• ENGLISH ARTICLES

 


Some concepts of the
Sikh Culture

AANAND KARAJ:- Aanand Kaaraj is the Sikh marriage ceremony. The exact date of its origin is not known but references can be found that the marriage of the children of Guru Sahib had been performed by way of this ceremony. Guru Sahib had made it obligatory for a Sikh not to marry except through Aanand Kaaraj ceremony. In Sikh marriage system, the couple sits in front of Guru Granth Sahib while hymns from Guru Granth Sahib (at pp. 773-74) are read and the ceremony is complete after an Ardaas (the Sikh prayer). Many Sikhs perform nuptial rounds around Guru Granth Sahib. But the scholars believe that the circumambulation of Guru Granth Sahib is imitation of the Sapatpadi, (the Hindu marriage ceremony of seven times circumambulation of fire). They profess that simple recitation of four hymns from Guru Granth Sahib followed by an Ardaas completes the ceremony. According to the Aanand marriage ceremony, both the partners should be Sikh or at least they should declare that they accept Sikhism as their religion and promise to have initiation as early as possible. An Act "Aanand Marriage Act" was passed, on October 22, 1909. It does not mean that the Sikh marriage ceremony has its origin from this date. Bhai Daya Singh, in his Rahitnama (code of conduct), has mentioned the Sikh wedding rites. Missionaries Baba Dayal and Baba Darbara Singh, began the ceremony of circumambulation of Guru Granth Sahib, in the early years of the nineteenth century as a counter to the Hindu ceremony of Sapatpadi (seven times circumambulation of fire).

AARTI:- The word Aarti literally means: "that which can be done even if it is not night i.e lighting of earthen (or any other) lamp. It is a form of Hindu worship. The Hindus place small earthen lamps in a platter and place it before some idol or deity and then take the platter around that idol/deity in the mornings and even in the evenings. It is, in fact, worship of mythical Hindu god of fire. Sikhism strictly prohibits such worship (of god of fire or the otherwise). Some Sikhs, who are not fully conversant with the Sikh philosophy, under the impact of Hinduism, though they don't burn lamps but they still sing Guru Nanak Sahib's hymn called Aarti by believing it as an Aarti. Guru Nanak Sahib's hymn is a rejection of Aarti ritual and of the idol worship and those Sikhs who consider it as a Sikh-Aarti, in fact, practice blasphemy. Guru Nanak Sahib, in the hymn about Aarti, rejected all types of Aarti rituals and said that the real Aarti is the meditation of the Name of the Almighty and an effort to live a "truthful life". Guru Nanak Sahib's Aarti says, "The whole of the Nature is worshipping the Almighty. The sky is the platter (of Aarti); the sun and moon are the lamps; the whole sphere of the stars are the diamonds and the pearls (for decoration); the fragrance of the sandalwood trees of Mallay region (known for its sweet fragrance) is the incense; and the waving breeze is the Chaur and the whole of the vegetation is offering flowers (for the worship of the Almighty). This could be the worship of the Almighty". Meaning thereby that the real worship of God is not done with the earthen lamps or alike meaningless rituals. The 'show' of worship by lighting lamps in a platter before a deity is mere hypocrisy. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 13 etc.

ABORTION:- Abortion is killing of a baby before its birth. Generally, it is performed to choose the sex of the baby or for reasons of family planning or in case of conception resulting from rape etc. Sikh religion encourages family planning through self-control but killing of a baby in womb is against Sikh ideology. It is, in fact, refusal to bow before the Will of the Almighty. Also see: "Infanticide".

ADULTRY:- Cohabiting with a partner who is not a husband or wife is strictly forbidden in Sikhism. In Sikhism, the wife of another person is like one's mother, sister and daughter. In Sikh culture, even the wife of a friend is addressed as "Bhein Ji" (sister). Adultery is one of the four prohibitions to be followed strictly by a Sikh. Its violation makes a Sikh an apostate and he/she has to undergo religious punishment and also must get re-initiation. In Sikhism marital fidelity and chastity is one of the basic issues. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 403 etc.

AKHAND PATH:- Aakhand Path is non-stop recitation of Guru Granth Sahib. It is completed in approximately 48 hours. Several readers perform this recitation in a relay system. The reading goes, in a relay manner, continuously, day and night. At given intervals (usually two hours per turn) the next reciter picks the line of hymn from the lips of the retiring reciter. There is no fixed number of reciters. Aakhand Path is believed to have its origin in the middle of the eighteenth century. During the days of persecution, the Sikhs had to remain prepared to move from one place to another, at a very short notice; hence they had to complete the reading of the Scriptures in a short time. In the second half of the twentieth century it became a fashion to perform this ceremony. Ideologically speaking, Aakhand Path is not in consonance with the Sikh fundamentals as Sikhs must not read the Scriptures simply as a ritual. A Sikh must read, understand and try to live his life according to the Scriptures.


AMRIT VELA:- Amrit Vela means hour before the dawn of the day. In Sikhism, there is no concept of auspicious hour or moment . A Sikh, however, is supposed to get up before the dawn of the day and have shower before his daily worship and prayer. It does not mean that meditation at other times is less auspicious. All the days, hours and moments are auspicious for remembering God. A Sikh should remember the Almighty throughout the day. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 34-35, 386, 740 etc.

ANTIM ARDAS- Antim (last) Ardaas (prayer), in Sikhism, means the last prayer for a person after his funeral ceremony. In Antim Ardaas, it is prayed that "may the Almighty's Grace grant strength to the dears and nears of the departed soul, to bow before His Will ." This completes all the ceremonies relating a human being. The Sikhs must not observe annual rituals or alike ceremonies for a deceased person. Also see: Saraadh.

ARDAS (Prayer):- Ardaas is a combination of two words: Araz and Daashat (literally: the petition of a slave). As a slave is to the Master, the Sikh is to the Almighty, but the root of a Sikhs slavery of the Almighty is not awe of the Almighty but love for Him. For a Sikh Ardaas is obligatory. The Sikh Ardaas is different from the prayers of the other religions. A Sikh can not make prayer for seeking personal prosperity, comfort, benefits and the other material blessings. A Sikh 'must' bow before the Will of God. A Sikh, however, may make Ardaas seeking, from the Almighty, blessing for strength to live a Truthful life. If a Sikh makes prayer from the core of his/her heart the prayer can not be futile. A Sikh makes Ardaas at least twice a day: in the morning after reading three Baanis and in the evening after Rahiras. All the Sikhs make a national Ardaas, as approved by Akal Takht Sahib. This national Ardaas has two part comprising of seven sections in all. In the first part, a Sikh remembers (a) the Almighty, the Guru Sahib and Guru Granth Sahib (b) the Punj Piaray (the five beloved ones), four sons of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and all the martyrs, devotees and all those who made any contribution in the social, political and spiritual spheres (c) the Sikh martyrs and the valiant fighters of the past and present times (d) all the Sikh seats of authorities and the shrines. In part two a Sikh prays for (a) the welfare of the Sikh Commonwealth and the Sikh polity and political institutions; the promotion of Sikh culture; all decision making powers to the Khalsa (b) for blessing to practice the Sikh way of life; for preservation of the articles of faith; for blessing for meditation; for blessing for a dip in Amritsar (i.e. the Word) and for supremacy of Dharma (righteousness) (c) for grant of qualities of humbleness, intelligence, right to worship and finally for the welfare of the whole of the humanity. After this, the occasional reference is made and approval-cum-blessing of the Almighty is sought.

BABA:- Baba literally means father or grandfather. In Sikhism "Baba" is used even for the Almighty as He is the Father of every human being. Guru Nanak Sahib too has been called Baba Nanak. In Sikh culture, Baba is used for a senior person who has such a status due to his services to the Sikh nation, either due to his actions (despite of his/her young age) or due to long time services to the nation. The first usage of Baba was done in case of the Sikhs like Baba Buddha. The sons of Guru Sahib are also addressed as Baba(s). Senior leaders of the nation are also addressed as Baba, i.e. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Baba Bota Singh, Baba Garja Singh, Baba Baghel Singh, Baba Balak Singh, Baba Wisakha Singh, Baba Kharhak Singh etc.

BAANA:- Literally: dress. In Sikh cultural terminology it means all the five Kakaars (articles of faith) plus a Chola (a long shirt), a tight-fitting trousers, a Kamarkassa (a belt to tighten Gaatra and like a sash around the waist) which make one very active. This was actually a dress for the battlefield. A Sikh is expected to be ever-ready in Baana at every moment because for a Sikh the world is like a battle field and he/she has to act in every situation in the discipline of a soldier in a battle field.

BAPTISM:- Baptism is a specific Christian ceremony. It is wrong to call Sikh initiation ceremony, Amrit Sanskaar, as Sikh baptism. See: Khande Di Pahul.

BHABI:- Bhabi is a term used for brother's or friends wife. In Sikhism a friend's wife is not addressed as Bhabi, in stead, she is addressed as Bhainji (sister).

BHAI:- Bhai, literally means brother. In the Sikh culture this term is used to show respect for a person. A saintly person, an intellectual, a humanitarian, a leader may be addressed as Bhai. The British adopted conferring the title of Sardar Bahadur to the persons loyal to their regime. But Bhai can be used only for genuine Sikh savants. The first usage of Bhai, in the Sikh history has been done for Bhai Mardana. The other oft-quoted names are: Bhai Lalo, Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Rup Chand, Bhai Bhagatu, Bhai Nand Lal, Bhai Mani Singh, Bhai Bir Singh, Bhai Maharaj Singh, Bhai Ratan Singh Bhangu, Bhai Vir Singh, Bhai Bawlant Singh Canadian, Bhai Mewa Singh Lopoke, Bhai Fauja Singh, Bhai (Sirdar) Kapur Singh.

BHANA MANNANA:- Bhana Mannana literally means to bow before the Will of God. Anything unpleasant should not make a Sikh despondent or angry. One should try to do one's best and leave the rest to God. Sikh is not a fatalist but a Sikh has an obligation not to question the Grace of the Almighty. To have faith in the Almighty and also to grudge over some unpleasant phenomenon, is contradiction in terms. Also see: Charhdi Kala.

BHOG:- Literally: it means pleasure. In the Sikh context Bhog is the conclusion of the recitation of Guru Granth Sahib). It is followed by Ardaas and Vaak (or Hukam i.e. command of the Almighty). Finally, after the distribution of Karaah Parshaad, the 'ceremony' of Bhog is over. The Sikhs call it Bhog (pleasure) because it denotes the pleasure of reaping the fruit of listening (or reading) to the praise of the Almighty.

BIKRAMI SAMMAT:- A Calendar named after a Hindu king Vikramaditya. In Punjabi Vikrami is pronounced as Bikrami. Its abbreviation is Bk. The Hindus calculate their dates as per the Hindu astrology. Some ignorant Sikhs too adhere to this calendar. For a Sikh all the calendars have the same significance. During the time of Guru Sahib, Bikrami Sammat was in practice and now Gregorian calendar is used by the whole of the world. Also see: Calendar, Sammat.

BIRTH CEREMONY:- In Sikhism there is no specific ceremony prescribed to be observed after the birth of a baby. It is, however, the duty of a Sikh to take the child to any Gurdwara, for making prayers to thank the Almighty for blessing the family with child. There is no time limit for the first visit of the child. It depends upon the health of the child, the weather or the other circumstances. When any relative or a friend visits the baby for the first time he/she should greet the child by saying Waheguruji ka (da) Khalsa Waheguruji ki (di) Fateh.

