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Amrit Sanskar ("nectar ceremony"; also called Amrit Sanchar, Amrit Parchar, or Khande di Pahul) is the Sikh ceremony of initiation which resembles the baptism of Christianity. The Amrit Sanskar is the initiation rite introduced by Guru Gobind Singh when he founded the Khalsa in 1699.
A Sikh who has been initiated into the Khalsa ('pure'; the Sikh brotherhood) is considered to be Amritdhari (lit. 'amrit taker') or Khalsa ('pure'). Those who undergo initiation are expected to dedicate themselves to Waheguru (Almighty God) and work toward the establishment of the Khalsa Raj.
Amrit Sanskar was initiated in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh ji established the Order of Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib. The day is now celebrated as Vaisakhi, though at the time the ceremony was considered as Charan Amrit or Charan Phul or the Pag Pahul.
Guru Gobind Singh addressed the congregation from the entryway of a tent pitched on a hill (now called Kesgarh Sahib). He drew his sword and asked for a volunteer who was willing to sacrifice his head. No one answered his first call, nor the second call, but on the third invitation, a man by the name of Daya Ram (later to be known as Bhai Daya Singh) came forward and offered his head to the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh took the volunteer inside the tent, and emerged shortly, with blood dripping from his sword. The Guru then demanded another head. One more volunteer came forward, and entered the tent with him. The Guru again emerged with blood on his sword. This happened three more times. Then the five volunteers came out of the tent unharmed. Everyone was very confused.
These five men came to be known as the Panj Pyare (the "beloved five"). The five men, who would be initiated into the Khalsa by receiving Amrit, included Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Mukham Singh, Bhai Sahib Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh, and Bhai Himmat Singh. From then onward, Sikh men were given the name Singh ("lion"), and the women Kaur ("princess").
The ceremony's other title, Khande Di Pahul ("baptism by Khanda"), not only embodies the primary objects of Sikh faith and the promises connected therewith, but also is itself a promise to lead a pure and pious life, so as to unite with the Almighty Lord. It is about inward cleansing of the conscience and seeking unity with Supreme Lord through His Grace. The word pahul is a derivative from the substantive pahu—an agent which brightens, accelerates, or sharpens the potentialities of a given object.
- The Guru caused his five faithful Sikhs to stand up. He put pure water into an iron vessel and stirred it with a Khanda or two edged sword. He then repeated over it the sacred verses which he appointed for the ceremony, namely, the Japji, the Jaap, Guru Amar Das's Anand, and certain swaiyas or quatrains of his own composition.
Rules of the ceremony include:
- Being conducted in any quiet and convenient place. In addition to the Guru Granth Sahib, the presence of six Sikhs is necessary: one granthi ("narrator"), who reads from the holy text, and five others, representing the original five beloved disciples (pyare), to administer the ceremony.
- Taking a bath and washing of the hair prior to the ceremony is mandatory by those who are receiving the initiation and those who are administering.
- Five Ks).
- There is no minimum age requirement, though a person who is considering to be Amritdhari should not be of a very young age. Rather, they should have attained a plausible degree of discretion.
- The person to become Amritdhari must wear the five holy symbols (the Five Ks):
- He/she must not have on his/her person any jewellery, distinctive marks, or tokens associated with any other faith. He/she must not have his/her head bare or be wearing a cap. The head must be covered with a cloth. He/she must not be wearing any ornaments piercing through any part of the body. The persons to be Amritdhari must stand respectfully with hands folded facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
- Anyone seeking re-initiation after having resiled from their previous vows may be assigned a penance by the five administering initiation before being re-admitted.
- During the ceremony, one of the five pyare stands and explains the rules and obligations of the Khalsa Panth.
- Those receiving initiation have to give their assent as to whether they are willing to abide by the rules and obligations.
- After their assent, one of the five pyare utters a prayer for the commencement of the preparation of the Amrit and a randomly selected passage (hukam, a "word of God") is taken from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
The person being initiated must chant "Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh" (essentially meaning "Almighty Lord, the pure; Almighty Lord, the victorious"). The salutation is repeated and the holy water is sprinkled on their eyes and hair, five times. The remainder of the nectar is shared by all receiving the initiation, all drinking from the same bowl.
- BBC Religion (2009). "Amrit ceremony | Rites and Rituals | Sikhism". BBC. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
- Woodhead, Linda (2016). Religions in the Modern World: Traditions and Transformations. New York: Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9780415858809.
- Dharam Parchar Committee (1994). Sikh Reht Maryada: The Code of Sikh Conduct & Conventions. Amritsar,IND: Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. p. 34.
- "Amrit Sanchar." Sikh Wiki, April 13, 2020. Sikh Net. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- "Pahul." Sikh Wiki, December 1, 2015. Sikh Net. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
- Macauliffe, Max Arthur. The Sikh Religion 5. p. 94.