Sikhism (Religion and Theology)

Introduction

Sikhism is a practical religion which does have merely words or any certain set of beliefs. This religion does not involve visiting shrines and tombs or following Yogis. This religion believesthat a life should be lived in some patterns.it’s main asset is its simplicity. It does not have any kind of supernaturalism or mythology where it keeps its feet up. It does not have any concepts of devils, angels or heavenly spirits (Sikhism, n.d., Para 1).

Sikhism is a universal religion and it objects all ritualism and formalism. It does not nourish any blind faith. It discourages blind follow to any external authority. Sikhism believes in Karma and it identifies the modification of one’s karma with the grace of God (Sikhism, n.d., Para 2-5).

Historians in Eastern religions normally believe that Sikhism is a syncretistic religion that can be related to Bhakti movement within Hinduism. They associate Sikhism with Hindu religion. But many Sikhs disagree on this point; they believe that Sikhism is direct revelation from God and does not originate from any religion like Hinduism or Islam (Robinson, 2006, Para 2).

Marriage and Family: Marriage is sacred and it’s a bond not only between the man and woman but also in the whole families. Normally Sikhs have arranges marriages where the partners are chosen by the parents for their children which is based on mutual interests and similarities in culture. Divorce is against the lessons of the guru (Sikh family life, 2007, Para 7).

During the wedding ceremony, the couple sits before the Guru ranth sahib where the Granthi reads certain wedding hyms from the holy book. The couple takes round of the it slowly and friends and family shower their blessings by throwing flowers on them. The bride wears red wedding costume that represents health and wealth and after ceremony prashad, sweets are distributed (Sikh family life, 2007, Para 8 & 9).

Childhood and the naming ceremony: Just after the birth of the baby, parents go to the gurudwara with the baby where Guru Granth Sahib is opened and a random reading is done. The first letter of reading becomes the first letter of the baby’s name (Sikh family life, 2007, Para 1-3). A Sikh child starts learning the language of Guru Granth Sahib when he is just seven years old. The Children are supported by the family. There is no discrimination between sexes.The girls are expected to achieve same as boys (Sikh family life, 2007, Para 1-3).

Getting old and death: Older people of this community get lots of respect. When athere is a death in a Sikh family, they are cremated wearing the five Ks. They believe in incarnation and union with God (Sikh family life, 2007, Para 10).

Foundation of Sikhism: Sikhism is the youngest religion which is just five hundred years old (Introduction to Sikhism, 2009, Para 1). Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji was the person who satrted this religion. He got the vision to preach the way to God (Robinson, 2006, Para 3). At this time India was being segrated on the basis of castes, religious factions and sectarianism. He respected all religions (Introduction to Sikhism, 2009, Para 1).

He preached, “There is no Hindu and Muslim” which became one of the pillars of Sikhism (Robinson, 2006, Para 3). Guru Nank and his followers who were called Panth built a temple at Kartarpur (Robinson, 2006, Para 3). He showed a real path to God by saing that God is Truth, “Sat Nam” (Introduction to Sikhism, 2009, Para 1).

A succession of nine Gurus who were considered as reincarnations of Guru Nanak guided the movement during the period from Guru Nanak’s dealth until 1708. During that course, the activities of the Guru were passed on to the Panth and to the holy text (Robinson, 2006, Para 4).

Philosophy and Teachings: The word Sikh means a diciple. A true Sikh is not attached to wordly things but he must do his duty towards his family and community. They believe in Bhagti which is possible after fullfing following conditions (Sikhism, Main Principles, n.d., Para 1):

Faith in God
Following Truth
Conrol over world and deed
Unattachment and desirelessness
Association with holy men which is Satsang
Humanity and submission to Hukam

Salvation: it is also called Mukti. According to Guru, “The man of God rejects salvation. He just wants love. The happiness lies only in merging in Divine Spirit. A man can have Mukti only when he medidates on God (Sikhism, Main Principles, n.d., Para 3).

Khalsa: The Khalsa is about worshiping one God and meditating daily on his name. A Sikh has to keep the symbols (Panj Kakar) whole life. He should not believe in one caste instead he should believe in brotherhood. He should not be involved in any of the four offenses (Kurahat) as cutting of hair, eating Halal meat, adultery and the use of any intoxicant. He should not commit any of the social offences (Tankhah) like, giving dowry, using liqours, raising monuments over graves and associating with traitors (Sikhism, Duties of the Khalsa, n.d., Para 3).

