Sikhism is one of the youngest of the main religions, having been founded in fifteenth century Punjab. It’s teachings are based on the work of 10 “Gurus” starting with Guru Nanak and ending with Guru Gobind Singh. This final Guru named a book called the Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, making it effectively the eternal Guru. Sikhs believe in one God.
The word “Sikh” means student, so Sikhism is really just a journey of learning.
The Guru Granth Sahib is the main holy scripture for Sikhs. It contains many hundreds of writings and poems written by the Gurus and various other contributors of the time. It is treated with the utmost respect – Sikhs must remove their shoes, cover their heads and bow before it when they enter a room where the book is.
Khalsa (baptized) Sikhs are recognisable for their “5 K’s” –
- Kesh – Uncut hair, wrapped in a turban
- Kara – Steel bangle worn around the wrist
- Kirpan – Small sword
- Kashera – Special shorts
- Kanga – A comb to keep hair and beard tidy
The Sikh religion began with Guru Nanak, who was born in 1469 in Punjab in what is now Pakistan. He didn’t believe in the teachings of Hindus or Muslims, so began to travel great distances spreading his own word of God. Guru Nanak was followed by 9 further Gurus, each of which was chosen by his predecessor.
Sikhs should discipline their thoughts and actions to avoid the 5 obstacles: lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego. Only then can they achieve union with God and break the cycle of reincarnation.
The main place of worship for Sikhs is at a “Gurdwara” – a Sikh temple. Worship can be led by any competent Sikh, which in practice means an elder who can read Sanskrit and Punjabi!