The Sikh Initiation Ceremony of Amrit Sanchar Illustrated

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Amrit Sanchar, the Sikh Initiation Ceremony of Rebirth

A Sikh Holds a Sword to Guards the Door of the Amrit Ceremony
A Sikh Holds a Sword to Guards the Door of the Amrit Ceremony. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Ceremony of Rebirth

"Peevo paol khanday dhar hoay janam suhaylaa||
Drink Amrit to experience rebirth." Bhai Gurdaas 41||1

A Sikh is both an individual and a member of the Sikh community. A Sikh has an obligation to observe the code of conduct from birth until death. The Sikh code of conduct, defines a Sikh as a person who believes in:

A Sikh who has reached the age of accountability ought to be baptized. Every Sikh man, or woman, of any caste, color, or creed has the right to be initiated.

Amrit Sanchar is the Sikh initiation ceremony of rebirth. It may be held any time of day in a secluded place. At least one new initiate must be present. No one may enter once the ceremony begins. A Sikh holding a sword guards the door.

View Amrit Sanchar the Sikh Initiation Ceremony on one page without accompanying illustrations.

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Panj Pyare and Khalsa Initiates With Guru Granth Sahib

The Panj Pyare and Khalsa Initiates Gather in the Presence Of the Guru Granth
The Panj Pyare and Khalsa Initiates Gather in the Presence Of the Guru Granth. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

In the Presence of Guru

To begin the initiation ceremony, a Sikh attendant carries the Guru Granth to a low, draped platform. The prayer of Ardas, is said. The attendant reads the hukam,a randomly selected verse of scripture.

Five men or women who are baptized Khalsa Sikhs, and who have not committed any breach of faith prepare and administer the immortalizing nectar of Amrit They are called the panj pyare:

  • All of the panj pyare gather around the bowl kneeling in bir posture with the left knee upright, while squatting on the right heel.
  • The panj pyare grasp and hold the edge of an iron bowl with both hands.
  • One of the panj pyare pours clean water into a bowl, and adds crystallized sugar.
  • Another of the pyare holds onto the bowl with the left hand, and with the right hand, holds a double edged iron sword. He or she stirs the sugar in to the water while reciting the first of five Amrit banis, or ceremonial prayers:
    • Japji Sahib
    • Jap Sahib
    • Tev Prashad Swayae
    • Benti Choapi
    • Anand Sahib
  • The panj pyare pass the sword, turn by turn, each reciting one of the five prayers while gazing intently into the bowl, and concentrating on the Amrit.

    Initiates should have bathed and washed hair their hair. They should wear:

    • A turban or headscarf.
    • Clean clothing.
    • Kachherra – Sikh undergarment.
    • Kanga – Wooden comb.
    • Kara – Iron, or steel, bangle.
    • Kirpan – Short curved sword.
    • No kind of hat.
    • No ornament piercing the body.
    • No token of any other faith.

    At the conclusion of the ceremonial prayers every one stands. One of the panj pyare offers the prayer of Ardas

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    The Panj Pyare Give Khalsa Initiates Amrit to Drink

    A Khalsa Initiate Sitting in Bir Posture Drinks Amrit
    A Khalsa Initiate Sitting in Bir Posture Drinks Amrit. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Drink Of Immortal Nectar

    The Khalsa initiate sits in bir posture on the right heel with the left knee bent upright, and left foot flat on the floor. The hands are cupped, right hand over the left.

    One of the panj pyare dips a hand into the bowl and pours Amrit into the cupped hands of the initiate saying, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh,” (Khalsa is of the wondrous, dark dispelling light, as is victory). The initiate drinks the nectar and answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times for each initiate.

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    The Panj Pyare Sprinkle Amrit into the Eyes Of Initiates

    One Of the Panj Pyare Sprinkle Amrit into the Eyes of an Initiates
    One Of the Panj Pyare Sprinkle Amrit into the Eyes of an Initiates. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Inducing A Vision of Immortality

    The Khalsa initiate presses the palms together and remains sitting bir posture on the right heel with the left knee bent upright, and left foot flat on the floor.

    One of the panj pyare sprinkles a handful of the Amrit nectar of immortality into the Khalsa initiate’s eyes, saying, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh.” The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times for each initiate.

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    The Panj Pyare Sprinkle Amrit Into the Hair Of Initiates

    One Of the Panj Pyare Sprinkles Amrit Into the Hair Of the Initiate
    One Of the Panj Pyare Sprinkles Amrit Into the Hair Of the Initiate. Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

    Empowering the Hair

    The Khalsa initiate presses the palms together and remains sitting bir posture on the right heel with the left knee bent upright, and left foot flat on the floor.

    One of the panj pyare loosens the topmost part of the turban or head scarf and sprinkles a handful of the Amrit nectar on the Khalsa initiate’s hair, saying, “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh.” The initiate answers in like manner. The process is repeated five times for each initiate.

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    The Panj Pyare Impart Gurmanter to the Khalsa Initiates

    Panj Pyare Bless the Initiate with Gurmanter
    Panj Pyare Bless the Initiate with Gurmanter. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Imparting The Gurus Mantra

    In one voice, the panj pyare in one voice, reverberate "Waheguru", the Sikh name for God which means wonderful enlightener. This method of reciting Waheguru is refered to as gurmanter, the Guru's mantra. The Khalsa initiates repeat in like manner.