He must donate one-tenth (daswand) of his income for religious purposes. He must practice arms and should be ready o protect the weak (Sikhism, Duties of the Khalsa, n.d., Para 3).

Renunciation of the world: Sikhism does not favour that one leaves his family and live away from it. The Gurus conveyed that married life is the best mode of life. Escaping from the realities of life is a saintly act (Sikhism, Main Principles, n.d., Para 12).

The 5K’s of Sikh:

Sikh’s who have done Amrit Cermony or public commitment to the faith, are called Khalsa. They have accepted 5 symbols. These symbols are called 5 K’s. They not only prove the Sikh identity, but also have spiritual meanings (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 1). They are powerful symbols of faith. Most Sikhs follow the traditions of Khalsa (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 1).

Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, gathered together the first members of Khalsa on Baisakhi in 1699 and gave them the five items of dress, which had uniformity (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2). These items of dress or appearance are (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2):-

Kesh– uncut hair & beard, as given by God, to sustain him/her in higher consciousness and a turban, the crown of spirituality.

Kangha – a wooden comb to properly groom the hair as a symbol of cleanliness (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2).

Kachera –specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2).

Kara – a steel Band, worn on the wrist, signifying bondage to Truth & freedom from every other entanglement (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2).

Kirpan – the sword, with which the Khalsa is committed to righteously defend the fine line of the Truth (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 2).

Meaning of these 5 K’s:

Kara

It is a bangle, which is generally made of iron or steel and it is worn on the right wrist. The steel represents strength and the circular shape represents unity and eternity (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 4). It shows Sikhs’ belief that God is eternal (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 4).

Kangha

A Kangha is a wooden item to keep the hair clean and tidy. Guru Gobind Singh stressed on cleanliness while performing Khalsa (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 5). After washing and then combing their hair, Sikhs tie a topknot and then they keep Kangha in the topknot which is covered with a turban (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 5). Kangha represents discipline in all facets of life (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 5).

Kachera

Guru Gobind Singh told Sikhs to wear short trousers which was to depict Khalsa uniform (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 6).There are many explanations to the use of this Kachera. One of them is that it made Sikhs move easier to move in battle. Many Sikhs believe that it represents modesty (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 6).

Kirpan

It is a sword that is worn by the Khalsa (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 7). The Kripan is worn as a memento of the bravery of the first five Sikhs, who were keen to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their religion. The Kripan is therefore a symbol of bravery and of faith in God. For many, the most important meaning is that the kripan stands for the commitment to fight ‘one’s own internal enemy’ that is weakness in one’s own character & behaviour (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 7).

Kesh

By tradition, Sikhs both men or women do not cut their hair and male Sikhs should not cut their beards The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 8).This natural condition shows devotion in god. Guru Gobind Singh encouraged that Sikhs grow their hair, which is to follow ‘as God intended’ (The 5 K’s, n.d., Para 8).

Scriptures: There are two main sources for the Sikhs: The Guru Grinth Sahib and the Dasam Granth (Sikhism, n.d., Para 9). The Adi Granth means ‘The First Volume’. It is referred to the version the sripture which was created by Arjan Dev in 1604. The Guru Granth Sahib is the final version of the scripture which was developed by Guru Gobind Singh (Sikhism, n.d., Para 9).

Adi Granth: The compilation of Adi Granth was done by Bhai Gurus under the guidance of Arjan Dev in 1963 and 1964. Its script is Gurmukhi, which was standardised by Arjan Dev for using it in Sikh scriptures.It was created to protect the hymns and teachings of the Sikh gurus (Sikhism, n.d., Para 10-11).

The original version of Adi Granth is expected to bemantained by the Sodhi family of Kartarpur. Actually, the history says that original version of this scripture was burned by Ahmad Shah Durrani’s army in 1757 when they burned Kartarpur (Sikhism, n.d., Para 10-11).

Guru Granth Sahib: It has the original version of Adi Granth with some addition of Teg Bahadur’s hymns. Guru Gobind Singh’s verdict was that Guru Granth Sahib will be the eternal guru for all the Sikhs (Sikhism, n.d., Para 12).

