What is Sikhism?
Sikhism is a way of life; a disciplined mode of living coupled with a belief in the presence and unity of one God, the equality of all mankind, dedicated faith in the Gurus' word and love for all of humanity.
The stepping stone for a Sikh is to accept the one God and remember Him with one’s mind and acknowledge Him through ones daily actions. A Sikh puts his trust in God alone rather than in other beings, relatives, wealth or possessions.
Sikhism was established by ten Gurus, divine spiritual messengers or masters, over the period from 1469 to 1708 - that is, over a period of 239 years. These teachers were enlightened souls whose main purpose in life was the spiritual and moral well-being of the masses. By setting an exceptional example of how to live a holy and worthy life through practicing righteous principles of living their human lives, they sort to awaken the higher consciousness in the human race. The Gurus taught the people of India and beyond, to live spiritually fulfilling lives with dignity, freedom and honor.
Each of the ten masters added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting eventually to the creation of the religion that is now called Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru and Guru Gobind Singh Ji the final Guru in human form. When Guru Gobind Singh Ji left this world, he decreed the Holy Scripture Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru henceforth. The Guru Granth Sahib, in spirit, is more than a holy book for the Sikhs, for the Sikhs accord the Guru Granth Sahib the same respect and reverence as they did to the human form Gurus.
SIKHS believe in Sarbhat dah phalla or Sarbat da bhala is a Punjabi term which means "welfare of all" "may everyone be blessed" or "may good come to all". This is a term which forms an important part of the Sikh prayer called the Ardas. This term reflects an important part of Sikh philosophy. The term establishes a new precedence set by the Sikh Gurus - It encourages and compels the Sikh to ask for the "well- being of everyone in the world". In establishing this concept, the Gurus have set a new standard for the Sikhs – not only should the Sikhs pray for their own Sell-being but also needs to ask for the blessing for "all the peoples of the world".
GSSA or Bridgewater Gurdwara is a 501(c) (3) tax exempt nonprofit organization, located in the city of Basking Ridge in Central New Jersey, USA. Gurdwara (the door or the gateway to the Guru) is the name given to the Sikh’s place of worship, commonly addressed as Sikh temple in the western world. The Sikh scriptures are recited or sung and sermons are delivered. Guru Granth Sahib is placed on high platform under a canopy in the middle of one end of the hall. As well as sermons and the singing of the scriptures, the con¬gregation is expected to participate in the ceremonies of birth, baptism, marriage, death and celebration of festivals.
In 1973, a few New Jersey Sikh families had a desire to have a Gurudwara near their towns, and held a few meetings. In 1974 the GSSA (Garden State Sikh Association) was incorporated as a Sikh Association with its own Charter, By-Laws and tax exempt status as a religious non- profit organization. The small group started Path and Kirtan in members’ home. In 1979, the present 13 acre Bridgewater property with a small house was purchased. In 1984, construction started to build a new Darbar hall (currently Khalsa School hall). Construction was completed in 1986, and first kirtan in new Darbar hall took place on April 1986 for Vaisakhi celebrations.
The congregation attendance grew in the next few decades and soon there was a need for expansion. In July 2002, GSSA got approval from the township to start construction. In 2008, construction was complete for a new Darbar hall, kitchen, a new Langar hall, restrooms and several rooms. The old Darbar hall was converted to the Khalsa School and Library.
GSSA is also known as Bridgewater Gurdwara, with Waheguru's Mehr and dedication from Sewadars, the Gurdwara and the Khalsa School are prospering and continue to grow and progress.
If one wishes to visit a Gurdwara some protocol must be observed. Consumption of tobacco, liquor or narcotics is strictly forbidden to Sikhs and definitely not allowed on the Gurdwara premises. Before entering the hall, people take off their shoes, wash their hands, cover their head and think of the Guru. Non-Sikhs too must cover their head with a handkerchief or scarf. Upon entering the hall, where Guru Granth Sahib is kept, they walk slowly, bow humbly and touch their forehead to the ground, out of respect and love for the Guru. As people bow, and place their offering respectfully before the Guru, it may be money, flowers, or words of thanks. Any sincere expression of gratitude is equally acceptable to the Guru. After bowing and offering, one should sit down in the Sangat (congregation) quietly without disturbing others. Usually men sit on one side and women on the other, in a cross-legged position. Talking or whispering is not allowed.