Facts About Sikhism

Facts About Sikhism
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Sikhism is among the youngest religions in the world that originated in Punjab, India in the 15th century. It is the third major religion in India. It was born during the time when atrocities in the name of religion were at their peak. The ten sikh gurus are said to be protectors of all people from injustice and crime irrespective of their caste and beliefs. Here are some facts about Sikhism, its practices, beliefs, sikh temples, sacred book, founder, ten gurus, Khalsa Panth and more.

Origin of Sikhism

The Sikhism is a religion that originated in India in the 15th century and was developed in the context of the conflict between the doctrines of Hinduism and Islam. The followers of Sikhism are called Sikhs. The Sikh term has its origin in the Sanskrit śiya, which means “disciple, the one who learns” or śika whose definition is the word “instruction”.

Sikhism Founder

The founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak (1469-1538), born into a family that followed the Hindu religion located in the northwest of ancient India, this area today is within the borders of Pakistan. He travelled all over India. After making several trips, he took it upon himself to preach his word to Hindus and Muslims, about the union that must exist between human beings. For him, the world seemed real, but the only reality was God.

Sikhism Sacred Book

The sacred book was elevated to the level of a living Guru by the last Sikh Guru, in the seventeenth century, who before his death instructed his subjects to treat him as their next Guru. For the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib is not simply a book, he is a real Guru who serves as a guide to the people. The Sikhs consider the sacred book as their eternal Guru since it contains the precepts of the 10 Gurus of Sikhism. This book is considered as an authority, its maximum spiritual expression. He is treated with great reverence and respect and is a source of inspiration.

Sikh Temples and Religious Texts

The Golden Temple (Image source: lonelyplanet.com)
  1. The Sikh temples are called Gurdwaras. The main Sikh temple is the Golden Temple or Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.
  2. Guru Granth Sahib, also known as “Adi Granth” is the religious book as well as the Sikh Authority figure of the Sikhs.
  3. The tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, declared Guru Granth Sahib as his successor shortly before his death.
  4. Guru Granth Sahib is treated with great respect and reverence. It is mandatory to cover one’s head while appearing before Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikhism History

Sikh Women being persecuted by Mughals (Image Source: sikh-history.com)
  1. Sikhism emerged from Hinduism. It is also one of the youngest religions in the world.
  2. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji after seeing the illogical practices and unfair treatment of people during his time. Guru Nanak Dev Ji travelled thousands of miles. His journeys are also known as “Udasis”. He traveled by foot to entire India, parts of China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh and, Bhutan. He is believed to have traveled more than 28,000 kilometres by foot from 1500 to 1524. On his journeys, he had a companion named, Mardana.
  3. Sikhism was carried forward by its 10 Gurus. The predecessor guru would tell who the next guru would be.
  4. Sikhism is said to have revolutionized its time. Its gurus fought for the people of all religions against unjust and unfair treatments by the Mughal Rulers.
  5. The fifth and the ninth Sikh Guru (Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Teg Bahadur) were martyred by the Mughal rulers for trying to protect to the basic rights of the Hindus. The Mughal rulers used to forcefully change their religion to Islam.
  6. One of the major events in the history of Sikhism is the establishment of the “Khalsa Panth”. It was established by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 during Baisakhi Celebrations. During this, he baptised 5 “established brave” Sikhs and entitled them as “Panj (five) Pyare”.

Sikhism Symbol, Beliefs, Rituals and Practices

The Sikh Khanda
  1. Sikhs are required not to cut their hair. The same is symbolic of accepting what God has given happily without resisting. Men are required to tie their hair and cover their head with a turban.
  2. Sikhs Baptism, also known as “Amrit Sanchar” is done through a special ceremony. After this, the Sikh is required to wear the 5 Kakars (Kes, Kanga, Kacchhera, Kirpan and Kara) at all times.
  3. “Kara” can be seen being worn by many Sikhs. It is a bangle made of metals like Steel, Silver, or any other.
  4. Sikhism believes in equal rights for women. Just like men, Sikh women in the early times were also trained for combat skills to fight the Mughal rulers.
  5. Sikhism preaches not to believe in superstitions. Their first guru, Guru Nanak Dev in fact, opposed superstitions practices in India practiced by Hindu priests in ancient times.
  6. The symbol of Sikhism is the Khanda. It is a double edged sword flanked by two daggers.
  7. In Sikhism, to remove the caste system, all the Sikh men are given the surname of “Singh” and all the Sikh women are given the surname of “Kaur”.
  8. Greetings in Sikhism are given by either saying “Sat Shri Akal”, which means “Immortal God is the Truth” or “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh”, which means “Khalsa Belongs to God, Victory Belongs to God.”

Sikh Holidays and Festivals

Painting portraying establishment of Khalsa Panth on Baisakhi
  1. “Baisakhi”, celebrated every year on April 13th is the main festival of the Sikhs. It was also the day when Khalsa Panth was established by Guru Gobind Singh.
  2. Baisakhi is also celebrated in Punjab with great fervour and joy because on this day, the wheat fields are ripe and ready to be harvested.

Facts About Sikh Gurudwaras (Temples)

  1. Sikh Gurudwaras are known for largest kitchens that offer free food to one and all. In Sikhism, everyone is treated equally. Regardless of their faith, caste and gender, everyone at Gurudwara kitchen is made to sit on the floor at same level to eat the food. The kitchens are known as “langar halls” and the food served is known as “langar”.
  2. Sikh Gurudwaras have 4 doors which signify that one and all are welcome from all directions. The four doors are known as, Door of Peace, Door of Livelihood, Door of Grace and Door of Learning. Gurudwara is made up of two terms “Guru” and “Dwara”, where Dwara means door.
  3. Sikh Gurudwaras are not required to have a fixed architecture or shape. Any room or place that has “Guru Granth Sahib” is kept is a Gurudwara. In fact, many homes bring Guru Granth Sahib to their homes to carry on “Path” on the sad or happy occasions.
  4. Prayers are carried in the Sikh temples in the form of “Shabad”, which is a hymns taken from the Guru Granth Sahib and are sung by Gurudwara priests.
  5. Every Gurudwara will always have Guru Granth Sahib in the prayer hall.
  6. The Nishan Sahib is another symbol representing a Gurudwara. It is a triangular yellow colored flag with “Khanda” painted on it. It was introduced by Guru Hargobind. It usually placed outside the Gurudwara supported by a high flagpost. The flag is respected and considered sacred by the Sikhs.

Facts About Sikhism

  1. The number of Sikhs in the world is estimated at around 23 million, which makes Sikhism the fifth largest religion in the world.
  2. About 19 million live in India, mostly in the state of Punjab. The religion of the Panjab also includes a part of Pakistan, but most of the side that lived in the present territory of Pakistan emigrated to India after the partition of British India in 1947 to avoid the religious persecutions. Existing numerous Sikh communities in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. They are also an important minority in Malaysia and Singapore.

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