Ceremonies And Customs

Ceremonies And CustomsNanak taught that rituals, religious ceremonies or empty worship is of little use and Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages. However, during the period of the later gurus, and due to increased institutionalisation of the religion, some ceremonies and rites did arise. The morning and evening prayers take about two hours a day, starting in the very early morning hours. The first morning prayer is Guru Nanak's Jap Ji. Jap, meaning "recitation," refers to the use of sound, as the best way of approaching the divine. Like combing hair, hearing and reciting the sacred word is used as a way to comb all negative thoughts out of the mind.

The second morning prayer is Guru Gobind Singh's universal Jaap Sahib. The Guru addresses God as having no form, no country, and no religion but as the seed of seeds, sun of suns, and the song of songs. The Jaap Sahib asserts that God is the cause of conflict as well as peace, and of destruction as well as creation. Devotees learn that there is nothing outside of God's presence, nothing outside of God's control. Devout Sikhs are encouraged to begin the day with private meditations on the name of God.

Upon a child's birth, the Guru Granth Sahib is opened at a random point and the child is named using the first letter on the top left-hand corner of the left page. All boys are given the middle name or surname ‘Singh’, and all girls are given the middle name or surname ‘Kaur’. Sikhs are joined in wedlock through the Anand Karaj ceremony. Sikhs are required to marry when they are of a sufficient age and without regard for the future spouse's caste or descent. The marriage ceremony is performed in the company of the Guru Granth Sahib; around which the couple circles four times. After the ceremony is complete, the husband and wife are considered "a single soul in two bodies."

According to Sikh religious rites, neither husband nor wife are permitted to divorce. A Sikh couple that wishes to divorce may be able to do so in a civil court – but this is not condoned. Upon death, the body of a Sikh is usually cremated. If this is not possible, any means of disposing the body may be employed. The kirtan sohila and ardas prayers are performed during the funeral ceremony.

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