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The Sikhs are adherents to Sikhism the fifth largest organized religion in the world, with around 27 million adherents. Sikh History is around 500 years and in that time the Sikhs have developed unique expressions of art and culture which are influenced by their faith and synthesize traditions from many other cultures depending on the locality of the adherents of the religion. Sikhism is the only religion that originated in the Punjab region with all other religions coming from outside Punjab (with the possible exception of Punjabi Hinduism since the oldest Hindu scripture – the Rig Veda – was composed in the Punjab region. Some other religions, like Jainism, may also claim to have originated in Punjab since Jain symbolism has been found among artifacts of the Indus Valley Civilization). All the Sikh gurus, many saints and many of the martyrs in Sikh history were from Punjab and from the Punjabi people(as well as other parts of the Indian Subcontinent). Punjabi culture and Sikhism are mistakenly considered inseparably intertwined. "Sikh" properly refers to adherents of Sikhism as a religion, strictly not an ethnic group. However, because Sikhism has seldom sought converts, most Sikhs share strong ethno-religious ties as therefore it's a common stereotype that all Sikhs share the same ethnicity. Many countries, such as the U.K., therefore misconcievingly recognize Sikh as a designated ethnicity on their censuses.The American non-profit organization United Sikhs has fought to have Sikh included on the U.S. census as well, arguing that Sikhs "self-identify as an 'ethnic minority'" and believe "that they are more than just a religion".
There is a common misconception that all Sikhs belong to the Punjab region. The religion's birthplace of Punjab itself has been called "India’s melting pot",and many other parts of Northern India due to the heavy influence of invading cultures, such as Mughal and Persian, that mirrors the confluence of rivers from which the region gets its name(from Persian,"panj" پنج meaning "five" and "-āb" آب meaning water thus meaning land of the five waters). Thus, Sikh culture is to a large extent as a result by groups of various cultures uniting together, thus forming a unique one.
Sikhism has forged a unique form of architecture which Bhatti describes as being "inspired by Guru Nanak’s creative mysticism" such that Sikh architecture "is a mute harbinger of holistic humanism based on pragmatic spirituality".The keynote of Sikh architecture is the Gurdwara which is the personification of the "melting pot" of Indian cultures, showing both Mughal, Aryan and Persian influences. The reign of the Sikh Empire was the single biggest catylst in creating a uniquely Sikh form of expression, with Maharajah Ranjit Singh patronising the building of forts, palaces, bungas (residential places), colleges, etc. that can be said to be of the Sikh Style. The "jewel in the crown" of the Sikh Style is the Harmandir Sahib.
Sikh culture and identity is heavily influenced by militaristic motifs, with Khanda being the most obvious; thus it is no surprise that the majority of Sikh artifacts, independent of the relics of the Gurus, have a military theme. This motif is again evident in the Sikh festivals of Hola Mohalla and Vasakhi which feature marching and practicing displays of valor respectively.
The art, culture, identity and societies of the Sikhs has been merged with different locality and ethnicity of different Sikhs into categories such as 'Agrahari Sikhs', 'Dakhni Sikhs' and 'Assamese Sikhs'; however there has emerged a niche cultural phenomenon that can be described as 'Political Sikh'. The art of prominent diaspora Sikhs such as Amarjeet Kaur Nandhraand Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh ('The Singh Twins'), is partly informed by their Sikh spirituality and influence.
Although the Indo-Aryan Sikhs form the majority of the Sikh population, the Sikh community is varied and includes people who speak the Pashto language, the Brahui language, the Telugu language and many more. The many communities following Sikhism is detailed below. All of these communities belong to one single world of khalsa which count all as one.
The Sikhs of Afghanistan have a unique culture which has elements of the culture of Afghanistan.
Harbhajan Sing Puri is credited with raising awareness of Sikhism amongst the non Asian community of the United States of America. This community is known as the white Sikh community which practices Sikhism and maintains a distinct culture.
The presence of Sikhism has been existing in Assamfor over 200 years. The community traces its origins to the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who took his army to Assam and put some influence of the religion towards the locals. According to the 2001 census, there were 22,519 Sikhs in Assam, out of which 4,000 are Assamese Sikhs.
Assamese Sikhs follow the Sikh religion and celebrate Sikh festivals as they also celebrate cultural festivals such as Magh Bihu and wear traditional Assamese dress. Their language is the Assamese language.
Agrahari Sikh is a Sikh community found in eastern India including state West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. Agrahari Sikhs, also known as Bihari Sikhs, have existed for centuries in Bihar and Jharkhand.
