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::  Sikh Ceremonies  ::
Ceremonies simply are formal action to mark some sacred event or action. In Sikhism there are only a few ceremonies, which are simple, inexpensive and having a religious cause to them. Sikhism is against all sorts of blind rituals or superstitious functions.
Every Ceremony in Sikhism must be performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and after the ceremony Karah Parshad (sweet pudding) and Langar (food) must be served.
Below is the list of the ceremonies in the Sikh religion:
- Naam Karan - Dastar Bandhi - Akhand Path
- Amrit Sanskar - Anand Karaj - Antim Sanskar

NAAM KARAN CEREMONY (Naming of a Child)
The naming of a new born child takes places at the Gurdwara and usually in the presence of friends and relatives. There they recite joyful hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib to celebrate the birth of the new child and ask for blessings of good health and long life for the child. The family offers donation in the form of Karah Prashad (sacred pudding), usually prepared by the family and a Rumala (a small cloth for covering the Guru Granth Sahib). Amrit (sweet water) is also prepared and given to the infant as well as the mother.
Sikh Ceremony - Naam Karan
During this ceremony Ardas is recited and the child blessed. Next, the name is chosen by taking the Hukam, the granthi (the reader of the Holy Granth) randomly opens Guru Granth Sahib to any page and reads the hymn on that page.
The first letter of the first word of the hymn is chosen. The child's name is then chosen beginning with that letter and is announced to the congregation. The word "Singh" (means lion) always follows the boy's name and the word "Kaur" (mean princess) always follows the girl's name.

AMRIT SANSKAR CEREMONY (Baptism)
This is the sacred ceremony for the Sikhs, brining him/her into the Khalsa brotherhood also known as Khalsa Panth. There is no minimum age for getting oneself baptized. However, it should be taken only by those who are fully mature enough to realize the commitment required and the significance. The person wishing to be baptized may be a man or woman of any caste or previous religion. Generally they are encouraged to start following the Sikh way of life before seeking baptism.
The baptism is done in a quiet place, away from distractions, where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been installed.
Sikh Ceremony - Steel bowl and Kirpan
The person wishing be to baptized is required to wash their hair, cover their head, wear clean clothes and the 5K's before presenting themselves before six Amritdhari Sikhs (Sikhs those who are already baptized).
Five Amritdhari Sikhs will conduct the ceremony while one reads the Guru Granth Sahib.
During the ceremony the principles of Sikhism are explained to the person wishing to be baptized which is then followed by Ardas (a Sikh Prayer) and taking the Hukam (opening of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to a random page and reading of a hymn). Amrit (sweet water) is prepared in a steel bowl and stirred with a kirpan by the five beloved ones while following prayers, Japuji, Jaap, Ten Sawayyas, Bainti Chaupai and 6 verses from Anand Sahib are recited.
Sikh Ceremony - Amrit Sanskar
This is followed by Ardas and then drinking of the Amrit five times each, by the person wishing to be baptized, in cupped hands and exclaiming Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh (The Pure Belong to God, Victory to God).
Amrit is then sprinkled on the hair and eyes of the person and any leftover is drunk by all present.
This is followed by an explanation of the code of conduct and discipline required for a Khalsa.
The Khalsa is required to wear the 5K's and abstain from:
- Cutting hair
- Eating Muslim halal meat,
- Cohabiting with a person other than ones spouse.
- Using intoxicants such as tobacco.
Other code of conduct, explained earlier is once again repeated. This is followed by taking Hukam and eating of karah prasad (sacred pudding) from a common bowl. If a person does not have a Sikh name, they take a new name at this time.
In short, by undergoing the Amrit Sanskar ceremony, a Sikh undertakes to uphold the principles of its faith and Code of Conduct as prescribed by all the Gurus.

