A monotheistic religion originating from the Indian Punjab (annexed by the British) in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries by Nanak, a Hindu influenced by the Islamic Sufi teachings. Nanak believed that both Hinduism and Islam expressed truths about God, sat nam (the ‘true name’). From Hinduism, Nanak took a belief in reincarnation, but he rejected caste, pilgrimages, idols and ritual prayers. Nanak appointed one of his followers to become guru of the Sikh community on his death, instigating a line of ten developers who, among other things, collected Sikh sacred scripture and built the Harmandir (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, which, ironically, has become a major pilgrimage centre. The last Guru, Gobind Singh, created the Khalsa to allow followers to demonstrate their commitment to the faith, including the distinctive five K marks of a full Sikh (sikhi means disciple). Sikhs have no particular holy day, but keep some festivals of Hindu origin, and celebrate Gurpurbs in honour of the ten gurus. There are 16 million Sikhs worldwide; as it is not a proselytizing faith, nearly all of these descend from Punjabi migrants. Many Sikhs came to Britain in the 1950s seeking employment (often in response to British entreaties) in the cities, and this was followed by another smaller wave in the early 1970s. In Britain, Sikh identity has been typified by the wearing of a turban, for which many were discriminated against at work and school until legislation in the 1970s outlawed such actions.
   See also: Hinduism; Indian communities
   Further reading
    Nesbitt, E.M. (1988) ‘Sikhism’, in R.Zaehner (ed.), Encyclopedia of Living Faiths, 4th edn, London: Hutchinson.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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