BOLAY SO NIHAL:- Bolay so nihaal sat sri akaal is known as war-cry of the Sikhs during battle. Some writers believe that the original war-cry was: Jo jaikara bulaavai guru de man nun bhaavai; gajj ke bolnaa ji Akaal ! Akaal ! Akaal!. It is not a way of greeting. Also see: Waheguruji ka (da) Khalsa Waheguruji ki (di) Fateh.

CALENDER:- The Sikh calendar is called Nanak-shahi, beginning from 1469, the year of birth of Guru Nanak Sahib. Baba Banda Singh Bahadur adopted this calendar in 1710 after the victory of Sirhind by the Sikh army. According to that calendar the year 1710 C.E. became 241 N.S. (Nanak-shahi). Baba Banda Singh, however, continued adopting the months and the days of the months according to the Bikrami calendar. Sikhs have been following the Bikrami Sammat to calculate the dates of the birthday/martyrdom days of Guru Sahib. In 1984, Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (this author) drafted a Sikh Calendar. In this calendar, he suggested the adoption of Gregorian Calendar (Common Era) with the names of Gregorian months (January to October, 10 months) to be replaced with the names of the Ten Nanak(s), with November as Granth month and December as Panth month. Similarly, Dilgeer suggested the Sikh names for the days of week too. (See: Dr. Dilgeer's Sikh Calendar, published by Dr. Awatar Singh Sekhon, Edmonton, Canada). Ideologically, the Sikhs have nothing to do with the Bikrami calendar. They had been using it earlier as during those days Bikrami calendar was in common use and in a way the only calendar available in the Sikh Homeland. Now Gregorian calendar (Common Era) is in practice; hence it should be adopted after Sikhizing it. The most popular calendar in the world, Gregorian Calendar, is wrongly called Christian calendar. It was started by Gregor. The Jews and the other non-Christians too use this calendar. The non-Christians don't use the abbreviations A.D. (Anno-Domini, which means 'the year of our Lord' i.e. Christ) and B.C. (Before Christ). Instead they use C.E. (Common Era. The which is continuing now, e.g. 1995 C.E. or so on) and O.E. (Old Era). Before the year 1 e.g. B.C. 32 will be written 32 O.E. and so on.).

CAP/HELMET:- A Sikh is not allowed to use cap or helmet of any type or in any form. According to the Sikh Rahitmaryada (the code of conduct), wearing of any form of cap leads a Sikh to his/her condemnation to inferno (i.e. wearing a helmet is like being in an atmosphere of inferno). A Sikh must tie only a Dastar (the Sikh Turban) as his head-gear. Turban for a Sikh is obligatory, it is not optional. It is religiously essential. It has nothing to do with culture. Also see: Dastar.

CASTE SYSTEM:- Caste or the family of birth is the hub of the Hindu society. In Sikhism, it is strictly forbidden to treat/mistreat anyone according to one's birth. Recently, several Sikhs have started breaking this law. This is against fundamental principles of Sikhism. This does not mean that Sikhism denies existence and/or significance of cultural traits of family of birth; marrying only in one's own caste, class, clan does not contravene the ideology of equality (of castes). See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 83, 328, 349, 524, 1128, 1164, 1330 etc.

CHANDOA:- Chandoa literally means a cover with the inscription of a moon on it. It has its origin in Islamic culture. It was a canopy placed over the throne of the Muslim kings and emperors, signifying protection of the Almighty (in Islam moon is symbol of Allah, the Islamic name of the Almighty). In Gurdwaras, canopy placed above Guru Granth Sahib, does not have an inscription of moon on it. In Sikhism, Guru Granth Sahib, i.e. the Word, represents the Almighty; hence a Chandoa is used as a matter of respect. Still, others believe that it is used to protect Guru Granth Sahib from sun, rain, wind etc. A Chandoa is made of fine cloth, sometimes even silk, and may be embroidered too. It has, however, nothing to do with spirituality or religion. A simple but neat and clean Chandoa or embroidered Chandoa have no difference of value. Chandoa is also known (but wrongly) as Chanani and Chandani also.


CHARHDI KALA:- Charhdi Kala literally means: ascending power. It is a unique Sikh concept of high spirits. A Sikh must always look forward to positive things. A Sikh is supposed to be ever-optimistic. High spirits, cheerfulness, positive thinking, courage, resolution, fearlessness, confidence etc. are the attributes of the Sikh concept of Charhdi Kala. To achieve this state of mind, Naam (meditation of His Name) is essential. A Sikh achieves Charhdi Kala by the Grace of the Almighty; hence sublimity is a part of this concept. A Sikh must have complete faith in Him and this reliance on Him enhances the capacity, energy, power and willingness in a Sikh. Charhdi Kala and Bhana Mannana both are interwoven. A Sikh is ever-ready to bow before His Will and also has a faith that the Almighty is always Graceful. A Sikh has to bow before His Will, but a Sikh is not a fatalist. He has to struggle and strive for a better tomorrow. But, a Sikh shall achieve Charhdi Kala only through Naam Simran. In his Ardas, a Sikh prays for "Charhdi Kala through Naam" (Naanak naam charhdi kalaa tere bhaane sarbat da bhalaa) . Some writers define this part of the Ardas as "the Charhdi Kala of His Name" but it is self-contradictory because the Charhdi Kala of His Name need not be prayed for as there is always Charhdi Kala of His Name. Charhdi Kala of His Name is sue generis.

CHAUR:- Chaur is a bundle, usually of fibre or man-made artificial fibre, placed in a wooden holder. It is used to demonstrate respect for Guru Granth Sahib. Whenever the scripture is being read, the reader or someone standing besides the reader waves it over Guru Granth Sahib. Chaur is a symbol of royalty and sovereignty. It is insulting to call it a fly-whisk as its purpose is not to whisk flies but only to show respect. The most precious Chaur ever made has been preserved in the treasury of Darbar Sahib. It was prepared by Haji Mohammed Maskin Shah, who travelled from Medina to Amritsar and presented it at Akal Takht Sahib, on December 31, 1925. Haji Shah had prepared it from 145,000 fibres taken out of 350 kg of sandalwood. It took him 5 year and 7 months to prepare it. The price of 350 kg sandalwood, in those days was rupees 122. Haji Shah had prepared two Chaurs, the other was presented by him at Medina (the Muslim holy place). Haji Shah was presented Siropa (robe of honour) at Darbar Sahib.

CHUNNI:- Another name for scarf used by the females of the Punjab to cover their heads. It is also called Dupatta. The Sikh women use Keski (small turban) instead of (or under) the Dupatta. Also see: Keski.

DAAN:- Literally: to give. Daan has several shades of meaning: alms, charity, offerings etc. Charity is basic to almost all the religious beliefs. In Hinduism it is the duty of every Hindu to give charity to Brahmins; alms to beggars; and offerings to temples. In Sikhism, Daan is altogether a different concept. Begging and alms-giving is not in consonance with Sikh ideology; there is no Brahmin (priestly) class in Sikhism; and, offerings to shrines are not considered Daan in the Sikh terminology. In Sikhism, offerings made at Gurdwaras are Bhaint (presentation). Similarly, the Sikh institution of Daswandh (tithe) is altogether different from the Hindu concept of Daan. Daswandh is based on the Sikh concept of Vand Chhaknaa (sharing with fellow beings), an act of social cohesion and unity of brotherhood. Daswandh, in Sikhism, is not giving something rather it is like "returning a loan". A Sikh can not be a Daani (giver). That Sikh who considers himself a giver is ignorant of Sikh ideology; he is a stupid (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 282). The feeling of 'having the credit of having giving something in charity' is also a sin.

DANCING:- In Sikhism, there is no prohibition for making merry and dancing within ethical limits. Dancing in public and/or with some one who is not one's wedded life-partner is not in accordance with Sikh ethics. In Sikhism, dancing and making merry is "a petty pleasure of mind" as the real pleasure is living truthful life in the "pious fear" (respectful love) of God. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 465 etc.

DARBAR:- Literally: court. In the Sikh context it is used for the "court of the Almighty". Darbar Sahib, wrongly called Golden Temple was the first to be given the name Darbar Sahib. Gurdwara is the Darbar of the Almighty, and, in the Darbar of the Almighty (Gurdwara) a visitor has to obey a discipline, a protocol. In the language of the monarchy, it is used for the court of a king/emperor also.

DASTAR:- Dastar (The Sikh turban) is an integral part of a Sikh' being. A Sikh must not remain without Dastar any time. A Sikh is not allowed to wear a cap or a helmet in any form. Dastar has long history and has been used in different parts of the world for centuries. In Islam, it was an essential part of the dress of the religious personalities. In Hinduism too, spiritual and religious elite had been using turban for centuries. In Sikhism, it became a part of the Sikh's being since Guru Nanak Sahib, the founder of the faith. On March 29, 1698, Guru Gobind Singh Sahib made it obligatory for a Sikh. Rahitnamas (Code of Conduct) mention Guru Sahib's command with regard to obligation of Dastar as an article of faith. The term mentioned in this context, however, is Keski. There is no restriction to the size, colour, shape of material of Dastar. A Sikh can not appear in public without a Dastar. Even at home a Sikh has an obligation to cover his head even while at rest or in bed. It is an obligation and not an option. It is an essential of religion and not culture. In culture, Dastar has a specific, but different status. Removal of the turban of a person means insulting him. A Sikh touching the Dastar of another Sikh with the intention of removing, shaking or disturbing, becomes guilty of a serious breach of Sikh discipline and is liable to disciplinary action. Dastar is a symbol of respect and leadership. It is equalled to honour as well. Pagg vataaunaa (present turbans to each other) means: "From now onwards, each other's turban (honour) shall be "one". Defence of the honour of the other shall be a joint responsibility".

DASWANDH:- Daswandh (literally: tithe), in Sikhism, means contribution of one tenth of one's income for Panth. Tithe is also a tradition of Judaism and Christianity. Every Christian is expected to contribute his tithe (one tenth of income) to Church for the expenses of Church (this tradition is almost dead now). In Islam there is the institution of Zakaat and it is 2.5% of one's wealth (to be assessed every year before the first i.e. Ramzaan month). Zakaat is to be spent for the poor and the needy sections of society. Daswandh is an essential part of Sikh culture. This tradition had been started by Guru Nanak Sahib and was practiced by the following all Guru Sahib. When Guru Amar Das Sahib established 22 Manjis (missionary seats), he appointed Masands also. Their duty was to collect offerings and the Daswandh of the Sikhs, to be sent to Guru Sahib at Goindwal (later to Amritsar at the time of Guru Ram Das Sahib and his successors). Guru Gobind Singh made it mandatory. Bhai Nand Lal has recorded the command of Guru Sahib with regard to Daswandh. A Sikh must spend about one tenth of his income for religious, social or the other humanitarian purposes. If a Sikh cannot afford money he/she may contribute his time or his services for the nation. For a Sikh Daswandh is a debt that must be paid as early as possible. Daswandh makes one an integral part of brotherhood and a useful member of community in particular and humanity in general. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1245 etc.

