Intro to Sikhi
Text for children and beginners to Sikhi
The word Sikh means "student" or "disciple" in the Punjabi language. Sikhs are students and followers of Guru Nanak (born 1469), the founder of the Sikh tradition. Guru Nanak was succeeded by nine Gurus or holy teachers. Since 1708, the spiritual guide for the Sikhs or their Sikh Guru has been their religious scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhism is the youngest of the world's major religions, being founded in the 15th century. Guru Nanak, their first 'spiritual teacher' or Guru was born in 1469.
There are over 23 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the fifth largest organized religion in the world. There are about 800,000 Sikhs in the United Kingdom and about 1,200,000 Sikhs in North America. Almost 18 million Sikhs live in the Punjab district in what is now India and Pakistan.
Sikhism teaches that there is one God, all people are equal and good actions are important for a Sikh. Sikhs also believe in honesty, truthfulness, charity, and the constant remembrance of God. They consider that empty religious ceremonies have no real meaning in life. Consequently they avoid pilgrimages, fasting and statue worship.
Sikhism is based on the teachings of Guru Nanak and of the other nine gurus who were his successors. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh declared that there would be no other human Gurus after him and that instead the Sikhs could look to their holy scriptures for guidance - so the living Guru of the Sikhs is the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, which is a large written volume consisting of 1430 pages.
The collection of Sikh holy text appears in the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. This is a collection of teachings and writings of the Sikh Gurus as well as Hindu and Muslim saints. These scriptures are written in Gurmukhi (sometimes also called Punjabi) and are greatly respected by all Sikhs as the "living word of God". The Sikhs show a high level of respect for their "living Guru", the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Guru Granth Sahib is kept on a raised platform called a Takhat (or throne) under a canopy in the place of worship. Sikhs take off their shoes in the presence of the holy scripture and also try not to turn their back to the sacred holy book. At every festival, the holy text is read continuously from beginning to end. This consists of reading 1430 large pages of writing and it takes a total of about 48 hours of continuous reading to read the whole of the holy volume.
The special building where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept is a Sikh place of worship and is called a Gurdwara or 'House of the Guru'. The actual hall where the holy volume is kept during the day is called the Darbar sahib or Darbar Hall. Sikh religious services are generally held daily but special services are held on a Sunday in Western countries. These services are based on the writings from the Guru Granth Sahib, together with chants and prayers from the sacred Guru sung to music known as Kirtan. The service ends with a free meal from the langar (shared meal).
The place where the free food is eaten is called the Langar hall. To mimic the past history of this habit of "eating together as equals people before God", the people attending sit on the floor to eat their food. This habit of sitting on the floor is to show that as consumer, we are humbly receiver of food from the Creator, who is the supplier of everything on this Earth. It is a posture of submission and a mark of gratitude for the Supreme Being, God.
Duties of a Sikh
The Sikh members are required by their Guru to study the holy text everyday and follow these writings in their daily lives. The three primary features of the writing of the Guru that are important to Sikhs are to:
- 1. Remember God at all times, called Naam japna
- 2. Work honestly in your daily life, called Kirt karni
- 3. Share with others what you have, called Wand ka shakna
All members of the Sikh faith are required to follow these duties at all times. So as a consequence of these three pillars of Sikhi, a Sikh gets up early each morning and recites text from the holy scriptures. This daily recital of holy text is called Nitnem or the "Daily prayer routine".
Above article based on article at: www.sikhnextdoor.org