Ceremonies, Celebrations and Festivals
- Naam Karan. Naming of a Child. As soon as mother and child are able, the family visits the Gurdwara. Joyful hymns are recited and a sacred sweet pudding (Karah Prashad) is prepared and distributed by the family. The reader of scriptures (Granthi) randomly opens the Guru Granth Sahib to any page and reads a hymn from that page. The first letter of the first word of the hymn is chosen and the child’s name is chosen beginning with this letter.
- Amrit Sanskar. Sikh Initiation. A sacred ceremony administered by Five Elect Sikhs (Panj Piaray) who initiate a devotee into the Khalsa brotherhood accepting to follow the Sikh Code of Conduct (Rehat Maryada). Holy water (Amrit) made from water and sugar crystals is prepared by stirring it with a double-edged sword (Khanda) in a large iron bowl whilst reciting the five daily morning prayers. When the Amrit is ready some of it is poured into the cupped hands of each initiate to drink and sprinkled into the eyes and hair. This is done five times. The initiate must strictly adhere to the Sikh Code of Conduct for life.
- Anand Karaj. Ceremony of Bliss. The Sikh marriage takes place at the Gurdwara in a congregational gathering in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and commenced according to Sikh rites. Many Gurdwaras particularly in England are registered for solemnizing marriages. Child marriage is forbidden.
- Funeral. Following a death, a full reading of the Guru Granth Sahib is commenced. Sikhs consider life to be transient and regard death as a stage in the journey towards progressive spiritual liberation. Sikhs do not believe in heaven or hell as some interim or final destination for the soul. Cremation is the preferred method for the body. The ashes can be immersed in flowing water or scattered. Public displays of grief and mourning are discouraged. Remarriage is encouraged in Sikhism.
- Akhand Paath. The uninterrupted non-stop reading of Guru Granth Sahib. This is performed during occasions marking births, marriages and deaths, enabling the Sikhs to contemplate on the Guru’s teachings.
- Gurpurbs. The marking of important anniversaries relating to the birth or death (martyrdom) of a Guru. This includes the full recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib as well as the singing of hymns and Sikh lectures.
- Baisakhi. The day is celebrated around the 13th April. It is the celebration of the founding of the Khalsa Order and Sikh nation. Many Sikhs choose to be initiated on this day. Often, a religious street procession marks this key event.
- Bandi Chhor. Sikhs commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind (Sixth Guru) from false imprisonment. It coincides with the Indian Festival of Lights (Divali) between the end of October and mid-November. A Muslim saint laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, also on this day.
- Maghi. This celebration occurs around the middle of January and marks the martyrdom of forty Sikhs at the hands of the Mughal army.
- Hola Mohalla. On this day Sikhs practice military exercises, stage mock battles, perform martial arts and organise sports competitions. This is to keep the martial skills and spirit alive. Hymn singing and lectures also take place. It occurs the day after the Indian festival of Holi around mid-March.