The word ‘Sikh’ means a disciple. So Sikhism is essentially the path of discipleship. The true sikh remains unattached to worldly things just as the lotus keeps its blossom over and above the surface of water. The Sikh must do his duty to his family and to the community. The main thing is leading a pure and moral life, full of noble deeds and kind words. A Sikh does not regard fasting, austerities, pilgrimages, alms-giving and penance as important things.
There are 30 million Sikhs in the world most of them live in the Punjab India and about 700,000 Sikhs call USA home.
Sikhism was founded in the 15th century in the Punjab. It was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him.
The most important thing in Sikhism is the internal religious state of the individual.
- Sikhism is a monotheistic religion
- Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
- The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara
- The Sikh scripture is called Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), a book that Sikhs consider a living Guru.
- SGGS accepted by Sikhs as living guru and displayed on pedestal in all Sikh Gurdwara.
- The Gurdwara doors are open to everybody (Sikhs and non-Sikhs) provided they cover their head, remove shoes, and leave their tobacco outside.
- Sikhism had three basic tenets:
- Nam japna: Meditate the name of God
- Kirt Karna: have honest living
- Vand Chhakna: Share with needy
- Other main features are: Charity (daan), Volunteerism (sewa) and Equality of Gender.
- At end of each service Langar is served to all (free Vegetarian food).
- In each prayer service Sikh pray for the welfare of entire mankind ( Nanak naam chardhi kala tere bhane sarbat da bhalla).
- All observant male Sikh keep long hair (wrapped in a Turban) and un-cut beards.
- Turban is an article of faith.
- Baptized Sikhs also wear a ceremonial small Kirpan (dagger) as an article of faith.
The tenth Sikh Guru decreed that after his death the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in that book, so the Guru Granth Sahib now has the status of a Guru, and Sikhs show it the respect they would give to a human Guru.
The community of men and women who have been initiated into the Sikh faith is the Khalsa. The Khalsa celebrated its 300th anniversary in 1999.