Today, we went to the Gurdwara in Ealing.
I have never been to a Gurdwara before and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the hall was very similar to any other community hall we’ve visited before. It wasn’t really what I expected a temple to look like but it felt very friendly. It was very easy to organise a visit to the temple and we feel very welcome here.
Because we weren’t quite sure what to expect, we wore loose clothing that covered our arms and legs, but we saw lots of boys in shorts. We had to take our shoes off when we entered and we had to cover our heads with headscarves.
A lady talked to us about what it means to be a Sikh and she showed us around the temple.
I learned lots of things:
#1 Sikhism is a relatively new religion. It was formed around 500 years ago in Punjab in India. It is now the 5th largest religion in the world.
#2 In Sikhism you’re not allowed to cut your hair once you have been baptised. This is why the men wear turbans and the women cover their heads (some women wear turbans too). Lots of the men wear beards too, because the believe they are acting on God’s word. This iscalled Kesh. Sikhs also carry a comb – to keep their hair clean and tidy. It is called a Kanga
#3 Sikhs believe that everybody is equal. When they meet to pray and eat, everyone sits together on the floor, to represent that no one is more important than anyone else. In the eyes of God everyone is equal.
#4 Most Sikhs come from Punjab in India and they speak Punjabi
#5 Sikhs do not believe that men are more important than women – in fact, women are seen as more holy as they create life and become teachers to their children.
#6 There are not many rituals in Sikhism. They believe that you can pray anywhere and going to the temple is as much about being part of the community as praying. Volunteers make and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner each day for the community and everyone is welcome. They believe that food brings the community together.
#7 When Sikhs marry, they do not wear wedding rings or other items, because they do not see that the relationship between man and woman as more important than the relationship with God. Instead they wear a Kara – a steel braclet which shows their devotion to the community. It is made of steel (rather than gold or silver) because it is not a decorative item.
#8 Sikhs often teach their children martial arts and practice yoga. The Gurdwara offers many courses so that these are accessible.
#9 The most important date in the Sikh calander is the 13th April, which is the day that represents the religion being founded. They celebrate with a festival called Vaisakhi. It also represents the Spring harvest festival.
#10 There are 5 Ks in Sikhism these are the 5 Ks
The Kachera are special pants worn by Sikh warriors.
The Kirpan is a ceremonial sword, but there is no fixed style for how it should look.
Guru Granth Sahib
This is the main Guru in Sikhism and it is his book that Sikhs follow. It is the book, not the person, that is respected, as Sikhs do not worship idols.
I had a lovely time in the temple, and would feel very welcome to go back. I think Sikhism is a very friendly and welcoming religion.