News

Sikh FAQ: What is Sikhism?

By Manny Bahia | 3:11 pm PST, Mon August 6, 2012 | Speak Up

Post-Oak Creek we thought we’d share with our readers a brief FAQ about Sikhs. Growing up in Vancouver, we are exposed to people from many religions and gain a good understanding and love for all. This FAQ is for those who may have some fair questions about the Sikh faith and its people.

The word Sikh (pronounced “sickh”) means ‘disciple’ or ‘learner.’ The Sikh religion was founded in Northern India in the fifteenth century by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is distinct from Islam and Hinduism. Sikhism is monotheistic (believe in one God) and stresses the equality of all men and women. Sikhs believe in three basic principles; meditating on the name of God (praying), earning a living by honest means, as well as sharing the fruits of one’s labor with others. Sikhism rejects caste and class systems and emphasizes service to humanity. –Sikhnet.com

Why do Sikhs wear turbans?

Turbans are an article requirement for a fully-baptized Sikh. It is for identity and to keep uncut hair in place. Sikhs believe in keeping the pure human form given by God, the reason for long uncut hair. There are 5 articles of faith in total. The most common you will see on a Sikh is a kara which is a steel or iron bracelet on the right arm. It is there for a Sikh to remind him/her to do good deeds.

What is a Gurdwara (referred to as a Temple in media)?

The Sikh place of worship, or Gurdwara, is more than a place of worship. It has historically served as a refuge for the homeless and the destitute. Gurdwaras usually display the Nishan Sahib, a saffron-colored triangular flag bearing the khanda, the symbol of the Sikh faith. Visitors, irrespective of their religion, are offered shelter, comfort, and food. The prerequisites for entering a Gurdwara are removing shoes and covering one’s head with a handkerchief, scarf, or other cloth.

In a Gurdwara, no special place or seat may be reserved or set aside for any dignitary, as all are considered equals. The service consists of singing of the liturgy, as well as the exposition of Sikh history, tradition, and theology. Non-Sikhs are always welcome. Sikh gurdwaras all over the world usually run free community kitchens, which provide meals to all. These kitchens are run and funded by volunteers. In traditional Indian society, people of high and low caste were rigidly segregated. To combat this social problem, the Sikh community kitchen, or langar, requires everyone to sit side by side and eat together, thereby teaching the concept of equality by shattering all barriers of caste and class. Every major city in the United States and Canada has Sikh gurdwaras and they are open to all. –Sikhnet.com

Gurdwaras are open for all people to worship or learn more about the Sikh religion. Free community meals are available for everybody from all faiths and religions at all times during the day.

Why are Sikhs vegetarian?

Most Sikhs believe in a diet of vegetarianism and refraining from overconsumption – moderation is key. Fitness and meditation are part of a Sikh’s daily regimen so diet is very important in enhancing both. Sikhs do not consume anything that harms the body or mind. This means intoxicants such as tabacco and alcohol are forbidden.

Why is Sikhism considered a “warrior-religion”?

Throughout history, Sikhs were called upon to defend people’s rights and freedoms. Violence was always the last ditch solution. Sikhs were trained to become some of the fiercest warriors in history by their tenth guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. See more about the History of Sikh War.

There are many questions you may have regarding domestic violence, terrorism, drugs, alcohol, etc. Just as members of other faiths wander out of acceptable behaviours marked by their religions, some Sikhs unfortunately do as well. That is of some cultural matters and of non-Sikh beliefs and has nothing to do with religion.

Other Resources:
Sikhism: 5 Things To Know About The Sikh Religion – Huffington Post
Who are Sikhs? – Sikhnet.com
SikhiWikhi.org

Speak Up

  • Mayank

    Awesome post! Must read for one and all.

  • http://twitter.com/ritikaaaaar Ritika Rakshit

    So happy someone wrote about this!

  • RP
  • http://twitter.com/LeahMoyls Leah Moyls

    Thank you for the read, very well written and researched!  

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