Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are visiting the Sis Ganj Gurdwara in central Delhi, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak began as a reaction against the caste system and Brahmin domination of ritual. Sikhs believe in one god and although they reject the worship of idols, some keep pictures of the ten gurus as a point of focus. In this photograph, a Sikh priest is seen during a ceremony in Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi, India.
Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak began as a reaction against the caste system and Brahmin domination of ritual. Sikhs believe in one god and although they reject the worship of idols, some keep pictures of the ten gurus as a point of focus. In this photograph, a Sikh priest is seen during a ceremony in Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi, India.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 21, 2024

Sis Ganj Gurdwara ceremony in Delhi

When entering ceremonies as a photographer, respect is always something that the photographer is remembering and that also included his visit to a ceremony in the Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi. Like Hindus and Buddhists, Sikhs believe in rebirth and 'Karma'. In Sikhism there is no aecetic or monastic tradition ending the eternal cycles of rebirth.

Where is Sis Ganj Gurdwara located?

Sis Ganj Gurdwara is located at Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi and was built on the place where Mughal Emperor Aurungzeb ended the life of the ninth Sikh Guru, Shri Tegh Bahadur in 1675. First established in 1783 by Baghel Singh the Sis Ganj Gurdwara, is one of the nine historical gurdwaras in Delhi.

Historical gurdwara in Delhi
Sis Ganj is a prominent pilgrim center of the Sikh Community and it is equally revered by the Hindus. Many travelers know the Harimandir Sahib, known popularly as the Golden Temple, which is a sacred shrine for Sikhs in Punjab province of India. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent by Guru Nanak and continued to progress through the 10 successive Sikh gurus, the 11th and last guru being the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib.

Colorful ceremony in India
When entering ceremonies as a photographer, respect is always something that the photographer is remembering. Guru Nanak taught that rituals, religious ceremonies or idol worship are of little use and Sikhs are discouraged from fasting or going on pilgrimages. Sikhs do not believe in converting people but converts to Sikhism by choice are welcomed. The morning and evening prayers take around two hours a day, starting in the very early morning hours and the first morning prayer is 'Guru Nanak's Jap Ji'. 'Jap', meaning 'Recitation', refers to the use of sound, as the best way of approaching the divine and like combing hair, hearing and reciting the sacred word is used as a way to comb all negative thoughts out of the mind.

The second morning prayer is Guru Gobind Singh's universal 'Jaap Sahib'. The guru addresses God as having no form, no country and no religion but as the seed of seeds, Sun of Suns and the song of songs and the 'Jaap Sahib' asserts that God is the cause of conflict as well as peace and of destruction as well as creation.

"Devotees learn that there is nothing outside of God's presence, nothing outside of God's control. Devout Sikhs are encouraged to begin the day with private meditations on the name of God. Upon a child's birth, the Guru Granth Sahib is opened at a random point and the child is named using the first letter on the top left hand corner of the left page. All boys are given the last name Singh and all girls are given the last name 'Kaur', this was once a title which was conferred on an individual upon joining the 'Khalsa'"

Punjabi wedding traditions
Punjabi wedding traditions and ceremonies are traditionally conducted in Punjabi and are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture. The actual religious marriage ceremony differs among Sikhs, the weddings are conducted in Punjabi, among Hindus, the ceremony is conducted in Sanskrit and among Muslims, in Arabic. There are commonalities in ritual, song, dance, food and dress and the Punjabi wedding has many rituals and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times, including many famous Punjabi dances.

The Sikhs have a number of musical instruments which are the 'Rabab', 'Dilruba', 'Taus', 'Jori' and 'Saranda' and playing the 'Sarangi' was encouraged in Guru Har Gobind and the 'Rabab' was first played by Bhai Mardana as he accompanied Guru Nanak on his journeys and the 'Jori' and 'Saranda' were designed by Guru Arjan. The 'Taus' was made by Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who supposedly heard a peacock singing and wanted to create an instrument mimicking its sounds. Sikh art and culture are nearly synonymous with that of the Punjab and Sikhs are easily recognised by their distinctive turban, the so-called 'Dastaar'. The Punjab has been called 'India's melting pot', due to the confluence of invading cultures from the rivers from which the region gets its name and Sikh culture is therefore a synthesis of cultures as the photographer also experienced during when he was entering the ceremony.

Role of women in Sikhism
Sikhism does consider men and women to be different by virtue of their gender. However, this does not imply superiority of one sex over the other. Men and women are equal under the eyes of God and should therefore be given equal opportunity. No position in Sikhism is reserved solely for men. Women can take part in prayers and serve as 'Granthi'. Sikh women can also take part in any political role they feel fit to accommodate. Concerning the condemnation of women. In addition to this, with regards to identity, the guru considers the woman to be a princess, by giving her the surname 'Kaur'. This is reserved solely for women and frees them from having to take their husband's name when marrying. Women from all religions are increasingly enquiring about their role, position and importance as outlined by their religious scriptures. Here is a review of the beliefs held within the 'Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji', the Sikh Holy Scripture.

An important point to raise is whether a religion considers women capable of achieving salvation, a realisation of God or the highest spiritual realm. From the above it is clear that the light of God rests equally within both sexes and both men and women can therefore attain salvation by obeying the guru. Many religions blame the woman for the inability of a man to become God enlightened. This has in some cases led to rules, which define the locations where women folk can pray and what they must wear. However in Sikhism, the aim is to rid the soul of sins and realise God by the guru's guidance. Once this is achieved the inner character becomes absorbed and strengthened by God.

Thus, it is not women who are blamed for any sinful thoughts that occur within men, when they see a woman, but the men who allow lust to dominate their mind. Any woman is permitted to enter a 'Gurdwara' and is accepted in all prayers and recitations of the Guru Granth Sahib and no area is made exempt and women are always an integral part of the congregation and the only restriction placed on a woman is that she must not wear a veil.

See this video about the Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi made by Kirtan Pardhana.

"- Situated in the bustling heart of Chandni Chowk, just a stone's throw away from the iconic Red Fort, the Sis Ganj Gurdwara stands as a testament to history, faith and resilience. As I stepped into its serene precincts, I was enveloped by a sense of reverence and tranquility. Sis Ganj Gurudwara isn't just a historical monument – it's a living testament to the enduring spirit of Sikhism and the universal quest for inner peace. While Hindu temples prominently feature in India, the Sikh religion also embraces dazzling places of worship. The building was very intertesting to see and it was beautifully decorated with flowers, the so-called 'Marygold flowers' in both orange and yellow colors", the Photographer says.

Read also:  Hindu temples of India

Hindu temples of India

Read also:  Hindu temples of India

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a Sikh priest in Delhi. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.