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Initiation Ceremony is an important part of many religious traditions worldwide. It often marks a significant milestone in a seeker’s life and is a way of formally admitting a seeker into the religious community. In the Sikh context, it is called Amrit or Initiation Ceremony. Amrit Ceremony is a fundamental and an essential rite for a seeker to join the Khalsa Panth. Through this the seeker is given ‘amrit’ and the core principles and values of Sikhi are explained to them. It is a unique and meaningful life-changing experience for the seeker.

According to ‘Sikh Rahit Maryada’ (The Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions), there are two aspects of a Sikh’s life: personal (Sakhshi) and community (Panthak). The personal life includes reciting of Nam and Bani, living in accordance with the Guru’s teachings, which include three ceremonies (Birth and Naming, Wedding, and Death and Funeral Ceremony), and engaging in service. Community life includes identification with the Guru Panth (collective Khalsa order as the Guru), Amrit or Initiation Ceremony, assigning tasks (services) for correcting a transgression, method of adopting Gurmata (Guru’s Resolution), and making local decisions, etc.

According to the ‘Sikh Rahit Maryada:’
  1. The Amrit Ceremony should be held at a quiet venue to limit distractions.
  2. The Guru Granth Sahib must be present and attended to by an initiated Sikh in the space chosen to conduct the Amrit Ceremony. Additionally, there must be five other committed Sikhs of any sex present who will administer amrit. Prior to the ceremony, it is necessary that these six individuals bathe themselves and their hair.
  3. The five individuals who administer amrit must be able-bodied. Additionally, none of them may have broken Sikh discipline and principles (tankhahiya).
  4. Any person, regardless of their country, religion, sex, class, race, or caste, who embraces Sikhi and vows to follow its principles, is entitled to receive amrit. Persons to be initiated should possess the ability to make this decision of their own volition.
  5. The person who is to be initiated must have taken a bath and washed their hair prior to the ceremony. They must also wear all five K’s - Kesh (unshorn hair), Kirpan (strapped sword), Kachehra (prescribed shorts), Kanga (comb tucked in the tied-up hair), and Kara (steel bracelet). They should remove piercings, jewelry, and symbols from other faiths, and must cover their head with dastar or dupatta. Finally, those to be initiated must stand respectfully with their hands folded, facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
  6. If a person desires to be re-initiated after committing a transgression, they must first accept the service assigned by the five beloved ones in the presence of the congregation.
  7. One of the five beloved must explain the principles of Sikhi to those seeking initiation. Sikhi encourages a devoted love for and reflection on the IkOankar, the one supreme Creator. To achieve this, one must reflect on Sabad, practice the teachings of the Sabad, participate in congregational services, serve the Panth, perform benevolent deeds, develop love for the Nam, and live according to the Sikh discipline after being initiated. After explaining these principles, the beloved one should ask: "Do you willingly accept these principles?"
  8. Upon an affirmative response, one of the five beloveds should perform an ardas (supplication) for the preparation of amrit and receive the hukam (command). The five beloved ones then approach the bowl to prepare amrit.
  9. The bowl should be of pure steel, and it should be placed on a clean steel ring or other clean support.
  10. Clean water and sugar puffs must be added to the bowl and the five beloved ones should sit around it in a bir posture and recite the below mentioned compositions.
  11. The compositions to be recited are: Japu, Jap, 10 Savaiye (commencing with saravag sudh), Bainti Chaupai (from ‘hamrī karoṁ hāth de racchā’ to ‘dusṭ dokh te lehu bacāī’), and Anand Sahib.
  12. During the recitation of these compositions, each of the five beloved ones should hold the edge of the bowl with their left hand while stirring the water with a double-edged sword in their right hand. The other beloved ones should firmly grip the edge of the bowl with both hands and focus their attention on the amrit.
  13. After the conclusion of the five compositions, one from amongst the beloved ones should perform the ardas.
  14. Only a seeker who has been present for the entire ceremony is eligible for initiation.
  15. Thinking of our Father, the tenth Master, the wearer of the plume, every person seeking to be initiated should sit in bir posture, cupping their right hand over their left, and be asked to drink the amrit five times, as the beloved one who pours amrit into their cupped hand says:

    ‘Say Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih.’ The person being initiated should, after drinking the amrit, repeat, ‘Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih.’ Then five handfuls of the amrit should be sprinkled into the eyes of the person being initiated and another five into their hair. Each such sprinkling should be accompanied by the beloved saying, ‘Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa, Vahiguru ji ki Fatih,’ and the person being initiated repeating the chant. Whatever is left over after the administration of the amrit, should be sipped by all initiated (men and women), together. All initiated Sikhs (both men and women) should drink the remaining amrit together after the administration.