Bihari Sikhs share their culture with the local Bihari community. The men generally wear the local dhoti and women wear the Sari. They also celebrate cultural festivals such as the Chath festival.
Dakhni Sikhs are from the Deccan Plateau in India located within the states of Telegana and Andhra Pradesh..The traditional dress of women is the sari. The native language of Dakhni Sikhs is the Telugu language
Ethnic Kashmiri Sikhs speak the Kashmiri language and observe Kashmiri culture. They trace their religious heritage to the influence of Sikh soldiers who settled in Kashmir under the Maharaja Ranjit Singh rule in 1819. However, the soldiers permanently settled in Kashmir.
Punjabi Sikhs follow the Punjabi culture. Their traditional dress includes the Punjabi Salwar Suit, Punjabi Tamba and Kurta, Punjabi juti and Patiala salwar.
In addition to the Sikh festivals using the Nanakshahi calendar, Punjabi Sikhs observe traditional Punjabi festivals using the Punjabi calendar.
Bhangra and the Giddha are two forms of indigenous Punjabi folk dance. The Punjabi Sikhs have been overrepresented thoroughly leading to a stereotype that "All Sikhs are Punjabi" therefore a misconception that Sikh Culture has become inextricably linked to Bhangra.
In addition to celebrating Sikh festivals, Sindhi Sikhs celebrate cultural festivals such as Cheti Chand, the Sindhi new year. Sindhi Sikhs speak the Sindhi language.
There are Sikh communities in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra who converted to Sikhism centuries ago.
The Sikhs comprise Banjara and Satnami. The process of blending the religion into southern India for the Sikligars began at the time of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who came to the Deccan and died in 1708 at Nanded (Maharashtra).
It all came by the Sikligars as they cane to southern India as expert arms-making camp followers of the tenth Guru. Sikligar is a compound of the Persian words `saiqal` and `gar` meaning a polisher of metal.The traditional occupation of the Sikligars is crafting kitchen implements.
Banjaras are a nomadic tribe who traditionally travelled with merchandise and are found across a large swathe of northern India, as well as in the south. Sikh Banjaras too travelled with armies of the past supplying them with provisions.
Punjab, also spelled and romanised as Panjāb, is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Pakistan and northern India. The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts.
Sikhism, or Sikhi, is a pantheistic religion that originated in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent around the end of the 15th century.
Sikhs are people associated with Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century, in the Punjab region in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. The term Sikh has its origin in the words शिष्य, meaning a "disciple" or a "student". According to Article I of the Sikh Rehat Maryada, a Sikh is:
Any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru.
Nankana Sahib is a city and capital of Nankana Sahib District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is named after the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak, who was born in the city and first began preaching here. Nankana Sahib is the most important religious site for the Sikh religion. It is located about 91 km (57 mi) west of Lahore and about 75 km (47 mi) east of Faisalabad. According to the census of 2017 the city has a population of 79,540 inhabitants. Until 2005, it was the part of Sheikhupura District.
Guru Gobind Singh (22 December 1666 – 7 October 1708), born Gobind Rai, was the tenth Sikh Guru, a spiritual master, warrior, poet and philosopher. When his father, Guru Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, Guru Gobind Singh was formally installed as the leader of the Sikhs at age nine, becoming the tenth Sikh Guru. His four sons died during his lifetime – two in battle, two executed by the Mughal army.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or "Lion of Punjab", was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his left eye. He fought his first battle alongside his father at age 10. After his father died, he fought several wars to expel the Afghans in his teenage years and was proclaimed as the "Maharaja of Punjab" at age 21. His empire grew in the Punjab region under his leadership through 1839.
Khalsa refers to both a community that considers Sikhism as its faith, as well as a special group of initiated Sikhs. The Khalsa tradition was initiated in 1699 by the last living Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh. Its formation was a key event in the history of Sikhism. The founding of Khalsa is celebrated by Sikhs during the festival of Vaisakhi.