DEATH:- Death, in Sikhism, is separation of soul from body. Human life is pre-destined. Death, and not life, is the truth of human existence. In Sikhism, death is not a matter of sorrow. After death, there is union of human soul with Supreme Soul (the Almighty). Sikhism rejects the theory of re-birth. A Sikh must not be sad nor should one wail at the time of the death of a dear one. The Sikh Rahitmaryada (code of conduct) forbids lamentations (though some ignorant Sikhs don't follow the command of Guru Sahib). When some one dies in family, in stead of lamentations, a Sikh should sing hymns in the praise of the Almighty, who is the Cause of every phenomenon. Death is the will of the Almighty. A Sikh has an obligation to bow before His Will. Similarly, the celebration of the Barsi (anniversary of death) is not in consonance with Sikhism. Even in the case of the martyrs, the Sikhs observe Shaheedi Jorh Mela, which means remembering their sacrifices and not grief of separation. In Sikhism, dead body has no sanctity. In Sikhism dead body has no sanctity. It is just the earth of the corporal body. The Sikhs perform cremation of dead bodies and submerse the ashes into the nearest flowing water. No water, river etc. is sacred in Sikhism. Some ignorant/phoney Sikhs submerse the ashes of the dead bodies of their relatives at Keeratpur Sahib. It is against Sikh ideology. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 13, 152, 227, 278, 474, 793, 855, 1239, 1426, 1428-29. Also see "Funeral".

DEGH TEGH FATEH:- Literally, Degh mean kettle, Tegh means sword and Fateh means victory. Degh Tegh Fateh means "economical (Degh) and political (Tegh) prosperity and sovereignty for every one is the real accomplishment for the Khalsa". The Sikh National Anthem also includes these words: Degh-o-tegh-o-fateh-o-nusrat bedirang; yaafat az Nanak - Guru Gobind Singh (meaning: economic prosperity, political freedom, national victory and prompt assistance obtained through the blessings of Gurus Nanak to Gobind Singh) . These words had been inscribed on the Sikh coins issued by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and the Sikh Misls (Sarbat Khalsa). Degh Tegh Fateh is a national slogan and a part of the Sikh national prayer also. The Sikhs pray for economic prosperity and political freedom of the (Sikh) nation.

DHARAMSALA:- Literally, Dharamsala means a place where Dharam (righteousness) is practiced. Guru Nanak Sahib used the term Dharamsal for this earth too (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 7). This term had been used for a Gurdwara during the days of Guru Sahib. The Sikh history is replete with references to the establishment of Dharamsals in different areas of the sub-contient, during the time of all Guru Sahib. These Dharamsalas had dual functions: it was a place for gathering for the local Sangat (Sikhs) as well as a hostel providing food and shelter to the travellers. Gurdwara is a more recent term for a Sikh place of worship. Even after the compilation of Adi Granth Sahib and its installation in Darbar Sahib in 1604, the term Gurdwara was not in common use. Subsequently, at the time of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, a Gurdwara came to be known as Gur Darbar. The term Gurdwara became popular probably in the later half of nineteenth century. Nowadays, the term Dharamsala is used (usually by the Hindus) for a hostel or the other residential buildings used by the pilgrims. The Sikhs call it Saran, Sarai or Niwas etc.

DIVORCE:- Divorce means legal dissolution of a marriage. In Sikhism there is no place for divorce. A Sikh Aanand Kaaraj (marriage ceremony) is sacramental and it can not be annulled by a decree of any court. There is spate of legal divorces now a days, but it is utterly in contradiction with the Sikh faith.

DIWALI:- Diwali is a Hindu festival falling on Katak Vadi 30 (in October/November). On this day the Hindus worship the mythical goddess of wealth. It has nothing to do with Sikhism. During the eighteenth century, the Sikh used to congregate at Darbar Sahib Amritsar or else where twice a year. They chose the days of Diwali and Visakhi for convenience sake. During those days, no calendars were available and the Sikhs had to depend upon the current Bikrami calendar, the only one that was available to the people in those days. Similarly, the lighting of lamps at Amritsar on the plea that on that day Guru Hargobind Sahib reached Amritsar after release from Gwalior Fort prison, does not make it a Sikh festival. Moreover, Guru Hargobind Sahib, after his release from Gwalior Fort prison in October 1619, reached Amritsar in January 1621, and, on that day the Sikhs lighted lamps in Darbar Sahib. The celebration of Diwali, at Amritsar, must have began at the time when the management of the Gurdwaras came in the hands of the Udasi Mahants.

DIWAN:- A Sikh congregation is called diwan. Literally, Diwan means 'court'. (In Persian it means 'register of administration' too. It has also been a designation, like a minster or sub-governor as well). The presence of Guru Granth Sahib makes a Sikh congregation a Diwan (Court of the Almighty). The place where such congregation is held is called 'Diwan asthaan' (congregation hall) ; the most famous Diwan asthaan of the Sikh nation is Manji Sahib, at Darbar Sahib, Amritsar. A Diwan is held usually within Gurdwara compound but if the number of the people expected to attend the function is much more than the capacity of the Gurdwara compound, a Diwan may be held in specially installed tents. The term Diwan has also been used for some organisations as well. Some such organisations were: Majha Khalsa Diwan, Malwa Khalsa Diwan, Punch Khalsa Diwan, Chief Khalsa Diwan, Khalsa Diwan Society (Vancouver, Canada) etc.

DOLI:- Doli literally means palanquin. Departure of a bride from her parents' house after completion of the marriage ceremony is also called Doli. There had been a common practice to carry the newly married girl, from her parents' house to her husbands house, in a Doli (palanquin) hence the name. In the twentieth century Doli (palanquin) has been replaced by car. In Sikh code of conduct, this ceremony finds no mention, however, in the modern world this ceremony has no significance except being a meaningless show.

DRESS:- There is no special dress code for a Sikh. A Sikh must wear a Kachhehra (specially designed and stitched Sikh shorts) and a Dastar (turban). Otherwise, a Sikh (male or female) may wear any dress. Gurbani, however, explains that the dress of a person should be simple and not meretricious or gaudy, which arouses sensuous feelings and provokes the others. Salwar and Kamiz and Dupatta, is the best presentable dress for a Sikh women and it is most suitable in the meaning of the Sikh way of life. Sikh males too, used to wear a Kurta and Pajama (not pajama, the night suit of the west) but for the past few decades the western shirt and trousers have replaced the traditional dress of the males of the Sikh Homeland. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 16 etc.).

DUMALA:- A corner of turban hanging on any side, upward-downward or downward, is called Dumala. In the case of the ordinary persons one corner of turban is lifted upward. It is done by stiffening the turban with starch. The other style upward-downward is the style of the Nihangs. They don't stiffen the Dastar (turban) with starch, and, their Dumala has specific meaning. Dumala is also called Farra. It symbolises the Sikh national flag. The tradition of Farra was started by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, in November 1703. During the battles, the Nihangs with Farra in their Dastar, used to fight in the forefront of the battle. A Farra meant that the flag of the nation was furling high upwards.

DUPATTA:- A piece of cloth to cover head and hair. The Sikh females (like the Sikh males) have an obligation to always cover their heads, preferably with a Dastar, though a Dupatta is very popular. Dupatta is called Chunni too. Keski, however, is the most proper head-cover of a Sikh woman. Also see: Keski.

EAR PIERCING:- Making holes in ears for ornaments sake, is, an un-Sikh like practice. Similarly, piercing of nose or any other part of body, is also prohibited in Sikhism.

ETHICS:- Ethics is a set of moral principles approved by a particular group, community or nation. Humanism is the central point of the Sikh ethic. Simple eating; non-drinking; non-smoking; no-drugs; simple dress-code; equality of caste, colour, creed, sex; honest earning; sharing with others; defending the poor and the needy; struggle for promotion of justice; praying for welfare of the whole of the humanity; living the life of a householder; being ever-ready for fight for Righteousness; non-stealing, non-begging; telling the truth; not hurting any one's feelings; respect for the faith of the others; non-aggression; not to be a silent observer to injustice (against oneself or the others); early-rising; cleanliness of body etc. are among the basic essentials of the Sikh ethics. See different points under separate headings.

FASTING:- Islam (Ramzaan month, 30 days of fast), Judaism (40 fasts) and Hinduism (Ekadashi, Karva Chauth and several others) prescribe fasting as a part of religious rituals. In Sikhism there is no significance of fasting; and, fasting as a means of spiritual achievement is rather hypocrisy. Sikhism does not prohibit fasting for maintaining good health but as a ritual, it is forbidden. Some Sikh politicians from time to time used weapon of "fast unto death" as means for attainment of some political goal. All these ventures were in contradiction with the Sikh philosophy. The first "fast unto death" was observed by Sampuran Singh Raman in 1953 to be followed by Fateh Singh in 1960, Master Tara Singh in 1961, Fateh Singh etc. in 1965, 1966, Darshan Singh Pheruman in 1969, Fateh Singh in 1971. With the exception of Darshan Singh Pheruman none of the above kept one's vow and broke his fast on one or another pretext. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 873, 905, 1347-48 etc.

FESTIVALS:- Festivity in itself has no place in Sikhism. A Sikh has to rise above these temporary emotions of mind. A Sikh's real bliss or festivity is his moment of meditation. The Sikhs, however, do observe some dates to congregate and to remember some particular historical events. The Sikhs observe the birthdays of Guru Sahib, the martyrdom days of Guru Sahib and the Sikh national heroes, the installation days of Guru Sahib and some historical events of the post-Guru period. On such occasions the Sikhs congregate in Gurdwaras or in open grounds and observe the event by performing Keertan, exegesis of Gurbani and lectures etc. These functions are as religious and spiritual as usual routine worship in a Gurdwara. Diwali, Wisakhi, Lohari, Rakhari (Rakhi), Holi are not Sikh festivals and these festivals can not be celebrated, in any form, by a Sikh. Some ignorant/phoney Sikhs have tried to find excuses to celebrate some of these un-sikh like festivals like Diwali and Wisakhi. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 842-43 etc.

FOOD:- There is no food restriction in Sikhism. A Sikh, however, should not eat the food that creates luscious and the other extreme feelings. A Sikh has no instruction to be vegetarian but a Sikh has an obligation to eat only Jhatkaa (of the animal killed with one stroke) meat. Likewise, there is no restriction of eating or not eating any particular animal's meat. If a Sikh eats meat, he may eat beef or pork or any other meat. In the Gurdwaras meat is not cooked/served because Langar is meant for every one and not all the visitors eat meat. Likewise there is no restriction on not eating meat or any other thing on a particular date, day or hour. Simple food habits are a preferable way of life in Sikhism. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 16, 472 etc.

FUNERAL:- The Sikh funeral is very simple. In Sikhism the main practice is cremation (burning of dead body). Some Sikhs throw the dead body into a river or sea. Before cremating, the body is washed and clothed in clean dress and then it is taken to the cremation place. Then the body is placed on a raised platform of wood, to be followed by recitation of hymns and Ardas (prayer). After Ardas the pyre is lit, hymns are sung and Sohila (the last prayer) is recited. After a few days, according to convenience of the family, Path of Guru Granth Sahib is arranged to be followed by final Ardas. This brings an end to the final ceremony with regard to a human being. Also see: Death.

GRANTHI:- Literally, Granthi is a person who recites Granth (Sikh scriptures). In Sikh culture Granthi is an over-all custodian of a Gurdwara. It is not proper to define it as a priest. In Sikhism there is no priestly class. Every Sikh, who has the knowledge of Scriptures and Rahitmaryada (code of conduct), may perform services in a Gurdwara. After the achievement of sovereignty in the Sikh Homeland several small and big Gurdwaras were built and the need to look after them gave birth to the appointment of full time employees. This class, with the passage of time, came to be known as Granthi. In the twentieth century the Sikhs have added un-Sikh like titles of Head Granthi apparently in line with the Christian clergies or the other hierarchical patterns.

