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Introduction:

Sikhism is a monotheistic faith, which was founded in the fifteenth century by Guru Nanak in the region of Punjab, north west India.  It is recognised as the youngest of world religions. 

Sikhism emerged as a result of the teachings of Guru Nanak’s aim was to encourage all people to faithfully worship one God.  The fundamentals of the religion were then further developed by a continuous line of nine gurus (teachers) who succeeded him.

The last guru declared that after him, there would be no other gurus.  The Guru Granth Sahib, The Sikh holy book, would be viewed as the eternal guru.  For Sikhs the Granth Sahib is the focal point of a Sikh temple (Gurdwara) and the ultimate source of religious authority.

Sub-divisions: Sikhism has no major sub divisions.

Scriptures: The principal scripture of Sikhs is The Guru Granth Sahib.

Festivals:

Sikhs celebrate several religious festivals that combine a cultural and religious significance.

• Vaisakhi  - the central festival which is a dual celebration incorporating both a harvest festival and a commemoration of Guru Gobind Singh’s creation of the Khalsa, the pure brotherhood of Sikhs.
• Diwali  - Known as the festival of lights, this commemorates the return of Lord Rama from His exile in the forest.  It is, for many traditions, a new-year celebration.  It takes place between late October and the middle of November.
• Gurpurbs - The marking of important anniversaries relating to the birth or death (martyrdom) of a Guru.  This includes the full recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib as well as the singing of hymns and Sikh lectures.
• Baisakhi – The day is celebrated around the 13th April.  It is celebration of the founding of the Khalsa Order and Sikh nation.  Many Sikhs choose to be initiated on this day.  Often, a religious street procession marks the key event.
• Bandi Chhor – Sikhs commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind (Sixth Guru) from false imprisonment.  It coincides with the Indian Festival of Lights (Divali) between the end of October and mid-November.  A Muslim saint laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple, also on this day.
• Maghi – This celebration occurs around the middle of January and marks the martyrdom of forty Sikhs at the hands of the Mughal army.
• Hola Mohalla – On this day Sikhs practice military exercises, stage mock battles, perform martial arts and organise sports competitions.  This is to keep the martial skills and spirit alive.  Hymn singing and lectures also take place.  It occurs the day after the Indian festival Holi around mid-March.

Dietary Requirements

Sikhism forbids smoking and the consumption of alcohol.  A devout Sikh will neither eat eggs, nor any animal by-product.  Many Sikhs do not eat meat either.  Sikhs regard the cow as a sacred animal and the pig is though to be dirty – hence the prohibition of pork.

Dress Code

Sikh men are religiously required to wear turbans to cover their uncut hair.  Should she choose, a Sikh woman may also wear a turban.  Young Sikh boys will wear their long hair tied in a topknot.  The five Ks will be worn on the person:  some will be visible, such the Kesh (uncut hair covered by a turban) and Kara (steel bracelet), while others, such as the Kirpan (sword) and Katcha (shorts) will be worn under the clothes.  Some married women, like their Hindu counterparts, may also wear a Bindi – a red powder spot marked on the forehead.

Bereavement

Sikhs are cremated and have a preference for this to take place as soon after the death as possible.  There is no specified mourning period and normal compassionate leave arrangements should suffice.

Manchester Contacts:

BOSS (British Organisation opf of Sikh students) Manchester

Sikh Gurudwara