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Amrit Sanchar ("nectar ceremony"; also called Amrit sanskar, Amrit Parchar, or Khande di Pahul) is one of the four sikh Sanskaars. 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 (Baptised) (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 Sanchar 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.
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According to the Irish-Sikh writer Max Arthur Macauliffe:
Rules of the ceremony include
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.
After this, all those taking part in the ceremony recite the Mool Mantra and they are inducted into the Khalsa.