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Sikh Religion

Sikh Religion

About Sikhs : A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism, a religious faith originating in the Punjab. Sikhism is a panentheistic religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. It is one of the world's major religions with over 23 million followers.

The word 'Sikh', comes from its Sanskrit root 'siya' which means "disciple" or "learner", or from the equivalent Pali word 'sikkha'. In the Punjabi language the word Sikh also means to learn. So a Sikh is a disciple of the Ten Gurus and a follower of the teachings in the Sikhism's holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Beliefs : The core beliefs of Sikhism are:

  • The belief in One God - The opening sentence of the Sikh scriptures is only two words long, and reflects the base belief of all who adhere to the teachings of the religion: Ek Onkar or "One Creator".
  • Follow teachings of the ten gurus - The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus and other saints as scripted in their 1430 page holy scripture the Guru Granth Sahib.

The Five Ks : Practicing Sikhs are bound to wear five Kakaars, or articles of faith, known as The Five Ks, at all time. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, ordered these Five Ks to be worn so that a Sikh could actively use them to make a difference to their own spirituality and to others' spirituality. The 5 items are -

  • Kesh - uncut hair
  • Kanga - small comb
  • Kara - circular heavy metal bracelet
  • Kirpan - ceremonial dagger
  • Kacha - long underwear.

Sikh Names : A Sikh man almost always bears the second name of Singh, which means 'lion', and a Sikh woman can be identified with a second name of Kaur which means Princess. It may be noted that though the name Kaur is an exclusively Sikh name, Singh is quite often encountered in Hindu names as well. Additionally, except only a very few cases, the same first names as used for men are used for women. In other words, though one may not be able to tell the gender of Sikh person from his/her first name, the second name of Singh or Kaur makes the distinction completely clear.

Founder : Guru Nanak

Year of Birth of Khalsa Panth : 1699 AD

Place of Origin : Punjab, India.

Regional Spread : Most Sikhs live in the state of Punjab but one can find Sikhs all over India. In present times, Sikh community stretches out to over 100 nations and all continents of the world.

Population : Currently, there are about 23 million Sikhs in the world, making Sikhism the fifth largest religion in the world. Approximately 20 million Sikhs live in India with the majority (1.46 crore) living in the state of Punjab. Making Sikhism the 4 largest faith in India following Hinduism (869 million), Islam (145 million), and Christianity (25 million). Besides, Sikhs account for 2% of the population in Canada. An estimated 5 lakh Sikhs live in England, a lakh each in the USA as well as in Malaysia and Thailand combined. This implies that close to 10 lakh Sikhs are now settled abroad. A large number of Sikhs are also present in United Kingdom, Australia and Singapore.

Language : Punjabi

Sikh Gurus : Sikhism was established by ten Gurus (teachers or masters) over the period 1469 - 1708. Each Sikh Guru added to and reinforced the message taught by the previous, resulting in the creation of the religion of Sikhism. Guru Nanak was the first Guru and Guru Gobind Singh the final Guru in human form. When Guru Gobind Singh left this world, he made the Guru Granth Sahib the ultimate and final Sikh Guru. The Gurus are believed to have the same spirit, or "jot", but different bodies.

Place of Worship : Place of Worship

Religious Texts : Shri Guru Granth Sahib is the central text of Sikhism. The Guru Granth Sahib is separated into musical measures, called Raags. There are 31 raags within the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs regard Guru Granth Sahib as their eleventh and final Guru, following the instruction by Guru Gobind Singh.

Food Habits : Sikhs do not believe in ritual killing and are told to refrain from eating meat (halal and kosher) killed by such rites. Sikhs are expected to be active and alert and are therefore required to refrain from alcohol and drugs, not on the grounds of impurity but mental and physical fitness. Sikhs are not required to fast but are also told to eat in moderation.

Marriage Preference : "Anand Karaj" is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage, the words literally translate as 'Blissful Union". Sikh marriages are usually arranged with families acting as little more than introduction services. The ultimate choice is always left to the girl and boy. In some cases the boy and girl choose each other first and then seek their parents consent and blessing.

The Reht Maryada, which is the Official Sikh Code of Conduct, specifies that no thought should be given to the prospective spouse's caste, race or lineage. As long as both the boy and girl profess the Sikh faith and no other faith, they may be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.

Wedding Ceremonies : Sikhs are also discouraged from consulting horoscopes or following any other superstitions regarding determining of a wedding date or time. The Anand Karaj ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or home where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been respectfully installed. Sikh wedding ceremony cannot be performed in a hotel or banquet hall. There are no restrictions as to what time the ceremony should start or what time it should end although they are usually performed in the morning with the religious ceremony taking no more than a few hours.

also read Sikh Wedding