Sikhs (/siːk/ or /sɪk/; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖ sikkh [sɪkkʰ]) are people associated with Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century, in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. The term "Sikh" has its origin in the Sanskrit words शिष्य (śiṣya), meaning a disciple, or a student. A Sikh, according to Article I of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the Sikh code of conduct), is "any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru".
The Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent has been the historic homeland of the Sikhs, and was ruled by the Sikhs for significant parts of the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the Punjab state in northwest India has a majority Sikh population, and sizeable communities of Sikhs exist around the world. Many countries, such as the United Kingdom, recognize Sikhs as a designated religion on their censuses. The American non-profit organization United Sikhs has sought to have Sikh included on the U.S. census as an ethnicity, arguing that Sikhs "self-identify as an 'ethnic minority'" and believe "that they are more than just a religion".
Male Sikhs generally have "Singh" (Lion) as their middle or last name (not all Singhs are Sikhs), and female Sikhs have "Kaur" (Princess) as their middle or last name. Sikhs who have undergone the Khanḍe-kī-Pahul (the Sikh initiation ceremony) may also be recognized by the five Ks: Kesh, uncut hair which is kept covered, usually by a turban; Kara, an iron or steel bracelet; Kirpan, a sword tucked into a gatra strap or a kamal kasar belt; Kachehra, a cotton undergarment; and Kanga, a small wooden comb. Initiated male and female Sikhs must cover their hair with a turban.
|c. 27 million|
|Regions with significant populations|
|India (predominantly Punjab)||20,815,730|
|United States of America||500,000–700,000|
|United Arab Emirates||50,000|
|Guru Granth Sahib|
|Punjabi and other Languages of India|
Guru Nanak (1469–1539), founder of Sikhism, was born to Mehta Kalu and Mata Tripta, in the village of Talwandi, now called Nankana Sahib, near Lahore. Guru Nanak was a religious leader and social reformer. However, Sikh political history may be said to begin with the death of the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, in 1606. Religious practices were formalised by Guru Gobind Singh on 30 March 1699. Gobind Singh initiated five people from a variety of social backgrounds, known as the Panj Piare (the five beloved ones) to form the Khalsa, or collective body of initiated Sikhs. During the period of Mughal rule in India (1556–1707) several Sikh gurus were killed by the Mughals for opposing their persecution of minority religious communities including Sikhs. Sikhs subsequently militarized to oppose Mughal rule.
After defeating the Afghan and Mughal, sovereign states called Misls were formed, under Jassa Singh Ahluwalia. The Confederacy was unified and transformed into the Sikh Empire under Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bahadur, which was characterised by religious tolerance and pluralism, with Christians, Muslims and Hindus in positions of power. The empire is considered the zenith of political Sikhism, encompassing Kashmir, Ladakh and Peshawar. Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army in the North West Frontier, expanded the confederacy to the Khyber Pass. Its secular administration implemented military, economic and governmental reforms.
After the annexation of the Sikh kingdom by the British, the latter recognized the martial qualities of the Sikhs and Punjabis in general and started recruiting from that area. During the 1857 Indian mutiny, the Sikhs stayed loyal to the British. This resulted in heavy recruiting from Punjab to the colonial army for the next 90 years of the British Raj. The distinct turban that differentiates a Sikh from other turban wearers is a relic of the rules of the British Indian Army. The British colonial rule saw the emergence of many reform movements in India including Punjab. This included formation in 1873 and 1879 of the First and Second Singh Sabha respectively. The Sikh leaders of the Singh Sabha worked to offer a clear definition of Sikh identity and tried to purify Sikh belief and practice.
The later part of British colonial rule saw the emergence of the Akali movement to bring reform in the gurdwaras during the early 1920s. The movement led to the introduction of Sikh Gurdwara Bill in 1925, which placed all the historical Sikh shrines in India under the control of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).
The months leading up to the partition of India in 1947 were marked by conflict in the Punjab between Sikhs and Muslims. This caused the religious migration of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus from West Punjab, mirroring a similar religious migration of Punjabi Muslims from East Punjab. The 1960s saw growing animosity between Sikhs and Hindus in India, with the Sikhs demanding the creation of a Punjab state on a linguistic basis similar to other states in India. This was promised to Sikh leader Master Tara Singh by Jawaharlal Nehru, in return for Sikh political support during negotiations for Indian independence. Although the Sikhs obtained the Punjab, they lost Hindi-speaking areas to Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. Chandigarh was made a union territory and the capital of Haryana and Punjab on 1 November 1966.
Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale triggered violence in the Punjab. The prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered an operation to remove Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple in Operation Blue Star.This led to her assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. Gandhi's assassination resulted in an explosion of violence against Sikh communities and the killing of thousands of Sikhs throughout India. Since 1984, relations between Sikhs and Hindus have moved toward a rapprochement aided by economic prosperity. However, a 2002 claim by the Hindu right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) that "Sikhs are Hindus" disturbed Sikh sensibilities.
During the 1999 Vaisakhi, Sikhs worldwide celebrated the 300th anniversary of the creation of the Khalsa. Canada Post honoured Sikh Canadians with a commemorative stamp in conjunction with the 300th anniversary of Vaisakhi. On April 9, 1999, Indian president K.R. Narayanan issued a stamp commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa.