It consists of the composition of the first five gurus, Teg Bahadur and just one ‘Salok’ from Guru Gobind Singh (Sikhism, n.d., Para 13).

Dasam Granth: The Dasam Granth is also called The Book of the Tenth Master. It is an eithteenth-century collection of poems, which are written by Gobind Singh (Overview of Sikh Scriptures, n.d., Para 9). It was given a shape of book by Bhai Mani Singh (Overview of Sikh Scriptures, n.d., Para 9).

Janamsakhis: They are the biographies of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak. It is the proof of amazing acts and mystic conversations. The composition of new Janamsakhis was the result of three great schisms of the Sikh religion: the Minas, the Handalis and the Udasis (Overview of Sikh Scriptures, n.d., Para 11, 12 & 14).

The Ten Gurus and their teachings: The word “GURU” in Sanskrit means person having great knowledge, wisdom and authority, a teacher, a soul who can dispel darkness. In Sikhism, Guru, means the divine guidance provided through their ten Enlightened Masters (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2). Starting with Guru Nanak in1469 & ending with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708, their wisdom, preaching’s have been compiled in the Holy Scripture “The Guru Granth Sahib” (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2).

First Guru – Guru Nanak Sahib

Guru Nanak was born to Tripta, a simple religious woman and wife of Mehta Kalyan Das, on April15, 1469 in Shekhpura (Pakistan), now Nanakana Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 1).

From the earlier child hood Nanak was an extraordinary child. He learnt Hindi & Sanskrit at the age of seven and by thirteen learned Persian too. He got married to Mata Sulakhni, who gave him two sons: Sri Chand and Lakhmi Das. (Ten Guru, n.d., Para2)

In August 1507, while bathing in ‘Vain Nadi’, at the age of 38, Guru Nanak dedicated himself to the service of humanity.” There is no Hindu, no Musalman” were his first divine words (Ten Guru, n.d., Para3). He started long travels and preached his unique and divine doctrine that is Sikhism (Ten Guru, n.d., Para3). The preaching’s during these tours are compiled as Char Udasis of Guru Nanak Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para3).

In the year 1522 Guru Nanak Sahib founded the city of Kartarpur (now in Pakistan) and spent the rest of his life there (Ten Guru, n.d., Para5). There he pioneered the Langar or free kitchen. In 1539 he established Bhai Lehna ji (Guru Angad Sahib) as the second Nanak. On Sept 22, 1539 he left for the heavenly aboad. He was a good poet and musician. He wrote approximately 947 hyms comprising Japji Sahib, Asa-di-Var, Bara-Mah, Sidh-Gosht and, Onkar. Guru Arjan Sahib compiled all these in Guru Granth Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para5).

Second Guru – Guru Angad Sahib

Guru Angad Sahib (Bhai Lahna ji) was born on March 31, 1504 to Mata Ramo ji wife of a petty trader Pheru ji in a village named Sarai Naga (Matte di Sarai) in district Muktsar (Punjab). (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1)

Bhai Lahna was a worshipper of Goddess Durga and use to go to pilgrimage to Jwalamuki Temple. During one such pilgrimage he heard the hymn of Guru Nanak Sahib and decided to meet him. He got fully changed after this meeting. He became a follower of Guru Nanak Sahib and became his Sikh (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2 & 3).

Guru Angad Sahib introduced Gurumukhi Script, a new alphabet modified from old Punjabi Script (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 5). He started Mall Akhara were physical as well as spiritual was given to the youth. He also wrote the first biography of Guru Nanak Sahib (Bhai Bale Wali Janamsakhi) (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 5).

At the age of Forty eight on March 29, 1552 Guru Angad Sahib breathed his last but before that he nominated Amar Das Sahib as his successor. (Ten Guru, n.d., Para7)

Third Guru – Guru Amardas Sahib

Guru Amardas Sahib was born on May 5, 1479 in the village Basarke Gillan in Amritsar, to mother Bakht Kaur and father Tej Bhan Bhalla, who later became the Third Nanak (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1).

Influenced by Guru Angad Sahib and preachings of Guru Nanak Sahib he converted to Sikhism and adopted Guru Angad Sahib as his spiritual Guru. In 1552 he was made the Third Nanak by Guru Angad Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2). Establishing his headquarter in Goindwal, he propagated the faith in a planned manner (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2).He added 869 self composed verses to Guru Granth Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para6).

