How to Pray in Sikhism

by Gayla Groom

A Sikh strives to commune with God through frequent prayer, alone or with others. Some prayers are short, quiet communications throughout the day — thank-yous for meals or requests for divine help with various enterprises. Often the words are quoted from scripture. Prayers are also a large part of both religious and non-religious ceremonies. Sikhs may read prayers silently or aloud, or listen to recordings or live prayer services, as in a house of worship, called a gurdwara. Prayers are often sung. The Sikh Code of Conduct, the Reht Maryada, recommends five prayers, called the Panj Bania, be recited daily, a practice called Nitnem.

Daily Prayers in Sikhism

Sikhs cover their heads when entering a gudwara, with turban or headscarf.

1. Wake up during the “ambrosial hours,” the three hours before dawn. Most Sikhs actually rise around 6 a.m., but 4 a.m. is not uncommon. Bathe. Meditate to prepare yourself to be with God. Recite the morning prayer, Japji Sahib, composed by Sri Guru Nanak Dev.

Recite the morning prayer called Jaap Sahib, which is made up of 199 verses composed by Guru Gobind Singh.

Recite the morning prayer called Tav-Prasad Savaiye, which is the Ten Sawayas (stanzas) of a hymn "Akal Ustat" by Guru Gobind Singh.

In the evening, refresh yourself if you’re coming home after a day’s work. Wash, and change clothes. Starting around sunset, before having your evening meal, recite the collection of scriptures called Rehras Sahib, comprised of works by Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Gobind Singh.

At bedtime, recite the Kirtan Sohila, which includes verses by Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjun Dev.

Items you will need

  • Sikhs often pray sitting cross-legged on the floor or they may remain standing.
  • Before entering a gurdwara, Sikhs always remove their shoes and cover their heads — men wear turbans, women wear headscarves.
  • Before praying, Sikhs concentrate their thoughts on God.

About the Author

Gayla Groom has been writing professionally since publishing her first article in “Ranger Rick” in 1983. She has rewritten or edited numerous books on sustainable technologies, including “The Hand-Sculpted House” and “The Biochar Solution.” Groom studied language at Barnard College and the University of Paris.

Photo Credits

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