Gurdwara (the door or the gateway to the Guru) is the name given to the Sikh’s place of worship, commonly addressed as Sikh temple in the western world. The Sikh scriptures are recited or sung and sermons are delivered. Guru Granth Sahib is placed on high palanquin under a canopy in the middle of one end of the hall. As well as sermons and the singing of the scriptures, the con­gregation is expected to participate in the ceremonies of birth, baptism, marriage, death and celebration of festivals.

The Gurdwara is a place for acquiring a spiritual knowledge and wisdom. It is open to every one regardless of age, sex, caste, or creed. Here all men, women and children are treated as equal. It offers shelter and food to any one in need. It provides care for the sick, elderly and handicapped. It is also a centre for promoting culture and health. Moral education as well as knowledge of the religion and history is often taught to children in the Sikh temple. The Gurdwara is also a place for discussing problems facing the Sikh community. Infringement of the Sikh code of discipline may also be considered and suitable punishment decided. The Gurdwara plays a socio-economic role in the Sikh community. It is expected to be free from any sectional interests or party politics.

The pattern of congregational worship can be divided into two categories: Katha, the reading of the holy hymns followed by their explanation, and Kirtan, the singing of the hymns. Attached to every Gurdwara is a free kitchen where the food, Langar, is prepared and served. The community attempts to establish better relations and under­standing between the Sikhs and other communities through occasional visits by them to a Gurdwara. Such visits are necessary not only to satisfy the curiosity of others but also to help them understand better the Sikh religion, customs and culture. A Gurdwara can be identified from a distance by observing the Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag. The four doors of a Sikh temple represent the Door of Peace, the Door of Livelihood, the Door of Learning and the Door of Grace. These doors must always remain open to all. The Sikh temple is a place for training the devotees in the company of pious people. The Gurus wanted to build a model human society through an ideal and benevolent world organization.

Brief History Of Fremont Gurdwara

Fremont Gurdwara Sahib is a 501(c) (3) tax exempt nonprofit organization, located in the city of Fremont in Nortern California, USA. It was established in 1978 and is one of the most prominent and influential Sikh Gurdwaras in the world outside India. The Gurdwara sahib is open 7 days a week and holds daily programs for local Sikhs and visitors to pray and seek blessings. It has more than 9000 registered members.

Since its establishment, Fremont Gurdwara has been consistently involved in providing help and sharing (Vand Chakna) with the needy and homeless people around the world, especially during disasters. During Katrina, the Tsunami in Thailand, and the earthquake in South Asia, Fremont Gurdwara donated thousands of dollars, food, clothes, blankets and items to keep up personal hygiene.

Visiting Gurdwara

The term ‘Gurdwara,’ pronounced as ‘Gur-Dwa-raa,’ translates to the ‘Guru’s Door’ or ‘path through the Guru.’ It signifies a sacred space where Sikhs gather to seek spiritual guidance, moral wisdom, and the blessings of their Guru. In the Western world, Gurdwaras are commonly known as Sikh Places of Worship. Before embarking on your visit to a Gurdwara, there are important preparations to observe. Dressing modestly is a fundamental requirement, including taking a shower and wearing appropriate attire that covers the body respectfully. It is strictly prohibited to bring alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs onto the premises or to be under their influence.

Additionally, wearing hats or caps is considered inappropriate. Upon arrival, visitors are expected to cover their heads with provided scarves as a sign of respect. Removing shoes and socks before entering the Gurdwara is not only a gesture of cleanliness but also a mark of reverence to Guru Sahib Ji, the spiritual owner of the Gurdwara. It is advisable to wash and dry your feet before proceeding to the Darbar Hall. Good hand hygiene is essential, so washing your hands with soap is recommended, especially before and after eating and before engaging in prayer. A typical Gurdwara consists of two primary halls: the Darbar Hall, where congregational prayers take place, and the Langar Hall, where communal meals are served. Remember to turn off your phone upon entering the Darbar Hall to help maintain the peaceful and sacred atmosphere.

Sikhs in the USA

Sikhism, officially recognized as the world’s fifth-largest organized religion, holds a unique and significant place in the cultural mosaic of the United States. Sikh immigrants began arriving in the United States 150 years ago, driven by dreams of prosperity for themselves and their families. Over time, Sikhs have not only succeeded but excelled in a wide array of fields, from farming and medicine to entrepreneurship and technology, making vital contributions to the nation’s progress. Despite these achievements and their efforts to seamlessly integrate into American society, Sikh Americans continue to face instances of discrimination and prejudice, often rooted in misunderstandings about their faith and traditions.

Sikhism, founded in the Punjab region of northern India by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the 15th century, is a faith centered on principles of equality, justice, and devotion. In recent decades, Sikhism has transcended its Indian origins to become a global religion, with substantial immigrant populations in the Western Hemisphere, Middle East, Australia, and Africa.The visual identity of Sikh men, characterized by their turbans (dastaars) and beards, serves as a symbol of their commitment to Sikhism’s core values. Unfortunately, these distinct features can sometimes lead to misperceptions and, in some cases, discrimination. Increasing awareness and understanding of Sikhism is vital to fostering a more inclusive and harmonious society. Sikh Americans have long championed education and outreach to bridge these gaps, striving to create a more informed and empathetic nation.

