Amrit Sanchar (also called Khande di Pahul) is the Sikh ceremony of initiation which resembles baptism. The Amrit Sanchar 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 is titled as "Amritdhari" or "Khalsa" after Singh (man) or Kaur (woman). Those who undergo initiation are expected to dedicate themselves to Waheguru and work toward the establishment of the Khalsa Raj.
Khande di Pahul was initiated in the times of Guru Gobind Singh ji when the Guru established the Order of Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib on the day of Vaisakhi in 1699. 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 person called Daya Ram (later 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. He 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.
Khande Di Pahul 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 to unite with 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 – which is 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."
– The Sikh Religion by M.A. Macauliffe, V–5, p. 94
The ceremony is to be conducted in any quiet and convenient place. In addition to the Guru Granth Sahib, the presence of six Sikhs is necessary, one granthi to read from the holy text and five, representing the original five beloved disciples, to administer it.
Washing of the hair prior to the ceremony is mandatory by those who are receiving the initiation and those who are administering.
Any Sikh who is mentally and physically sound (male or female) may administer the rites of initiation if they have received the rites and continue to adhere to the Sikh Rehni (Way of Life) and wear the Sikh Articles of Faith, i.e. 5 Ks.
There is no minimum age requirement, but a person who is considering to be Amritdhari should not be of a very young age but have attained a plausible degree of discretion.
The person to be Amritdhari must have taken a bath and washed their hair and must wear the five holy symbols, the Five Ks: Kesh (unshorn hair), strapped Kirpan (sword), Kachhehra (prescribed shorts), Kanga (comb tucked in the tied-up hair), Karha (steel bracelet). He/she must not have on his/her person any jewellery, distinctive marks or token 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 (the beloved ones), 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, or word of God) is taken from Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
The person being initiated "Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh". 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.