Inside a Gurudwara

THE SACHKHAND.

Sachkhand actually refers to a level of spirituality, literally it means the realm of truth, but refers commonly to the holiest room within a Gurudwara. The Sachkhand in a Gurudwara is the room where the holy scriptures are housed during the night. At the end of the day, the Guru Granth Sahib is made to rest in the Sachkhand. Anyone entering the Sachkhand would have had a bath prior to entering the Sachkand - thereby insuring cleanliness. The head must always be covered in the Sachkhand and shoes obviously removed. The Sachkhand is normally situated in the highest point in the Gurudwara - most often it is a separate room within the Darbar.

THE DARBAR.

The Darbar is the main hall in the Gurudwara, it is here that all ceremonies are performed. Shoes must be removed and the head covered. The behaviour inside the Darbar must reflect utmost respect.

Inside the Darbar, there is a stage or platform on which the Guru Granth Sahib is placed, it is covered by a sheet of cloth known as an Armala. There is a canopy above the scriptures. There is normally another platform - placed lower than the Guru Granth Sahib. This is the main stage and all speeches, narration and kirtan is performed from here.

Devotees enter the Darbar and walk towards the Guru Granth Sahib. When the devotee is before the Guru he or she should place any offerings before the Guru, these offerings might be of money, food or even a cloth (from which an Armala would later be made). Following that, the devotee would bow down before the Guru, his knees on the floor and his forehead on the ground. After that, he would take his seat on the floor - on the respective side of the Darbar.

THE LANGAR.

One of the halls within a Gurudwara is the Langar Hall. This is the room where Langar is distributed, it will typically contain a kitchen where the langar is prepared. Traditionally, Sikhs sit on the floor - with men and women seated on separate sides, however, many Gurudwaras in the Western world have seats and tables arranged for seating, this is as a result of Western influence.

THE DAILY FUNCTIONS.

The daily function of a Gurudwara usually begins early in the morning, the exact time is not dictated, in some cases this might be 2 o'clock, in others it might be 10 o'clock. The Guru Granth Sahib would be brought down from the Sachkhand and a ceremony known as the Parkash is performed, this refers to the 'opening' of the holy scriptures.

Throughout the day, Gurbani might be read, there would normally be a sevadar in the darbar who serves the Karah Parshad to visitors. The Granthi would be available to read the Hukamnama - the Guru's command to the visitors.

In the evening, the Rahiras Sahib is read aloud and this might typically be followed by kirtan and katha - the translation of shabads and historic/scriptural narration. The evening ends with a ceremony known as the Sukh Asan, during this, the Guru Granth Sahib is closed and laid to rest in the Sachkhand.

THE GRANTHI

The Granthi can perhaps be best described as the 'priest' - although such a priest system does not exist in the Sikh faith. The Granthi is the custodian of the scriptures and is ultimately responsible for performing the daily ceremonies inside the darbar. The Granthi is usually appointed by the Gurudwara's committee. His (or her) typical duties might include performing the two ceremonies of Parkash and Sukh Asan, reading the Hukam nama aloud to members of the sangat during the functions and at relative times in the day, performing kirtan and katha and reading certain banis to the sangat - such as the Rahiras and morning Nitnem.

THE GURUDWARA COMMITTEE.

Previously - in the subcontinent - the Gurudwaras were run in their entirety by the sangat, there was later recognised - the need for a group of individuals ultimately responsible for various functions relating to the running of the Gurudwara, e.g., treasury, admin. Hence the Gurudwara committees were formed, these are normally elected by the sangat. The existence of such a committee is purely as a function of administration and it does not warrant a superior right within the Gurudwara.