The word ‘ardas’ is derived from a Persian word ‘arzdasht’ which means a petition or an address to a superior authority. Our ardas is addressed to the Almighty God and to our eternal Guru, Guru Granth Sahib. When we stand in front of Guru Granth Sahib with folded hands, individually or in a congregation, we are pleading for Gurus’s blessings and forgiveness for our shortcomings. Ardas is not written in Guru Granth Saheb. The format of ardas has evolved over many years. The wording of the current ardas was decided by a joint body of Sikh scholars and for consistency, it is necessary that all Sikhs follow this format which is published by SGPC (Shiromini Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee – organization that manages the Sikh Gurdwaras).
Ardas can be divided into three main parts. First part is vaar Siri Bhagauti Ji Ki, composed by Guru Gobind Singh ji., in which he invoked the almighty God and the first nine Gurus. After the vaar, we invoke the tenth Guru and Guru Granth Saheb. The second part of ardas essentially encapsulates the entire Sikh history, recounting the dedication and sacrifice by the Sikhs, and reflecting upon the memorable acts of the Sikh martyrs and heroes, who upheld their faith unto their last breath. In the third part of ardas, we pray for the whole Sikh community seeking the virtues of simran (remembering God’s Name), righteous living of a true Sikh, and trust among the community. We plead to the Guru to protect us from five evils (lust, anger, greed, attachment, and ego). At the end, words are added to suit the occasion (such as wedding, birth, death etc.) for which the congregation was held and seek Gurus blessings. In the closing words of ardas, we pray for the well being of all under His Will, irrespective of their religion.