Sikhism

The quality of a religion can be measured by what it forbids (even though, it was preferable to spread understanding without imposition).

Sikhism (sikh means “learner”) forbids:

Cutting hair: This is related to one of the 5 K’s or panj kakaar/kakke that all Sikhs (also called Khalsa Sikhs) are typically obliged to wear at all times, as commanded by the tenth Sikh Guru, who so ordered on the day of Baisakhi Amrit Sanskar in 1699. These five symbolic articles represent the ideals of Sikhism, respectively, self-development, non-discrimination, honesty, meditating on God, and never bowing to tyranny:

  • Kesh (uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban, Dastar)
  • Kanga (a wooden comb, usually worn under the Dastar)
  • Katchera (specially made cotton underwear as a reminder of the commitment to purity)
  • Kara (a steel bracelet, which is a symbol of the ever-living)
  • Kirpan (a curved sharp dagger)

Intoxication: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other intoxicants is not allowed. However the Nihangs of Punjab take an infusion of cannabis to assist meditation.

Premarital or extramarital sexual relations: In Sikhism, the spouses must be physically faithful to one another.

Blind spirituality: Superstitions and rituals should not be observed or followed, including pilgrimages, fasting and ritual purification; circumcision; idols & grave worship; compulsory wearing of the veil for women; etc.

Material obsession: Obsession with material wealth is not encouraged in Sikhism.

Reclusive living: A Sikh is encouraged NOT to live as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monastic (monk/nun) or celibate.

Worthless talk: Bragging, lying, slander, “back-stabbing”, etc. are not permitted. The Guru Granth Sahib tells the Sikh, “Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your service is useless and fruitless.”

Priestly class: Sikhism does not have priests, they were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Guru of Sikhism). The only position he left was a Granthi to look after the Guru Granth Sahib, any Sikh is free to become Granthi or read from the Guru Granth Sahib.

Eating creatures killed in a ritualistic manner (Kutha meat): The ritual animal sacrifice to celebrate holy occasions, halal, kosher, etc. – where the animal is killed slowly by ritually slicing the throat and letting it bleed while praying -, is forbidden. The meat eaten by Sikhs is known as Jhatka meat.

Discrimination based on family name, social class (caste) or gender: A family often selects a name for a child by opening the book “Gurū garanath sāhib” to a random page and choosing a name that begins with the first letter of the first word on the left page. All Sikh girls are given the last name Kaur (prince”) and all Sikh boys are given the last name Singh (“lion”). This was established in order to eliminate the basis for discrimination (family name, caste association, village or clan identifiers, academic or social stratification factors, woman identity dependent on his husband or father). The practice of sati (widows throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands) was abolished. A Sikh woman does not change her name when she marries. In “Sri Guru Granth Sahib”, an important text of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji states: «From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. / Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. / When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. / So why call her inferior? From her, kings are born. / From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.»

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