About Sikhi QnAs

Why is it Important to Do Rehraas Sahib?

The time of Amrit Vela (Ambrosial hours before dawn) and the time of Rehraas Sahib (evening daily Sikh Prayer) are essential in a Sikh’s life. During these two periods our attendance is taken into account even in Sachkhand (the Realm of Truth). Those who did not do Rehraas Sahib whilst alive are removed from Vaheguru’s court for three hours every evening. One should take time out every evening to do Rehraas Sahib and listen to the Guru’s Hukam.

To learn more about this topic, check out our article on Importance of Doing Rehraas Sahib.

What is Vand ke Chakna?

Vand ke Chakna (sharing with others) is an important principle in Sikhi. We should share what we have with others around us, especially the needy. Guru Sahib Ji tells us that hoarding materialistic possessions, being selfish and only looking out for our own needs is not the path of a Sikh.

Why Guru Gobind Singh Ji Kept a Baaj (Falcon/Hawk)?

A Baaj (falcon/hawk) represents the traits of the Khalsa. Below are the eight reasons for Guru Gobind Singh Ji keeping a Baaj:

  1. Cannot be enslaved
  2. Independent
  3. Flies very high but keeps vision low (Humility)
  4. Chakarvarti (Always moving and unattached)
  5. Never lazy
  6. Flies against the wind (Unique)
  7. Fearless
  8. Royalty (King of the sky)
What is the Greatness of Doing Ardaas and Matha Tek?

One must reap what they sow in this life based on Karma. Upon all of our foreheads, Vaheguru has placed the mark of our fate. When we do Ardaas to Guru Sahib, they bless us with what we ask for. The question now arises, how does Guru Sahib bless us with what we want if our destiny is already pre-written? Guru Gobind Singh Ji once explained this using the analogy of a stamp/seal. If one is to look at a stamp/seal before it is stamped, it will be backwards. Until the seal is stamped onto the paper, it cannot be read. This is the state of our bad actions, when a Sikh bows down and touches his/her forehead onto the feet of the True Guru with utmost faith, then those bad fortunes become obverse. Just like the stamp on the paper, our bad fortune become reversed and become good fortune. Guru Gobind Singh Ji teach us here that bowing down to your Guru with full faith is a great action. To learn more about this topic, read our article on the Greatness of Doing Ardaas and Matha Tek.

What is the Greatness of Satsangat (Holy Congregation)?

Sometimes we wonder why it is so important to go into Satsangat (true/holy congregation)? What is the Greatness of Satsangat?  A lot of the time when we read Gurbani our mind struggles to focus. Guru Sahib teaches us that at this time we should go into the Satsangat where our mind will settle. There are three main benefits of going into the Satsangat: when we go to the Sangat our challenges are solved, our sins are washed away, and our sleeping mind awakes to the truth of Vaheguru. Through the Satsangat our life can change. To learn more about this topic, read our article on the Greatness of Satsangat – Advice by Guru Har Rai Ji.

Why Do Sikhs Wear Turbans?

A Dastar (turban) serves as a constant reminder that God is forever present. It is an insignia of Guru Ji’s teaching that a Sikh must hold a high level of moral responsibility. A Dastar also gives Sikhs their unique identity and it is a royal crown given to Sikhs by the Gurus. A Dastar symbolizes equality and does not discriminate against anyone. 

Do the Different Colors and Styles Mean Anything?

Essentially, no. Some styles, such as the Dumalla (du=two, malla=materials) were more commonly worn by Sikh warriors. Other styles may be more predominant in certain Sikh communities, such as the triangle style for Sikhs from Kenya.

Do All Sikhs Wear a Dastar?

All Sikhs have been ordained to keep their hair; therefore, most practicing Sikhs will wear a Dastar. Sikhi has no age or gender barriers, so women and children can also wear a Dastar. Some women and younger Sikhs may also wear a variety of head coverings such as a Chunni, Rumaal or Patka. 

It is very disrespectful to touch or ask a Sikh to remove their Dastar. A Sikh will only remove the Dastar in extreme circumstances or when showering/sleeping, while still keeping their head covered. It is not headwear but an article of faith. A Sikh will treat Dastar with great respect even when removing it. 

What are the Ten Qualities of a Dharmik (Righteous) Person?

The ten qualities of a Dharmik Person are,

  • Khima – Forgiving nature
  • Ahinsa – Non-violence
  • Daya – Compassionate nature
  • Mridh – Speaking sweetly, polite nature
  • Sat Bachan – Speaking the truth
  • Tap – Meditation, penance, Seva (Selfless service)
  • Daan – Giving nature
  • Seel – Calm and patient nature
  • Soch – Pure
  • Trisna Bina – Without any desire

We should all attempt to bring these ten qualities into our lives. To learn more about these qualities and what the realm of Dharam (Dharam Khand) is, check out our article on the Ten Qualities of Dharmik Person.

Did Guru Nanak Dev Ji say to become a human first?

No. It’s not in Gurbani and nor is it in our history. People will sell you a version of Sikhi which is not Sikhi and you might end up buying it.