|Sikhism is one of the world’s youngest religions being founded just over 500 years ago. Despite being so young, it is the fifth largest religion in the world with over 20 million followers.
Sikhism is not derived from any other religion.
The word ‘Sikh’ in the Punjabi language means ‘disciple’, Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus.
|Place of Origin||The Punjab (Panjab or Panj), an area of Northern India|
|Sacred Text||Guru Granth Sahib|
|Holy Place||Nankana Sahib, where the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev was born.|
|Major Festivals||Hola Mohalla – February/March – a time for contests when Sikhs show their skills at athletics, horsemanship and martial arts.
Baisakhi – March/April – New Year’s Day in the Punjab.
Diwali – October – a festival when the story of Hargobind, the sixth Guru, is told.
Guru Nanak’s Birthday – October/November- The Guru Granth Sahib is carried through the streets by five men.
|Where did Sikhism originate from?
Sikhism was revealed to Guru Nanak over 500 years ago in the Punjab, the Sikh Homeland in South Asia.
Sikhism teaches that all human beings are equal and can realise the divine within them through devotion to God, truthful living and service to humanity.
The core beliefs
All Are Equal
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Sikhs do not believe in the following:
Fasting, superstitions, ritualism, caste system, alcohol, smoking and drugs
The symbol or emblem of Sikhism is known as the Khanda. It is made up of:
Sikhs worship at home and in the Sikh temple called the Gurdwara (‘Gateway to the Guru’).
All Gurdwaras across the globe have:
Visitors irrespective of their religion can expect shelter, comfort and food at all Gurdwaras.
Everyone who enters a gurdwara must cover their head and take their shoes off. Hands are washed and in some Gurdwaras there are feet washes.
There are no chairs, everyone sits on the floor.
Men and women do not sit together. The women sit on one side of the Guru Granth Sahib and men on the other. (In some smaller Gurdwaras, men and women may be seen sitting mixed in the congregation.)
|Three main functions are carried out in all public Gurdwaras:
Along with these main functions Gurdwaras around the world also serve the Sikh community in many other ways including, libraries of Sikh literature and schools to teach children Gurmukhi and the Sikh scriptures.
|What are the spiritual leaders called?
The Sikh faith does not have an ordained clergy, any woman or man from the congregation may lead religious services.
Granthis are people who have studied the Sikh scriptures extensively and are available in the Gurdwaras as teachers.
The Sikh Scripture is called ‘Guru Granth Sahib‘. It is a collection of teachings and writings by Guru Nanak and other Gurus as well as Sikh, Hindu and Muslim saints.
The ‘Guru Granth Sahib‘ is the living Guru of the Sikhs (The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh declared that there would be no other living Gurus but instead Sikhs could look to their holy scriptures for guidance.)
The Guru Granth Sahib teaches through divine poetry that is set to a
The Guru Granth Sahib is kept under a special canopy in the Gurdwara.
Sikhs take off their shoes in the presence of the holy scriptures and also never turn their back on them.
At every festival, the scriptures are read continuously from beginning to end, which takes about 48 hours.
As the scriptures are being read, the reader or an attendant will periodically wave a chauriover the scriptures. This is a sign of respect for the authority of the Guru Granth Sahib which is treated like a living Guru or teacher.
The chauri is a ceremonial whisk which is made from the tail hair of a white horse or yak set in a wooden or silver handle. It is a traditional Indian symbol of authority and Hindu gods are often shown being fanned with a chauri.
The Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the only major religious text which contains writings by teachers of other faiths. This is because the Sikh Gurus taught that there are many different ways of achieving a connection with the God. The Sikh way is one of these ways.
The 5 five articles of faith – Panj Kakkar
Sikhs display their commitment to their beliefs by wearing the Sikh articles of faith. The five articles of faith start with the “k” alphabet in Punjabi, and are thereby referred to as the 5 K’s.
1. Kesh (uncut hair)
Uncut Hair (Kesh) – SPIRITUALITY
Sikhs do not cut their hair (kesh) but let it grow as a symbol of their faith. Because during their lifetimes it will get very long Sikh men wear turbans to keep it tidy.
Sikh women may either wear a turban or a scarf.
Comb (Kanga) – CLEANLINESS
The kanga is similar to a small comb and affirms its bearer’s commitment to society. It is tucked neatly in a Sikh’s uncut hair.
Just as a comb helps to remove the tangles and cleans the hair, the Kanga is a spiritual reminder to shed impurities of thought.
Steel Bracelet (Kara) – GOOD DEEDS
The kara is worn around one’s wrist like a bracelet and its circular shape reminds a Sikh that the Creator (God) is infinite—without a beginning and
Scimitar (Kirpan) – PROTECTION
The kirpan resembles a sword and symbolises the protection of the weak by Sikhs. It is hung near a Sikh’s waist with a shoulder strap.
Soldiers long Undershorts (Kaccha) SELF DISCIPLINE
The kaccha (also spelt Kachhera) is similar to a soldier’s undershorts, a loose, white, cotton undergarment. It reminds the Sikh of the need for self-restrain over
Rites of Passage
When a baby is born a special prayer is read and a drop of Amrit (holy sweet water) is placed on the baby’s tongue.
Nam Karan – Naming of a Child
At a ceremony at the Gurdwara, the name of the baby is chosen by taking the Hukam, the granthi randomly opens Sri Guru Granth Sahib to any page and reads the hymn on that page. The first letter of the first word of the hymn is picked. The child’s name is than chosen beginning with that letter and is announced to the congregation.
Singh (‘Lion’), a reminder to be courageous, is added to boys’ names while Kaur (‘Princess’), to stress dignity, is added to girls’ names.
|Dastaar – the Sikh Turban
Sikhs MUST wear the turban
When a person is aged between 14 and 16, an initiation ceremony called the Dastaar Bandi (wearing of the first turban) takes place. Before the ceremony, kids generally begin by experimenting with their turbans, learning how to hold the weight on their heads, get comfortable with it, and then slowly begin tying it everyday.
When they are 14 years old, young Sikhs are allowed to join the Khalsa. Khalsa Sikhs observe the Five Ks. A special solution of sugar and water, known as Amrit, is prepared in an iron bowl whilst the five Banis (special prayers) are recited by five Sikhs in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. During the ceremony the Amrit is blessed and sprinkled on the hair and eyes, a prayer is said and a meal is eaten together.
The Sikh marriage ceremony is called Anand Karaj. It is performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture.
In a Sikh wedding, scripture is read from the Granth Sahib, and after each section the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib, showing their commitment to the teachings being read. This is done four times.
Following this, a communal prayer is said for the couple and religious hymns are sung.
Sikhs burn their dead. As the body is bathed and clothed in fresh clothes by family members, Sikh prayers are said. The ashes are usually gathered afterwards, and put afloat in a flowing body of water — returning the person’s last physical remains to nature.