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Sikhism

The traditional pronunciation is “SICK-ism,” but it is commonly pronounced “SEEK-ism.” The Sikh religion is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Followers are called Sikhs (meaning students). It originated in 15th-century Punjab (now North India and Pakistan) when Guru Nanak, the first Sikh teacher, turned against the caste system, forced conversion and empty ritual in medieval Hinduism and Islam. Through devotional (bhakti) poetry and music, he taught that all religions lead to One Formless God, that all people, including women and the poor, are equal, and that all may realize liberation here and now through living an honest life of love and service (seva). Nine gurus succeeded him, and in 1699, the 10th teacher, Guru Gobind Singh, formed Sikhs into the Khalsa: a spiritual sister- and brotherhood where men share the last name Singh (“lion”) and women share the name Kaur (“daughter of kings”). All were given five articles of faith (the Five Kakaars), including long uncut hair, which men and some women wrap in a turban. The 11th and lasting Sikh teacher is the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, also known as the Adi Granth.

Sikhism has no clergy, but spiritual guides may be called gurus; capitalize this title before a name.

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