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Why Do We Say "Waheguru!" Every Time We Sneeze?
Sikhing Answers - V




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You will invariably have heard your parents and grandparents, for example, say "Waheguru!" or "Satnaam Sri Waheguru!" every time they sneeze.

Why do they do this?

What is the purpose of such an utterance? 


Posted on February 11, 2012

Closing Date: February 18, 2012


Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 11, 2012, 7:34 AM.

In English we say: "Bless yOu". So for Sikhs it is "Waheguru". All we need to do is to sneeze enough times, accompanied by 'Waheguru' ...

2: Sukhpreet Singh (Ropar, Punjab), February 11, 2012, 7:41 AM.

In my opinion people in ancient times used to think that our soul passes out of the body when we sneeze, so they used to remember God to catch it back! May be that's the reason for this custom of saying "Waheguru" whenever we sneeze.

3: Gurvinder Kaur Arora (India), February 11, 2012, 7:44 AM.

It's a good habit of getting to remember God.

4: Gagan Preet Singh (New Delhi, India), February 11, 2012, 8:03 AM.

I believe it's just a habit which has been adopted by Sikh to be be able to remember Waheguru more often.

5: Jasjit Kaur (India), February 11, 2012, 9:09 AM.

It is said that when we sneeze our heart stops beating for a micro second, that is why people often say "God Bless" when someone sneezes ... and in Sikh families we utter "Waheguru". It's a silent and humble way of saying 'Waheguru ji, kirpa karo', even if its my last breath. As gurbani says: "Hum aadmi haan ek dami mohlat maut na jaana".

6: Ritu (Chandigarh, Punjab), February 11, 2012, 9:10 AM.

Actually when we sneeze the heart-beat stops for a split second. That's why people say, "Waheguru!" or "Bless you!"

7: Tera  (United States), February 11, 2012, 9:18 AM.

In India it's "Wahaguru". In America, it's "bless you". Simply so you don't catch a cold, so utter a blessing.

8: Ravneet Sangha (Jalandhar, Punjab), February 11, 2012, 9:26 AM.

It's in the same fashion as the English who use the phrase "God bless you" when a person sneezes. I'm sure along the way it is done by Sikhs to remember God / Almighty.

9: Mandeep (Canada ), February 11, 2012, 9:40 AM.

We say "Waheguru" because every time we sneeze our heart stops, so we thank Waheguru" that nothing happened to us and we are fine.

10: Sanjog Goraya (Amritsar, Punjab), February 11, 2012, 9:48 AM.

Hmmm - a really interesting question! No one knows the answer; even biology cannot explain what a sneeze really is. People are in awe of the wonders of Waheguru's creation, and therefore take His name to honour Him. But I'm not sure why. I'm in Grade 11, and have never been taught about this.

11: Sukhjinder (Melbourne, Australia), February 11, 2012, 10:10 AM.

I believe that by saying "Waheguru" while sneezing we are trying to remember God always.

12: Gagan Kaur (Canada), February 11, 2012, 11:03 AM.

In Indian culture, sneezing has negative connotations - considered to be bad luck at certain times or occasions. Saying "Waheguru" could be a way of warding off the 'evil'/ bad luck that comes with sneezing.

13: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), February 11, 2012, 11:21 AM.

I believe it might be a western influence as westerners actually say "bless you" because it was believed the devil enters you at that point. When Sikhs sneeze, the superstition was that someone is thinking of you. I think living in the West, we Sikhs have began saying "Waheguru".

14: Avneet Kaur (Punjab), February 11, 2012, 11:52 AM.

As said by our elders and I truly believe that the reason of remembering God with saying 'Waheguru Ji' is that when we sneeze our whole external and internal body organs, including our heart, stops working for a fraction of a second ... so we thank God, 'our Waheguru Ji', that He has again blessed us with new life.

15: Tarun Arora (Singapore), February 11, 2012, 12:27 PM.

When you sneeze, your heart stops beating for a brief moment, and saying "Waheguru" is the way of seeking God's blessings in that moment. "Satnaam Sri Waheguru" is always there to protect you.

16: Simrat Kaur (India), February 11, 2012, 12:49 PM.

When we sneeze, our heart stops for a micro second so we take God's name, having faith that it will again start beating.

17: Charandeep Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), February 11, 2012, 1:17 PM.

Hindus, when they sneeze, say "Hey, Ram!", Muslims remember Allah, Christians say "Bless you!" ... and we Sikhs say "Waheguru". This means in each religion whenever they sneeze, they remember God because at that time we are not in a good condition and God helps us stay fit.

18: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 11, 2012, 1:18 PM.

A Sikh utters "Waheguru" regularly as a true mantar and whenever he/she is surprised by something or in awe when seeing something beautiful, especially the Creator's natural creations!

19: Pushpinder Kaur (Calufornia, U.S.A.), February 11, 2012, 1:54 PM.

Not just elders, I say it too. It's just that instead of saying "Bless you" or "Hey, Ram", I say "Waheguru". For me it's another reason to remember Waheguru. You can call it a habit.

20: Simran (India), February 11, 2012, 2:32 PM.

Every time when we sneeze our eyes get closed ... No one ever sneezed with his eyes open ... So it's a way of remembering God with closed eyes, though it happens in matter of a second.

21: Simran (Vaudreuil-Dorion, Quebec, Canada), February 11, 2012, 5:08 PM.

The concept of saying "Bless you!" after someone sneezes is a Christian custom. It is because they believe that when you sneeze your heart stops beating for those few moments. So you can sort of say that for those few seconds you are dead. Christians believed that when you are dead and not blessed, the devil and other evil souls can enter your body. Since Sikhs don't believe in the devil, evil souls and evil, we have no reason to say "Waheguru" other than as an excuse to praise God.

22: Parminder Singh Gill (India), February 12, 2012, 12:36 AM.

I agree with Jasjit Kaur above. Perfect answer.

23: Bibek Singh (Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 13, 2012, 8:56 AM.

Yesterday I heard someone saying - "Dhunn Guru Nanak". I feel that this is a better way.

24: Harbans Lal (Dallas, U.S.A.), February 14, 2012, 1:53 PM.

Sikhs are taught to be grateful for the gift of life. I agree with Avneet ji, that we express our gratitude for the gift of the breath of life when we utter Waheguru during a sneeze.

25: Pahulmeet Singh (Berkeley, California, United states), July 29, 2014, 3:27 AM.

This merely is because in ancient times, many communities believed that our sole is pushed out of our body by the shock when we sneeze. They believed that they become vulnerable to bad spirits. That is why this saying started happening. It was later passed on to the Indian society, then the Brahmin society, then the Sikhs. I personally believe that saying "Waheguru" solely for this purpose is not necessary.

26: Adam Palmer (New York, USA), February 10, 2016, 1:45 PM.

I agree with #13, #21, and #25 above.

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Sikhing Answers - V"

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