One who calls himself a Sikh of the Guru, the True Guru, shall rise in the early morning hours and meditate on the Lord's Name. Upon arising early in the morning, he is to bathe, and cleanse himself in the pool of nectar. Following the Instructions of the Guru, he is to chant the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. All sins, misdeeds and negativity shall be erased. Then, at the rising of the sun, he is to sing Gurbani; whether sitting down or standing up, he is to meditate on the Lord's Name. One who meditates on my Lord, Har, Har, with every breath and every morsel of food - that GurSikh becomes pleasing to the Guru's Mind. That person, unto whom my Lord and Master is kind and compassionate - upon that GurSikh, the Guru's Teachings are bestowed. Servant Nanak begs for the dust of the feet of that GurSikh, who himself chants the Naam, and inspires others to chant it.— Fourth Mehl (Guru Ram Das), Guru Granth Sahib, Pg 305
The five Ks (panj kakaar) are five articles of faith which all baptized Sikhs (Amritdhari Sikhs) are obliged to wear. The symbols represent the ideals of Sikhism: honesty, equality, fidelity, meditating on Waheguru and never bowing to tyranny. The five symbols are:
The Sikhs have a number of musical instruments: the rebab, dilruba, taus, jori and sarinda. Playing the sarangi was encouraged by Guru Hargobind. The rebab was played by Bhai Mardana as he accompanied Guru Nanak on his journeys. The jori and sarinda were introduced to Sikh devotional music by Guru Arjan. The taus was designed by Guru Hargobind, who supposedly heard a peacock singing and wanted to create an instrument mimicking its sounds (taus is the Persian word for peacock). The dilruba was designed by Guru Gobind Singh at the request of his followers, who wanted a smaller instrument than the taus. After Japji Sahib, all of the shabad in the Guru Granth Sahib were composed as raags. This type of singing is known as Gurmat Sangeet.
When they marched into battle, the Sikhs would play a Ranjit Nagara (victory drum) to boost morale. Nagaras (usually two to three feet in diameter, although some were up to five feet in diameter) are played with two sticks. The beat of the large drums, and the raising of the Nishan Sahib, meant that the singhs were on their way.
Numbering about 27 million worldwide, Sikhs make up 0.39 percent of the world population; approximately 83 percent live in India. About 76 percent of all Sikhs live in the north Indian State of Punjab, where they form a majority (about two-thirds) of the population. Substantial communities of Sikhs live in the Indian states or union territories of Chandigarh where they form 13.11% of the population, Haryana (more than 1.2 million), Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.
Sikh migration from British India began in earnest during the second half of the 19th century, when the British completed their annexation of the Punjab. The British Raj recruited Sikhs for the Indian Civil Service (particularly the British Indian Army), which led to Sikh migration throughout India and the British Empire. During the Raj, semiskilled Sikh artisans were transported from the Punjab to British East Africa to help build railroads. Sikhs emigrated from India after World War II, most going to the United Kingdom but many to North America. Some Sikhs who had settled in eastern Africa were expelled by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 1972. Economics is a major factor in Sikh migration, and significant communities exist in the United Kingdom, the United States, Malaysia, East Africa, Australia, Singapore and Thailand. Due to this, Canada is the country that has the highest number of Sikhs in proportion to the population in the world at 1.4% of Canada's total population.
Although the rate of Sikh migration from the Punjab has remained high, traditional patterns of Sikh migration favouring English-speaking countries (particularly the United Kingdom) have changed during the past decade due to stricter immigration laws. Moliner (2006) wrote that as a consequence of Sikh migration to the UK "becom[ing] virtually impossible since the late 1970s", migration patterns evolved to continental Europe. Italy is a rapidly growing destination for Sikh migration, with Reggio Emilia and Vicenza having significant Sikh population clusters. Italian Sikhs are generally involved in agriculture, agricultural processing, the manufacture of machine tools and horticulture.
Johnson and Barrett (2004) estimate that the global Sikh population increases annually by 392,633 (1.7 percent per year, based on 2004 figures); this percentage includes births, deaths and conversions. Primarily for socio-economic reasons, Indian Sikhs have the lowest adjusted growth rate of any major religious group in India, at 16.9 percent per decade (estimated from 1991 to 2001). The Sikh population has the lowest gender balance in India, with only 903 women per 1,000 men according to the 2011 Indian census.
Guru Nanak in Sri Granth Sahib calls for treating everyone equally.[note 1] Other Sikh Gurus also denounced the hierarchy of the caste system. However they all came from just one caste, the Khatris. Despite that social stratification exists in the Sikh community.
Over 60% of Sikhs belong to the Jat caste which is an agrarian caste. Despite being very small in numbers, the mercantile Khatri and Arora castes wield considerable influence within the Sikh community. Other common Sikh castes include Sainis (kshatriyas), Rajputs, Ramgarhias (artisans), Ahluwalias (formerly brewers), Kambojs (rural caste), Rai Sikh (rural caste), Labanas (merchants), Kumhars and the two Dalit castes, known in Sikh terminology as the Mazhabis (the Chuhras) and the Ravidasias (the Chamars).
According to Surinder Singh Jodhka, the Sikh religion does not advocate discrimination against any caste or creed, however, in practice, Sikhs belonging to the landowning dominant castes have not shed all their prejudices against the Dalit castes. While Dalits would be allowed entry into the village gurdwaras they would not be permitted to cook or serve langar (Communal meal). Therefore, wherever they could mobilise resources, the Sikh Dalits of Punjab have tried to construct their own gurdwara and other local level institutions in order to attain a certain degree of cultural autonomy. In 1953, Sikh leader, Master Tara Singh, succeeded in persuading the Indian Government to include Sikh castes of the converted untouchables in the list of scheduled castes. In the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, 20 of the 140 seats are reserved for low-caste Sikhs.
According to a 1994 estimate, Punjabis (Sikhs and non-Sikhs) comprised 10 to 15 percent of all ranks in the Indian Army, although the state contained less than 3% of the country's population. The Indian government does not release religious or ethnic origins of the military personnel, but a 1991 report by Tim McGirk estimated that 20 percent of Indian Army officers were Sikhs. Together with the Gurkhas recruited from Nepal, the Maratha Light Infantry from Maharashtra and the Jat Regiment, the Sikhs are one of the few communities to have exclusive regiments in the Indian Army. The Sikh Regiment is one of the most-decorated regiments in the army, with 73 Battle Honours, 14 Victoria Crosses, 21 first-class Indian Orders of Merit (equivalent to the Victoria Cross), 15 Theatre Honours, five COAS Unit Citations, two Param Vir Chakras, 14 Maha Vir Chakras, five Kirti Chakras, 67 Vir Chakras and 1,596 other awards. The highest-ranking general in the history of the Indian Air Force is a Punjabi Sikh, Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh. Plans by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence for a Sikh infantry regiment were scrapped in June 2007.
