Sikhism. By: Alyssa Plants. What is Sikhism?. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was founded by Guru Nanak over 500 years ago in the Punjab region. Although it is the world’s youngest religion, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, totaling over 20 million followers.
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By: Alyssa Plants
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was founded by Guru Nanak over 500 years ago in the Punjab region.
Although it is the world’s youngest religion, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, totaling over 20 million followers.
Sikhs believe that all people are created equal, and that people can unlock the divine within them through devotion to God, living truthfully, and serving humanity.
Sikhs do not believe in superstitions, ritualism, caste systems, or the consumption of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco.
Sikhs never cut their hair. Instead, they allow it to grow as a symbol of their faith. To keep it clean, Sikh men wear turbans; whereas, Sikh woman may wear either a turban or a scarf.
Similar to a small comb and usually tucked up into the Sikh’s turban, the kanga affirms the bearer’s commitment to society. As the comb keeps the Sikh’s hair from being tangled, they are reminded to shed any impure thoughts.
Like a bracelet, the circular-shaped kara is worn around a Sikh’s wrist as a reminder that God is infinite.
Resembling a sword yet smaller than a butter knife, the kirpan symbolizes the protection of the weak by the Sikhs. It is attached by a shoulder strap and worn at the waist.
The kaccha is a loose, cotton undergarment that reminds the Sikhs to maintain their self-restraint over passions and desires.
All five of these articles must be worn at all times by any Sikh who has been baptized and experienced their Dastaar Bandi, an initiation ceremony for all Sikhs between the ages of 14 and 16.
Upon entering a gurdwara, a person must remove his or her shoes, and cover their head.
Men and women sit on opposite sides of the gurdwara. However, both sexes sit on the floor for the entirety of the service.
Traditional Sikh services usually include singing hymns, a lesson from the Guru Granth Sahib, and a free meal open to all in the langar upon the conclusion of the service.
Sikhs house their sacred text beneath an ornate canopy from which a granthi sits and teaches the lesson.
Granthis can be either men or women, as long as they have a thorough understanding of the Guru Granth Sahib, and show their respect for the text by fanning it with a chauri composed of animal hair.
All worshipers must bring an offering of flowers, food, or money to present before the text, bowing their head to the ground as a sign of respect. They then retreat to their spot without turning their back to the writings.
Although mostly concentrated in India, Sikhism has a wide array of followers in countries such as the U.S. Kenya, Australia, and Italy.
Although throughout nations such as India Sikhism is greatly respected, Western nations, especially the U.S. often misunderstand Sikhs as being violent people.
In a Michigan school, Sikh students were barred from wearing their kirpans because they worried the parents of other students.
Sikhism provides a free meal and temporary shelter to all weary travelers.
Priding itself in offering education, Sikh gurdwaras are always open to the public, offering guidance and advice from granthis, fellowship between Sikhs, and help with understanding the Guru Granth Sahib and the musical instruments within the temple.
Sikhs are also a very community-based religion. It is not uncommon to find Sikhs celebrating religious holidays in public places and sponsoring local benefits.