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    Khalsa Initiates Drink the Remaining Amrit

    Amritsanchar - Peevo paol (Drink)
    Peevo paol - Initiates drink the remaining Amrit. Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

    Quaffing Nectar

    Khalsa initiates line up or stand in a circle. The panj pyare hold the bowl of Amrit nectar to the initiate’s lips. Initiates drink, turn by turn, until all remaining immortal nectar of Amrit is consumed.

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    The Panj Pyare Instruct Khalsa Initiates In the Code of Conduct.

    The Panj Pyare Instruct Initiates In the Code of Conduct.
    The Panj Pyare Instruct Initiates In the Code of Conduct. Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

    Sikhism Code Of Conduct and Conventions

    The panj pyare review the discipline of the Khalsa order with the new Khalsa initiates and instruct them in the Sikh code of conduct

    • Khalsa renounces all lineages of caste, creed, country, occupation, religious affiliations, prophets, incarnations, gods, and goddesses.
    • Khalsa is reborn, ending the cycle of transmigration.
    • Khalsa are sons and daughter of one father, Guru Gobind Singh and one mother, Mata Sahib Kaur.
    • Khalsa may at this time be given a spiritual first name from scripture of Guru Granth Sahib.
      • Female initiates take the surname of Kaur which signifies the status of a prince.
      • Male initiates take the surname of Singh which signifies the kingly courage of a lion.
    • Khalsa has its origins and homeland in Kesghar of Anand Pur.
    • Khalsa accept the ten Gurus as their liberators, the Guru Granth as the way to salvation, and worships one God.
    • Khalsa must learn to read the Gurmukhi text of the scriptures.
    • Khalsa must read, recite, or listen to Nitnem, the daily prayers including:
      Required Morning Prayers:
      • Japji Sahib – composed by Guru Nanak Dev.
      • Jap Sahib – composed by Guru Gobind Singh.
      • Tev Prasaad Swaye – composed by Guru Gobind Singh.
      Required Evening Prayers:
      • Rehraas – selections from the Guru Granth.
      Required Bedtime Prayers:
      • Kirtan Sohila – composed by Guru Nanak Dev, Guru Raam Das, and Guru Arjan Dev.
    • Khalsa must keep on the person at all times five kakars, required articles of faith:
      • Kes - Unshorn hair.
      • Kanga – Wooden comb.
      • Kachherra – Loose undergarment.
      • Kirpan – Short curved sword.
      • Kara – Iron, or steel, bangle.
    • Khalsa must keep the four commandments, and refrain from:
      • Hukaa – Use of tobacco and other intoxicants.
      • Hajaamat – Dishonoring or alteration, of any hair on the body, face, or scalp.
      • Halaal – Eating flesh especially if killed in the Muslim sacrificial way.
      • Haraam – Adultery.
    • Khalsa who commit any transgression must apply for tankhah. re-initiation, involving confession, punishment and penance.

    More About the Four Cardinal Commandments
    Four Commandments in English and Punjabi
    The Five Required Articles of Faith
    The Five Required Daily Prayers
    Transgression and Penance
    Selecting a Sikh Name
    Origin of Khalsa

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    Nangara Kettle Drum Announces the Entrance of the Khalsa Initiates

    A Kettle Drum Announces the Entrance of the Khalsa Initiates
    A Kettle Drum Announces the Entrance of the Khalsa Initiates. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Enter the Khalsa

    One of the panj pyare offers prayer. The attendant of the Guru Granth reads aloud the hukam, a random verse of scripture. The first letter of the verse is may be used to select a Sikh spiritual name if one is desired by any of the initiates. The panj pyare serve Prashad a blessed delicacy to the initiates. The initiates use their hands to take and eat whatever is leftover from the bowl.

    The panj pyare lead the Khalsa initiates to the waiting congregation. Someone beats upon the Nangara, a large kettle drum, in a thundering percussion announcing the entrance of the Khalsa. The program in session pauses as initiates file in, one by one, and bow before the Guru Granth.

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    The Khalsa Initiates Greet the Congregation

    Amritsanchar - Khalsa
    Khalsa Initiates Greet The Waiting Sangat. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Greeting Sangat

    The Khalsa initiates greet the waiting congregation of Sikh sangat. The worshipers resume the service. Any one of the panj pyare who are are able to lead the congregation in a hymn. The newly initiated Khalsa join in. Often the initiation ceremony is held during an all night program which continues until daybreak.

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    Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "The Sikh Initiation Ceremony of Amrit Sanchar Illustrated." ThoughtCo, Aug. 22, 2016, thoughtco.com/sikh-initiation-ceremony-of-amrit-sanchar-2993265. Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2016, August 22). The Sikh Initiation Ceremony of Amrit Sanchar Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sikh-initiation-ceremony-of-amrit-sanchar-2993265 Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "The Sikh Initiation Ceremony of Amrit Sanchar Illustrated." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sikh-initiation-ceremony-of-amrit-sanchar-2993265 (accessed November 19, 2017).