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Sangrand: 16-11-2014
Gurpurb:05-11-2014   Gurgadhi Sri Guru Garanth Sahib
A way of life and philosophy well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind, social justice and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Who and What is a Sikh?
The word 'Sikh' in the Punjabi language means 'disciple', Sikhs are the disciples of God who follow the writings and teachings of the Ten Sikh Gurus. The wisdom of these teachings in Sri Guru Granth Sahib are practical and universal in their appeal to all mankind.
Philosophy and Beliefs
1.          There is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions.
2.         The soul goes through cycles of births and deaths before it reaches the human form. The goal of our life is to lead an exemplary existence so that one may merge with God. Sikhs should remember God at all times and practice living a virtuous and truthful life while maintaining a balance between their spiritual obligations and temporal obligations
3.         The true path to achieving salvation and merging with God does not require renunciation of the world or celibacy, but living the life of a householder, earning a honest living and avoiding worldly temptations and sins.
4.       Sikhism condemns blind rituals such as fasting, visiting places of pilgrimage, superstitions, worship of the dead, idol worship etc.
5.         Sikhism preaches that people of different races, religions, or sex are all equal in the eyes of God. It teaches the full equality of men and women. Women can participate in any religious function or perform any Sikh ceremony or lead the congregation in prayer.


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Amrit Ceremony

Every year in April, the whole of Punjab in northern India had been celebrating the New year on Vaisakhi day with great fanfare and wild fairs and festivities. This was the main Sikh festivals and traditionally it was the end of the wheat harvest. But in 1699, this festival became extra special because it was chosen by Guru Gobind Singh as the day to start the Khalsa fellowship. On April 13th in most Sikh Gurdwaras a special ceremony takes place as a reminder of this special first Amrit Ceremony.

This first Amrit Ceremony took place in India on April 13, 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh asked a gathering of Sikhs who was prepared to die for God. At first there was a hesitation then one man stepped forward...The Guru and he went together into the tent. Then, Guru Gobind Singh reappeared on his own with blood dripping from his sword. He asked again, and again, again and again. Four brave Sikhs answered the Guru's call for a head. The Guru took the fifth man into the tent and then there was a delay.

Then as everyone was getting very concerned, the Guru reappeared with all five men, alive, well and dressed like him. These five men became known as Panj Pyares or "Beloved Five". They were initiated into the "Khalsa" or community of Sikhs by receiving Amrit...a mixture of sugar and water. Sikh men were then given the added name "Singh" meaning "lion" and ladies received the extra name "Kaur" meaning "princess".

These days on the morning of the ceremony everyone take a bath, wears the five Ks and attends a ceremony of promises when the members of the community renew their promises to God. The five Sikhs that are performing the ceremony prepare the amrit. When the water and sugar has been mixed all of the five Sikhs stir it with a double edged sword while sacred Shabads or hymns from the Sikh holy books are being sung.

New members who wish to become initiated come before the five Sikhs or Panj Pyares that are performing the ceremony. Amrit is sprinkled on their eyes and hair, and they are asked to say "Waheguru" several times. Finally they drink the Amrit mixture. Everyone recites the Mool Mantra and the new members must then wear the five Ks and follow the rules written in the Guru Granth Sahib. Prayers are said, speeches made, reading listened to and finally the whole community will share a meal, the Langar, with everyone present Sikh and non-Sikh.

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