What makes you want to go to the Gurdwara? Whether it’s the warm prashad when it’s made fresh, or finding a sense of calm while listening to the hymns, the motive can be whatever personal strings are pulled when feeling compelled for a visit.
In conversation amongst peers or family, a visit to the Gurdwara is often mentioned when something unfortunate happens, or a job interview is pending, or an exam at school is lurking, or an illness strikes a loved one…and usually unmentioned, is the quiet thought of wanting to say ‘thank you’ to God or an ask for forgiveness. In any case, when everyone congregates at the Gurdwara, silent prayers are being shared and blessings are being showered in solace.
Does it make you more or less religious? Not necessarily. How often one goes to the Gurdwara doesn’t define his/her commitment to the Sikh faith or how strongly they believe in God; Most of the time, young adults especially, feel guilty that they don’t go often enough or ‘should’ go a certain number of times. On the contrary, Guru Nanak preached and initiated that “there is only one God, the whole universe is just a manifestation of it and he is therefore, everywhere and in every soul.” How one chooses to channel that connection to God, is an individual choice and the Gurdwara simply offers a special avenue to embrace worship and communal meditation where “one must have control over internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib.” Although, to be honest, most of us don’t even know what the interpretation is of the Paath being read so eloquently by the Granthis –but maybe that’s the beauty of it- we don’t actually ‘have to’ understand it, as long as we can appreciate its resonance.
Further, acording to Sikhism there is no particular place specifically reserved and furnished for the abode of God’s presence – He lives in every one’s heart, black or white, eastern or western, low caste or high caste, good or bad, rich or poor – there is no distinction. Proudly, Sikhism welcomes all backgrounds and people of different faith without prejudice. These days, the diversity seen within the local Gurdwara congregation speaks for itself, where it’s a pleasant surprise to see those of different races or ethnicities take note of the Sikh practices while at the Gurdwara. It’s not only a sign of respect, but rather a sign of inclusivity that propels a warm and inspiring sense of community.
This really goes to show that the Gurdwara always has an open invitation, with or without a real ‘motive’ to visit. Making a visit to the Gurdwara really shouldn’t feel like an obligation or an expectation to fulfill, as it should be something that brings you some degree of fulfillment and personal meaning – even if it really is just for that delicious warm prashad.