Kids Corner


A Spiritual New Year's Eve




The mark of a new year is a time for celebration. However, amongst the revelry and the parties, many opt to welcome the New Year in a more spiritual way.

Every year, many Sikhs all over the world celebrate the coming New Year by attending New Years' Eve service held at the various local Gurdwaras.

For those unfamiliar with Sikhism, it was founded in fifteenth century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak and nine successive Sikh Gurus that followed Him. Currently, it is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world and the principal belief of Sikhism is in "Ik Oankar", meaning there is One, Universal God of all creation..

This is a story of how the New Years' Eve service is conducted every year at the Gurdwara - the Sikh place of worship.

In the prayer hall of any gurdwara, The Guru Granth Sahib, the Holy Scripture, is the focal point. Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib a living, spiritual guide and hence, it is central in guiding the Sikh's way of life.

The Guru Granth Sahib is always raised while the congregation sits on the floor. However, before seating on the prayer hall floor, all Sikhs remove their shoes, cover their heads and bow before the Guru Granth Sahib as a sign of respect.  

During the duration of the New Years' Eve service, Kirtan, a call-and-response singing of hymns, is performed. It consists of singing to the accompaniment of traditional instruments such as the harmonium, tabla, etc.  As it gets closer to midnight, the singing gets louder and more vibrant as the excitement of a new year dawning takes over all.  

Immediately following midnight, the ardaas, a congregational prayer, is conducted. The ardaas is recited by one member of the assemblage, while the rest of the congregation stands with hands together, facing the Guru Granth Sahib. At the completion of ardaas, the congregation bows down. The content of the prayer is to unite the congregation in expressing thanks for blessings past, invoking God's blessings for the New Year, and praying for peace and goodwill for all humanity.  

At the end of the service in the gurdwara, including the New Years' Eve Ardaas,  Langar, a free, vegetarian-only meal is served in the communal dining hall. Langar - like the entire service - is open to all,  Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. This reflects the free kitchen established by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, in the attempt to create equality between all, regardless of religion, caste, color, creed, age, gender or social status.  

All the preparation, cooking and the clean up is carried out by volunteers (sevadars).

As with the Langar, the Gurdwara is open for all, regardless of one's background. I encourage all who are interested to visit your local gurdwara and enjoy the spiritual experience that I have been so privileged to experience.  


[Courtesy: Vancouver Observer]

January 2, 2010

Conversation about this article

1: Jagdeep Singh (Mumbai, India), January 02, 2010, 1:18 PM.

In Mumbai for the last few years, we have a few gurdwaras who arrange for an open air program where the entire congregation is held in open with kirtan recital that goes on beyond midnight. At the stroke of midnight, we have dimming of lights and showering of flowers on the Guru Granth Sahib and sadh sangat. Langar is then served. This was started to enable the Sikhs to start their New year with the blessings of the Guru and follow the spirit of Sikhism rather than party away at clubs under the influence of liqour, etc. Having followed this path for the last few years, it is indeed a blessing to start the new year in the presence of the sangat and in grace of the Almighty.

2: Sarbdeep Singh Sadana (Hayward, California, U.S.A.), January 03, 2010, 1:28 AM.

The proper way to start a New Year! In the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, rather then with some friends at a bar and/ orunder the influence of drugs, liquor, etc. This is how we were taught to do anything, in the presence of our Guru, which a lot of us (mostly the youth) nowadays are forgetting. I just started using this website today and already love it because I can come here and share my thoughts with the rest of the Sikh and non-Sikh community. We need more websites like this to promote PROPER Sikhism.

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