Visitors Info Welcome to Gurdwara Khalsa Darbar!

Gurdwara Facility

What to wear to the Gurdwara

When you enter the Gurdwara, we kindly ask that you cover your head with a cloth (dupatta, turban, scarf or bandana).

Arriving at the Gurdwara

Please remove your shoes and wash your hands before entering the divaan hall.

Sunday Service routine

Our Weekly Divaan is from 11am to 1pm ET. The program starts with keertan by the youth, followed by keertan from the Sangat.

Sikh Way of Life

The Sikh religion, known in the Punjabi language as Sikhi, is a relatively young religion that was founded over 500 years ago in the Punjab region of South Asia. There are more than 25 million Sikhs around the world, making Sikhism the world’s fifth largest religion. Sikhs first came to the United States in the late 1800s and there are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs living in America today.

Sikhi teaches a message based on the principles of love and oneness and calls on all followers to be spiritual warriors. Meditation, service, and justice are core aspects of the Sikh way of life. Sikhi is a distinct religious tradition that maintains its own distinctive features, including founders, scripture, worship, ceremonies and traditions.

The founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, was born in the region of Punjab, South Asia, in 1469 CE. He lived a life of spirituality, service, and honesty, and the disciples who began to follow his teachings came to be known as Sikhs. The Sikh community grew under the guidance of ten religious leaders — gurus — the last of whom passed away in 1708 CE. The authority of the community today rests with two entities — the Sikh scriptural text known as the Guru Granth Sahib, and the community of initiated Sikhs, known as the Guru Khalsa Panth.

The Sikh scripture is referred to as the Guru Granth Sahib and holds ultimate authority within the Sikh tradition. The text was compiled by the Gurus themselves and contains their musical writings. The Gurus also incorporated writings from other spiritually elevated figures who lived in South Asia and shared a similar outlook. The themes of the scriptural compositions have largely to do with the nature of divine experience and the steps one can take to achieve it. The entirety of the text is written in verse poetry, and a vast majority of it is set to music.

Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be a revealed text, and it plays a central role in Sikh devotional and ceremonial life. The scripture, which is relatively large in size, is the centerpiece of Sikh worship spaces. The gurdwara is modeled after an imperial court in early modern South Asia, which helps remind worshipers of its sovereign and authoritative status. The Guru Granth Sahib is placed on a throne, and a volunteer attends to it. All Sikh life-ceremonies incorporate the scripture in some way as well. For example, at a Sikh wedding, the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib multiple times in order to, among other things, illustrate symbolically the centrality of the teachings within their own lives.

Each of the ten Sikh Gurus worked to nurture the Sikh community, and over time, the community underwent its own growth of responsibility. It went from bearing a small amount of influence during the time of Guru Nanak to being consulted by the Sikh Gurus in major decision-making moments. The community’s influence culminated in 1699 CE, when Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, called on all Sikhs to gather in the city of Anandpur on Vaisakhi, the day that traditionally marked the celebration of the harvest festival.

It was on this occasion that the community of initiates was formally institutionalized and given authority. This community, which would come to be known as Guru Khalsa Panth, provided an official structure for those individuals committed to the Sikh way of life. One demonstrates this commitment by accepting initiation (amrit) and adopting a few of the basic practices that have come to be articulated in the Sikh code of conduct (Rehat Maryada). The prescriptions in this document call on initiated Sikhs to, among other things, engage in daily prayers and wear five articles of faith.

A public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty

Since the formative moments of the tradition, Sikhs have maintained a physical identity that makes them stand out in public, even in the context of South Asia. This identity includes five articles of faith — kesh (unshorn hair), kanga (small comb), kara (steel bracelet), kirpan (religious article resembling a knife), and kachera (soldier-shorts) — and distinguishes someone who has formally committed to the values of the faith by accepting initiation.

While many have attempted to attribute a specific function to each article of faith, these understandings do not capture the connections that Sikhs have with these articles. Perhaps the best analogy (though admittedly an imperfect one) is that of a wedding ring: one cannot reduce the significance of a wedding ring to its instrumental value; rather, one cherishes the wedding ring because it is a gift of love from one’s partner. Similarly, Sikhs cherish their articles of faith primarily because they see them as a gift from their beloved Guru. Trying to understand these articles on the basis of their function is missing the point.

Perhaps the most visible aspect of the Sikh identity is the turban, which can be worn by men and women alike. The turban was historically worn by royalty in South Asia, and the Gurus adopted this practice as a way of asserting the sovereignty and equality of all people. For a Sikh, wearing a turban asserts a public commitment to maintaining the values and ethics of the tradition, including service, compassion, and honesty.


The Sikh worldview centers around the idea of oneness. Sikhs believe that people of all faiths worship one Divine Being who created this world and lives within it. The notion of divine presence leads to the belief that the Divine is equally present in all people, and that, therefore, every human being is equal in the eyes of God. From the Sikh perspective, there are no theological grounds to discriminate against people on the basis of their social identities, whether gender, caste, ethnicity, or otherwise. For example, as Sikhs believe all people are equal, the Sikh community does not have clergy or priests; each person can connect with the Creator directly and all positions of leadership and authority in Sikh religious and political life are open to people of all backgrounds.