Guru Tegh Bahadur was the ninth of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. The Guru Granth Sahib contains 116 poetic hymns composed by him. The Guru resisted the forced conversions of the Hindu Kashmiri Pandits and non-Muslims to Islam, and was publicly killed in 1675 on the orders of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi for himself refusing Mughal rulers and defying them. Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib in Delhi mark the places of execution and cremation of the Guru's body. His martyrdom is remembered as the Shaheedi Divas of Guru Tegh Bahadur every year on 24 November, according to the Nanakshahi calendar released by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 2003.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Sikhism:
The Punjabis or Punjabi people are an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group associated with the Punjab region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, presently divided between Punjab, India and Punjab, Pakistan. They speak Punjabi, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The name Punjab literally means the land of five waters in Persian: panj ("five") āb ("waters"). The name of the region was introduced by the Turko-Persian conquerors of the Indian subcontinent. The Punjabis are the 7th largest ethnic group in the world by total population.
The Sikh Empire was a state originating in the Indian subcontinent, formed under the leadership of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who established a secular empire based in the Punjab. The empire existed from 1799, when Ranjit Singh captured Lahore, to 1849 and was forged on the foundations of the Khalsa from a collection of autonomous Sikh misls. At its peak in the 19th century, the Empire extended from the Khyber Pass in the west to western Tibet in the east, and from Mithankot in the south to Kashmir in the north. Religiously diverse, with an estimated population of 3.5 million in 1831, it was the last major region of the Indian subcontinent to be annexed by the British.
The Kashmiris are an ethnic group native to the Kashmir Valley, in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, who speak Kashmiri, an Indo-Aryan Dardic language. The bulk of Kashmiri people predominantly live in the Kashmir Valley–which is the 'actual' Kashmir and does not include the other territories of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Other ethnic groups living in the former Jammu and Kashmir state include Gujjars, Dogras, Paharis, Baltis and Ladakhis.
Majha is a region located in the central parts of the historical Punjab region split between India and Pakistan. It extends north from the right banks of the river Beas, and reaches as far north as the river Jhelum. People of the Majha region are given the demonym "Mājhī". Most inhabitants of the region speak the Majhi dialect, which is the basis of the standard register of the Punjabi language. The most populous city in the area is Lahore on the Pakistani side and Amritsar on the Indian side of the border.
Sahajdhari Sikhs is a person who has chosen the path of Sikhism, but has not yet become an Amritdhari. A sahajdhari believes in all the tenets of Sikhism and the teachings of the Sikh Gurus, but may or may not adorn the five symbols of the Sikh faith. This is not to be confused with the term Mona Sikhs or Mona Sardars, that is Sikhs who are of Keshdhari ancestry, but choose to cut their hair, under certain circumstances, especially by deference to Western culture and fashions.
Mazhabi Sikhs are members of an untouchable caste who have left Hinduism in favour of the Sikhism. The word Mazhabi is derived from the Urdu term mazhab, and can be translated as the faithful. They live mainly in Indian Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana.
Unlike the majority of Fiji's Indian population, who are descendants of Indian indentured labourers brought to Fiji between 1879 and 1916, most of the Sikhs came to Fiji as free immigrants. Most Sikhs established themselves as farmers. Sikhs also came to Fiji as policemen, teachers and preachers. In recent years large numbers of Sikhs have emigrated from Fiji, especially to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Sikhs in Fiji are generally referred to as Punjabis.
The Sikh diaspora is the modern Punjabi Sikh migration from the traditional area of the Punjab region. Sikhism is an ethnic religion, the Punjab region being the historic homeland of Sikhism. The Sikh diaspora is largely a subset of the Punjabi diaspora.
Agrahari, Agraharee or Agarhari is an Indian and Nepali Vaishya community, claimed to be descendants of legendary king Agrasena. Predominantly, they are found in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Terai region of Nepal.
Punjab is a state in northern India. Forming part of the larger Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, the state is bordered by the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir to the north, and the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh to the east, Haryana to the south and southeast, and Rajasthan to the southwest. It is bordered by the Pakistani province of Punjab to the west. The state covers an area of 50,362 square kilometres, 1.53% of India's total geographical area. It is the 20th-largest Indian state by area. With 27,704,236 inhabitants at the 2011 census, Punjab is the 16th-largest state by population, comprising 22 districts. Punjabi is the most widely spoken and official language of the state. The main ethnic group are the Punjabis, with Sikhs (58%) and Hindus (38%) as the dominant religious groups. The state capital is Chandigarh, a Union Territory and also the capital of the neighbouring state of Haryana. The five tributary rivers of the Indus River from which the region took its name are Sutlej, Ravi, Beas, Chenab and Jhelum Rivers; Sutlej, Ravi and Beas are part of the Indian Punjab.
This article refers to the ideology that asserts Punjabi cultural solidarity. For the militant separatist movement aimed at creating an independent Sikh country, see Khalistan.