Historically, most Indians have been farmers and 66 percent of the Indian population are engaged in agriculture. Indian Sikhs are employed in agriculture to a lesser extent; India's 2001 census found 39 percent of the working population of the Punjab employed in this sector. The success of the 1960s Green Revolution, in which India went from "famine to plenty, from humiliation to dignity", was based in the Punjab (which became known as "the breadbasket of India"). The Punjab is the wealthiest Indian state per capita, with the average Punjabi income three times the national average. The Green Revolution centred on Indian farmers adopting more intensive and mechanised agricultural methods, aided by the electrification of the Punjab, cooperative credit, consolidation of small holdings and the existing, British Raj-developed canal system. According to Swedish political scientist Ishtiaq Ahmad, a factor in the success of the Indian green revolution was the "Sikh cultivator, often the Jat, whose courage, perseverance, spirit of enterprise and muscle prowess proved crucial". However, not all aspects of the green revolution were beneficial. Indian physicist Vandana Shiva wrote that the green revolution made the "negative and destructive impacts of science [i.e. the green revolution] on nature and society" invisible, and was a catalyst for Punjabi Sikh and Hindu tensions despite a growth in material wealth.
Punjabi Sikhs are engaged in a number of professions which include science, engineering and medicine. Notable examples are nuclear scientist Piara Singh Gill (who worked on the Manhattan Project), fibre-optics pioneer Narinder Singh Kapany and physicist, science writer and broadcaster Simon Singh.
In business, the UK-based clothing retailers New Look and the Thai-based Jaspal were founded by Sikhs. India's largest pharmaceutical company, Ranbaxy Laboratories, is headed by Sikhs. UK Sikhs have the highest percentage of home ownership (82 percent) of any religious community. UK Sikhs are the second-wealthiest (after the Jewish community) religious group in the UK, with a median total household wealth of £229,000. In Singapore Kartar Singh Thakral expanded his family's trading business, Thakral Holdings, into total assets of almost $1.4 billion and is Singapore's 25th-richest person. Sikh Bob Singh Dhillon is the first Indo-Canadian billionaire. The Sikh diaspora has been most successful in North America. Sikh intellectuals, sportsmen and artists include poet and Bollywood lyricist Rajkavi Inderjeet Singh Tulsi, writer Khushwant Singh, England cricketer Monty Panesar, former 400m runner Milkha Singh, Indian wrestler and actor Dara Singh, former Indian hockey team captains Ajitpal Singh and Balbir Singh Sr., former Indian cricket captain Bishen Singh Bedi, Harbhajan Singh (India's most successful off spin cricket bowler), Navjot Singh Sidhu (former Indian cricketer turned politician). Bollywood actresses include Neetu Singh, Simran Judge, Poonam Dhillon, Mahi Gill, Esha Deol, Parminder Nagra, Gul Panag, Mona Singh, Namrata Singh Gujral and director Gurinder Chadha, Parminder Gill.
Sikhs have migrated worldwide, with a variety of occupations. The Sikh Gurus preached ethnic and social harmony, and Sikhs comprise a number of ethnic groups. Those with over 1,000 members include the Ahluwalia, Arain, Arora, Bhatra, Bairagi, Bania, Basith, Bawaria, Bazigar, Bhabra, Chamar, Chhimba, Darzi, Dhobi, Gujar, Jatt, Jhinwar, Kahar, Kalal, Kamboj, Khatri, Kumhar, Labana, Lohar, Mahtam, Mazhabi, Megh, Mirasi, Mochi, Mohyal, Nai, Rajput, Ramgarhia, Saini, Sansi, Sudh, Tarkhan, Kashyap Rajput.
An order of Punjabi Sikhs, the Nihang or the Akalis, was formed during Ranjit Singh's time. Under their leader, Akali Phula Singh, they won many battles for the Sikh Confederacy during the early 19th century.
Sikhs supported the British during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. By the beginning of World War I, Sikhs in the British Indian Army totaled over 100,000 (20 percent of the force). Until 1945 fourteen Victoria Crosses were awarded to Sikhs, a per-capita regimental record. In 2002 the names of all Sikh VC and George Cross recipients were inscribed on the monument of the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill, next to Buckingham Palace. Chanan Singh Dhillon was instrumental in campaigning for the memorial.
During World War I, Sikh battalions fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli and France. Six battalions of the Sikh Regiment were raised during World War II, serving in the Second Battle of El Alamein, the Burma and Italian campaigns and in Iraq and receiving 27 battle honours. Around the world, Sikhs are commemorated in Commonwealth cemeteries.
In the last two world wars 83,005 turban wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded fighting for the British Empire. During shell fire, they had no other head protection but the turban, the symbol of their faith.
British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice [in two world wars] and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sikhs began to emigrate to East Africa, the Far East, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. In 1907 the Khalsa Diwan Society was established in Vancouver, and four years later the first gurdwara was established in London. In 1912 the first gurdwara in the United States was founded in Stockton, California.
Since Sikhs (like many Middle Eastern men) wear turbans and keep beards, some people in Western countries have mistaken Sikh men for Muslim or Arabic and Afghan men since the September 11 attacks and the Iraq War. Several days after the 9/11 attacks Sikh Balbir Singh Sodhi was murdered by Frank Roque, who thought Sodhi was connected with al-Qaeda. CNN suggested an increase in hate crimes against Sikh men in the United States and the UK after the 9/11 attacks.
