Gurpurbs: Festivals i.e. important days of the Gurus – the Sikh Prophets. are celebrated with devotion and great fanfare. This includes birthdays and martyrdom days of the Gurus. These are celebrated by holding –
As a set precedence, mostly an Akhand-Paath (continuous recitation of Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh Holy Book), from its start to its end is done.
Singing of the Holy Hymns is performed.
Sermons are delivered and preaching is done. It includes history of the occasion being celebrated.
Speeches to throw light on the occasion are arranged.
Food after the Gurdwara proceedings are over, is almost an integral part of all celebrations. Free food-stands are arranged all over, and everyone is served with selfless love and humility.
On such days, particularly in hot country like India, free water stands are arranged. Mostly, they serve fresh, iced clean water. Some, may
serve Kachee-Lassee – sweet drink containing sugar, water and milk; sodas; and tea. Along with drinks, snacks and sweets may be served.
On the appropriate days – the days of happy celebrations, a Gurdwara may display fire-works. Golden Temple, Amritsar, displays a great firework on Diwali night to celebrate the return of Guru Hargobind from Gwalior. It also, makes a great firework show on the birth of Guru Ramdas.
Any other voluntary service may be rendered collectively or individually. Food, clothes, and blankets may be distributed. These services are additional to the programs of the faith in the Gurdwara. The services might have been sponsored by someone.
Nishan Sahib Service
The Sikh flag has to be carefully maintained, and changed every year as precedence on the Baisakhi day, April 13/14. It is changed earlier if damaged or its color fades away too much. Phuman (pompom at the tip of the flag) should be replaced when damaged.
Atmosphere inside a Gurdwara is of reverence, peace, love, serenity, sanctity, humility, silence, equality, tolerance, and of selfless service. Everyone has to understand, adjust, and accommodate. In case of any trespassing, beg pardon from the Guru, Sangat and the individual if any involved.
No one is prohibited to enter a Gurdwara, but it should be kept in the mind that a Gurdwara is a place of worship according to the Sikh tenets – code of ethics, precedence, procedures, and routines. No one should engage in any meaningless, negative and undesirable criticism, discussion, argument, or interfere with anything there even if the problem is serious and demanding immediate attention. The best is to bring your suggestions, complaints, or grievances to the notice of the management.
Contributions in cash or kind are welcome in a Gurdwara. These are accepted in the prayer, as well as in the Langar halls. For this, the cashier, secretary, or president may be contacted. Contribution is voluntary, and there is no limit or binding on it. If possible, it may be liberal.
Best is to take out tithe – 1/10th of the income, for the humanitarian purposes. Service, particularly to the Gurdwara and Sangat, should be done with humility, as a contribution and it should better not be labeled charity. We give in the name of God out of what he gives to us. We have nothing of our own to give to Him!
A very practical way is to keep for such purposes some amount aside almost everyday. Go on adding it to a Golak – moneybox, a pot, or a carton. At home, offerings made to Guru Granth Sahib, serve the purpose of making collection well. When giving out of such a collection, we do not feel any sort of inhibition, because we are giving out of what already belongs to the Guru.
It has nothing to do with the Gurdwara collections.
Collections made personally e.g. at home, may be used for –
* Guru Granth Sahib – For purchasing Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book), and on any item needed for its service – Peerrhee or Manji Sahib (cot), Chandova (Chanani – canopy), Chaur (hair-wisp), Romalae (scarves, sheets, covers), pillows, Gutkae (mini prayer books), rosaries and decoration pieces, musical instruments, Agarbattee or Dhoop (scented sticks – incandescence, or scented paste), napkins. Any article of faith or needed for the prayer room may be purchased with this money. You may distribute such or any other useful items free of cost, or contribute these to Gurdwara for the use of Sangat (congregation). Some, distribute Gutkas, free.
* Gurdwara – contributions to Gurdwaras.
* Gurpurbs – contributions for celebrations of the Sikh holy days.
* Magazines – subscriptions to papers and magazines of the Sikh faith or community.
* Parshad – offering of Parshad (sanctified food, including Karrah-Parshad – the holy i.e. sanctified pudding ), flowers etc. to Guru Granth Sahib – the Holy Book.
* Books – For adding religious books to your personal or Gurdwara, or even a public library.
* Langar – service with food. It may be done in a Gurdwara, at home, or anywhere outside. One may sponsor Langar at Gurdwara.
* Bhog – It is ceremony on completion of the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib.
* Kirtan – singing of the Holy Hymns. Payment to the singer may be made. It may be performed at home or anywhere else. Kirtan in a Gurdwara may be sponsored.
Charities – Any type of contributions in the name of God and for the humanity, for helping others even out of your own faith. Anyone with a genuine need may be served.
Any type of selfless service with the money you have collected is most welcome.
Gurdwara – General Services
Some Gurdwaras with ample budget may run devotional music schools, orphanages, academic schools and colleges, professional institutions like medical and engineering colleges, hospitals, senior’s homes, destitute women’s homes, and handicap-institutions. They may have their printing presses to publish the religious literature. These may as well, fulfill the other essential needs of the faith, community, and of the people in general.