GRIHSTI:- Grihsti (literally: householder) life is obligatory for a Sikh. A Sikh must not renounce word. A Sikh is an important and useful part of society and he/she must live a regular life of a normal human being. While referring to the Yogis and the ascetics, Guru Nanak Sahib said that these people escape from the realities of life but still they beg food from the householders. One must become Sachiar (self-realised) in this world along with playing, enjoying and also living a truthful life. One should live in this world but as a Dilgeer (detached) from its enchantment. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 230, 281, 385, 494, 522, 587, 1070, 1245, 1249 etc.

GURDWARA:- Gurdwara literally means the door/house of Guru Sahib. A Gurdwara is the Sikh place of worship. During the time of Guru Sahib, a Sikh place for worship was called Dharamsala (place of Dharam i.e. the place where religion is practiced). [Also see: Dharamsala]. Installation of Guru Granth Sahib is essential in a Gurdwara. A Gurdwara, usually, has four major sections: 1. the main congregation hall 2. a Langar hall and a kitchen 3. a Saran (a hostel or a resting place for the Sikh visiting the Gurdwara from distant places) and 4. an office-cum-library. In most of the Gurdwaras (particularly in foreign countries), a school for teaching of Punjabi and Gurmukhi is, usually a part of Gurdwara. A Gurdwara is not a Sikh temple, it is sheer ignorance to call it a Sikh temple because a temple is a place where an idol or a deity is worshipped. Idol-worship is forbidden in Sikhism. Similarly it is wrong to call a Gurdwara Sikh church or Sikh mosque etc. Most of the historical Gurdwaras were built during the rule of the Sikhs Misls. Before that time there were only a few Gurdwaras which had been built by Guru Sahib or during their time. After the Misls' period, most of the Gurdwaras had been taken-over by the Udasis, the Nirmalas and the hereditary Mahants. The Sikhs had to launch a struggle for the freedom of the Gurdwaras. Hundreds of the Sikhs laid down their lives and thousands were arrested during the Gurdwara reform struggle (1920-25). Even now, most of the Gurdwaras are not being managed in Panthik (authentic Sikh) manner. The present election system is not in accordance with the Sikh ideology. Most of the members get elected because of family relationship, tribal or caste reasons and even for money. The life-style of several members of the S.G.P.C. is in complete contradiction to the Sikh ideology. Most of the managements of the Gurdwaras consider themselves as the owners of the property of the Gurdwaras.

GURMUKH:- Gurmukh literally means a person with his mukh (face) towards Guru Sahib. In other words, one who looks at the Mukh (face) of Guru (for instructions and advice). One who follows the teachings of Guru Sahib instead of being induced by one's passions. One who follows the command of Guru Sahib, in stead of one's own heart. One who is Guru-oriented and not self-oriented. One who lives his life according to the teachings of Guru Sahib. Its antonym is Manmukh (one who has his Mukh towards his Man) i.e. one who follows passions of one's heart. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 66, 74, 87, 118, 230, 232, 429, 512, 647, 649, 650, 653, 757, 842, 941, 944, 1073, 1134, 1250, 1414 etc. Also see: Bhai Gurdas, Vaars 6, 7, 12, 13, 19, 22 etc.

GURPURAB:- The days associated with some event of Guru Sahib's life are called Gurpurab (the day of Guru Sahib). It includes the anniversaries of their births, installation as Guru, death/martyrdom etc. On a Gurpurab the Sikhs hold congregations and sing Keertan (hymns). Lectures on Sikh history and philosophy and exposition/commentary of hymns is also a part of such functions. On some occasions, and at some places, Jaloos (processions) are also brought out. Besides the days associated with Guru Sahib, the Sikhs observe martyrdom days of some of their generals and martyrs as well. Also see: Festivals.

GURSIKH:- Gursikh is a person who lives his life strictly according to the teachings of Guru Sahib. Its antonym is Manmukh (one who lives according to the command of one's emotions). See: Gurmukh.

GUTKA:- It is a small collection of Sikh hymns, usually of Nitnem (daily prayer) and some other hymns. All the Sikhs have usually more than one Gutka in their homes. Adults and children recite Path (recitation of hymns) from these Gutkas. A Gutka too has to be treated with special respect, like Guru Granth Sahib because it consists of Shabad (the Word). It should always be wrapped in some neat and clean cloth and should be placed separate from the other things and even books. One must wash his hands and cover his head before reading or even touching it.

HALAL:- Halal, is that meat which has been slaughtered in Muslim manner. A Sikh must not eat Halal (meat).

HOLI/HOLA MAHALLA:- Holi is festival of the Hindus. It is observed on Phaggan Sudi 15 (first week of March) to commemorate the death of a mythical Hindu evil spirit named Holika. On this day the Hindus throw colour-powder and spray coloured water on each other. Nowadays, it has become more of hooliganism than religion. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, in order to wean the people away from this silly custom, organised wrestling, sword-wielding competitions, mock-battles and warfare manoeuvre etc. at Aanandpur Sahib. Guru Sahib named it Hola Mahalla (literally: battle and place for attack). Now, it has become a routine to hold celebrations on day, next to Holi, at Aanandpur Sahib. It, however, has no sanctity for the Sikhs to hold martial arts competitions on this particular day. Guru Sahib wanted to stop people from observing this silly festival. It is strange that some Sikhs have adopted it in the form of a Sikh-ized Hindu festival. Some phoney Sikhs throw even colour-powder on the others; completely in contradiction to the Sikh ideology.

HONEST EARNING:- The first cardinal principle of Sikhism is Kirat Karna (honest earning). A Sikh must earn his livelihood by honest means. He/she can not earn his/her livelihood by fraud, begging, smuggling, stealing or any other unethical means. A Sikh has an obligation to lead a truthful life.

HUKAM:- Hukam (literally: order) means the Command of the Almighty. A Sikh must always be ready to carry out the Command of the Almighty. He/she must always bow before the Will of God. In Sikhism everything and every phenomenon is by His Order. Guru Nanak Sahib, in Japuji Sahib, while answering the question: "how to become Sachiar (self-realised person)?", says that one can become Sachiar "by living according to His Will and Order". Hukam is writ on every phenomenon. The creation, life, birth, joy, sorrow, pain, pleasure are all under His Order. When one understands His Order one does not suffer from the delusion created by ego. In Sikh philosophy self-realisation, liberation, can be achieved by His Will. One can strive, by living life according to His Hukam but still it is His Hukam which grants us self-realisation for understanding His Hukam. Living life according to His Hukam does not entitle one to liberation, but it is fulfilment of one's requirements to become a candidate. Hukam, in the Sikh culture, is used in another sense too. It also means a hymn read from Guru Granth Sahib, at random, in order to find the Command of the Almighty on a particular occasion. Reading of Guru Granth Sahib, at random, to get instructions, before beginning any job is also called Hukam. Another term for reading hymns for such a purpose is Vaak Laina (to seek a sentence i.e. instruction, from scriptures). All these shades have the same meaning. After opening Guru Granth Sahib, after the Ardas, at the time of closing Guru Granth Sahib, a Vaak (hymn) is read from it. The root, however, is the same: to follow the Command of the Almighty through His Word (contained in Guru Granth Sahib). See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 1, 2, 8, 72, 145, 151, 277, 330, 386, 470, 636, 676, 918, 962, 1037, 1055, 1076, 1089, 1128, 1175, 1280, 1289 etc.

HUMANISM:- Humanism is the interest and love for humanity at heart. Philosophically, humanism means a belief in human effort and ingenuity rather than religion. But, Sikhism, in itself consists both, spiritualism and humanism. A Sikh must have love for humanity and he should be ever-ready to serve the human beings, without any distinction of any kind. The Sikh prayer includes the national manifesto: Sarbat da Bhalaa (welfare of the whole of the humanity).

INFANTICIDE:- Infanticide is the practice of killing new-born infants. It had been a tradition among some Hindu tribes, particularly Rajputs, to kill females (and deformed male too), soon after their birth. Sikhism forbids this cruel practice. Though the Sikhs don't practice this at all, but it is a part of the injunctions for a Sikh, in the Sikh Rahitmaryada that a Sikh must not practice infanticide. Also see: Abortion.

ISHNAN:- Ishnaan literally means: to have a shower i.e. to clean one's body. In Sikhism, the idiom Naam Daan Ishnaan has special significance. It means: one must always remember the Almighty (Naam); one must be a useful citizen of the world (Daan), [Daan, in Sikhism, does not mean alms-giving, it means contribution of Daswandh i.e. tithe]; and one must have a sound body, mind and soul (Ishnaan). The Sikh concept of Ishnaan is not limited to physical cleanliness; it comprises purification of body, conduct, morale, environment etc. Ishnaan should grant a sickness-free being i.e freedom from bodily, mental and psychological sickness.

JAIKARA:- Jaikara means slogan of appreciations applause, devotion. In Sikhism a Jaikara is an amalgam of spiritualism, warming up and euphoria. The Sikh Jaikara is: Jo jaikara bulave Guru de man nun bhave, gajj ke bolanaa ji: Akaal ! Akaal ! Akaal ! Another popular version (probably a product of convenince) is: (jo) bole so nihal, sat sri Akaal. When Sikhs greet each other they say: Waheguruji Ka (Da) Khalsa, Waheguruji Ki (Di) Fateh.

JAIMALA:- Jaimala literally means: (Mala) garland of (Jai/Vijay) victory. According to some Hindu epics, the marriage, during the ancient days, was performed by way of Jaimala. A competition was arranged for the wedding of a girl (usually from royal family or the other feudal-type families) and the winner would be garlanded by the bride. This would complete the ceremony of marriage. Nowadays, the Hindus perform this ceremony before the final wedding rituals. In Sikhism, Aanand Kaaraj is the complete and the only wedding ceremony. Jaimala is not permitted in Sikhism. As Jaimala, itself ,completes the ceremony of the wedding, the Aanand Kaaraj (the Sikh wedding ceremony) following this ceremony becomes meaningless hypocrisy. Hence, Jaimala can not be performed by a Sikh, it is violation of the Sikh ideology.

JALOOS:- Jaloos/Jalus is an outdoor procession, usually led by Guru Granth Sahib. (Political processions may be led by Punj Piaray only). A Jaloos is ordinarily a part of the celebrations of a Gurpurab. Generally in the big towns, the Sikhs arrange such processions, on the birthdays of Guru Nanak Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, the Revelation of Khalsa (March 29, 1698) day, Guru Arjan Sahib's martyrdom (May 30, 1606) day and Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib's martyrdom (November 11, 1675) day. Protest processions are also taken out to mark certain events. Since 1984, the Sikhs have begun taking out procession to observe the day of the attack on Darbar Sahib by the Indian army (June 4, 1984). Also see: Jalau.

JHATKA:- Jhatkaa means killing of an animal with one stroke. Sikhs don't eat Halal meat. If a Sikh choses to eat meat, he may eat Jhatkaa only. (Jhatkaa has nothing to do with "sympathy for animal"). In Sikhism no animal is sacred or sinful and a Sikh may eat meat of any animal including cow, goat, pig, lion etc. A large number of Sikhs do not eat meat at all. Several instances referring Guru Sahib themselves eating meat can be found in the Sikh history. Guru Hargobind Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh had been hunting in the hill forests. Guru Nanak Sahib cooked meat even at Haridwar. These examples do not mean that a Sikh "must" eat meat. The Sikh have no restriction for or against meat eating. Also see: Halal. (See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 16, 472, 1289-90 etc.).

