"Speak only that which will bring you honor."
Guru Nanak Dev Ji
Guru Nanak Foundation of Tidewater
The Sikh Society of Hampton Roads emerged in the early 1980s. It began simply with a group of ten families who gathered in one another’s homes to worship together. Prayer meetings were held in homes where a Guru Granth Sahib Ji was or a family with access to the sacred text would bring it to another family’s home for worship. As the local Sikh population grew, they established a Gurudwara in Chesapeake, Virginia in 2007. Currently we have approximately 50 families in the Hampton Roads which run and maintain the Gurudwara on daily basis.
The Gurudwara is open at all times, with formal weekly (Sunday) worship services and community meals (Langar) are held. The community gathers every Sunday between 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM for prayers and community meal (Langar).
I bow at His Feet constantly, and pray to Him, the Guru, the True Guru, has shown me the Way.
- Chairman – Raj Rahil
- President – Chanranjit Brar
- Secretary – Surinder Channa
Wherever the Protector of all keeps me, there is heaven.
What is a Gurudwara?
A Gurudwara is the place where Sikhs come together for congregational worship. The literal meaning of the Punjabi word Gurudwara is ‘the residence of the Guru’, or ‘the door that leads to the Guru’. In a modern Gurudwara, the Guru is not a person, but the Holy book of Sikh scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji that gives the Gurudwara its religious status, so any building containing the Holy book is a Gurudwara. Although a Gurudwara may be called the residence of the Guru (meaning the residence of God), Sikhs believe that God is present everywhere.
The purposes of a Gurudwara are:
- It’s a place to learn spiritual wisdom.
- It’s a place for religious ceremonies.
- It’s a place where children learn the Sikh faith, ethics, customs, traditions and texts.
- A Gurudwara is also a community center, and offers food, shelter, and companionship to those who need it.
The Guru Granth Sahib Ji
The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the holy text of Sikhism. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is seen as more than a book, as it is believed to be the living Guru of the Sikhs. Because of the holy words it contains, the scripture is treated with deep reverence and care. During the day, the text is elevated above the congregation underneath a chananni or canopy, which is changed weekly to minimize dust accumulation. During worship, the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is fanned constantly with a chauri made of yak hair. This practice originated out of necessity to keep flies away from the text in Indian temples. Passing the chauri over the text is now a devotional ritual of deep respect, and, though typically done by a priest, can be done by anyone of any age, gender, or religion.
The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in rhyming poems. The messages are very simplistic, things like remember God, be good to each other, don’t lie, be truthful. The Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the central focus of the Sikh worship service. Before the main worship service begins, a Sikh offers a prayer of ardas. Everyone present stands. A Sikh attendant able to read the Gurmukhi scripture then performs prakash to ceremoniously open and invoke the manifest light of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Worshipers reverently listen with utmost respect as a random verse of scripture is read.
At the end of the day, a final verse is read aloud. The sacred volume is closed, and Guru Granth Sahib Ji is put to rest with a sukhasan ceremony.Whether day or night, open or closed, the resting place for scripture of Guru Granth Sahib Ji is required to have:
- A canopy overhead.
- A platform, table, or cot, with small cushions, padding, and pillows, or similar items.
- Rumala coverlets to drape over the Guru Granth.
- A small chaur sahib, or whisk to fan the Guru Granth.
The History of Sikhism
Sikhism (called Sikhi in the original language) is one of the major world religions, primarily developed in 16th and 17th century India. “Sikhism” comes from the word “Sikh”, and the word “Sikh” comes from its Sanskrit root “śiṣya” which means “disciple” or “learner”.
The core beliefs of Sikhism are:
- To see God in everyone; understand and practice equality among all races irrespective of caste, religion, colour, status, age, gender, etc.
- To remember God at all times; to always engage in Simran or “remembrance of God”, the primal being; virtuous, merciful, bountiful, fearless and Creator of everything; be always aware of His persona and behave accordingly.
- To value and respect positive ideals like truth, compassion, contentment, humility, love, etc; (a reflection of God-like features).
- To suppression the inner evils like lust, anger/rage, greed, material attachment, ego, etc; (a reflection of anti-God features).
- To aspire and engage in useful, productive, honest and peaceful life of a householder; to work diligently while holding the image of God within you; (Kirit Karni).
- To engage in selfless service (Sewa) and help build a loving community life; to be a contributor to society whenever possible; (Wand kay shakna).
- To be ready to protect and stand for the rights of the weak among us; to fight for justice and fairness for all.
- To always accept the Will of God, (Hukam) and stay focused and in “Positive Spirits” (Chardikala), etc.