He transferred the Guru ship to his son-in-law, Guru Ramdas Sahib, making him the Fourth Nanak. On September 1, 1574 at a ripe age of 95 Guru Amardas Sahib passed away for heaven (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 7)

Fourth Guru – Guru Ramdas Sahib

Guru Ramdas Sahib was born on September 24, 1534 at Chuna Mandi, Lahore (Pakistan).His father Baba Hari Das ji Sodhi Khatri and mother Mata Daya Kaur were too poor and he use to sell boiled grams to earn his bread (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1).

Guru Amardas Sahib married his daughter Bibi Bhani ji to Guru Ramdas Sahib. Due to his dedication, energy, saintliness and eloquence Guru Amardas Sahib found him apt for the Guruship and made him the Fourth Nanak on September 1, 1574. Foundation of Ramdas Pur or Chak Ramdas (now Amritsar) was laid by Guru Ramdas (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 3).On September 1, 1581 he passed away to heaven but before that he nominated his youngest son Guru Arjan Sahib as the fifth Guru (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2).

Fifth Guru – Guru Arjan Sahib

Guru Ramdas Sahib and Mata Bhani ji’s youngest son Guru Arjan Sahib was born on April 15, 1563. He learnt Gurmukhi script and was also taught Persian, Hindi and Sanskrit languages. He became Guru at the young age of 18 years. (Para1)

Guru Arjan Sahib commissioned two sacred Tanks Amritsar and Santokhsar. He also laid the foundation of a town (Taran Sahib) near Goindwal Sahib and created a large tank and Gurdwara (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2 & 3).

He contributed 2000 verses for the same. He also institutionalized the tradition of Daswandh and Masand system that helped in attracting large number of followers to Sikhism from far distant places from Punjab (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 4 & 5).

Guru Arjan Sahib was also called as “Sacha Patshah”. The fast paced spread of Sikhism during his period made the orthodox Hindus and princely Muslims very jealous. He was tortured for 3 days, he was made to sit on the hot iron plates and burning sand was poured on his naked body (Ten Guru, n.d., Para6).Later he was thrown into river Ravi. May 30, 1606 is celebrated as the day of Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Sahib (Ten Guru, n.d., Para6).

Sixth Guru – Guru Hargobind Sahib

With the sudden demise of Guru Arjan Sahib, his father and fifth Nanak, Guru Hargobind Sahib succeeded and became Sixth Nanak at the age of eleven years in 1606. He was the only child of Guru Arjan Sahib and Mata Ganga ji, born on June19, 1595 at village Guru Ke Wadali. He had one daughter Bibi Viro ji, he had five sons. His fifth son Tegh Bahadur became the Ninth Nanak in 1664 (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1).

Guru Hargobind Sahib popularised the idea of “Saint – Soldier” which was the need of that hour. He used to keep with him two swords Piri – Miri. The first one was supposed to have the Spiritual Power and the second one was supposed to have Military Power. He also encouraged Sikhs for participating in Martial Arts and military Trainings (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 3). During his life time he fought many wars with the Mughal Emperor and always stood victorious (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 3).

He breathed last on February 28, 1644. Before his demise, he nominated his grandson Har Rai Sahib as the Seventh Nanak (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 23).

Seventh Guru – Guru Har Rai Sahib

At the tender age of 14 Guru Har Rai Sahib was nominated as successor and Seventh Nanak by his Grand Father Guru Hargobind Sahib. He was son of Baba Gurdita Ji and Mata Nihal Kaur (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 1).

Guru Har Rai Sahib was a believer of non –violence or “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma” but he never disbanded the Saint Soldiers. In Kiratpur Sahib, he founded an Aurvedic Herbal Hospital & Research Centre. Ha also established 360 Manjis (missionary seats) (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 2 & 3).

Guru Har Rai Sahib left for heavenly abode on October 6, 1661, but before that installed his younger son Har Krishan as the Eighth Nanak (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 10).

Eighth Guru – Guru Har Krishan Sahib

He was born on July 7, 1656 at Kiratpur Sahib, and was the second son of Guru Har Rai Sahib and Mata Krishan Kaur (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1). Before the death of Guru Har Rai Sahib in 1661, at an earlier age of about five, Guru Har Krishan Sahib was made Eighth Nanak by his father (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1).

