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About Sikhism

One of The Youngest Religions In The World

Sikhism is the fifth largest amongst the major world religions. Sikhism began over five hundred years ago (1469) in Punjab, India. Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak who it was founded by and nine other Sikh Gurus that followed him. Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in what is now known as Pakistan. Sikhism has over twenty five million followers worldwide however, the majority still live in India.

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith and believe the name of the God is truth. They also believe recognising inner truth is through meditation and chanting. The faiths other teachings are to live a simple and honest life, treat everyone equally and to serve others where regularly after the religious service in the Gudwara (Sikh temple), everyone Sikh or non-Sikh eat the meal together sitting on the floor to show all people are the same.

    The Five Ks

    Male Sikhs are well known for usually wearing a certain type of turban known as a ‘Dastar.' Furthermore, baptised Sikhs wear five items, known as the Five Ks at all times. These five are Kes (uncut hair), Kangha (small wooden comb), Kara (steel or iron bracelet) both worn by men and women, Kirpaan (sword/dagger) and Kacchera (special undergarment).

    The five Ks collectively symbolises the Sikh wearing them has committed themselves to a life of devotion and submission to the Guru. Sikhs committing themselves to these symbols would mean they are members of the Khalsa.

    The 10 Gurus’ that Shaped Sikhism

    Guru Nanak (1469 – 1539)

    Founder of Sikhism taught there is only one God (Wahe Guru). At 13, the Guru declined the sacred thread at his coming of age ceremony. Years later, after vanishing for three days, the Guru returned to his family with a revelation from God.

    Guru Angad (1539 – 1552)

    He was the successor to Guru Nanak. A notable achievement of his was creating the “Langar”, a free kitchen where people could gather and eat.

    Guru Amar Das (1552 – 1574)

    Increased the role of the “Langar” and set it up in many locations. He also taught everyone was equal in the eyes of God, including women. Furthermore, he formed the first manuscripts of the Sikh holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib by compiling the writings of the previous Gurus.

    Guru Ram Das (1574 – 1584)

    Preached against superstition. He also told Sikhs, being involved in the merriment and griefs of others was just as vital as personal spiritual development.

    Guru Arjan (1581 – 1606)

    He was Guru Ram Das youngest son and successor. After becoming leader he left for Ramdaspur to continue the work there. The City of Amritsar was initially called Ramdaspur. Habitation for Sikhs was established here by Guru Ram Das. It is the Sikhs spiritual centre where the Golden temple is.

    Guru Hargobind (1606 -1644)

    He became leader of the Sikh faith at the age of 10 after the death of his father Guru Arjan. During his reign he began the militarisation of the Sikh.

    Guru Hargobind Rai (1644 – 1661)

    He became Guru at the age of 14 and was relatively peaceful, teaching simplicity and devotion to God through love and self-sacrifice.

    Guru Har Krishan (1661 – 1664)

    He was the youngest of the Gurus at the age of 5 and astonished the Brahmin Pundits (Hindu Scholars) with his knowledge and spiritual powers. The Guru died while serving and healing the epidemic stricken people in Dehli.

    Guru Tegh Bahadur (1665 – 1675)

    He was born in Amritsar in 1621. During his leadership he established the town of Anandpur and was martyred for protecting the Hindu religion as he believed people had the right to the freedom of worship.

    Guru Gobind Singh (1675 – 1708)

    He was the son of his predecessor and created the ‘Khalsa,’ (Pure Ones) in 1699, the name given to all Sikhs who have been baptised or initiated, changing the Sikhs into a saint-soldier order with special symbols and ceremonies for protecting themselves. Guru Gobind Singh named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) as his successor thus, making it the eternal religious guide for Sikhs.

    More Information

    One of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar is known as the spring festival of ‘Vaisakhi’. Marking the Sikh New Year, it is celebrated in April every year and is a day of dancing, singing and charity. Vaisakhi commemorates the formation of ‘Khalsa’.

    The first known Sikh to move to Britain was in 1849. Maharajah Duleep Singh was the last ruler of the Sikh kingdom of Punjab.

    The majority of Britain’s Sikhs emigrated either from the Punjab in Northwest India in the 1950s and 60s or from East Africa slightly later, seeking work due to shortages in unskilled labour in the British industry.