I recently had a chance to visit a Sikh place of worship, known as a Gurdwara, in Mississauga, as part of an interfaith project. This was my first time ever visiting a Gurdwara, and it was definitely an amazing experience!
Upon entering the Gurdwara we were introduced to a few members who were very gracious. They offered a tour to the group of Nasirat and Lajna I was with. We were led into the kitchen where fresh food was made by volunteers. We learned that food is always available at the Gurdwara, anyone is welcome at any time throughout the day to drop in and have something to eat for free. I mean, talk about being welcoming right?
After a tour of the kitchen we then headed into a huge prayer hall. Up front sat a book on a throne surrounded by jewels, swords, cushions, and curtains. This book is called the Guru Granth Sahib which is considered the revealed Word of God spoken through Baba Guru Nanak, other Sikh Gurus and blessed Saints. The reason why the book is placed on a throne is because the Sikhs treat their book with such high respect, that they treat their book like a king. People would often bow in front of the book before proceeding with their prayers. I had a chance to sit down and listen to the prayers, which are comprised of hymns and continuous recitations of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Next, we visited a room set up as a museum in the Gurdwara. There were rows of paintings explaining different historical events in Sikh history, including the persecution they faced.
After looking around the museum, I went to go visit a little room where all the Gurdwara’s copies of the Guru Granth Sahib were kept. They were placed on individual beds, each one was covered in bed sheets. The reason for this is that in the Sikh faith, as a form of great respect, there is supposed to be a separate room dedicated to the Guru Granth Sahib. Every morning at 2:00am, the book is taken to its throne and is to be fanned for about an half hour. While in the room, we kept very quiet out of respect and were asked to leave walking backwards, so our backs would not be turned towards the books.
After a long day of learning we made our way downstairs for brunch. We were asked to sit in rows on red carpets, and food would be served by one of the volunteers in the kitchen. I had chickpeas, lentils, Roti and rice pudding. It certainly did taste quite fresh. Unfortunately it was time to go. I had a great time visiting the Gurdwara and recommend anyone who is interested in learning more about Sikhism to do so, as they are very welcoming and gracious hosts.