By Simran Kaur Dhillon, President of the OSU Sikh Student Association
The Sikh Faith (Sikhi) is one of the youngest religions in the world. It has the 5th biggest religious population. However, many people do not even know what Sikhi is. Even with our distinguished look of turbans, long hair, and metal bracelets, many people know nothing of our background. So today, I am writing this article to educate and explain more about who the Sikhs are.
To start off, I will give you a reflection of our history. Our founder is Siri Guru Nanak Sahib, the first Guru. Alongside him, we have 9 other human Gurus, making a ten total. Sikhs believe and praise the one, true God, also known as Vaheguru which can directly translate to “wonderful God”. A Gurdwara is a place where the Sikh community gathers to worship together. Our first Gurdwara is located in Nanakana Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan where the first Guru was born. Another well-known Gurdwara is located in Amritsar, Punjab, India and is called the Golden Temple in western culture but known as Harmandar Sahib or Darbar Sahib to Sikhs. Punjab in South Asia is where much of the Sikh population originates, including the parts of Punjab currently divided between Pakistan and India.
For me, I found it very difficult to distinguish between my culture and religion throughout my adolescence. The Guru Granth Sahib, the religious scripture for Sikhs, teaches us to look at people with the utmost respect and show them kindness because regardless of our differences, we are all equal. In the Indian community however, there comes lots of judgement and fear of reputation, especially as a girl. My family leaned more towards upholding the values of “tradition” as they called it rather than Sikhi foundations. For much of my life, I rejected who I was and rejected God because my ideas of religion were confused with culture. This is not to say I do not like Indian culture though. When I did my own spiritual research, I realized that everything I did not want from Indian culture I could easily neglect though staying true to my faith. This main idea of equality under the eyes of God is something I have always believed in and what made me understand that I always practiced Sikhi, even when I thought I wasn’t. Sikhs believe that it is our actions, and the intent of our actions, that bring good in life.
Even if some Sikhs are not observant in our practices, other Sikhs will not shun someone for bending and breaking rules. We find more importance in the values that one holds. This is tied with one of the biggest aspects of our religion: Seva. Seva is called service and it is something we expect every Sikh to do. Seva can be done in small ways or in big ways. You will commonly see people in Gurdwaras volunteering to pass out food, help with dishes, or even make food for the community. In a much broader sense though, Khalsa Aid, is a Sikhi founded organization that goes around the world and helps communities in need. With the practice of Seva, Sikhs can ensure that they’re giving positive energy to the world. I feel like I found these values more so with my own doing than anyone else’s. My parents and grandparents raised me well in many ways, but for around a year or so I have tried my own spiritual journey and learned more than what I had been taught from the past. It would have been nice to have known more when I was younger, but I am happy that as I am embarking into my undergraduate studies, mostly alone, that I can learn more and more about what my faith - Sikhi - means to me. What I have written above is just what value it has to me now, but in spiritual thinking I know in the future I will have to be flexible in interpretation. Many Sikhs may read my articles and agree, and maybe some might have some exceptions to these rules. I hope whoever reads this though, they are enlightened and take what I have to say as something to ponder in their own religions as well.