Sikhism

Sikhism

‘There exists but one God, who is called the True, the Creator, free from
fear and hate, immortal, not begotten, self-existent, great and
compassionate.’
(from Guru Nanak’s hymn)

Introduction

There are approximately 25 million Sikhs in the world today.
Sikhism is a monotheistic faith, which was founded in the fifteenth century by Guru Nanak in the region of
Punjab, northwest India. Among it’s many teachings Sikhism promotes the unity of God, universal love,
equality and brotherhood of man, strict moral conduct and the rejection of the caste system, idol worship,
superstitious belief and inferiority of women.
There are approximately 500,000 Sikhs living in Great Britain today.

History

The founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak (1469-1539).
The human line of Gurus ended with Guru Gobind Singh (Tenth Nanak) in 1708, who conferred the eternal
Guruship to the sacred Sikh scripture. Once initiated, a Sikh wears the “Five Ks”. These are:
· Kesh: Uncut hair covered with turban, respecting natural form.
· Kirpan: A short sword which can be seen as a metaphor for God and the struggle against injustice. It
is also a symbol of defence of the good or the weak.
· Kangha: A wooden comb to keep hair tidy, a reminder to maintain cleanliness and keep thoughts
pure.
· Kara: A steel wristband, a reminder to maintain self-restraint and gentility as well as a symbol of
God having no beginning and no end. It is also a symbol of the permanent bonding and community
link to chain of Khalsa (initiated) Sikhs.
· Kachera: Cotton shorts or breeches for chastity and self-respect.
38On initiation, the surname ‘Singh’ (lion) meaning to be brave, is given to male Sikhs, and women ‘Kaur’
(princess), to elevate social status of women, following the Tenth Guru’s instructions. A Sikh’s personal
conduct and discipline was to be exemplary in every respect. All (immoral) actions not conducive to spiritual
progress such as adultery, infanticide, untruthfulness and slander were to be shunned. Alcohol, tobacco
and other intoxicants were also to be strictly avoided. Freedom from fear, ceaseless meditation on the
Name of God and service to ones fellow man was the Sikh path to spiritual liberation and union with the
Supreme Spirit (God).

Traditions/Beliefs

Some of the Basic Beliefs of Sikhism are:
· There is only one God, the sole creator, sustainer and destroyer. Sikhs do not believe in duality, but
unity in diversity. God cannot take on the human form. Daily prayer and devotion to God and His
Creation is required.
· The rejection of the divisive Caste system. Sikhs reject any distinction made for class, race, creed or
sex. Sikhs believe in full equality for all people.
· The Sikh goal is to end the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, and unite the separated individual soul
with the Universal Soul (God). The way to attain this goal is through applying the teachings of the
Gurus to all situations, continuous meditation on the Holy Name, selfless service, control of mind
and correct regulation of desires and impulses.
· In Sikhism there are 4 cardinal sins (Kurahts). Sikhs should not; cut their hair, commit adultery, use
tobacco or other drugs or eat ritually slaughtered meat, such as halal meat.
· Sikhism identifies 5 vices, which a Sikh must regulate and control. These are: Kaam (lust), Krodh
(anger), Lobh (greed),Moh (worldly attachment) and Ahankar (egotism).
· Blind rituals such as idol worship, yoga, superstitions, pilgrimages and fasting are prohibited.
· The recognition that the Sikh sacred scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the eternal Guru and that
there will be no more human Gurus.
· To protect and help those in need through charity and community service

Worship

Congregational worship at the Sikh place of worship (Gurdwara) is called Diwaan, and its purpose is to
praise God and develop the spirituality of the individual and community. There are no ordained holy days in
Sikhism. In Sikhism each moment is considered holy and living itself considered an act of devotion. Most
Sikh families tend to visit a Gurdwara on a Sunday. A Sikh should visit the Gurdwara as often as possible to
receive teachings from Guru Granth Sahib and seek the company of the holy congregation (Saadh Sangat)
for spiritual guidance and upliftment through meditation (Naam Simran), prayer (Paat), singing of hymns
(Keertan) from Guru Granth Sahib and rendering selfless service (Seva).
Sikhs are expected to become and remain God-conscious with every breath. Their prayers exhort the need
for self-exploration, self-knowledge and self-realisation, and the running of their daily lives in accordance
with the Guru’s Word (Gurmatt). Sikhs pray daily at three times: before sunrise (Nitnem), evening
(Raihraas) and before going to sleep (Sohelaa). However, Sikhs can additionally pray and meditate as much
as they like when and where it practically suits them. Sikhs do not pray in any particular direction, believing
God resides everywhere in His Creation. At the Gurdwara everyone sits on the floor to show equality of all
people; this included Prince Charles when he visited a Gurdwara in Derby.
Public worship can be led by any competent member of the Sikh community and therefore the notion of
priesthood is alien to Sikhs. Women participate fully in all aspects. People appointed to special positions do
not have a job for life. When their particular duty is over they revert to being members of the community.

Celebrations and Festivals

· Gurpurbs. The marking of important anniversaries relating to the birth or death (martyrdom) of a
Guru. This includes the full recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib as well as the singing of hymns and
Sikh lectures.
· Baisakhi (Vaisakhi). The day is celebrated around the 13th April. It is the celebration of the
founding of the Khalsa Order and Sikh nation. Many Sikhs choose to be initiated on this day. Often,
a religious street procession marks this key event.
· Bandi Chhor. Sikhs commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind (Sixth Guru) from false
imprisonment. It coincides with the Indian Festival of Lights (Divali) between the end of October
and mid-November. A Muslim saint laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, also on this
day.
· Maghi. This celebration occurs around the middle of January and marks the martyrdom of forty
Sikhs at the hands of the Mughal army.
· Hola Mohalla. On this day Sikhs practice military exercises, stage mock battles, perform martial arts
and organise sports competitions. This is to keep the martial skills and spirit alive. Hymn singing
and lectures also take place. It occurs the day after the Indian festival of Holi around mid-March.