In his short span of three years as Eight Nanak, Guru Har Krishan Sahib took over the masses with his simplicity and humanitarian deeds. He was nicknamed Bala Pir (Child Prophet) by the local Muslim population (Ten Guru, n.d., Para5).

During his last days when he was seriously ill, he was asked to name his successor, t which he said Baba Bakala, which referred to Guru Teg Bahadur. Finally, Guru Har Krishan Sahib passed away on March 30, 1664 (Ten Guru, n.d., Para6).

Ninth Guru – Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was born on April 1, 1621. He was the youngest son of Guru Hargobind Sahib (Seventh Nanak) He was a great swordsman, horseman and shooter (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1 & 3).

With the untimely demise of Eight Nanak, Guru Har Krishan Sahib without declaring his successor there was a situation of uncertainty for some time. Then in August 1664, some prominent Sikhs from Delhi, acknowledged Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib as the Ninth Nanak (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 5).

During 1674-75 the Muslim state forcefully converted people to Islam. To fight this nefarious act with peaceful means Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib sacrificed himself. On November 11, 1675 he was executed, his head was severed from his body at Gurudwara Sis Ganj in Chandi Chowk, Delhi. Before his execution in July 1675 he installed, his son Guru Gobind Sahib as the Tenth Nanak (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 27).

Tenth Guru – Guru Gobind Singh Sahib

Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the tenth and the last Guru of Sikh faith, was born on December 22, 1666 (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1 & 2).His name was Gobind Rai Sodhi. After the execution of his father and ninth Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh was formally made Guru on November 11, 1675 (Ten Guru, n.d., Para1 & 2).

Guru Gobind Singh fought many wars during his period. On October 7, 1708, he passed away in Nanded. With this Guru Gobind Singh ended the line of personal Gurus and passed on th succession to the Holy Book “The Guru Granth Sahib” (Ten Guru, n.d., Para 13).

Sikhism in History: The time period of all the ten gurus lasted for more than 239 long years. The Sikh religion prospered very well during this period, which could be possible under the guidance of the Gurus (Sikh History, Gurus Period, n.d., Para 1).

Banda Singh Bahadur whose real name was Madho Das possessed spriritul powers. He was the follwoer of Guru Gobind Singh. Under Guriji’s direction, he collected an army from Punjab and started fighting against tyrants. After winnig Surhind he established the first Sikh kingdom and a new fort near Nahan which was called Lohgarh. Later Bandha Singh was prisoned by the emperor of Delhi and he was killed in 1716 (Sikh History, Gurus Period, n.d., Para 1-4).

After martyr of Banda Singh, the religious persecution of the Sikhs started soon after that (Sikh History, Religious Persecution Era, n.d., Para 1-3).They were attacked and robbed. They stayed alive on vegetables and fruits but they were not discouraged. Having faith in Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s prediction that the Sikh would rule the country one day, they continued their mission of religious persecution which went for 50 years. Then Sikhs regrouped got ready to fight tyrants and after gathering strength they were ready to defeat the tyrants and then they started ruling around 1760s (Sikh History, Religious Persecution Era, n.d., Para 1-3).

Maharaja Ranjit Singh became their leader and conquered Lahore in 1799. He ruled Punjab for 40 years. His Kingdom was so big that he had to divide it in 4 different states. He died at the age of 59 in 1839 (Sikh History, Sikh Kingdom Era, n.d., Para 1 & 2).

The British bought then the generals of the army and attacked the Sikh kingdom (Sikh History, Colonial Era, n.d., Para 1 & 2). In 1849 they finished the Sikh kingdom era and controlled Punjab with other parts of India. As the British knew that the Sikhs are brave warriors, they appointed them with jobs in their army (Sikh History, Colonial Era, n.d., Para 1 & 2).

The Sikhs proved themselves very useful for the British in many wars wherever they fought for them (Sikh History, Colonial Era, n.d., Para 1 & 2).The British awarded the Sikhs with portions of lands after their retirement from the army. This action of British encouraged lots of sikhs to join the British army. The Sikhs had covered about 80 percent of the army population by the time the British left India after Indian independence (Sikh History, Colonial Era, n.d., Para 1 & 2).

The Indians’ struggle for freedom began in 1920s and it lasted in 1947. The Sikhs played a major role during that struggle by participating in this mission enthusiastically (Sikh History, Colonial Era, n.d., Para 5). The Gurudwara movement of the sikhs was the starting of the national struggle for freedom (Duggal, 2008, Para 4).

