A Sikh Story

Article by: Megh B.

Visual by: Rafatul I.

Edited by: Carmel L.

Sikhism is a global religion sweeping countries within South Asia, and even recently, Latin America, North America, and Europe, as well. I sought out to decipher and answer many questions about the religion, and why few are aware of its existence.

ISM is a myriad of different cultures and religions. However, a recent poll on Instagram revealed that over 75% of ISM students do not know basic facts about Sikhism, although they are aware of its existence.

Recently, countries such as Canada have created a ‘Sikh History Month’ for the upcoming month of April to commemorate the legacy of this prominent religion.

For some background, Sikhism is a religion that promotes the equality among all races, ethnicities, genders, and religions. Sikhs believe in ten gurus, and the 11th being a holy book of scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. Adherents of Sikhism are clustered in the Punjab region of Northern India, as well as countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

QUESTION #1: Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims? What’s the difference?

Being a Sikh, this is a question that never fails to be asked. Given that South Asia is filled with a diverse range of cultures, ethnicities, and in this case, religion, many may confuse these. Sikhism was actually a religion created to counter Muslim and Hindu conflicts of the time, and to promote a system of life devoid of the caste system and other social hierarchy aspects that society runs under.

QUESTION #2: Towel-headed?

Sikhs wear turbans! Men and women both adorn their heads to achieve a closer connection to God. Often times, they have been profiled for this expression of faith, so this is an important misconception to debunk. The turbans represent uncut hair, another thing that many orthodox Sikhs retain as an element of their culture.

QUESTION #3: Who even are they?

Who are the Sikhs? Good question! Unbeknownst to many, Sikhs have diffused throughout the world and industries throughout. Rupi Kaur, the author of ‘Milk and Honey,’ yep — she’s Sikh! Sikh communities are strong in several countries, and are only growing!

QUESTION #4: Mosques, churches, where do they pray?

One of the most interesting things about Sikhism is their temple, known as the ‘gurdwara.’ Sikhs open up their holy space to members of all religions, races, genders, sexualities, and more. There’s no such thing as free lunch — except in gurdwaras! Each temple has a dining hall where free lunch, known as ‘langar,’ is served daily to thousands if not millions of people per day. You might not even realize, but in times of disaster, there’s usually Sikhs handing out free food to those in need. The religion is based on service for others at all times.

QUESTION #5: Why should I care?

In times of growing diversity and cultures, it’s important to educate yourself on the religions of the world, especially seeing as Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world. Being aware of one anothers religions and lifestyles helps to promote a culture of inclusivity, community, and moreover, love. With a rise of hate crimes, especially against the Sikh community, now is a better time than ever to stand up and show them that you care.