Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of what is now India and Pakistan.
It was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him.
There are approximately 20 million followers worldwide, most of whom live in the Punjab province of India. The 2001 census recorded 336,000 Sikhs living in the UK.
Sikhs believe in one God who guides and protects them.
They believe that everyone is equal before God
Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
- keep God in heart and mind at all times
- live honestly and work hard
- treat everyone equally
- be generous to the less fortunate
- serve others
Sikh Holy Book
The Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib
The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh declared that there would be no other living Gurus but instead Sikhs could look to their holy scriptures for guidance, so the holy book became the 'Guru' (teacher).
The Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of teachings and writings by Guru Nanak and other Gurus as well as Sikh, Hindu and Muslim saints.
These scriptures are written in Punjabi and are greatly respected by all Sikhs as the living word of God.
The holy book is kept on a raised platform under a canopy in the place of worship.
Sikhs take off their shoes in the presence of the holy scriptures and also never turn their back on them.
At every festival, they are read continuously from beginning to end, which takes about 48 hours.
The Gurdwara: the Sikh place of worship
Any building where the Guru Granth Sahib is kept is a Sikh place of worship. It is called the Gurdwara ('Gateway to the Guru').
Sikh services are generally held on a Sunday in this country. They are based on the writings in the Guru Granth Sahib, together with chants and prayers from the Gurus known as Keertan.
The service ends in a langar (shared meal).