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought between the fourth Battalion of the Sikh Regiment of British India and approximately 10,000 Afghan and Orakzais tribesman on 12 September 1897 (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 1).This battle has been noted as the exampe of exceptional bravery. UNESCO has portrayed the battle of Saragarhi as one of the legends of joint bravery (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 1).

The British rulers of india had built many forts in the North West Frontier Province to strengthen their position and to control the hostile activities of the local tribal groups who were living in the north western frontiers of undivided India (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3). Fort Gulistan and Fort Lockhart are the examples of such forts (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3). They were built on the ranges of Hindukush and Sulaiman ranges (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3).

As the two forts were situated a little bit far from each other, a signal post called Saragarhi was created to have interations between the two forts. In 1897 Afridi tribes attacked Fort Gulistan and later the troops of Orakazai and Afridi made fresh attacks and seiged Fort Lockhart and Saragarhi (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3). The strength of Afghani force was about 12000 to 14000 who were fully armed tribesman.

They tried to make the Sikhs surrender but the Sikhs were determined to fight against them and they continued fighting. For this reason it became the famous battle of Saragarhi. Sepoy Gurumkh Singh was the person who continued giving every detail of the battle through heliographic signal until the enemy set the place near Saragarhi on fire. When the enemay were close Sepoy Gurumukh Singh took out his rifle after closing heliograph and he killed 20 people of them before dying (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3).

Every soldier who defended Saragarhi died in this outstanding action of bravery. When this courgeous deed was narrated in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the memebers gave standing applause to it. Even Queen Victoria also came to know about this incident. It was annouced in the Parliament that the army having the brave Sikhs cannot loose any war (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 2 & 3).

All the Sikh officers and soldiers who died in this battle were honoured as the Indian Order of Merit, which was the highest bravery award of that time (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 4 & 5). The current Sikh Regiment now celebrates the day of the Battle of Saragarhi on every 12th September as the Regimental Battle Honours Day (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 4 & 5). The British also built tow Saragarhi Gurudwaras one in Amritsar and another in Ferozepur to respect those soldiers (Battle of Saragarhi, Sikh Regiment, 2009, Para 4 & 5).

Observances: Sikh Culture: Sikh culture is the mixture of many asects, including many festivals and ceremonies. There are songs which are many religious as they are sung in praise of God. For that reason they are different from other songs (Sikh Culture, n.d., Para 1).

Sikh festivals are time for these people to rededicate themselves to the faith (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 1). Even they take death anniversaries of their Gurus as festival since it reminds them the value of sacrifice for a good cause(Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 1). Some of the main Sikh festivals are (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 1):

Baisakhi: it is a New Year festival in the Sikh calendar. The Sikh new years starts with Chet 1 (Sikh Calendar, 1998, Para 2). On this day in 1699 Khalsa was created by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It generally falls on 13 April. Nishan Sahib, the Sikh flag is replaced with a new one (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 3 & 4). The flag post is cleaned. The flag cloth which is Chola is rehoisted. This ceremony is completed by Ardas. A Bhog, which is completion of ceremony, takes place on the morning of Baisakhi and the singing of divine hyms takes place. Also all the Sikh men, women and children participate in Sewa that is Langar which remains open for the worshipers for three days (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 3 & 4).

Diwali: Sikhs celebrate Diwali since Guru Hargobind reached Amritsar on this particular day after he got released from Gwalior jail (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 5). It is the festival of lights. On this day the Golden Temple complex is decorated with lights and magnificient displays of fireworks occur. The historic weapons of the Gurus are displayed (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 5).

In 1577 the Golden Temple’s foundation was kept on Diwali itself (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 6).Sikhs have continuedthis yearly celebration with lighting up lamps and distributing sweets. The largest gathering takes place at the Golden Temple on this day (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 6).

Hola Mohalla: This is an annual festival which takes place at Anandpur Sahib (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 7). Guru Gobind Singh started this festival to exercise millitary practices. Mock battles are also fought on this day which is just after Holi festival. Music and poetry competitions follow mock battles (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 7). On this day kirtan and religious lectures are performed in number of durbars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 7).This festival generally falls on March 17 (Sikh Festivals, n.d. Para 7).

