). If not too certain about consuming this food you can ask to be excused although most people should take langar as it is regarded as a blessing by the Guru. When in the Langar Hall, it is better to ask for less rather than take too much and waste the food. Say “very little” to the Sewadar serving the Langar. If you require more later, just wait for the Sewadar to come around, also remember all food in the Langar is vegetarian, do not ask for meat.

* If you are at a traditional Gurdwara, you may be required to sit on the ground while eating langar. The more modern Gurudwaras allow the visitors to sit on chairs and eat on tables. Also within the Gurudwara is usually a learning center for Sikhs to learn more about their religion, as well as a library.

See also

*List of Sikh festivals
*List of Gurudwaras
*Gurdwaras in Africa
*Gurdwaras in Asia excluding India, Pakistan
*Gurdwaras in Australia and Oceania
*Gurdwaras in Europe excluding UK
*Gurdwaras in India
*Gurdwaras in Pakistan
*Gurdwaras in Canada
*Gurdwaras in South America and Mexico
*Gurdwaras in the United Kingdom
*Gurdwaras in the United States

External links

* [ Discipline and procedures in a Gurdwara]
* [ Global Gurudwara Database]
* [ Complete list of Directories for Gurdwaras worldwide.]
* [ Listing of Gurudwaras where pilgrims can stay overnight at no cost. Reviews and contact information provided where applicable]
* [ Historical Sikh Gurdwaras -]
* [ - Gurudwara Database on your mobile] Browse Gurudwara directory on your mobile phones.

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