KAAR SEWA:- Literally: Kar means hand and Kaar means work and Sewa literally means unpaid manual service. In Sikhism it means voluntary participation in manual work organised for the repair, construction, renovation etc. of the Sikh shrines. Kaar Sewa dates back to the times of Guru Sahib. Most of the Sikh shrines, the first being Goindwal Sahib and Darbar Sahib Amritsar, had been constructed by the Sikhs themselves. The Sikhs have organised Kaar Sewa for cleaning of the silt of the Sarovar (tank) at Amritsar (in the years 1923, 1973 and 1985) and also at the other places, several times. The Sikhs consider it a matter of honour to participate in Kaar Sewa.

KAKARs:- Kakar (pronounced as Kakaar) literally means: words beginning with Gurmukhi letter K. Kakar, in Sikh context are the five articles of Sikh faith. These Five Ks are : Keski* (small turban for unshorn hair), Kangha (specific Sikh comb), Karha (Sikh-bracelet made of iron or steel. It is not bangle; and even bracelet is not a proper term), Kachhehra (Sikh shorts stitched in a specific style), Kirpaan (the Sikh sword). Every Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh must have all these Five Ks on his person, all the time, till his death. These Kakaars are an essential part of the being of a Sikh. A Sikh lacking any one of these ceases to be a representative of the Sikh nation. Such a person, even if he tries to claim himself as a Sikh, he/she is not recognised by Guru Sahib; nor does such a person enjoy the strength and blessing of Guru Sahib. These Kakaars are not symbols but these are the "articles of faith". They stand for solidarity, cohesion, strength and unity of the Sikh Commonwealth. A Sahijdhari (not initiated) Sikh too must have unshorn hair and all the Kakaars. *[According to Rahitmaryada, approved by Akal Takht Sahib, Kes covered by Keski and not Keski is a Kakar]. Also see: Kes/Keski, Kangha, Karha, Kachhehra, Kirpaan.

KACHHEHRA:- Kachhehra is one of the Five Articles of the Sikh Faith. Kachhehra is Sikh shorts/ drawers, designed and stitched in a specific manner. Kachhehara is a symbol of moral ethic, restraint and control. It also is a symbol of royalty. Kachhehra is obligatory for a Sikh. A Sikh must have it on his person, all the time, till his death. Removal of Kachhehra makes a Sikh liable of Tankhah (disciplinary action).

KANGHA:- Kangha is Sikh comb, with a specific design. It is placed in the Joora (top-knot) of the hair. An initiated Sikh must always have it on his person all the time. It is used for combing and cleaning hair. A Sikh has an obligation to comb his hair at least twice a day. An initiated Sikh should not use a comb (called Kanghi) of ordinary type.

KARHA:- Karha (the special Sikh bracelet; it is not proper to call it bracelet) is one of the five article of Sikh faith. It is made of iron or steel. A Karha of gold or any other metal is not proper because Karha is not an ornament. It reminds the wearer that he/she should not do any evil. As it is in right hand of a male/female, it reminds one to be vigilant to the Sikh ethics and the Sikh Rahitmaryada, while doing anything .

KARHAH PARSHAD:- Karhah Parshad (Karah literally means a specific Sikh pudding and Parshad means blessing). In Sikhism it is food blessed by the Almighty. It is the Parshad (blessing) of the Almighty. Karah Parshad is prepared from equal proportions of wholemeal flour, sugar and butter and almost a double portion of water. Mool Mantra or any other hymn has to be read while preparing it. When it is ready it is taken to the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. After recitation of the first five and the last stanza of Aanand Sahib, followed by Ardas (prayer) seeking blessing and approval of the Almighty and reading of Hukam (holy Order) from Guru Granth Sahib, it becomes blessed Karhah Parshad. Lastly, it is crossed with a Kirpaan (the Sikh Sword) and then it is distributed among the persons present. One must have covered his/her head and should spread both his hands (in cupped shape) to receive it. Karhah Parshaad can not be eaten in plates or with spoons.

KARVA CHAUTH:- It is a fast which most of the Hindu women observe to make prayers to God asking for long lives to their husbands. It is against Sikh ideology to observe this or any other fast. (Guru Granth Sahib, p. 873). Also see: Fasting.

KATHAA:- Kathaa literally means exegesis i.e. exposition of the Sikh scriptures and/or history. It includes paraphrasing and commentary of literature in verse. In various Gurdwaras noon and after-noon sessions are held. In these sessions, exposition of Guru Granth Sahib is done by the experts. In some Gurdwaras, the works of Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nand Lal and even Suraj Parkash by Bhai Santokh Singh and Panth Parkash by Bhai Ratan Singh Bhangu, have been paraphrased and/or explained. Exposition of Sikh philosophy by scholars, is also called Kathaa.

KAUR:- Kaur is an integral part of the name of a Sikh female. Without using this, a female can not claim to be a Sikh. Strictly speaking Kaur is not a suffix for a Sikh female but it is, in fact, a part of the full name. Kaur literally means prince. A Sikh girl is supposed to be as brave and responsible as a male prince. This symbolises equality of women and men in Sikhism. It also represents Sikh national cohesion.

KEERTAN:- Keertan literally means to sing the Keerat (praise of the Almighty). Keertan is the best form of remembering and praising the Excellences of the Almighty. It means linking one's soul to the Supreme Soul. Extreme expressions of love make a man's soul dance. This is best expressed by performing Keertan. But Keertan is different from music in general. Music in general leads to sensuous feelings where as Keertan leads one's soul nearer to the feeling of having a glimpse of the formless Almighty. In the Sikh idiom it means singing of the hymns. Almost all the Sikh hymns have been tuned to be sung according to specified Rag (tunes). For a Sikh, Keertan is a part of his daily life. Every Sikh is expected to himself practice Keertan. In their shrines and congregations, the Sikhs sing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib or Dasam Granth or from the writings of Bhai Nand Lal and Bhai Gurdas. No other hymn or verse is allowed to be sung in a Gurdwara. Keertan is generally accompanied with harmonium, drums and sometimes with the other instruments like rebec, Sitar, guitar etc. There is no restriction of use of any musical instrument but the general practice is that of harmonium and drums only. According to Rahitmaryada, only a Sikh can perform Keertan for Sangat.

KES/KESH:- Kes (uncut hair) is one of the most essential parts of the Sikh faith. A Sikh can be recognised from amongst hundreds and thousands because of his hair and turban. A Sikh must not cut his hair from any part of his body (not only scalp). In Sikh culture kes (hair) invariably means 'unshorn hair'. It is one of the five articles of the Sikh faith. A Sikh shall opt for death when he has to make a choice between "life and hair". There are several instances when such a situation arose e.g. Bhai Taru Singh opting for chopping away of his skull than to get his hair cut, an episode from the life of king Aala Singh of Patiala etc. Those, who choose to cut their hair or trim their beards of moustaches, can not represent themselves as Sikhs.

KESDHARI:- A person who keeps Kes (of course uncut hair) is called Kesdhari. A Sikh has an obligation be Kesdhari and he/she must not cut his hair from any part of his body. In fact there is not much difference between Kesdhari and so-called Sahijdhari as far as uncut hair is concerned. Both Kesdhari and so-called Sahijdhari must have uncut hair. Kesdhari is a person who is born in a Sikh family and a so-called Sahijdhari is a person who is born in a non-Sikh family but he/she does not cut hair and lives like a Sikh proper and intends to get initiation as soon as possible. The term Sahijdhari had been coined in the second half of the nineteenth century. A so-called Sahijdhari can not continue to be so for a very long time (for several years). Also see: Kakar and Kes.

KESKI:- Literally: that which is for Kes (hair). It is a small turban worn by Sikhs under their Dastar (regular turban). According to Bhat Vahi Bhadson Pargana Thanesar, it is one of the five Kakaars [instead of Kes (hair)]. But, according to the Rahitmaryada approved by Akal Takht Sahib, Kes and not Keski is a Kakar. Uncut hair are otherwise obligatory for a Sikh. At home or at leisure, a Sikh must cover one's head with at least a Keski. Nowadays, it has become a practice among children to wear a Keski instead of a regular turban. Some sportsmen too wear it. A Keski without a Dastar over it, is not a presentable head-dress for a Sikh.

KHALSA:- Khalsa is a Persian term. Literally, it means the land or the property which is under the personal and direct control of the sovereign; in other word it means "sovereign". Before 1698, most of the Masands (regional representatives-cum-organisers), who had been appointed by Guru Sahib for the collection of tithe from the Sikhs living at far off areas, had become corrupt and had even begun presenting themselves as "deputy-Gurus." Guru Gobind Singh Sahib abolished Masand system and declared that the Sikhs shall be "the own" subjects of the Almighty, not even of Guru Sahib himself. As Khalsa is the Almighty's own, those who join Khalsa Brotherhood shall ipso facto be the direct subjects of the Almighty. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib revealed Khalsa on March 29, 1698, as per the command of the Almighty. In his own words: Khalsa akaal purakh ki fauj, Khalsa pargatio parmaatam ki mauj (Khalsa is the Almighty's Own and Khalsa has been revealed as per the Command of the Almighty). Thus Khalsa (i.e. sovereign's own; hence sovereign) is the sovereign subject of the Supreme Sovereign. Khalsa has a specific dress code too. These special distinguishing marks include: Kes, Keski, Kangha, Kara, Kirpaan, Kachhehra (uncut hair, turban, Sikh-comb, Sikh-sword, Sikh-shorts). This specific uniform distinguishes Khalsa from the rest of the world. One can join Khalsa brotherhood after Khanday Di Pahul (the Khalsa initiation ceremony). Also see: Kes, Keski, Kangha, Kara, Kirpaan, Kachhehra.

KHANDA:- Khanda is a double-edged sword. Amrit (the nectar for initiation of Khalsa) is prepared with Khanda. The first initiation took place, at Aanandpur Sahib, on March 29, 1698. The Khanda with which Amrit was prepared that day has been preserved at Aanandpur Sahib.

KHANDA (INSIGNIA):- Khanda _ is an emblem of the Sikh nation. It consists of two Kirpaans (the Sikh swords), one Khanda (double-edged sword) and one Chakkar (quoit). Khanda emblem was not carved by Guru Sahib. It was first used probably during the early nineteenth century. The Sikhs have adopted it as an emblem/symbol/insignia of their royalty and nationality. Two swords represent spiritual and temporal sovereignty of the Sikh nation, Chakkar symbolises the wholeness of the universe as well as creation; and double-edged sword (Khanda) symbolises initiation. Thus sovereignty, infinity and initiation are three basic points of the Sikh national emblem.

KHANDAY DI PAHUL:- Khanday Di Pahul is the Sikh (or Khalsa) initiation rites. Literally, it means "tempering with Khanda." Any one, of any age, who is mature enough to understand the significance of Khanday Di Pahul, can be given Khanday Di Pahul. The ceremony of initiation has to be held at a place which should not be a thoroughfare. Guru Granth Sahib must be installed there with full respect. After reading Hukam from Guru Granth Sahib, Amrit (nectar for initiation) is prepared by the Punj Piaray, while they recite Japu(ji) Sahib, Japu Sahib, Swayyay, Chaupai, and the first five and the last stanza of Aanand Sahib while sitting in Bir Aasan (posture of a soldier ready for battle). Each one of the candidates comes to Punj Piaray, kneels in Bir Aasan, takes Amrit in cupped hands and drinks it. The Punj Piaray also sprinkle Amrit on the eyes and hair of the candidate. When every candidate has taken Amrit, the remaining Amrit is drunk by all the candidates. After this every one recites Mool Mantra. Finally, they are told about the Rahits (the vows that a Khalsa must keep) and the Kurahits (prohibitions). To conclude an Ardas (prayer) is made and the ceremony is over after Vaak (reading of one hymn from Guru Granth Sahib) and distribution of Karah Parshad (the blessed food).