Since Sikhism has never actively sought converts, the Sikhs have remained a relatively homogeneous ethnic group. The 3HO organisation claim to have inspired a moderate growth in non-Indian adherents of Sikhism. In 1998 an estimated 7,800 3HO Sikhs, known colloquially as ‘gora’ (ਗੋਰਾ) or ‘white’ Sikhs, were mainly centred around Española, New Mexico and Los Angeles, California. Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund overturned a 1925 Oregon law banning the wearing of turbans by teachers and government officials.
In an attempt to foster Sikh leaders in the Western world, youth initiatives by a number of organisations exist. The Sikh Youth Alliance of North America sponsors an annual Sikh Youth Symposium, a public-speaking and debate competition held in gurdwaras throughout the U.S. and Canada. There are a number of Sikh office holders in Canada. In the United States, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, was born and raised as a Sikh, but converted to Christianity after her marriage. She still actively attends both Sikh and Christian services.
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement, which seeks to create a separate country called Khalistān ("The Land of the Pure") in the Punjab region of South Asia to serve as a homeland for Sikhs. The territorial definition of the proposed country Khalistan consists of both the Punjab, India along with Punjab, Pakistan and includes parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan.
Khalistan movement began as an expatriate venture. In 1971, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in an advertisement published in the New York Times by an expat Jagjit Singh Chohan. By proclaiming the formation of Khalistan he was able to collect millions of dollars from the Sikh diaspora.On 12 April 1980 he declared the formation of "National Council of Khalistan", at Anandpur Sahib. He declared himself as the President of the Council and Balbir Singh Sandhu as its Secretary General. In May 1980, Jagjit Singh Chauhan travelled to London and announced the formation of Khalistan. A similar announcement was made by Balbir Singh Sandhu, in Amritsar, who released stamps and currency of Khalistan. The inaction of the authorities in Amritsar and elsewhere was decried by Akali Dal headed by the Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal as a political stunt by the Congress(I) party of Indira Gandhi.
With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora the movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh-majority population and reached its zenith in the late 1970s and 1980s when the secessionist movement caused large scale violence among the local population. Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation carried out between 1 and 8 June 1984, ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the buildings of the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab. In July 1983, the Sikh political party Akali Dal's President Harchand Singh Longowal had invited Bhindranwale to take up residence in Golden Temple Complex to evade arrest. Bhindranwale later on made the sacred temple complex an armoury and headquarters. In the violent events leading up to the Operation Blue Star since the inception of Akali Dharm Yudh Morcha, the militants had killed 165 Hindus and Nirankaris, even 39 Sikhs opposed to Bhindranwale were killed. The total number of deaths was 410 in violent incidents and riots while 1,180 people were injured. Casualty figures for the Army were 83 dead and 249 injured. According to the official estimate presented by the Indian government, 1592 were apprehended and there were 493 combined militant and civilian casualties. High civilian casualties were attributed to militants using pilgrims trapped inside the temple as human shields.
Assassination of PM Indira Gandhi and bombing of Air India plane killing 328 passengers happened in that period. Various pro-Khalistan outfits have been involved in a separatist movement against the Government of India ever since. There are claims of funding from Sikhs outside India to attract young people into these pro-Khalistan militant groups.
In January 1986, the Golden Temple was occupied by militants belonging to All India Sikh Students Federation and Damdami Taksal. On 26 January 1986, a gathering known as the Sarbat Khalsa (a de-facto parliament) passed a resolution (gurmattā) favouring the creation of Khalistan. Subsequently, a number of rebel militant groups in favour of Khalistan waged a major insurgency against the government of India. Indian security forces suppressed the insurgency in the early 1990s, but Sikh political groups such as the Khalsa Raj Party and SAD (A) continued to pursue an independent Khalistan through non-violent means. Pro-Khalistan organisations such as Dal Khalsa (International) are also active outside India, supported by a section of the Sikh diaspora.
In the 1990s the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective due to multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, divisions among the Sikhs and loss of support from the Sikh population.
Sikh art and culture are nearly synonymous with that of the Punjab, and Sikhs are easily recognised by their distinctive turban (Dastar). The Punjab has been called India's melting pot, due to the confluence of invading cultures from the rivers from which the region gets its name. Sikh culture is therefore a synthesis of cultures. Sikhism has forged a unique architecture, which S. S. Bhatti described as "inspired by Guru Nanak's creative mysticism" and "is a mute harbinger of holistic humanism based on pragmatic spirituality".
During the Mughal and Afghan persecution of the Sikhs during the 17th and 18th centuries, the latter were concerned with preserving their religion and gave little thought to art and culture. With the rise of Ranjit Singh and the Sikh Raj in Lahore and Delhi, there was a change in the landscape of art and culture in the Punjab; Hindus and Sikhs could build decorated shrines without the fear of destruction or looting.
The Sikh Confederacy was the catalyst for a uniquely Sikh form of expression, with Ranjit Singh commissioning forts, palaces, bungas (residential places) and colleges in a Sikh style. Sikh architecture is characterised by gilded fluted domes, cupolas, kiosks, stone lanterns, ornate balusters and square roofs. A pinnacle of Sikh style is Harmandir Sahib (also known as the Golden Temple) in Amritsar.
Sikh culture is influenced by militaristic motifs (with the Khanda the most obvious), and most Sikh artifacts—except for the relics of the Gurus—have a military theme. This theme is evident in the Sikh festivals of Hola Mohalla and Vaisakhi, which feature marching and displays of valor.
Although the art and culture of the Sikh diaspora have merged with that of other Indo-immigrant groups into categories like "British Asian", "Indo-Canadian" and "Desi-Culture", a minor cultural phenomenon which can be described as "political Sikh" has arisen. The art of diaspora Sikhs like Amarjeet Kaur Nandhra and Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh (the "Singh Twins") is influenced by their Sikhism and current affairs in the Punjab.