Ceremonies: There are many events like birth, marriage and death in any family but in a Sikh family there are special ceremonies for such events, which are done to receive blessings from God (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 1). All Sikh ceremonies are done in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji that involves singing of hymns, Ardas, Hukamnana and distribution of Karah Prashad. Langar is provided for all the guests (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 1).

Following are some of the main Sikh ceremonies:

Nam Karan: After the birth of child the mother and the child go to the Gurudwara with relatives and friends for the naming ceremony (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3). The Granthi stirs water and sugar crystals in a bowl that is kept in front of Guru Granth Sahib and read the ‘Mool Mantra’ and first few lines of the ‘Japji Sahib’ (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3).

First few drops are put into child’s mouth and the rest is given to the mother to drink (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3).Hymns are spoken publicly to bless the child. The child name is chosen from the first letter of the ‘Hukam’ (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3).The title of Singh (Lion) is given to male and Kaur (Princess) to the girl (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3). Prashad is distributded afer that (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 2 & 3).

Dasar Bandi: This is a very important and exciting moment in the life of a Sikh hen he starts tying the turban. Sometimes family celebrates this occasion which is called Dastar Bandi (Sikh Ceremonies, n.d., Para 4).

Marriage Ceremony: The wedding takes place in the morning in a Gurudwara.After the both family of the boy and family of the girl greet each other then they enter the Gurudwara congregation hall where bride sits alonside with the bridegroom facing the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The ragees sing the hymn of ‘palla’ that is bridegroom’s scarf. Then the couple walk gracefully around the Guru Granth Sahib where the bride folow the bridegroom. Later prashad is distributed and lunch is provided by the bride’s family (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 5).

Amrit Sanchar: This ceremony is done for the initiation into the Khalsa brotherhood (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). The initiate can be done by a man or a woman of any caste or religion (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). Before seeking baptism, they start behaving, acting or looking like a Sikh (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). It is done at a quiter place where Guru Granth Sahib is installed. The initiate will wash his hair, cover his head, wear clean clothes and the 5K’s (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). Hymns are recited. If a person does not have a Sikh name, they keep a new name at this time (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6).

Funeral Ceremony: At the ime of death loud wailing is discouraged (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). Cremation is preferred for the dead body but if it is not possible then burial or submergence at sea are also acceptable (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6). The body is usually washed and clothed by the family members and then hymns are recited. A continuous reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib is done till ten days. It concludes the end of mourning period (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 6).

Gurupurbs: Following are the major Gurupurbs celebrations (Sikh Ceremony, n.d., Para 8):

Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji
First installation of Sri Guru Grath Sahib Ji
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji
Birth of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji
Martyrdom of the Sahibzadas

Sikh Art and Culture: Maharaja Ranjit was an ardent lover of art. For that reason he bacem the first patron of Sikh paintings. He made the painters decorate the walls and the panels of the Golden Temple (Sikh Paintings, n.d., Para 1, 2& 9). Sikh paintings show the historical events and characters.

They give us complete understand ing of the political struggle of Sikhs and the roles of some unforgettble heros of that struggle. There are three different schools of Sikh paintings: Guler School, Kangra School and Lahore School (Sikh Paintings, n.d., Para 1, 2& 9). Some famous paiters are Gian Singh, S.G. Thakur Singh, Sobha Singh and S. Kripal Singh (Sikh Paintings, n.d., Para 1, 2& 9).

Sikh Music and Musical Instruments: Sikhs developed their own instruments like Rabab, Dilruba, Taus, Jori and the Sarinda (Sikh Music and Musical Instruments. n.d., Para 1). The Sarangi was also promoted by Guru Har Gobind (Sikh Music and Musical Instruments. n.d., Para 1).Rabab was first used by Bhai Mardana and Jori and Sarinda were designed by Guru arjan Dev (Sikh Music and Musical Instruments. n.d., Para 1). The Taus was made by Guru Har Gobind. The Dilruba was made by Guru Gobind Singh (Sikh Music and Musical Instruments. n.d., Para 1).

Sikhs in the Western World: Sikhs arrived in the United States and Canada in the late 1800s (Sikh Community, 2006, Para 1). Sikhs who have migrated to this region are generally tensed of maintaining their identity when adapting to the Western culture. Those educated in the United Kingdom or Other British Commonwealth countries, this change to life in North America is easy (Being Sikh in a Western world, 2006, Para 1).

