Features of the gurdwara

A day in the life of Prem, a young, Sikh, physiotherapy student

The Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara. This translates to ‘the door of the Guru’. The gurdwara is available to all people who want to worship God. Sikhs recognise all religions, believing that all religions are different pathways to the same God. Therefore, people of all faiths are welcome at a gurdwara. Originally, a gurdwara was a place where Sikhs could go to hear the human Gurus speak.

Some of the main features of the gurdwara are:

  • There are four entrance doors to show that everyone is welcome, regardless of status, occupation, gender, religion or wealth.
  • The main prayer hall is called the divan hall. The sangat gather here and sit on the floor to worship Waheguru (God). The Guru Granth Sahib is kept in the divan hall during the day.
  • The sach khand is the room where the Guru Granth Sahib is placed overnight.
  • The langar is the free kitchen. After services, vegetarian meals are served here by volunteers as part of sewa. The food is available to anyone who wishes to eat there.

The Guru Granth Sahib in the gurdwara

The Guru Granth Sahib is the Sikh holy book. Sikhs believe that the Guru Granth Sahib is the Eternal Guru. Any building that holds a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib is known as a gurdwara.

The Guru Granth Sahib is the focus of worship within the gurdwara. It is placed on a raised platform called the manji sahib under a canopy in the divan hall. It always sits higher than the congregation (sangat) as a symbol of respect.

Visualisation of the inside of the gurdwara.
  • The palki sahib is the main structure that houses the Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Over it there is a canopy made out of cloth called a chanani.
  • The Nishan Sahib is a flag bearing the Sikh symbol (the Khanda). These flags are placed on either side of the palki sahib.
  • The Guru Granth Sahib sits in the centre covered with a special cloth called a rumalla.
  • Charitable giving is an important part of being a Sikh, so in front of the palki sahib there is a golak (collection box). Here, the community can give money towards the upkeep of the gurdwara and the langar.

Where is the Guru Granth Sahib found in the gurdwara?

The Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a platform in the divan hall during the day and kept in a special room, called the sach khand, overnight.