Sikhism

In short...

Themes: World religions; Sikhism; Sikh culture; Sikh festivals.

Summary: This assembly could be scheduled close to a Sikh festival (see Related links), or as part of a school focus on diversity and equality. Gurus are Sikh spiritual leaders. The first of these, Guru Nanak, founded the Sikh faith in the Punjab region of India in the 15th Century CE. His teachings and those of nine more Gurus are collected in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. There are around 20 million Sikhs worldwide. Sikhs believe in one God and in helping others as a way of living a good spiritual life.

The video

Devinderajit, a Sikh, invites his friend Jack to the local Gurdwara. They take off their shoes on entering the temple, 'To keep the house of the God clean' Devinderajit explains. After covering his head as a mark of respect, Jack discovers the Gurdwara's community kitchen - the Langar - offers free meals for everyone. There's a library too and places to study. In the prayer room, the boys see the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib and taste parshad, a sweet offered to all visitors. Later, Devinderajit tells Jack about Sikh beliefs and he lists the 'Five Ks' of Sikh life: Kesh (keeping your hair uncut); Kanga (a wooden comb); Kara (a bracelet, which like God, has no beginning or end); Kachera (modest underwear) and Kirpan (a small blade, worn to show your commitment to justice).

Duration: 4' 21"

End of speech: 'I've enjoyed showing Jack the Gurdwara and telling him how important it is to Sikhs to help others.'

Video questions

  • Devinderajit takes Jack to the Gurdwara. What is a Gurdwara? (A place where Sikh people come to worship.)
  • In the Gudwara they go to the Langar. What is a Langar? (A community kitchen staffed by volunteers and offering a meal to anyone who wishes to eat.)
  • What is the name of the Sikh holy book? (The Guru Granth Sahib.)
  • All visitors to the Gurdwara are offered a sweet made from semolina. What is it called? (Parshad.)
  • What does Devinderajit say the word 'Sikh' means in the video? (He says it means 'to learn'.)

Key links

Assembly framework
document
Image - reading the Guru Granth Sahib in the Gudwara
image

Suggested framework

1. Entry music Search online using the term 'Sikh music Gurdwara' for a suitable audio clip, or see 'Related links' below.

2. Introduction Display the image of the man reading from the Guru Granth Sahib. Tell the assembly that today's focus is the Sikh faith. Read them the summary paragraph (above). Perhaps invite pupils to share what they already know about Sikhism. Point out: 'Some of us follow one religion with our families, some of us follow another and some of us follow no religion at all. But whatever our family's religious faith may be, it's important - and interesting and fun - to find out more about the faith of our friends and neighbours. Discovering what matters to others helps us to value and respect one another and to get on well together.' Tell the assembly: 'In this video clip, two friends from different faiths find out more about each other's lives.'

3. The video Play the video. The duration is 4' 21" and the final words are: 'I've enjoyed showing Jack the Gurdwara and telling him how important it is to Sikhs to help others.'

4. After the video Use the Video questions (above right) to help the children recall details of the clip. If time allows, they could make up some questions and answers of their own based on what they saw.

5. Time to talk Ask the children: 'How do you think Devinderajit felt about Jack's visit?' How do you think Jack felt?' Ask: 'What did you learn about Sikhism?' Gather the pupils' responses, ranging from factual points (eg 'Sikhs let their hair grow long and do not cut it') to the more reflective (eg 'Sikhism is about generosity to others and about sharing'). Ask: 'Are there similarities between other faiths and Sikhism?' Pupils might suggest there are shared customs (such as covering the head, or taking off shoes) and similar shared values (such as honesty, treating others well and helping those less fortunate). Close the discussion with: 'Discovering what matters to others helps us all to value and respect one another and get on well together.'

6. Opportunity to sing If your assembly is to include a song this would be a good time for it. Suggestions from BBC collections below.

7. Opportunity to reflect Ask pupils to close their eyes. 'As Devinderajit says, it's all about learning to be a better person, about working hard, being honest, sharing with others and about being generous and caring. When we are hard-working and honest, we feel better inside. And we feel even better when we share. What could you share with someone today? How could you show your generous side? Because when we show other people that we care, they care for us in return.'

8. Opportunity for prayer Use your standard form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord Jesus' etc) and: ‘We thank you for the values we share with people from all backgrounds. Help us all to learn to live a better life, to work hard, to be honest, to share with others and to help those in need so we can remember you in all we do. Amen.'

Suggested songs

Got a bit better - Vocal

Got a bit better - Backing

SongCollectionSignificant words
'Laughing in the playground'All about our school, no 6'Time to talk to friends and hear what they have to say / It's good to be a part of a bigger family... A friend to everyone.'