Bhangra and Giddha are two forms of Punjabi folk dancing which have been adapted and pioneered by Sikhs. Punjabi Sikhs have championed these forms of expression worldwide, resulting in Sikh culture becoming linked to Bhangra (although "Bhangra is not a Sikh institution but a Punjabi one").
Sikh painting is a direct offshoot of the Kangra school of painting. In 1810, Ranjeet Singh (1780–1839) occupied Kangra Fort and appointed Sardar Desa Singh Majithia his governor of the Punjab hills. In 1813 the Sikh army occupied Guler State, and Raja Bhup Singh became a vassal of the Sikhs. With the Sikh kingdom of Lahore becoming the paramount power, some of the Pahari painters from Guler migrated to Lahore for the patronage of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and his Sardars.
The Sikh school adapted Kangra painting to Sikh needs and ideals. Its main subjects are the ten Sikh gurus and stories from Guru Nanak's Janamsakhis. The tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, left a deep impression on the followers of the new faith because of his courage and sacrifices. Hunting scenes and portraits are also common in Sikh painting.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots, also known as the 1984 Sikh Massacre, was a series of organised pogroms against Sikhs in India in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. The then ruling party, Indian National Congress had been in active complicity with the mob, as to the organisation of the riots. Independent sources estimate the number of deaths at about 8,000–17,000 whilst government estimates project that about 2,800 Sikhs were killed in Delhi.Violence continued in the early 1980s due to the armed Sikh separatist Khalistan movement which sought independence from India. In July 1982, the Sikh political party Akali Dal's President Harchand Singh Longowal had invited Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to take up residence in Golden Temple Complex to evade arrest. Bhindranwale later on made the sacred temple complex an armoury and headquarters. In the violent events leading up to the Operation Blue Star since the inception of Akali Dharm Yudh Morcha, the militants had killed 165 Hindus and Nirankaris, even 39 Sikhs opposed to Bhindranwale were killed. The total number of deaths was 410 in violent incidents and riots while 1,180 people were injured.Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation carried out between 1 and 8 June 1984, ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed militants from the buildings of the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab. Bhindranwale died and militants were removed from the temple complex. The military action in the temple complex was criticized by Sikhs worldwide who had interpreted it as an assault on Sikh religion. Four months after the operation, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in vengeance by her two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh.Public outcry over Gandhi's death led to the killings of Sikhs in the ensuing riots. In the aftermath of the riots, the government reported that 20,000 had fled the city; the People's Union for Civil Liberties reported "at least" 1,000 displaced persons. The most-affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods of Delhi. Human rights organisations and newspapers across India believed that the massacre was organised. The collusion of political officials in the violence and judicial failure to penalise the perpetrators alienated Sikhs and increased support for the Khalistan movement. The Akal Takht, Sikhism's governing body, considers the killings genocide.In 2011, Human Rights Watch reported that the Government of India had "yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings". According to the 2011 WikiLeaks cable leaks, the United States was convinced of Indian National Congress complicity in the riots and called it "opportunism" and "hatred" by the Congress government of Sikhs. Although the U.S. has not identified the riots as genocide, it acknowledged that "grave human rights violations" occurred. In 2011, a new group of mass graves was discovered in Haryana and Human Rights Watch reported that "widespread anti-Sikh attacks in Haryana were part of broader revenge attacks" in India. The Central Bureau of Investigation, the main Indian investigative agency, believes that the violence was organised with support from the Delhi police and some central-government officials.Dastar
A Dastaar (Punjabi: ਦਸਤਾਰ, dastār, from Persian: دستار) or pagṛi (Punjabi: ਪਗੜੀ) or pagg (Punjabi: ਪੱਗ), is an item of headgear associated with Sikhism and is an important part of the Sikh culture. Wearing a Sikh dastaar, or turban, is mandatory for all Sikh men and women.
Among the Sikhs, the dastaar is an article of faith that represents honour, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. The Khalsa Sikh men and women, who keep the Five Ks, wear the turban to cover their long, uncut hair (kesh). The Sikhs regard the dastaar as an important part of the unique Sikh identity.Diet in Sikhism
In Sikhism, only lacto-vegetarian food is served in the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) but Sikhs are bound to be meat-free. The general consensus is that Sikhs are not free to choose whether to adopt a meat diet or not. Sikhs, once they become Amritdhari (baptised) via the Amrit Sanchaar (baptism ceremony), are forbidden from eating Kutha or ritually-slaughtered (Halal, Kosher) meat because it transgresses one of the four restrictions in the Sikh Code of Conduct.Gurbani
Gurbani (Punjabi: ਗੁਰਬਾਣੀ) is a Sikh term, very commonly used by Sikhs to refer to various compositions by the Sikh Gurus and other writers of Guru Granth Sahib. In general, hymns in the central text of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, are called Gurbani. Among Amrit dhari Sikhs, a few texts from Dasam Granth which are read as Nitnem, like Tav-Prasad Savaiye and Chaupai, are also considered Gurbani. In Adi Granth, Gurbani is a sound which comes directly from the Supreme and the text is a written form of the same in worldly language and scripts. It is also called Gun Bani. Gurbani are explanations of qualities of the Primal Lord and Soul which a Sikh should comprehend and with which he can attain the supreme state.
