Seva – Selfless Service

The practice of “Seva” must have originated with our most ancient human ancestors in their earliest acts of compassion, simply helping someone without regard for any compensation. This virtue has been embraced at the heart of Sikh Dharma as the highest expression of worship – serving the God within each human. It is the doing of the service that is important, not merely the feeling of compassion or empathy. In each moment of doing seva, a Sikh holds an inner intention of prayerful connection to the Divine – connection to the Divine present in the person who is being served; but also the connection to the Divine in all materials involved in the seva, like the food one may be distributing or the water being used to clean.
In gurdwaras around the world, seva is pervasive in all activities. From the sweeping of floors, to the cooking of the langar, to the leading of the kirtan, Sikhs are encouraged and expected to participate in serving the needs of the gurdwara. But this expectation of serving extends beyond the needs of the congregation, into the surrounding community. At all times, the food prepared in the gurdwara kitchens is offered freely to anyone, Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike. At the most sacred of gurdwaras, the Harimandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) in Amritsar, India, over 100,000 people are served food every day. During times of natural disaster and suffering, Sikhs can often be seen at the forefront of relief efforts.

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