KIRPAN:- Kirpaan (the Sikh sacred sword) is a combination of two words: Kirpa (mercy) and Aan (honour). Thus, the Sikh Kirpaan means: "the defender of the honour of a being". It is a specific Sikh concept. Sikhism grants very high status to Kirpaan but it has to be "soaked in mercy". Kirpaan can never be a weapon of offence. Kirpaan represents Sikh's duty to defend the poor and the oppressed. An initiated Sikh must have Kirpaan on his person all the time throughout his life. Removal of Kirpaan from one's person makes a Sikh liable to religious disciplinary action. While travelling in an aircraft (where the airport authorities do not allow religious rights to the Sikhs), the passengers make a prayer and place the Kirpaan in their luggage to be checked-in. In that case a Sikh can not eat or drink anything before he/she wears the sword again. Also see: Dharam Yudh and Resistance.

KURAHIT:- Kurahit literally means: one which is not to be practiced i.e. a prohibition. It is an act a Sikh must abstain from. There are four Bajjar (strong, major, stout) Kurahits: 1. Not to cut or trim hair from any part of one's body. 2. Not to eat Halal (meat). 3. Not to use or touch tobacco in any form. 4. Not to commit adultery. Doing a Kurahit makes a Sikh Patit (apostate). One, who commits any one of these four, has to get re-initiation. Besides these four major Kurahits there are some other Kurahits too. These include: 1. Not to have relationship of any kind with Minas, Masands, Dhirmallias, Ram Raias or those who having once embraced Sikhism, take to shaving, smoking, or committing infanticide. 2. Not to dine with a non-initiated or an apostate. 3. Not to dye or pick out white hair. 4. Not to receive money in return of one's daughter's hand in marriage (it includes dowry). 5. Not to use drugs or intoxicants. 6. Not to perform any ceremony which violates any of the Sikh principles. 7. Not to break vows taken at the time of Amrit sanskaar (the Sikh initiation). A Sikh violating any of the first four becomes apostate and he/she must get re-initiation. Breach of the latter seven leads to Tankhah (disciplinary action; it is not proper to call it punishment).

LAAVAN:- Laavan literally means circling. In Sikhism it means four hymns (Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 773-74) to be recited at the time of the wedding ceremony of Sikhs. Some Sikhs recite and sing them along with nuptial circling around Guru Granth Sahib. The others believe that nuptial circling is a copy of the Hindu Sapatpadi (seven circles around fire). They believe that mere recitation of the four hymns, followed by an Ardas, completes the marriage ceremony. The hymns of Laavan describe union of man with God. The four Laavan are the four stages of this union. The first is the stage of understanding for the necessity of union; the second stage is that of living in His noble fear and devotion; the third stage is the stage of surrender of one's ego and immersion of oneself in Him and it is followed by (the fourth stage) the stage of union. It indicates that the bride and the bridegroom have to become one soul in two bodies and then they have to strive for union with God. Hence, the Sikh marriage is more sacramental than ordinary marriages in the other religions. According to Sikhism, the time of marriage and the marriage partner are pre-destined; and, marriage is not a contract. It is not meeting of two bodies; it is union of two souls. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 700, 778 etc.

LANGAR:- Langar literally means "anchor." In Persian it means an almshouse, a public kitchen run by some rich or prominent person for holy persons, his followers, his associates and the poor people. It can be used for the place and the food served at such place. Langar has been an essential feature of the Sufi Deras and the other missionary centres of Islam. In Sikhism, Langar means "Sacred Sikh Kitchen" (and not free kitchen; of course it is free food). Langar has a prerogative place in Sikhism. It is an essential part of a Gurdwara. Any one visiting a Gurdwara must dine in langar, usually before joining worship. Langar is, of course, without any monetary cost; however, discipline and protocol has to be observed: one must remove shoes, cover one's head, should not have drunk alcohol etc. Distinction of any kind in Langar is forbidden. Every one has to join Pangat (literally: a row) to eat Langar. Here Pangat does not mean just sitting in a row. It means an end to hierarchy or differences of any type and every type; thus complete equality. The institution was started by Guru Nanak Sahib at Kartarpur (the village founded by him), in 1522. It is wrong to presume the beginning of the institute of Langar with the episode when Guru Nanak Sahib spent twenty rupees (given to him by his father for investment in business) for buying food for some hungry people. Guru Amar Das Sahib, the Third Nanak, made it obligatory to dine before joining congregation. Langar is an essential part of every Gurdwara. Philosophically speaking, food cooked in the house of every Sikh is Langar and every one is welcome to share it. Strictly speaking, a Sikh has a duty first to feed the hungry and then himself eat the remaining food.

LOHRI:- Lohri is not a cultural or seasonal festival. It is a religious festival of the Hindus. The Hindus observe it on the day sun enters Capricorn on the eve of Sangrand of Maagh month (usually January 12-13). It symbolises worship of the mythical Hindu god of fire (Agni Devta). The Sikhs must not celebrate this festival. Celebration of this festival is disobeying the command of Guru Sahib.

MALA (rosary):- In Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, rosary is like an aid to meditation. It is made of wool and there are knots which look like beads. Rosaries with beads, pearls or alike are also popular. In Hinduism, there are usually 108 beads of a rosary, though smaller rosaries too are common. In Islam, there are 99 beads in a rosary and some people have rosaries of 100 beads too (one additional for the name of God). In Islam, a smaller rosary too is popular. In Christianity, a standard rosary has 135 small and 15 big beads and a smaller rosary has 55 beads. The Jain people use a rosary of 111 beads. In all the above mentioned religions, there are some sects which believe that rosary is not important, essential or useful in meditation. Rosary is not a part of Sikh ideology. For a Sikh, the Name of the Almighty and 'truthful living' is the real rosary (Guru Granth Sahib pp. 388, 841, 888, 1134). Mala is known as Simarani, Tasbi also.

MANMUKH:- Literally, Manmukh is a person whose Mukh (face) towards his Man (mind) i.e. one who follows his emotions. In Sikh idiom it means a person who does not live his life according to the teachings of Guru Sahib. Manmukh is self-oriented. Manmukh is one who is absorbed in negative activities; his style is greed, untruthfulness, sensuousness and evil thoughts. Manmukh is always in the fear of life and death (and rebirth). Manmukh is antonym of Gurmukh. There are numerous lines in Guru Granth Sahib which explain the plight of a Manmukh. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 116, 143, 363, 419, 421, 641, 955, 985, 1044, 1132, 1238, 1414 etc. Also see: Gurmukh.

MASSIYA:- Massiya means the day of moonless night. Some Hindus treat it as one of the auspicious days. Sikh philosophy rejects the notion of auspiciousness of any particular, day, hour or moment. A few phoney and/or ignorant Sikhs bathe in some Sarovars on this day. This is in complete disregard of the injunctions of Guru Sahib. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 842-43.

MATHTHA TEKANAA:- Maththa Tekanaa is the action of showing reverence (or making obeisance) to Guru Granth Sahib. Literally Maththa means forehead and Tekanaa means to touch floor with it. In Sikhism, one tradition is to touch the ground with forehead and both the palms of the hands are placed on the floor for convenience. Another tradition is to bow before Guru Granth Sahib in Bir Aasan (the posture of a soldier), with one knee touching the ground and the other knee in erect position.

MELA:- Literally: fair. The Sikhs don't celebrate fairs in the meaning of making merry and jubilation. Big gatherings, feasts, eating and drinking and merry-making, rowdiness, sensuous fun, exhibition of activities creating nuisance etc. is not a part of the Sikh culture. But the Sikhs do observe Mela. A Sikh Mela (of course Shaheedi Jorh Mela) comprises of Keertan, singing of heroic ballads, Kathaa (exegesis) and lectures about Sikh history. The Sikhs observe Shaheedi Jorh Mela(s) in the memory of the martyrdom of Guru Sahib and the Sikh martyrs.

NAGAR KEERTAN:- Literally: to sing hymns, in a procession, through the streets of the village/town. It is one of the latest additions to the Sikh celebrations. Prior to the twentieth century, such processions were not common. (The only Nagar Keertan referred to in the Sikh history, was taken out at Aanandpur Sahib, in March 1703). In Nagar Keertan, the Sikhs take out a procession throughout streets of a pre-decided route. The procession is led by Guru Granth Sahib and Punj Piaray carrying five Sikh flags. The Ragis (hymn singers) and the common folk sing hymns. Besides, the slogans of Sikh euphoria are also raised along with chants of "Akaal ! Akaal !! Akaal !!!" The float of Guru Granth Sahib, all the vehicles accompanying the procession and the whole of the route is nicely decorated. It is different from a protest procession. In protest processions, there are no such decorations. Slogans of protest, the Sikh euphoria and the Sikh goal are chanted in protest processions. Also see: Jaloos.

NAMING CEREMONY:- In Sikhism there is no prescribed child-naming ceremony. Sikhs choose the name of the child and make a prayer before Guru Granth Sahib. Nowadays, most of the Sikhs bring the child before Guru Granth Sahib. Vaak (hymn at random opening of Guru Granth Sahib) is read and the name of the child is selected from the letters of the first word of the hymn. The Sikhs have some specific names for their children. Some popular Sikh names are:- (All Sirdars) Ajit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Zorawar Singh, Fateh Singh, Ajaib Singh, Udey Singh, Bachitar Singh, Jassa Singh, Kapur Singh, Baghel Singh, Gurbakhsh Singh, Dip Singh, Mani Singh, Taru Singh, Tara Singh, Baaj Singh, Binod Singh, Mahtab Singh, Sukkha Singh, Bota Singh, Garja Singh, Ratan Singh, Dharam Singh, Ganda Singh, Jhanda Singh, Diwan Singh, Phula Singh, Ranjit Singh, Man Singh, Charhat Singh, Sobha Singh, Gian Singh, Amar Singh, Sahib Singh, Jodh Singh, Baisa Singh, Lehna Singh, Nibahu Singh, Daya Singh, Mohkam Singh, Himmat Singh, Karora Singh, Bir Singh, Ranjodh Singh, Tegha Singh, Chatar Singh, Sher Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Dit Singh, Sham Singh, Tara Singh etc. Presently, a large number of the Sikh names end with "inder" (the name of a mythical Hindu god), apparently under the impact of the Hindus as well as because of the spate of fashion. Earlier, Sikh names used to represent chivalry some aspect of the Sikh culture. During the 'contra-revolution' (ushered by the princely rulers), the Sikh names too underwent an un-Sikh like change.

NITNEM:- Nitnem literally means daily routine. In Sikhism Nitnem is name given to five Baanis (hymns) to be read by a Sikh every day. It included Japuji Sahib, Japu Sahib, Swayyay, Rahiras, Sohila. The first three are to be read early in the morning the forth after sunset and last one before retiring to bed. These five hymns are the minimum for an initiated Sikh, a large number of Sikhs read many other hymns too, including Aasa Di Vaar, Sukhmani Sahib, another set of Swayyay etc. everyday.