Sikh historical writings, unauthentic writings or apocryphal compositions written under the names of Sikh Gurus and other writings by Sikhs are not considered Gurbani and are referred to as Kachi Bani.Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗੋਬਿੰਦ ਸਿੰਘ) (5 January 1666 – 7 October 1708), born Gobind Rai, was the tenth Sikh Guru, a spiritual master, warrior, poet and philosopher. When his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, Guru Gobind Singh was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs at age nine, becoming the tenth Sikh Guru. His four sons died during his lifetime – two in battle, two executed by the Mughal army.Among his notable contributions to Sikhism are founding the Sikh warrior community called Khalsa in 1699 and introducing the Five Ks, the five articles of faith that Khalsa Sikhs wear at all times. Guru Gobind Singh also continued the formalisation of the religion, wrote important Sikh texts, and enshrined the scripture the Guru Granth Sahib as Sikhism's eternal Guru.Headband
A headband is a clothing accessory worn in the hair or around the forehead, usually to hold hair away from the face or eyes. Headbands generally consist of a loop of elastic material or a horseshoe-shaped piece of flexible plastic or metal. They come in assorted shapes and sizes and are used for both fashion and practical or utilitarian purposes.
In the UK, Horseshoe-shaped headbands are sometimes called "Alice bands" after the headbands that Alice is often depicted wearing in Through the Looking-Glass.History of Sikhism
The history of Sikhism started with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Guru in the fifteenth century in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. The religious practices were formalised by Guru Gobind Singh Ji on 13 April 1699. The latter baptised five persons from different social backgrounds to form Khalsa (ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ). The first five, Pure Ones, then baptised Gobind Singh into the Khalsa fold. This gives the order of Khalsa, a history of around 300 years.
The history of Sikhism is closely associated with the history of Punjab and the socio-political situation in 16th-century Northwestern Indian subcontinent (modern Pakistan and India). During the Mughal rule of India (1556–1707), Sikhism was in conflict with the Mughal empire laws, because they were affecting political successions of Mughals while cherishing saints from Hinduism and Islam. Prominent Sikh Gurus were killed by Islamic rulers for refusing to convert to Islam, and for opposing the persecution of Sikhs and Hindus. Of total 10 Sikh gurus, last 6 gurus were persecuted, 2 gurus themselves were tortured and executed (Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur), and close kins of several gurus brutally killed (such as 6 and 9 years old sons of Guru Gobind Singh), along with numerous other main revered figures of Sikhism were tortured and killed (such as Banda Bahadur, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala), by Islamic rulers for refusing to convert to Islam, and for opposing the persecution of Sikhs and Hindus. Subsequently, Sikhism militarised to oppose Mughal hegemony. The emergence of the Sikh Confederacy under the misls and Sikh Empire under reign of the Maharajah Ranjit Singh was characterised by religious tolerance and pluralism with Christians, Muslims and Hindus in positions of power. The establishment of the Sikh Empire is commonly considered the zenith of Sikhism at political level, during this time the Sikh Empire came to include Kashmir, Ladakh, and Peshawar. A number of Muslim and Hindu peasants converted to Sikhism. Hari Singh Nalwa, the Commander-in-chief of the Sikh army along the North West Frontier, took the boundary of the Sikh Empire to the very mouth of the Khyber Pass. The Empire's secular administration integrated innovative military, economic and governmental reforms.
The months leading up to the partition of India in 1947, saw heavy conflict in the Punjab between Sikh and Muslims, which saw the effective religious migration of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus from West Punjab which mirrored a similar religious migration of Punjabi Muslims in East Punjab.Islam and Sikhism
Islam is an Abrahamic religion founded in the Arabian peninsula, while Sikhism is a Dharmic religion founded in the Indian subcontinent. Islam means "submission" (to the will of God). The word Sikh is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'disciple', or one who learns.Both religions are monotheistic. Sufi Muslims and Sikhs believe that the 'One' creator permeates the creation. Salafi Muslims on the other hand disagree. Sufi Muslims differ from Sikhs in that they believe that God manifests his attributes, namely the 99 names or attributes through his creation. According to Salafi Muslims, God's attributes are separate from his creation as he is only above his Throne. Islam believes that Muhammad was the last prophet, to whom the Quran was revealed by God in the 7th century CE. Sikhism was founded in the 15th century CE by Guru Nanak and the Guru Granth Sahib is the scripture followed by Sikhs as "The Living Guru".In Islam, the legal system based on the Quran and the Sunnah is known as Sharia; there is no such legal system mentioned in Guru Granth Sahib. Daily prayers are one of the pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims. Baptized Sikhs read the five banis (prayers) as part of their daily routine, Nitnem. Islam requires annual zakah (alms giving) by Muslims. Kirat Karna (doing an honest livelihood - earning honestly without any sort of corruption), Naam Japna (to chant and meditate on Naam, read and follow "The One") and Vand Chhako (Selfless service (Sewa) and sharing with others) are fundamental to Sikhism given by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Pilgrimage (to Mecca) is a crucial part of Islam, while Sikhism denounces pilgrimages, circumcision and rituals.
According to Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru stated in his 52 Hukamnamas that a Sikh should undertake Pilgrimages to Sikh Gurdwaras.
