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Sikhs believe in one God, according to the teachings of the ten Gurus and of the Guru Granth Sahib.

The first Guru, and the founder of the Sikh religion, was Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539), who was born and brought up in North India, but found himself unable either to accept Hindu beliefs or to embrace Islam. He, and the nine Gurus who followed him, set an example of living spiritually while taking an active part in the life of the world.

The fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji (1563-1606), was responsible for building the Golden Temple at Amritsar. He also compiled the Sikh Holy Scriptures, and installed them in the Golden Temple in 1604 AD.

The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji (1666-1708) founded the order of Khalsa ('the pure'), on 13th April 1699, in order to fight against tyranny and injustice.

Sacred Text

Guru Gobind Singh declared that, after his death, the scriptures would be the eternal guru of Sikhs. They are therefore known as the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The Granth compiled by Guru Arjan contained the hymns of the first five gurus, and selected writings of Hindu and Muslim saints. The final text, prepared by Guru Gobind Singh, included the hymns of the ninth guru.

The Granth contains 3,384 hymns, and is 1,430 pages long. Most of the text is in Punjabi, though there are passages in other Indian languages and dialects, and in Persian and Arabic. The Granth as a whole is not only a priceless spiritual resource, but also a record of social, political, and religious thought in India between the 12th and 17th centuries.

In a Gurdwara (Sikh Temple), the Granth is placed on a high platform, under a canopy, and treated with great reverence. It is opened daily before morning prayer, and closed after evening prayer, and kept wrapped in fine cloth.

Guru Arjan wrote of the Granth,

In this platter are placed three things,
truth, harmony, and meditation.
These are seasoned with the Nectar-Name of the Lord,
who is the support of all.
Those who partake of this dish and relish it
will be saved and emancipated.

(Mundavani manuscript, page 1,429)



Sikhs believe that there is one God, who created the universe, who is the truth, who is unborn, who is indestructible, and who can pardon all sins. Sikh religion is free from dogmatic beliefs, from rites, rituals and fasts, and from superstition. The Gurus also condemned religious conflict and caste prejudices. For a Sikh, the purpose of human life is to seek God, and to live humbly for the good and happiness of all people.

The three major principles, by which Sikhs aim to combine faith and daily living, are:

  • to live a pure and honest life, and to be fair in all personal and professional dealings;
  • to meditate on the Holy Name of God;
  • to share wealth through charitable work.



Sikh worship can be offered individually or communally, at a Gurudwara (temple) or in a private house. There are no professional priests or ministers of religion: anybody with reasonable proficiency in Punjabi can lead worship.

Significant stages in life (births, marriages, death) are marked with prayers and readings from the Granth in the household and at the Gurudwara.

Sikhs are asked to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and other intoxicants.

Sikhs who are initiated into the Khalsa (see above) are required to wear the five symbols of faith, also known as 'the five Ks':

  • Kara - steel bangle: sign of eternity.
  • Kase - hair, which remains uncut, and is worn in a turban.
  • Kirpan - small sword, worn by baptised Sikhs, for defense of the weak.
  • Kashera - breeches, worn at all times as preparedness for action.
  • Kanga - comb, worn in hair under turban: symbol of cleanliness.


Sikh daily prayer concludes with these words:

O Almighty God, shower your blessings on all of us.
The Guru is the place of pilgrimage.
The Guru is the Kalpa tree.
The Guru is fulfiller of one mind's desire.
The Guru is the giver of name.
Wherewith the whole world is saved.



The major Sikh festivals are:

  • The birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji (November)
  • The birthday of Guru Gobind Singh Ji (January)
  • Vaisakhi, the festival commemorating the creation of Khalsa and the establishment of the Five Symbols of Sikhism.
  • Guru Arjan Dev Ji's Shahidi Gupurb (his death; June)

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