  16. Following the administration of amrit, the five beloved ones will recite the Mul Mantra (the root verse) in unison and ask those who have been initiated to repeat it aloud. In doing so, the Nam of Vahiguru is communicated to the initiated Sikhs. The five beloved ones should recite the verse: ikoaṅkār sati nāmu kartā purakhu nirbhaü nirvairu akāl mūrati ajūnī saibhaṅ gur prasādi.
  17. Then, one of the five beloved must explain the discipline of the Khalsa Panth (order) to the initiated, quoting from the Guru Granth Sahib (940): "satigur kai janme gavanu miṭāiā". Today, you are reborn in the eternal Guru’s house, ending the cycle of transmigration and joining the Khalsa Panth. Your spiritual father is Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, and your spiritual mother is Mata Sahib Kaur. Your place of birth is Kesgarh Sahib, and your native place is Anandpur Sahib. You and other initiated Sikhs, being the sons/daughters of one father, are siblings. Having given up all connections with your caste, descent, birth, country, religion, etc., you have become the Khalsa and renounced your previous lineage and beliefs. Reflect only on IkOankar, the one timeless Being. Think of the ten Gurus and their Bani alone as your liberator. The initiated ought to learn Gurmukhi (Panjabi alphabet) to be able to recite or listen to the recitation of the following compositions daily: Japu, Jap, 10 Savaiye (commencing with sravag sudh), So Daru Rahiras, and Sohila. Initiated Sikhs are encouraged to read other Sabad from or listen to the recitation from the Guru Granth Sahib also. Initiated Sikhs must always carry the five K’s: The Kesh (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (strapped sword), the Kachehra (prescribed shorts), the Kanga (comb), and the Kara (steel bracelet).

  18. The below mentioned four transgressions must be avoided:
    a. Dishonoring the hair; that is cutting, removing, or coloring hair.
    b. Eating Halal meat (prepared by slaughtering animal the Islamic way).
    c. Extramarital sex and cohabitation.
    d. Using tobacco.

    When an initiated Sikh commits a transgression, they should seek re-initiation as well as the opportunity to correct their error. They must present themselves before the congregation and ask for forgiveness, accepting whatever service is awarded. If a transgression is committed unintentionally and unknowingly, the transgressor shall not be liable for righting it. A Sikh is discouraged from associating with a Sikh who had uncut hair previously and has since cut them, or a Sikh who smokes. Initiated Sikhs must always be ready for the service of the Panth and of the gurduaras (Sikh community spaces). Initiated Sikhs are encouraged to donate one-tenth of their earnings, act in accordance with the Guru’s teachings in all spheres of life and remain fully aligned with the Khalsa Panth in accordance with the principles of Sikhi.
    The following acts are considered transgressions: Associating with elements antagonistic to the Panth including the minas, the masands, followers of Dhirmal or Ram Rai, etc., users of tobacco, those who commit female infanticide, one who associates with a Sikh who had uncut hair earlier and has cut them later, one who eats/drinks leftovers of the uninitiated or the Sikhs fallen from the Khalsa discipline, one who dyes his beard, one accepts or requests dowry, user of intoxicants (cannabis, opium, liquor, narcotics, cocaine, etc.), and those who are party to ceremonies or practices contrary to Sikh principles, those who defaults in the maintenance of Sikh discipline.
  19. After this sermon, one from among the beloved ones should perform the ardas. Thereafter, the Sikh sitting in the attendance of the Guru Granth Sahib should take the hukam. If anyone from amongst those who have received the amrit had not earlier been named in accordance with the Sikh naming ceremony, may take a new name in accordance with the Sikh naming ceremony starting with the first letter of this hukam.
  20. To close the ceremony, karah parsad must be distributed to all initiated Sikhs equally regardless of sex, gender, caste, race, or class.

Even though only the above-mentioned compositions are recited while preparing amrit, but among the Sabads that are usually associated with or are recited as an encouragement for taking Amrit or undergoing Initiation Ceremony, the prominent ones are:
  1. suri nar muni jan ammritu khojade su ammritu gur te pāiā. -Guru Granth Sahib 918.
  2. satigur kai janme gavanu miṭāiā. -Guru Granth Sahib 940.
  3. ammritu hari hari nāmu hai merī jinduṛīe ammritu gurmati pāe rām. -Guru Granth Sahib 538-539.
  4. jisu jal nidhi kāraṇi tum jagi āe so ammritu gur pāhī jīu. -Guru Granth Sahib 598.
  5. taji āpu binsī tāpu reṇ sādhū thīu. -Guru Granth Sahib 1007.

Sabad 1
This Sabad is the thirteenth pauri of Anand Sahib revealed by Guru Amardas Sahib (1479-1574) in Rag Ramkali, recorded on page 918 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has five lines.

Sabad 2
This Sabad is the twentieth pauri of Sidh Gosti revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539) in Rag Ramkali, recorded on page 940 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has six lines.

Sabad 3
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib (1534-1581) in Rag Bihagara and is recorded on pages 538-539 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has four stanzas.

Sabad 4
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Nanak Sahib (1469-1539) in Rag Sorathi and is recorded on page 598 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has four stanzas. The stanza of rahau is separate from these stanzas even though it has not been given a separate number.

Sabad 5
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Arjan Sahib (1563-1606) in Rag Maru and is recorded on page 1007 of the Guru Granth Sahib. It has two stanzas. The stanza of rahau is separate from these stanzas.