Sikhs aim to recognize the divine presence in all aspects of life, and this constant recognition contributes to the cultivation of a loving self. In Sikhi, finding love within our own lives is both the end and the means; realizing divine love is the ultimate goal and practicing love with intention and spirit is the process for achieving that goal. In this sense, the complementary aspects of oneness and love are core theological precepts of the Sikh tradition.

A natural corollary of recognizing the oneness of the world and practicing love is to serve society. In the Sikh tradition, service is a way of expressing gratitude to the Divine. Service is prayerful action. The concept of love-inspired service is called seva, and it is a core part of the Sikh tradition. All Sikhs are expected to serve humanity while also cultivating their own spirituality. The idea is that every Sikh should aspire to be a sant-sipahi, a saint-soldier, one who is both internally focused while also contributing to the world around them.

The core beliefs outlined above help us understand the three daily principles of Sikhi: truthful living, service to humanity, and devotion to God.

Today, Sikhs live all over the world, are embedded within their local and national communities, and remain committed to the core values of spiritual growth and social justice. Sikhs continue to establish gurdwaras with and for their communities, and Sikhs strive to maintain basic aspects of the tradition within these contexts. Sikhs have been in the United States for more than a century now, and they have established themselves as active contributors to civic society.

There are nearly 30 million Sikhs around the world today, and a vast majority of them live in the Indian state of Punjab. There is also a robust and flourishing diaspora, with communities large and small all over the globe. Much of the diaspora is concentrated in the commonwealth due to migration within the British empire, yet Sikhs continue to establish themselves in various countries throughout the world.

From the time of their arrival in the late 1800s, Sikh men and women have been making notable contributions to American society. Early immigrants settled in the western frontier, where they played a major role in building America’s railroads. Sikh Americans like Bhagat Singh Thind served in the U.S. military during the World Wars, and the first Asian American Congressman was a Sikh American elected to office in 1957.

The inventor of fiber optics is a Sikh American, as is the country’s largest peach grower, the mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Morgan Freeman’s personal physician. Sikh American women continue to make diverse contributions, such as Grammy-winning artist Snatam Kaur, commercial airline pilot Arpinder Kaur, and Columbia University professor Supreet Kaur.

Despite their immense contributions to society, Sikhs continue to experience an immense amount of discrimination and hate in modern America. The United States is unique in this regard — in most other countries around the world, people tend to be far more familiar with the Sikh tradition. Cultural and religious illiteracy, coupled with a distinct visible identity, has led to xenophobic violence against Sikhs since their arrival in America more than a century ago. Sikh Americans have been particularly vulnerable to discrimination and hate in the post-9/11 context that is rife with anti-Muslim sentiment and xenophobic violence.


The Gurdwara is the Sikh place of learning and worship where the community gathers. Visitors of any background can seek shelter, comfort, and food through the institution of langar, a free community kitchen open to all. Because the Sikh faith does not have an ordained clergy, any woman or man from the congregation may lead religious services.

The Sikh scripture is at the center of Sikh life, and it is also placed at the center of the gurdwara space. The entire Guru Granth Sahib is written as poetry and music, so the majority of a worship service is conducted in song. Community members and musicians lead the congregation in singing and chanting, and often community leaders will take a few moments to explain basic ideas and lessons from the selections. After the ceremony, the congregants gather for a meal together that is called langar. Everyone sits on the floor as a sign of equality, and people of all backgrounds and identity groups are welcome to join.

There are a few basic aspects of etiquette to know when visiting a gurdwara. Visitors must take off their shoes and cover their heads before entering the worship space. Both of these practices are signs of respect. Upon entering the space, Sikhs bow before the Guru Granth Sahib as a sign of submission to the teachings — this is not obligatory for observers. All congregants then sit on the floor together to participate in the worship and singing. Everyone is welcome to participate as they see fit. Most commonly, visitors prefer to sit, observe, and enjoy the music.

The Sikh tradition does not celebrate “holidays” the same way as other religious traditions. In Sikhi, no particular time or space is holier than any other — the divine is seen to permeate all time and space equally. At the same time, there are certain days of historical significance on which Sikhs around the world gather for reflection and celebration. The most common is the Gurpurab, which marks the anniversary of the birth or death of a Guru.

There are a few other days in a calendar year that continue to serve as times for gathering and celebration. The most prominent of these is Vaisakhi, the day on which the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, created the Khalsa Panth, the community of initiated Sikhs. Another such day is Hola Mohalla, an occasion on which Sikhs have gathered together to celebrate martial arts and physical feats. Bandi Chor Divas, which typically comes in the fall, marks the day on which the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, was released from wrongful imprisonment and returned to the community.

The dates for Sikh celebrations seem to vary because they are not based on the Gregorian calendar (the international civil calendar). Rather, Sikhs use their own calendar – the Nanakshahi calendar – which is a solar calendar that begins with the birth of Guru Nanak. The two calendars align for the most part, but a few slight variations make it difficult to pinpoint a single date on which these occasions and celebrations fall.