Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded by Guru Nanak in the state of Punjab, India. It is a relatively new religion and was established in 16th and 17th century with the teachings of its ten Gurus. Today, Sikhism is regarded as the major religion of the world and has over 23 million followers.
Beliefs Sikhism comes from the word Sikh, which in turn comes from its Sanskrit root 'siya' which means "disciple" or "learner", or from the equivalent Pali word 'sikkha'. The two core beliefs of Sikhism are:
The opening sentence of the Sikh scriptures is only two words long, and reflects the base belief of all who adhere to the teachings of the religion: Ek Onkar or "One Creator".
The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus and other saints as scripted in their 1430 page holy scripture the Guru Granth Sahib. The Guru Granth Sahib is a sacred text considered by Sikhs to be their eleventh and final Guru.
Sikhism shares some similarities with Hinduism and Islam. Some claim Guru Nanak tried to include in Sikhism what he thought were the good beliefs of these two religions. Like Islam, Sikhism believes in the existence of one invisible God. And, like Hinduism the religion believes in theory of Karma and reincarnation, meaning a person’s actions in his life decides his fate in the next incarnation. The Sikhs also cremate their dead ones as is done in Hinduism. In Sikhism everyone has equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, color, race, sex or religion. Sikhism rejects pilgrimage, fasting, superstitions and other such rituals. Sikhism does not have a clergy class as it considers this as a gateway to corruption. However they have readers and singers in their temples.
Sikhs are identified by their unique identity given to then by their Tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. The five recognizable marks of a Sikh are - uncut hair, comb, sword or dagger, bracelet on the right wrist and shorts. Even till date traditional Sikhs do not cut their hair and do not shave their beard or moustache. They gather their head hair in a turban.
A Sikh place of worship is called Gurdwara. Hari Mandir or the 'Golden Temple' in Amritsar in Punjab is the most important site and is considered the holiest shrine of Sikhism. One of the distinct features of Gurudwara is the common kitchen called Langar where food is served to all visitors each day of the year.