Sikhism > Rehat Maryada

Joining the Congregation for Reflecting on Gurbani
(a) One is more easily and deeply affected by gurbani (the holy bani bequeathed by the gurus)
participating in congregational gatherings. For this reason, it is necessary for a Sikh that he
visit the places where the Sikhs congregate for worship and prayer (the gurdwaras), and joining
the congregation, partake of the benefits that the study of the holy scriptures bestows.

(b) The Guru Granth should be ceremonially opened in the gurdwara every day without fail. Except
for special exigencies, when there is need to keep the Guru Granth open during the night, the
Holy Book should not be kept open during the night. It should, generally, be closed ceremonially
after the conclusion of the Rehras (evening scriptural recitation). The Holy Book should remain
open so long as a granthi or attendant can remain in attendance, persons seeking darshan (seeking
a view of or making obeisance to it) keep coming, or there is no risk of commission of
irreverence towards it. Thereafter, it is advisable to close it ceremonially to avoid any
disrespect to it.

(c) The Guru Granth should be opened, read and closed ceremonially with reverence. The place
where it is installed should be absolutely clean. An awning should be erected above. The Guru
Granth Sahib should be placed on a cot measuring up to its size and overlaid with absolutely
clean mattress and sheets. For proper installation and opening of the Guru Granth, there should
be cushions/pillows of appropriate kind etc. and, for covering it, romalas (sheet covers of
appropriate size). When the Guru Granth is not being read, it should be covered with a romal. A
whisk, too, should be there.

(d) Anything except the afore-mentioned reverential ceremonies, for instance, such practices as
the arti with burning incense and lamps, offering of eatables to Guru Granth Sahib, burning of
lights, beating of gongs, etc., is contrary to Gurmat (the Guru's way). However, for the
perfuming of the place, the use of flowers, incense and scent is not barred. For light inside
the room, oil or butter-oil lamps, candles, electric lamps, kerosene oil lamps, etc. may be
lighted.

(e) No book should be installed like and at par with the Guru Granth. Worship of any idol or any
ritual or activity should not be allowed to be conducted inside the gurdwara. Nor should the
festival of any other faith be allowed to be celebrated inside the gurdwara. However, it will
not be improper to use any occasion or gathering for the propagation of the gurmat (the Guru's
way).

(f) Pressing the legs of the cot on which the Guru Granth Sahib is installed, rubbing nose
against walls and on platforms, held sacred, or massaging there, placing water below the Guru
Granth Sahib's seat, making or installing statues, or idols inside the gurdwaras, bowing before
the picture of the Sikh Gurus or elders - all these are irreligious self-willed egotism, contrary
to gurmat (the Guru's way).

(g) When the Guru Granth has to be taken from one place to another, the Ardas should be
performed. He/she who carries the Guru Granth on his/her head should walk barefoot; but when the
wearing of shoes is a necessity, no superstitions need to be entertained.

(h) The Guru Granth Sahib should be ceremonially opened after performing the Ardas. After the
ceremonial opening, a hymn should be read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

(i) Whenever the Guru Granth is brought, irrespective of whether or not another copy of the Guru
Granth has already been installed at the concerned place, every Sikh should stand up to show
respect.

(j) While going into the gurdwara, one should take off the shoes and clean oneself up. If the
feet are dirty or soiled, they should be washed with water.

(k) No person, no matter which country, religion or caste he/she belongs to, is debarred from
entering the gurdwara for darshan (seeing the holy shrine). However, he/she should not have on
his/her person anything, such as tobacco or other intoxicants, which are tabooed by the Sikh
religion.

(l) The first thing a Sikh should do entering the gurdwara is to do obeisance before the Guru
Granth Sahib. He/she should, thereafter, having a glimpse of the congregation and bid in a low,
quiet voice, "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh".

(m) In the congregation, there should be no differentiation or discrimination between Sikh and
non-Sikh, persons traditionally regarded as touchable and untouchable, the so called high and low
caste persons, the high and the low.

(n) Sitting on a cushion, a distinctive seat, a chair, a stool, a cot, etc. or in any distinctive
position in the presence of the Guru Granth or within the congregation is contrary to gurmat.

(o) No Sikh should sit bare-headed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib or in the
congregation. For Sikh women, joining the congregation with their persons uncomfortably draped
and with veils drawn over their faces is contrary to gurmat (Guru's way).

(p) There are five takhts (lit, thrones, fig., seats of high authority) namely -

(i) the holy Akal Takht, Amritsar
(ii) the holy Takht, Patna Sahib
(iii) the holy Takht Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur
(iv) the holy Takht Hazur Sahib, Nanded
(v) the holy Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo

(q) Only an Amritdhari (baptized) Sikh man or woman, who faithfully observes the discipline
ordained for the baptized Sikhs, can enter the hallowed enclosures of the takhts. (Ardas for and
on behalf of any Sikh or non-Sikh, except a fallen or punished (tankhahia) Sikh, can be offered
at the takhts.

(r) At a high-level site in every gurdwara should be installed the nishan sahib (Sikh flag). The
cloth of the flag should be either of xanthic or of greyish blue color and on the top of the flag
post, there should either be a spearhead or a Khanda (a straight dagger with convex side edges
leading to slanting top edges ending in a vertex).

(s) There should be a drum (nagara) in the gurdwara for beating on appropriate occasions.