The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of a number of the world’s great religions and Sikhism is one of them. It’s commonly regarded as a monotheistic faith founded around 1500 by Guru Nanak Dev. He was the first of the ‘Ten Gurus’ or spiritual leaders of the Sikhs. Today, Sikhism has approximately 27 million adherents and is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion.
The Holy Book of the Sikh faith is the Guru Granth Sahib. Granth is the Hindi word for book. The Sanskrit word, Guru, means guide or mentor. Guru Nanak Dev was raised in the Hindu faith but left it at a young age to follow his own path. He wished to replace both Hinduism and Islam with something new. The Mughal Empire ruled the region at that time. It was at the age of 50 that Dev’s new faith became properly organised and established. Sikhs do not recognize the caste system.
In the Sikh faith there are 5 fundamental requirements of followers in terms of dress. They are not adhered to by all. These tenets are known as the 5 Ks.
Having uncut hair, known as a Kesh, which is usually kept covered by a turban or scarf.
Having a wooden comb, or Kanga, in their hair.
Wearing a steel bracelet, called a Kara.
Having cotton underwear, Kachera, which does not have to be worn as such (probably best not to wear them on your head though).
Carrying a small sword or dagger, called a Kirpan. It is to be used only in self-defence and defence of one’s faith. In today’s societies these are usually permanently fixed within the sheath to avoid breaking the law.
The main place of Sikh worship is Amritsar in India. The temple there is known as the Golden Temple as it is covered in gold. The following video provides an introduction to this global religion.