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Summary Article: gurdwara
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Sikh place of worship and meeting. As well as a room housing the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book and focus for worship, the gurdwara contains the langar, a kitchen and eating area for the communal meal, where male and female, Sikh and non-Sikh, may eat together as equals.

In the centre of the main area of worship, the Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a palki (plinth) underneath an elaborately decorated canopy. This represents the parasol under which the first ten gurus used to deliver their teaching. The Guru Granth Sahib will be covered with a romalla (silk square) when not in use.

Outside the gurdwara is a flagpole bearing the Sikh flag (Nishan Sahib). It is made of saffron-yellow cloth, and the flagpole is also usually covered with the same material. The emblem is a khanda (double-edged sword), two kirpans (swords) representing spiritual and earthly power, and a chakra (circle) around them showing God's unity, without beginning or end. The Gurmukhi script symbol for Ik Onkar (‘one God’) may also be included.

Working for the community is extremely important for Sikhs. Everyone who belongs to a gurdwara has a role to play. The gurdwara is run by a committee, which organizes the many events that take place in the centre, including religious ceremonies, and classes in Sikhism and Punjabi for the younger members. The granthi, who looks after the Guru Granth Sahib, may live at the gurdwara, and may also be its custodian, keeping the building in order and opening it for worshippers.


The Gurdwara

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