There has been a history of constructive influence and conflict between Islam and Sikhism. The Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib includes teachings from Muslims, namely saints Bhagat Farid), a Sufi Muslim of the Chishti Sufi order and Kabir. In contrast, of total 10 Sikh gurus, two gurus - Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur - were tortured and executed for refusing to convert to Islam, children of Guru Gobind Singh were killed, along with numerous other revered figures of Sikhism such as Banda Bahadur, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Sati Das and Bhai Dayala). for refusing to convert to Islam, and for opposing the persecution of Sikhs and Hindus. Some sources contest such a historical rendition.Khalistan movement
The Khalistan movement is a Sikh separatist movement, which seeks to create a separate country called Khalistān ("The Land of the Pure") in the Punjab region to serve as a homeland for Sikhs. The territorial definition of the proposed country Khalistan consists of both the Punjab, India along with Punjab, Pakistan and includes parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan.The Khalistan movement began as an expatriate venture. In 1971, the first explicit call for Khalistan was made in an advertisement published in the New York Times by an expat Jagjit Singh Chohan. With financial and political support of the Sikh diaspora the movement flourished in the Indian state of Punjab, which has a Sikh-majority population and reached its zenith in the late 1970s and 1980s, when the secessionist movement caused large-scale violence among the local population including assassination of PM Indira Gandhi and bombing of Air India plane killing 328 passengers. Various pro-Khalistan outfits have been involved in a separatist movement against the Government of India ever since. In the 1990s the insurgency petered out, and the movement failed to reach its objective due to multiple reasons including a heavy police crackdown on separatists, divisions among the Sikhs and loss of support from the Sikh population. The extremist violence had started with targeting of the Nirankaris and followed by attack on the government machinery and the Hindus. Ultimately the Sikh terrorists also targeted other Sikhs with opposing viewpoints. This led to further loss of public support and the militants were eventually brought under control of law enforcement agencies by 1993.In early 2018, some militant groups were arrested by police in Punjab. Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh claimed the recent extremism is backed by Pakistan's ISI and "Khalistani sympathisers" in Canada, Italy, and the UK. There is some support from fringe groups abroad, especially in Canada but the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has declared that his country would not support the revival of the separatist movement.Khalsa
Khalsa (Punjabi: "the pure") refers to both a special group of initiated Sikh warriors, as well as a community that considers Sikhism as its faith.The Khalsa tradition was initiated in 1699 by the last living Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh. Its formation was a key event in the history of Sikhism. The founding of Khalsa is celebrated by Sikhs during the festival of Vaisakhi.Guru Gobind Singh started the Khalsa tradition after his father had been beheaded for resisting the religious persecution of non-Muslims (mainly Kashmiri Hindus) during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh created and initiated the Khalsa as a warrior with a duty to protect the innocent from any form of religious persecution. The Khalsa redefined the Sikh tradition from the start. It formulated an initiation ceremony (amrit pahul, nectar ceremony) and rules of conduct for the Khalsa warriors. It created a new institution for the temporal leadership of the Sikhs, replacing the masands system maintained by the earlier Gurus of Sikhism. Additionally, the Khalsa provided a political and religious vision for the Sikh community.Upon initiation, a Khalsa Sikh was given the titles of Singh (male) and Kaur (female). The rules of life, included behavioral code (Rahit, such as no tobacco, no alcohol, no meat), and a dress code (Five Ks). In contrast to the Khalsa Sikh, a Sahajdhari Sikh is one who reveres the teachings of Sikh gurus, but has not undergone the initiation. Sahajdhari Sikhs do not accept some or all elements of the dress and behavioral codes of the Khalsa Sikhs. The Khalsa has been predominantly a male institution in Sikh history, with Khalsa authority with the male leaders. In the contemporary era, it has become open to women but its authority remains with Sikh men.Operation Blue Star
Operation Blue Star was the codename of an Indian military action carried out between 1 and 8 June 1984 to remove militant religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the buildings of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex in Amritsar, Punjab. The decision to launch the attack rested with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In July 1982, Harchand Singh Longowal, the President of the Sikh political party Akali Dal, had invited Bhindranwale to take up residence in the Golden Temple Complex to evade arrest. Bhindranwale later made the sacred temple complex an armoury and headquarters. In the violent events leading up to Operation Blue Star since the inception of Akali Dharm Yudh Morcha, the militants had killed 165 Hindus and Nirankaris, and 39 Sikhs opposed to Bhindranwale. The total number of deaths was 410 in violent incidents and riots while 1,180 people were injured.Indian intelligence agencies had reported that three prominent heads of the Khalistan movement - Shabeg Singh, Balbier Singh, and Amrik Singh - had made at least six trips each to Pakistan between the years 1981 and 1983. The Intelligence Bureau reported that weapons training was being provided at gurdwaras in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. The Soviet intelligence agency KGB reportedly tipped off the Indian agency RAW about the CIA and ISI working together on a plan for Punjab. From its interrogation of a Pakistani Army officer, RAW received information that over a thousand trained Special Service Group commandos of the Pakistan Army had been dispatched by Pakistan into the Indian Punjab to assist Bhindranwale in his fight against the government. A large number of Pakistani agents also took the smuggling routes in the Kashmir and Kutch region of Gujarat, with plans to commit sabotage.On 1 June 1984, after negotiations with the militants failed, Indira Gandhi ordered the army to launch Operation Blue Star. A variety of army units and paramilitary forces surrounded the temple complex on 3 June 1984. The army used loudspeakers to encourage the militants to surrender. Requests were also made to the militants to allow trapped pilgrims to come out of the temple premises, before the clash with the army. However, no surrender or release of pilgrims occurred until 7:00 pm on 5 June. The fighting started on 5 June with skirmishes and the battle went on for three days, ending on 8 June. A clean-up operation codenamed Operation Woodrose was also initiated throughout Punjab.The army had underestimated the firepower possessed by the militants, whose armament included Chinese-made rocket-propelled grenade launchers with armour piercing capabilities. Tanks and heavy artillery were used to attack the militants, who responded with anti-tank and machine-gun fire from the heavily fortified Akal Takht. After a 24-hour firefight, the army gained control of the temple complex. Casualty figures for the Army were 83 dead and 249 injured. According to the official estimates, 1,592 militants were apprehended and there were 493 combined militant and civilian casualties. High civilian casualties were attributed to militants using pilgrims trapped inside the temple as human shields.The military action in the temple complex was criticized by Sikhs worldwide, who interpreted it as an assault on the Sikh religion. Many Sikh soldiers in the Army deserted their units, several Sikhs resigned from civil administrative office and returned awards received from the Indian government. Five months after the operation, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in an act of revenge by her two Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. Public outcry over Gandhi's death led to the killings of more than 3,000 Sikhs in the ensuing 1984 anti-Sikh riots.Ranjit Singh
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780 –1839) was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21. His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.Prior to his rise, the Punjab region had numerous warring misls (confederacies), twelve of which were under Sikh rulers and one Muslim. Ranjit Singh successfully absorbed and united the Sikh misls and took over other local kingdoms to create the Sikh Empire. He repeatedly defeated invasions by outside armies, particularly those arriving from Afghanistan, and established friendly relations with the British.Ranjit Singh's reign introduced reforms, modernisation, investment into infrastructure and general prosperity. His Khalsa army and government included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and Europeans. His legacy includes a period of Sikh cultural and artistic renaissance, including the rebuilding of the Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar as well as other major gurudwaras, including Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar and Hazur Sahib Nanded, Maharashtra under his sponsorship. He was popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab, or "Lion of Punjab".