In recent years, the conflict between the values of Sikh beliefs and Western culture has created difference at the work place. The employers are demanding that they cut tehir hair and remove their turbans. Sikhs performing in sports have shown their capabilities of doing well with their turbans on the fields (Being Sikh in a Western world, 2006, Para 2).

Regardless of these stresses, Sikhs have maintained their religious beliefs. They have demonstrated excellence in the football, basketball and boxing etc (Being Sikh in a Western world, 2006, Para 3).

Notable Sikhs in the modern era: Sikhs are very well represented in Indian Politics like recent Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Chairman of the Indian Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the former President, Giani Zail Singh (Sikh, 2009, Para 5 & 6).

Indian millitary services include Sikhs like General Joginder Jaswant Singh, who is the General of the Indian Arrmy. The highest ranking general in the history of the Indian Air Force has been Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh (Sikh, 2009, Para 5 & 6).

Sikhs can be seen in various kinds of professions like scientists, engineers and doctors. Some of these are Professor Piara Singh Gill, a famous Nuclear Scientist who has ben associated with American Manhattan Project; Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany who is a famous Scientist and gets the credit of the father of fiber optics; Simon Singh, physicist and Science writer and Professor Baldev Singh Dhillon, a famous Agricultural Scientist (Sikh, 2009, Para 6).

Sikhs can be found in industrial ventures as UK based New Look, which is women’s clothing fashions and Thai based JASPAL. Both are started by Sikhs only. India’s biggest pharmaceutical company Ranbaxy Laboratories is leaded by the Sikhs only (Sikh, 2009, Para 7).

Writer Khushwant Singh, Singer Daler Mahendi, Jaspal Bhatti, Milkha Singh former world record holder, Bishen singh Bedi, cricketer and Parminder Nagra, English actress all are distingushed sikhs (Sikh, 2009, Para 8).

Conclusion: Sikhism is a beautiful religion. It offers meaning, peace and divine bliss. It shows the path to realisation of Akaal, a timeless god (Why I choose Sikhism, n.d., Para 1). Due to unawareness many youth are being unused to this rich and amazing heritage (Why I choose Sikhism, n.d., Para 1).

Why join Sikhism: As it is a beauiful religion, which shows the path to truth and believes in one God, I have become passionate about this religion. It has selfless love in it. It has bravery and treats everyone similarly. It has its unique scriptural canon, ceremonies and traditions (Sikhs: A distinct religion, panth and nation that welcome all, n.d., Para 1). For that reason I join Sikhism.

Reference List

“Battle of Saragarhi. Sikh Regiment”. 2009.
http://www.indianetzone.com/6/battle_saragarhi.htm (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Being Sikh in a Western World”. 2006.
http://www.wingluke.org/pages/sikhcommunitywebsite/beingasikhinawesternworld.html (accessed March 21, 2010).

Duggal, K S. 2008. “Sikhs in the Freedom struggle”. Vol XLVI No 35.
http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article891.html (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Overview of Sikh Scripture”.
http://www.important.ca/sikhism_scriptures.html (accessed March 21, 2010).

Robinson, B A. “Introduction to Sikhism”. 2009.
http://fateh.sikhnet.com/s/SikhIntro
http://www.religioustolerance.org/sikhism.htm (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikh”.
http://tripatlas.com/Sikh (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikhism”.
http://www.religionresourcesonline.org/study_different_religions/sikhism/sikhism.php (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikhs a Distinct Religion, Panth and Nation that Welcome All”.
http://www.sikhlionz.com/sikhreligion.htm (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikh Calendar”. 1998.
http://www.sikhs.org/dates.htm (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikh Family Life”.
http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/carolrb/sikhism/family.html (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikh History”.
http://www.infoaboutsikhs.com/background.htm (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Sikh Paintings”.
http://www.ethnicpaintings.com/indian_painting_styles/sikh-paintings.html (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Ten Gurus”.
http://sgpc.net/gurus/gurugobind.asp (accessed March 21, 2010).

“The 5 Ks”.
http://www.amritsar.com/The%20Five%20K.shtml (accessed March 21, 2010).

“Why I choose Sikhism”.
http://www.whyichosesikhism.com/ (accessed March 21, 2010).

Go Top