DASTAR BANDHI CEREMONY (Turban Tying)
Sikh Ceremony - Dastar Bandhi
Usually, when a Sikh boy reaches a certain age, usually 11 to 16, a turban ceremony is performed for the child. This ceremony can be held at the Gurdwara or at any place where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed.
At this ceremony, Ardas is recited and then the child's first turban is ceremonially tied on by the Granthi, or a Sikh elderly person. This ceremonly designates the respect with which the turban is regarded. Moreover, this ceremony is usually attended by family members, and friends.
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ANAND KARAJ CEREMONY (Marriage)
Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony. Like other Sikh ceremonies, this one too is performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and can be conducted either at a Gurdwara or any place where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed. Members from both families gather in the congregation.
Sikh Ceremony - Anand Karaj
Before the official ceremony begins, hymns from the Holy Granth are sung for some time. Eventually the groom comes and sits in from of the Guru Granth Sahib and is later joined by the bride.
The ceremony may be conducted by a Sikh official, who may either be a man or a woman. However, in most cases the head priest (Giani Ji) of the Gurdwara conducts the ceremony. Marriage is considered by the Sikhs to be an irrevocable spiritual bond.
It is neither a contract, nor an agreement; it is a spiritual union. Anand Karaj can take place without waiting for an auspicious day. At the time of wedding, the couple occupies seats in front of Guru Granth Sahib in the presence of Sangat (congregation) with the bridegroom sitting to the right of the bride.
The entire ceremony is very simple, consisting of the following sequences:
1.
Obtaining the consent of the couple (to be) and parents in the presence of the congregation by offering "Ardas". Only the couples and their parents are to stand, while the Ardas is being recited.
2.
Next a small lecture is given on the duties and obligations of marriage according to the Guru's tenets,
3.
The bride's father then hands one end of a scarf (usually saffron or pink) to the groom and the other end, across the shoulder of the groom, to the bride.
4.
Next, the Lavan hymns (pronounced as "Lava". These are the marriage hymns), composed four stanzas by Guru Ram Das, are recited.
Sikh Ceremony - Anand Karaj - Walk around the Guru Granth Sahib
5.
The couple then bows before the Holy Granth then stands up and starts the first clockwise walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. The groom, holding one end of the scarf, leads while the bride, holding the other end coming over the shoulder of the groom, follows slowly behind.
6.
On completing the first round, the couple bows to the Holy Granth and sits again.
7.
Shortly after the second stanza of the Lavan hymn is recited and the couples again bow and take the clockwise walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. This process is repeated for each of the four verses of the Lavan hymn.
8.
The official ceremony is then concluded by reciting the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib hymn followed by Ardas by the entire congregation.
9.
A Hukam is taken by reciting a hymn at random from Sri Guru Granth Sahib and then Karah Prasad (sacred pudding) is distributed to all present.
10.
This is then usually followed by kirtan while the couple receives garlands of flowers and monetary gifts from the congregation.
11.
After this the entire congregation and the newly married couple partake of langar in the community kitchen.

AKHAND PATH CEREMONY
Sikh Ceremony - Akhand Path
This is the non-stop cover to cover reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is undertaken to celebrate any joyous occasion or in times of hardship, such as birth, marriage, death, moving into a new house, and Gurpurbs.
The non stop reading takes approximately 48 hours and is carried out by family members, or professional readers in the presence of the family. The reading must be clear and correct so that it can be understood by all listeners.
After the completion of the reading the Bhog ceremony takes place. A Hukam is taken by randomly turning to any page and reading the hymn on that page. Karah Parshad (sacred pudding) is also distributed to all present.

ANTIM SANSKAR CEREMONY (Death Ceremony)
In Sikhism death is considered a natural process and is seen as a transient stage towards the complete unity with God. Sikhs believe in re-incarnation. Cremation is the preferred method of disposal, although if it is not possible any other methods such as burial or submergence at sea are acceptable. Sikhs do not erect monuments over the remains of the dead. Worship of the dead with gravestones etc. is discouraged because the body is considered to be only the shell while the person's soul is their real essence.
The death ceremony can be divided into two parts; Saskar, the cremation and the Antim Ardas, the final prayer before the end of the ceremony.
Sikh Ceremony - Antim Sanskar
Before the cremation, the body is usually bathed and clothed by family members and taken to the cremation grounds. There hymns are recited which induce feelings of detachment are recited by the congregation. As the body is being cremated, Kirtan Sohila the night time prayer is recited and Ardas is offered. The ashes are disposed of by immersing them in the river.
The second part of the ceremony is the Antim Ardas, the final prayer during the Bhog ceremony.
A non continuous reading of the entire Sri Guru Granth Sahib is undertaken and timed to conclude on the tenth day. The reading is meant to provide spiritual support and consolation to the family and friends. This is called the Sahaj Path. It may be undertaken at home or in the Gurdwara. The conclusion of this ceremony marks the end of the mourning period.
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