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Summary of Question:Disability and the Gurdwara
Date Posted:Wednesday, 9/22/1999 8:00 AM MDT


My question is regarding the issue of disabled and handicapped people visiting a Gurdwara.

I am not sure if this issue has been dealt with by the Rehit Maryada, if so, please let me know where I can find more information.

I have noticed that in many Gurdwaras no real attention has been payed to the disabled people who cannot sit on the floor as everyone else, (this includes also the older generation). This is the time in their life where they really need God's love and blessing, and the peace of mind you get when visiting a Gurdwara. However, to my disappointment, there are no facilities which cater for these people in need. I understand that sitting on the floor shows humility and equality, but it is not always possible for some folk to sit on the floor. I have seen in some Gurdwaras, the old have been on a chair but right outside the sangat hall. How can that be equality ?? Surely, Guru Nanak would have wanted everyone to have a chance and paying their respects. Can anything be done to improve facilities for the old and disabled ?

Please please please, help me with this issue. I have no idea of how to deal with this, noone at the Gurdwaras know how to deal with this issue and many have said that they need to talk to someone in India abou this. Maybe you could advice me?

Thank you for your time.


To the Dearly Inquisitive,

I'm sorry Ji, but due to time constraints I'm going to answer your question as fast as I can. I fully agree with you that these people should have a place to sit. I cannot really say that I enjoy seeing chairs in the Gurdwara, but please understand that that is just my opinion. As that may be my opinion I can see how many other people might feel the same way. Maybe it is just that there is an overwhelming feeling of tradition or an overwhelming of feelings from people who simply do not want lose control. It is a question which must be asked. In our Gurdwara there comes to visit in the summer a woman who is a paraplegic she does go into the Gurdwara, and she is seated on a chair. That seems fair doesnt it. Yes, it does, but that is also a special case. I would hate to see such a situation be taken advantage of by people who dont really need it, but feel like doing it any way. I think this is truly a question for the Jethadar of the Gurdwara. As far as facilities for the old and disabled I have the feeling you are not just talking of a place to sit, but also a place to eat and go to the bathroom. Those facilities can definetly be improved and should be if they have not already been. Making it as easy for the old, sick and disabled as possible is the best service we can do for them. What you can do in your neck of the woods is speak with your Jethadarji and ask him if you can make an anouncement in the Gurdwara. In your anouncement you can ask for a council or a Panj to discuss this and other problems in your area. It may not work, there is always resistance to any one who wishes to do something positive, but if you keep up and keep at it you can make a difference. You yourself have to believe that. You can also make a grassroots campaign out of it. You just need to ask the people around you how they feel and get them involved. If the general opinion is in agreement with the issue, then you can proceed with a little more momentum. Thing of it is that nothing ever gets done unless we believe we can or we believe in what it is we are doing. You can make the difference and you can change things, nothing is set in stone. I wish you the best of luck in reaching for the things you want, and I feel that if you try you will succeed.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh

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