Sikh - more detail
What do Sikhs believe?
Sikhs believe in the message of universal love, peace and brotherhood first taught by the faith’s founder, Guru Nanak Dev.
In the Sikh tradition, there is one only one God who is known by various names including Ram, Waheguru Hari, Nirankar – among others. A true Sikh is regarded as someone who believes in one immortal God, the ten gurus and their teachings, the Gurbani, which are found in the holy book, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
According to Sikh beliefs, God made the world through his creative power and allowed it to evolve in gradual stages culminating in humans, the highest form of life on earth. While humans can experience God’s power, he is beyond their comprehension. Humans can only hope to get close to God through love, worship and contemplation.
Sikhs believe that the purpose of life is to reach the highest level of existence by merging with God. This is the key to breaking the cycle of life and death, which is known as reincarnation. Those who fail to become one with God will be reincarnated as a lower form of life and go through a cycle of 8,400,000 life forms before another chance as man.
Sikhs respect equality of all people, regardless of caste, colour, creed or gender. They believe that a good life is a life lived as part of a community and involves working, giving and sharing. Sikhism has no rituals because Sikhs believe they serve no useful purpose.
The Sikh faith is not divided according to different beliefs. However, the faith does incorporate different organisations that support various interests and concerns within the Sikh community.
How Sikh developed
The Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak Dev in the Indian state of Punjab around 540 years ago. Born in 1469, Guru Nanak Dev spent twenty-two years from the age of thirty completing a series of four epic journeys around and beyond the Indian sub-continent. He eventually settled at Kartarpur in the Punjab. Here, he founded a community that became known as the Sikhs – meaning disciples or learners.
Inspired by Guru Nanak Dev, the Sikhs in the Punjab eventually emerged as a fully-fledged community with economic and administrative structures as well as spiritual functions. In 1799, the Punjab became a sovereign nation under its ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. It remained independent until the coming of the British Raj in 1849.
Guru Nanak Dev was followed by Sikhism’s other nine gurus: Guru Angad Dev (1504-1552), Guru Amar Das (1479-1574), Guru Ram Das (1534-1581), Guru Arjan Dev (1563-1606), Guru Hargobind (1595-1644), Guru Har Rai (1631-1661), Guru Har Kishan (1656-1664), Guru Tegh Bahadur (1622-1675), Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708). Together, the Gurus are respected as divine teachers who spread the word of God.
There has been no other living Guru since Guru Gobind Singh, who gave the holy book – Sri Guru Granth Sahib – authority to act as the definitive reference on the Sikh way of life.
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How Sikhs worship
Sikhs do not have a specific holy day during the week. But like many Sikhs around the UK, practising Sikhs living in Tower Hamlets generally visit their gurdwara over the weekend.
Gurdwaras – or Sikh temples – are places for discussing God and for congregational worship. They also provide space for meditation, divine knowledge, bliss and tranquillity in addition to a full range of social services. A gurdwara’s focal point is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book), wrapped in a special cloth, and placed on a platform under a canopy.
A typical Sikh service includes hymns, a discourse on a religious subject and a final prayer. Afterwards, those attending the service share Guru ka Langar – the Guru’s food.
Sikhs strive to perform three duties:
- Keep God in mind at all times (nam japna)
- Earn an honest living (kirt karna
- Give to charity and care for others (vand chhakna)
As an act of faith, baptised Sikhs wear the five Ks:
- Kesh – wearing your hair long, under a distinctive turban
- Kangha – a small comb, which is worn in the hair at all times
- Kara – a steel bracelet , worn on the right wrist
- Kaccha – a special style of underwear, made from cotton
- Kirpan – a short sword or dagger
Many Sikhs are vegetarian and do not eat fish or eggs, or any products that contain them. Many non-vegetarian Sikhs do not eat beef or pork. Nor do they eat halal or kosher meat. Amritdhari (baptised) Sikhs abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol.