Decoding Rituals and Symbols of Sikhism

A Dramatic Day at the Gurdwara Learning about Sikh Signs and Symbols

With an icy wind whipping and dark storm clouds gathering overhead, the Khalsa Care Foundation graciously opened its doors to our group of more than 40 people for a fascinating spiritual conversation and teaching about “Decoding Rituals and Symbols of Sikhism.”

One of the unexpected gifts of the afternoon was the opportunity for those who came early to witness the final stages of a Sikh wedding. The bridal party and groom were dazzling. As we waited to go into one of the large classrooms, we enjoyed the children who, like children at any wedding, were filled with inexhaustible energy and motion.

Once we were settled, Nirinjan Singh Khalsa, President of the LA City Human Relations Commission and The Guibord Center  – Religion Inside Out Advisory Council member, skillfully guided us from “The 5 Ks of Sikhism” to the Guru Granth Sahib. We continued through an informative session that tickled our curiosity and encouraged our sense of engagement.

For Sikhs, wearing the metal bracelet called akhara symbolizes one’s connection to God, he explained. “It’s like being handcuffed to God, evoking a feeling of remembrance and devotion.”

The questions flew. They covered turbans, customs, dietary restrictions, Sikhs in the local community, and much, much more.

After the main discussion, Nirinjan delighted everyone by also guiding us into the gurdwara sanctuary to experience the worship space and listen to the chanted recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib accompanied by the harmonium and the tabla drum played by devoted community members. It was a moment filled with awe.

Finally, everyone was invited to stay for a small reception of what started as tea and cookies and ended up being a full scrumptious langar (community meal).