Sikh traditions, beliefs and practices

Sikh Holy Texts:

The tenth Guru, Gobind Singh compiled the ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ consisting hymns and writings by the first 10 Gurus, along with religious texts from Muslim and Hindu saints including Kabir Ji, Baba Sheik Farid, Bhagat Namdev and Bhagat Rav Dass.

The Guru Granth is considered the 11th and final Guru and the Sikh’s holiest religious text.

It was made so by Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Sikh Beliefs:

Goal: The goal of Sikhs is to build a close, loving relationship with God.

Deity: Sikhs believe in a single, formless God, with many names, who can be known through meditation. This concept is similar to Islam whose followers believe in a single God who has 99 names.

Rahras, a Sikh evening prayer states: “O God, since I have fallen at your feet, I do not care for anybody else. I do not follow the religious ways preached by various religions believing in Ram, Mohammed, Puran or Quran. The Simritis, Shastras and the Vedas lay down different doctrines. But I do not recognise any of these. O God, I have written these hymns with Your Grace and Kindness. All that has been said is in fact spoken by You.”

Reincarnation: Sikhs believe in Samsara (the repetitive cycle of birth, life and death) and Karma (the accumulated sum of one’s good and bad deeds and reincarnation the belief of a rebirth following death.

Caste system: Sikhs have rejected the caste system of the Hindu religion.

They believe that everyone has equal status in the eyes of God.

This is an important principle permeating all Sikh beliefs, behaviour and rituals.

Code of Conduct: During the 18th century, there were a number of attempts to prepare an accurate portrayal of Sikh customs. None received the support of most Sikhs. Sikh scholars and theologians started to prepare the Reht Maryada in 1931, the Sikh code of conduct and conventions.

It is the only version authorised by the Akal Takht, the seat of supreme temporal authority for Sikhs. Its implementation has successfully achieved a high level of uniformity in the religious and social practices of Sikhism throughout the world.

It contains 27 articles.

Article 1 defines a Sikh as ‘Any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being, Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh, The Guru Granth Sahib, The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion is a Sikh.

There are a number of traditions within Sikhism.

Thousands of Sikhs, both in India and worldwide follow living gurus who have lineages traceable back to Guru Gobind Singh.

Sikh Practices: Prayers – repeated multiple times each day.

Worship – Sikhs are prohibited from worshipping idols, images or icons.

Temples – Gurdwaras (temples, shrines or holy places) exist all over the world; the most sacred is at Amritsar in India.

The Five Ks: These are clothing practices followed by stricter Sikhs, called Khalsa saints: Kesa (long hair, which is never cut), Kangah (comb), Kacha (short pants, Kara (metal bracelet) and Kirpan (a ceremonial dagger)

The Khanda

The Khanda is the main Sikh symbol and comprises five items, all of which are traditional weapons. These include a vertical double-edged sword with a broad blade, also called a Khanda; two curved swords called kirpans. They are called miri and piri, after the names given to his personal kirpans by Guru Hargobind; a ring called chakker (aka chakram).

It is an effective weapon, with a range of up to 50 meters (165 feet). This has been popularised by the television series ‘Xena the Warrior Princess’

The Khanda has been interpreted as “The Sikh emblem which contains a ring of steel representing the Unity of God, a two edged sword symbolising God’s concern for truth and justice and two crossed swords curved around the outside to signify God’s spiritual power.”

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