NOSE PIERCING:- See: ear piercing. Sikhism forbids piercing of nose or ear for wearing of ornaments.

PANGAT:- Sitting in a row in Langar (sacred Sikh kitchen), is called Pangat. The basic concept of Pangat is rejection of hierarchy of status, caste, colour and every type of distinction. It teaches humbleness, national unity and social cohesion. Pangat is not to be observed only in the Langar hall but also in every sphere of life, every time and at every place.

PATIT:- Literally: apostate. An initiated Sikh, who violates "the Four Prohibitions" (Bajjar Kurahits) becomes an apostate. These four are: cutting or trimming of hair from any part of body; smoking tobacco in any form; committing adultery; eating Halal (meat). A Patit must present himself before Punj Piaray, obey disciplinary action followed by re-initiation. Till that, a Patit is treated as an excommunicated member.

PATKA:- Patka (literally: sash) is a cloth which is worn round the waist. It is used by labourers, specially coolie(s) at the railway stations. Nowadays, this term is wrongly used for a small Dastar (turban) worn by the Sikhs while at leisure at home or by the Sikh children. Patka is inaccurate and insulting replacement for the term "Chhoti Dastar" (small turban).

PATSHAH:- Literally: king/emperor. In Sikhism, Patshah/Padshah means the Almighty. Only He is the true King. The temporal kings have a limited domain of reign and, moreover, usually their authority is due to awe, and, is not voluntary. A temporal king (or the president or the prime minister in the modern times) has a limited span of reign. The Almighty is the king of the kings. Unlike the temporal king, His unlimited authority reigns alike and every where throughout the whole of the universe. In Sikhism, Patshah is used for Guru Sahib too because Guru Sahib revealed the Word of the Almighty (the Almighty spoke through them). See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 6, 65, 141, 144-45, 284, 417, 433, 463, 507, 580, 590, 723, 856, 931, 1022-23, 1190, 1288 etc.

PILGRIMAGE:- In Sikhism Naam (the Word) is only place (object) of pilgrimage for a Sikh. Pilgrimage of so-called sacred places is prohibited in Sikhism. The Sikhs do visit Darbar Sahib Amritsar and the other important centres of the Sikh nation but it is not pilgrimage, in the sense of the meaning of the term pilgrimage. Moreover, visit to Darbar Sahib, in itself does not lead to "washing of sins" or to liberation (only meditation and truthful living lead to liberation). The writers of the Anti-Sikhism School propagate that Guru Amar Das Sahib established Baoli (deep well) at Goindwal Sahib, in order to wean away the Sikhs from pilgrimage of Haridwar. It is mischievous propaganda. Guru Sahib never asked the Sikhs to bathe in Baoli at Goindwal Sahib for washing their sins. He did not ask the Sikhs even to consider the Baoli as sacred. It was built to solve the problem of water for the people. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 39, 437, 484, 687, 789, 890, 1009, 1245, 1328-29 etc.

PUNJ (the concept of FIVE):- The number "five" has been frequently used in various Sikh institutions. Ideologically speaking, there is no importance of the figure "five" in Sikhism. It was mere co-incidence that there are Punj Piaray or there are five elements (of which human body is made of) or there are five Baanis of Nitnem or there are Punj Kakar or in Hinduism there were five Pandavs or there are five sins or five weapons or there is Punj Ishnana (to wash two hands, two feet and mouth) or there are five Namaaz(s) in Islam etc. In Sikhism, no figure or letter or name or time or day or date or direction or place or colour etc. is of any spiritual or specific value. In Sikhism "Punj" means nothing specific or special. Had figure five been of any regard, there would have been only five (and not ten) Guru Sahib and five hundred pages of Guru Granth Sahib and five stanzas in each Baani and so on. In Japuji Sahib (Guru Granth Sahib, p.3), Guru Nanak Sahib has used the word Punch. It does not mean five; it means pious person or saintly being and not "five persons.'.

PURANMASHI:- Literally: the night of the full moon. In Sikhism there is no auspicious day or hour hence Puranmashi, Massya, Sangrand etc. are of no value for a Sikh. It is a tradition among the Sikhs to celebrate the birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib on the Puranmashi of Kattak month of the Hindu calendar i.e. in October-November. According to some sources the date of birth of Guru Nanak Sahib is April 15, 1469, but the tradition of celebration in Kattak month had been derived from those sources which mention October 20, 1469 as date of birth of Guru Sahib.

RAHITMARYADA:- The Sikh code of conduct is called Rahitmaryada. It includes do(s) and don't(s) of Sikhism. It defines various Sikh terms, Sikh conduct, authentic religious and social ceremonies, rituals, moral code, the essentials of the Sikh culture etc. It is based on the commandments of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib as recorded by Bhai Nand Lal and some other Sikh writers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. A committee selected at Akal Takht Sahib, the Sikh seat of authority, finalised a draft of Rahitmaryada and released it for the Sikh nation. This draft of Rahitmaryada is, in no way final. If any other reliable authentic version comes to light, the draft of the Rahitmaryada can be revised. Also see: Kurahit, Tankhah etc.

RAKHRHI:- Rakhrhi/Rakhi is a Hindu religious ceremony. The Hindu females tie a thread or some decorated knot around the wrist of their brothers; and the brothers, in return, promises to protect them at the time of crisis. This ceremony is in contradiction with the Sikh philosophy as a Sikh is bound to protect not only his own sister but also all the women folk. To tie a thread of along with a Kara (improperly called the Sikh bracelet) on the wrist is like an attempt to insult the Kara; hence a Sikh must never tie Rakhrhi.

SAHIB:- Literally: master. In Sikh philosophy, Sahib is used only for the Almighty. The ten Naanaks and Guru Granth Sahib are also addressed as Sahib because the Almighty spoke through them. Nowadays, the term Sahib is frequently used without knowing the meaning and the significance of the term. The present usage began with the British rule over the Indian sub-continent. The sycophant mentality of the Indians gave birth to the usage of this term to flatter the British officers. Later, this term became popular with the rulers of the princely States too. In Sikh culture, respect for a senior or elder one can be shown by adding Ji as suffix to the name e.g. instead of Dilgeer Sahib, the proper address will be Dilgeer Ji. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 104, 307, 350, 428, 437, 449, 580, 851, 949, 957 etc.

SALUTATION:- The proper way to greet a Sikh is to place both the hands together and say Waheguruji ka (da) Khalsa. Waheguruji ki (di) Fateh. [ It means: Khalsa is the Almighty's Own and (all) the victory is through the Grace of the Almighty]. Sat Siri Akaal is not the proper Sikh greeting. It was a war-cry. Another version of war cry is Jo jaikaraa bulaavay Guru de man nun bhaave; gajj ke bolanaa ji Akaal ! Akaal !! Akaal !!!

SALWAR KAMIZ:- Salwar Kamiz is the national dress of the people of the Punjab (including the west Punjab which is now a part of Pakistan). Some non-Punjabi people too have adopted this dress. It is also popular in some areas of India, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan etc. It is possible that this dress might have a common origin somewhere in between Turkey and the Sikh Homeland.

SANGAT:- Sangat literally means: company. In Sikh context, it means congregation. A Sikh is supposed to join Sangat for worship as much as possible. During the times of Guru Sahib Sangats had been established in various parts of the sub-continent. Sangat also means all the Sikhs in a particular area (it is a synonym for the Sikh community), whereas Sarbat Khalsa (The Sikh Commonwealth) means the representatives of all the sections of the whole of the Sikh nation. In religious context Sangat means the company of holy, noble people. A Sikh must try to spend his maximum possible time in the Sangat (company) of saintly people. Saadh Sangat too is used for such a company. In Sikhism, mediation in solitude or by becoming an ascetic is of no importance. A Sikh should sing hymns in the praise of the Almighty together with the other members of Sangat.

SANGRAND:- Sangrand (Sankrant) literally means: the moment when sun passes from one sign of zodiac into another. The first day of each month of the Hindu calendar is decided through this manner. Sangrand has no importance in Sikhism. It is auspicious for some Hindus. Some phoney Sikhs hold special gathering in Gurdwaras on the day of Sangrand, apparently in contradiction to the Sikh philosophy. It is remarkable that the Sikh intelligentsia has not shown courage to ask the leadership of the nation to stop mutilation of the Sikh ideology. Also see: Festivals. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 843, 904 etc.

SARADH:- Saradh/Sharadh is a ceremony performed by the Hindus in the memory of their ancestors. The Hindus feed the Brahmins (the Hindu priestly class) with a belief that the food served to the Brahmins shall reach their deceased forefathers in the "other" world. Sikhism does not believe in the "other" world. Secondly, observing death anniversaries and/or performing Saradh is not in consonance with Sikh religion. Some phoney Sikhs observe Saradh even of Guru Sahib. It is blasphemous to observe the Saradhs of Guru Sahib, who had forbidden the same in unequivocal words.

SATI:- Literally Sati means "the true one." Sati is a woman who is faithful to her husband. In Hinduism, there has been a Sati ritual too. The Hindu women, to establish their extreme faithfulness to their husbands, used to immolate themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Guru Amar Das Sahib expressedly directed the Sikhs not to practice this cruel inhuman practice. According to the Sikh ideology, true love and devotion is faithfulness and not the burning on a pyre. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 185, 328, 757 etc.

SATSANG:- Satsang means true (sat) company (sang) i.e. company of the "true" people. It is another name for Sangat and Saadh Sangat i.e. the company of the saintly people or the company where the praise of the Sat (the Almighty) is sung. See: Sangat.

SEHAJDHARI:- There is no concept of a (so-called) 'Sehajdhari Sikh' in Sikhism. According to non-Sikhs, a Sehajdhari/Sahijdhari (literally: the slow adaptor) is one who wishes to adopt Sikhism. So such a so-called Sehajdhari must not cut nor trim his hair from any part of his/her body; should wear a turban; and, should perform his family functions according to the Sikh Rahitmaryada; and should adhere to the Sikh culture. Such a so-called Sehajdhari brings up his children in Sikh style and gives them Sikh names. All the ceremonies (marriage, death and all the rest), in the family, must be practised in the Sikh manner. A so-called Sahijdhari can not remain so for several years. He/she must get initiation as early as possible.

SEHAJ PATH:- Sehaj/Sahij Paatth means non-continuous reading of the whole of Guru Granth Sahib; where as Aakhand Paatth is unbroken continuous reading of the whole of Guru Granth Sahib. The latter has crept into Sikhsim lately. Aakhand Paatth or Sehaj Paatth is not a must for a Sikh for any occasion but a Sikh is expected to read the whole of Guru Granth Sahib as many times as possible. A Sikh should understand the substance presented in it and should try to live his life according to its (Guru Granth Sahib's) teachings.

SEWA:- In Sikhism Sewa (service) has a prerogative place. It is duty of a Sikh to join for service in a Gurdwara or at any other place as much as possible. No Sewa is major or minor, it is only the intention and devotion which is the consideration for genuineness of Sewa. Sewa brings an end to ego and gives one the feeling of being a useful member of society. Sewa can be done by offering money, devoting time, teaching scriptures and/or by rendering physical help etc. A Sikh who has never participated in Sewa, is an incomplete Sikh. Sewa, however, must be done from the core of one's heart. One can not do it for show or for credit. Secondly, if one makes distinction while doing Sewa, he is an impostor, hence guilty of sin. See: Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 24, 26, 51, 286-87, 292-93, 495, 661, 787 etc.