Maharaja Ranjit Singh was succeeded by his son Maharaja Kharak Singh.Sikhism
Sikhism (, ; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ), or Sikhi Sikkhī, pronounced [ˈsɪkːʰiː], from Sikh, meaning a "disciple", "seeker," or "learner") is a religion that originated in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent around the end of the 15th century, and has variously been defined as monotheistic, monistic and panentheistic. It is one of the youngest of the major world religions, and the world's fifth largest organized religion, as well as being the world's ninth-largest overall religion. The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism, articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib, include faith and meditation on the name of the one creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all, and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life. In the early 21st century there were nearly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, the great majority of them living in Punjab, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.Sikhism is based on the spiritual teachings of Guru Nanak, the first Guru (1469–1539), and the nine Sikh gurus that succeeded him. The Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, named the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib as his successor, terminating the line of human Gurus and making the scripture the eternal, religious spiritual guide for Sikhs. Sikhism rejects claims that any particular religious tradition has a monopoly on Absolute Truth.The Sikh scripture opens with Ik Onkar (ੴ), its Mul Mantar and fundamental prayer about One Supreme Being (God). Sikhism emphasizes simran (meditation on the words of the Guru Granth Sahib), that can be expressed musically through kirtan or internally through Nam Japo (repeat God's name) as a means to feel God's presence. It teaches followers to transform the "Five Thieves" (lust, rage, greed, attachment, and ego). Hand in hand, secular life is considered to be intertwined with the spiritual life. Guru Nanak taught that living an "active, creative, and practical life" of "truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity" is above the metaphysical truth, and that the ideal man is one who "establishes union with God, knows His Will, and carries out that Will". Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent.Sikhism evolved in times of religious persecution. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan (1563–1605) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621–1675) – were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers after they refused to convert to Islam. The persecution of Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa as an order to protect the freedom of conscience and religion, with qualities of a "Sant-Sipāhī" – a saint-soldier. The Khalsa was founded by the last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.Sikhism in Afghanistan
Sikhism in Afghanistan is limited to small populations, primarily in major cities, with the largest numbers of Afghan Sikhs living in Jalalabad, Ghazni, Kabul, and to a lesser extent Kandahar. These Sikhs are Afghan nationals who normally speak native Pashto, but also speak Dari, Hindi or Punjabi. Their total population is around 1,200 families or 8,000 members.Sikhism in Australia
Sikhism is a minority religion followed by 0.5 % of the population of Australia. It is the fastest growing religion in Australia since 2011. The Sikhs form one of the largest subgroups of Indian Australians with 125,000 adherents according to the 2016 census, having grown from 12,000 in 1996, 17,000 in 2001 and 26,500 in 2006. Most adherents can trace their ancestry back to the Punjab region of South Asia, which is currently divided between India and Pakistan.Sikhism in India
Sikhism is the fourth largest religion in India and has existed for 548 years, beginning with the birth of its founder Guru Nanak. The Sikhs are predominantly located in Punjab, but also in many other parts of India. It is also the fifth largest religion in the world, with more than 27 million followers in the world as of the year 2010.Sikhism in Pakistan
Sikhism in the area of present-day Pakistan has an extensive heritage and history, although Sikhs form a small community in Pakistan today. Most Sikhs live in the province of Punjab, a part of the larger Punjab region where the religion originated in the Middle Ages, and Peshawar in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, the founder of Sikhism, is located in the Punjab province.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Sikh community became a powerful political force, with Sikh leader Ranjit Singh founding the first Sikh empire, which had its capital in Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan today. Significant populations of Sikhs inhabited the largest cities in the Punjab such as Lahore, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad. After the Partition of India in 1947, the minority Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India while many Muslim refugees from India settled in Pakistan.
In the decades following Pakistan's independence in 1947, the Sikh community began to re-organise, forming the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PGPC) to represent the community and protect the holy sites and heritage of the Sikh religion in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has begun to allow Sikhs from India to make pilgrimages to Sikh places of worship in Pakistan and for Pakistani Sikhs to travel to India.Sikhism in the United Kingdom
Sikhism is a religion originating in South Asia, primarily in the Punjab region of modern India and Pakistan, former imperial possessions of the British Empire. The religion was recorded as the religion of 420,196 people resident in England at the 2011 Census, along with 2,962 people in Wales, 9,055 in Scotland and 216 in Northern Ireland, making for a total Sikh population of 432,429.The Five Ks
In Sikhism, the Five Ks (Punjabi: ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ Pañj Kakār) are five items that Guru Gobind Singh commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times in 1699. They are: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (a wooden comb for the hair), Kara (an iron bracelet), Kachera (100% cotton tieable undergarment (not an elastic one)) and Kirpan (an iron dagger large enough to defend oneself).
The Five Ks are not just symbols, but articles of faith that collectively form the external identity and the Khalsa devotee's commitment to the Sikh rehni "Sikh way of life". A Sikh who has taken Amrit and keeps all five Ks are known as Khalsa ("pure") or Amritdhari Sikh ("Amrit Sanskar participant"), while a Sikh who has not taken Amrit but follows the teachings of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is called a Sahajdhari Sikh.The Sikhs were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanchar in 1699 to wear an iron bracelet called a Kara at all times. The Sikhs were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanchar in 1699 to wear an iron bracelet called a Kara at all times