Sikhism

Origin of Religion

Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of what is now India and Pakistan.

Founder

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his own teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him.

Places of Worship

Gurdwara means the "guru's door". A gurdwara is the Sikh meeting place for worship. The members of the congregation, welcome all people to worship in the gurdwara regardless of caste, color, or creed.

Classification: Ethnic or Universalitic?

Sikhism is universalistic. It is practiced all throughout the world.

Branches/ Division

Sikhs do not have priests. They were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh who felt they had become corrupt and full of ego. In some Gurdwaras a person known as a Granthi is employed to read the scriptures, conduct worship and perform such ceremonies as weddings but they are not considered as a priest – any Sikh can undertake the same tasks at any time. A Sikh can read the Guru Granth Sahib in a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) or at home.



There are three main branches of Sikhism:

· Udasis – An order of ascetics and holy men, they are often active as missionaries.

· Sahajdharis – Who are clean shaven and do not follow the Khalsa tradition.

· The Khalsa

Where is it practiced today? How many followers?

Sikhism is practiced all over the world but mainly in the Punjab region. It has about 20 million followers worldwide.

Basic Beliefs and Practices

•There is only one God
•God is without form, or gender
•Everyone has direct access to God
•Everyone is equal before God
•A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others
•Empty religious rituals and superstitions have no value

Symbols Used

Khanda:

Represents the belief in one god. The double-edged sword stands for divine knowledge and the two swords on the outside stand for the equal emphasis that a Sikh must place on spiritual aspirations as well as obligations to society.

Nishan Sahib:

The flag flies outside every Sikh Gurdwara.

Ik Onkar:

Means "Ther is Only One God". The first two words in the Guru Granth Sahib