SHAHEED:- Literally: one who is an evidence (of sacrifice for faith). In other words one who is quoted as example of sacrifice for faith. Shaheed is a person who laid one's life for the preservation of one's faith or for Dharma (Righteousness). Similarly, those who are killed during the struggle for preservation of their identity and entity are also called Shaheed. The Sikhs nation is one of those who have been most persecuted, throughout the world history; probably equal or second to the Jews. The difference is subtle. The Jews had been tortured and killed. The Sikhs had been offered to choose between "faith and life" and all the Sikh men, women and children chose faith. Three of the Ten Guru Sahib (Guru Arjan Sahib, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Sahib) became martyrs. Since 1606 (till 1995), hundreds of thousands of the Sikhs have died for their faith. The most heinous and unspeakable atrocities and savage killings of the Sikhs were hitherto unknown to the history of the world. The atrocities committed on the Sikhs by Farukhsiyar, Mir Muin-ul-Mullik (Mannu), Lakhpat Rai, Zakaria Khan, Ahmed Shah Durrani, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Beant S., K.P.Gill, Ajit Sandhu etc. have pushed the most fascist rulers of the world into shame and shade.

SHARING WITH OTHERS:- Vand Chhakanaa (sharing with others) is a cardinal principle of Sikhism. A Sikh has an obligation to share one's earning and wealth with the poor and the needy. Sikhism is a socio-spiritual philosophy. The Sikh institution of Daswandh and to some extent even Langar (though Langar is not 'free kitchen', it is sacred kitchen) are sequel of this institution. This principle of Sikhism makes a Sikh a useful social being.

SIKH:- Sikh is a word of Paali language. It means a "student of religion/philosophy." A Sikh is a follower of the Sikh religion, founded by Guru Nanak Sahib (1469 - 1539). A Sikh has complete faith in One God, the ten Guru Sahib, Guru Granth Sahib, the teaching of Guru Sahib, Amrit (the Sikh initiation). A Sikh must not have belief in any other faith. A Sikh has a specific appearance: uncut hair, beards, moustaches, a kirpaan (the Sikh sacred sword), a turban and the other articles of faith. The Sikhs are a distinct race. The Punjab is their Homeland.

SIKHI:- The Sikh way of life is called Sikhi (pronounced as Sikkhi). Also see: Honest Earning, Meditation, Rahitmaryada, Sewa and Sharing With Others.

SIMRAN:- Simran has been derived from the word Smarn, literally: to remember. In Sikhism, Simran means to remember the almighty. A Sikh must always remember the Almighty. The Almighty is always inside us, near us, in front of us; and, in fact, He is a part of our being. In Sikhism, Simran does not mean ordinary recitation of His Name, but it means that while doing any activity, a Sikh must always have noble fear of the Almighty. Truthful-living, doing activities of social welfare and humanism are also, in a way, Simran of the Almighty.

SINGH:- Literally: lion. Singh is an inseparable part of the names of all the male Sikhs. A Sikh must use Singh as his second (last) name. Any male whose name does not include the word Singh can not claim himself to be a Sikh. Singh is not a suffix it is an integral part of the name of a male Sikh. Adoption of the name Singh also symbolises Sikh national cohesion.

SIRDAR:- Sirdar literally means chief. A Sikh must be addressed as Sirdar (in stead of Mr.). The Punjab government had issued orders to address the Sikhs as Sirdar but the Congress Government, in 1980, withdrew the order and replaced the Sikh term Sirdar with Shri, which, according to the Sikhs is an insulting term. The word Sirdar has been derived from Sir (head). In Hindi and Urdu it is Sar, hence in Punjabi Sirdar and in Hindi and Urdu Sardar are the correct spellings.

SIRI / SRI:- Shri/ Siri/Sri is the name of a mythical Hindu goddess of wealth. The Hindus worship Sri before beginning a work; before entering a house; before starting a business; and virtually before beginning every thing. The Muslims usually utter the word Barkat (literally ; profit, addition, blessing) before beginning any business activity. The usage of the term Sri has become such an obsession with the Hindus that, now, they use it (without bothering for the meaning and/or significance of the term) as a title for every name. This has become synonym of the western title Mister and the French term Monsieur (Mr.). [The original English title was Sir]. The Sikhs use Sirdar (in Hindi/Urdu Sardar) as a title for a Sikh male (for female it is Sirdarni). Sri has been used as title with the names of Guru Sahib (and even with the names of the Sikh cities, the Gurdwaras, the Sikh institutions etc.) ever since the days of the Sikh rulers. It seems that this had been done under the influence of the Nirmalas and the Hindu courtiers of the Sikh rulers. It has been on increase since 1947, apparently under the influence of the supremacy of the religion of the rulers. Guru Sahib used Sri as a prefix for the Almighty in order to distinguish Him from the mythical gods.

SIROPA:- Siropa literally means: (a dress) from head (Sir) to feet (Pao). In the Sikh culture, Siropa means robe of honour. Siropa is presented to those persons who have contributed something positive and remarkable to the Sikh nation. This honour can not be given to every one; it is very selective. Some leaders of the Sikh institutions have tried to honour Toms, Dicks and Harrys too. Like some other issues, this institution has been damaged by ignorant Sikh leadership. Presenting of honours to non-deserving persons is an insult to the shrine and the institution of Siropao; hence a blasphemous activity. At some Sikh centres, including Darbar Sahib, Siropao is granted even if some one offers a big amount of money. This tradition must have been begun by the Sarbrahs (the government appointed caretakers) of Darbar Sahib but the Sikh leadership has not dared to stop this anti-Sikh tradition.

SUTAK:- Sutak literally means: pollution. In fundamentalist Hindu culture all the untouchables are polluted beings. Besides, some persons, in some situations, to some extent, also become polluted. Among women, during and after the birth of a child pollution stays for 11 days in a Brahmin woman, 13 days in a Kashatriya woman, 17 days in a Vaishya woman and 30 days in a Shudara (untouchable) woman. Similarly, woman is polluted during the days of menstruation as well. Those men who touch an untouchable too become polluted. There are hundred types of pollution in Hinduism. Sikhism rejects all these notions. In Sikhism, wickedness, greed, lust, dishonesty and ill-will is pollution and it can be removed through meditation and by truthful living.

TANKHAH:- Tankhah literally means: salary. Tankhahia is a person who has been guilty of breach of religious discipline. Tankhah is granted (imposed) upon that Sikh who has confessed his guilt or who has been declared guilty of breach of Rahitmaryada or for some activity against the interests of the Sikh nation. Such a person must personally appear and submit himself to the Sangat (if his act was personal) or Akal Takht Sahib (if the offence was national) as a humble Sikh. He should have a feeling of repentance and must make public expression for his guilt. He should not appear at Akal Takht Sahib or before Sangat in a diplomatic manner. He should declare his will (take a vow) to accept the verdict. The caretaker of Akal Takht Sahib shall present the case before Punj Piaray or the Sarbat Khalsa, depending upon the gravity of the case. Punj Piaray or Sarbat Khalsa shall determine the guilt and finalise Tankhah. After the verdict is pronounced and after he has carried the same, he should have no grudge or feeling of resentment or humiliation. Tankhah has to be accepted with the feeling of religious devotion and not with the feeling of guilt. As Tankhah has to be carried out as a matter of religious honour; hence it is called Takhah (salary). It is blasphemous to call it "punishment". A Sikh accepts Tankhah with the spirit of getting salary. Tankhah can be imposed by Sangat or Punj Piaray. Tankhah always is two-fold: 1. service in Langar, washing of dishes, cleaning of floor in a Gurdwara, cleaning of the shoes of the Sangat etc. 2. additional recitation of some hymns. If the guilt is not personal but is national then additional restrictions may be imposed by the Sarbat Khalsa.

TANKHAHIA:- A person who has been held guilty of breach of religious discipline (seven points of Rahitmaryada) is called Tankhahia i.e. one who has been granted or is liable to be granted Tankhah. A Sikh carrying Tankhah considers it so sacred that one regards it not as a punishment but as salary and carries it out as sacred service (worship).

VEGETARIANISM:- Sikhism is not vegetarian but a Sikh has no obligation to eat meat. A Sikh may not eat meat but he/she must not renounce meat on the plea of non-killing of an animal (or a bird) i.e. non-violence. According to the Sikh philosophy not only the birds and animals but also the plants and even water has life. Meat and vegetables are of the one species and are all the same for a Sikh. All food is pious, for the Almighty has provided it for our sustenance. There are several Sikhs who are vegetarians but the majority is non-vegetarians. Some semi-Hinduised Sikhs eat every type of meat except beef. No animal or bird is sacred or polluted one in Sikhism. Also see: Food.

WAHEGURU-JI KA (DA) KHALSA WAHEGURU-JI KI (DI) FATEH:- This is the Sikh greeting. When a Sikh meets another Sikh, he will say Waheguru-ji ka (da) khalsa, and, the other one will reply Waheguru-ji ki (di) fateh. It means Khalsa belongs to (is loyal to) the Almighty and victory is granted by the Almighty (only the Almighty is always the victorious).

WIDOW MARRIAGE:- Sikhism supports widow marriage. Sati, the immolation of a widow upon the pyre of her husband, is forbidden in Sikhism. In Sikhism, widow has the same respect as any other female (married or unmarried) has. Also see: Sati.

WISAKHI:- Wisakhi is the first day of Wisakh, the second month of the Hindu calendar. It itself has no importance in Sikhism. During the eighteenth century, the Sikhs used to gather for Sarbat Khalsa meetings on Wisakhi and Diwali days because it was easy to know these dates as no calendars were available in those days. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib revealed Khalsa on March 29, 1698, not because it was or is an auspicious day for the Sikhs, but because it was easy to inform the date to the Sikhs to visit Aanandpur Sahib on that day. If it would have been auspicious Guru Sahib would have laid the foundation of Amritsar city, Darbar Sahib, building of Akal Takht Sahib, Aanandpur Sahib on the Wisakhi days in those years. In Sikhism, all the days and all the moments have the same significance. Hence celebration of Wisakhi, as a religious day, is not in consonance with the Sikh ideology. Also see: Festivals.

WOMAN, STATUS OF:- In Sikhism, women have equal religious and social status. The Sikh concept of equality of sex is not formal, it is practical and all inclusive. A Sikh woman can perform religious services of any kind and every type. A woman can perform all the services in a Gurdwara. A Woman can be one of the Punj Piaray also. (Mata Sahib Kaur participated in preparation of Amrit when the first five Khalsa were initiated on March 29, 1698). Guru Sahib have forbidden giving disrespect to women folk. Guru Sahib forbade infanticide, Sati, divorce, dowry etc. According to Sikhism, women are the mothers of the kings, mothers of Guru Sahib; and; no human being can be born without a woman (the mother); hence woman holds very high esteem in Sikh ideology. From historical perspective too, the Sikh women have played leading role on several crucial occasions, from battle field to state administration, from statesman-ship to martyrdom, from teaching to missionary activities. See: Guru Granth Sahib, p. 473 etc.

For more entries about Sikh Culture, please consult:
The SIKH REFERENCE BOOK by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer.
This book has 4000 entries about Sikh culture, Sikh theology, Sikh polity, Sikh literature, Sikh personalities, Sikh towns, Sikh shrines etc. Besides it has a comprehensive CHRONOLOGY of Sikh history from 1469 to 1996.

Published by: SINGH BROTHERS, Amritsar. Available from several shops. Can even buy on internet.


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