Gurudwara: The Doorway To Sikhism
As the world stands together to condemn the attack, we also believe it is an opportunity to expand our understanding and appreciation for the many religions that make up our world. Lets look at one of them -- Sikhism.
Sikhism is a relatively young religion of less than 500 years. It was founded by Guru Nanak who was born in Punjab (North West India) in 1469 to a Hindu family. Nanak felt that people around him were losing sight of God because of greed and superstition. As a young man, he moved closely with Muslims, and believed in the spirit of unity of all.
Legend has it that Sikhism was revealed to Guru Nanak. He went on to spread his idea of oneness. The religion prescribes simple rules to bring people closer to God. According to Sikh teachings, all human beings are equal; everyone can realize their divinity through devotion to God and truthfulness and service to humanity; men and women have equal rights and responsibilities; everybody should work hard; live honestly; and give to the needy. Tolerance is the very embodiment of the Sikh religion.
Rituals and Symbols
Sikhism was shaped by Nanak’s nine successors. All of them have the title ‘Guru’- a Sanskrit (ancient language of India and a root of many modern Indian languages) word that means teacher or religious leader. The 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, did not appoint a human successor and instead transferred his authority to the Sikh holy book – Guru Granth Sahib and the Guru Khalsa Panth (the community of committed Sikh believers who are initiated through a special ceremony). Believe it or not, Sikhism today is the fifth largest religion in the world with over 25 million followers!
The Sikhs (followers or Sikhism) worship at a temple known as Gurudwara – Doorway to the Gods. The Guru Granth Sahib is worshipped here. Gurudwara is also a place of service, with four doors that are always open to the public. The kitchen or “langar” at the Gurudwara is a canteen where free food is served to all. Staunch followers of the religion carry with them five articles known as Five K’s - Kesh (uncut hair), Kanga (comb), Kara (bracelet), Kirpan (sword) and Kachehra (a type of shorts). All Sikh men wear their uncut hair wrapped in a turban.
Diversity of religion, traditions and values are the hallmarks of the world’s societies and make our world a fascinating place. Every religion is different and enriches and guides its followers. Sometimes, it is quite easy to confuse one religion with another without a deeper understanding of its beliefs and rituals. As the recent olympics have shown us -- we are after all citizens of the world.