Sikh religion is ranked as the world’s fifth largest religion. Today Sikh religion has over 27 million followers worldwide, with the majority living in the Punjab district in what is now India and Pakistan. The number of Sikhs in UK is about 5,50,000. The word Sikhism is derived from one of the state in India i.e. Punjab.
Sikhism was founded by ‘Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji’, the first guru of the Sikhs. Guru Nanak Dev was Hindu and Muslim followers and afterwards began to be called Sikhs (learners). They taught his followers to experience God within themselves, to have full faith in God, brought them from darkness into light. They opposed inequality, injustice, superstition in the society.
The tenth guru ‘Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji’ installed ‘Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji’. He declared that there would be no other living Guru after him. Guru Granth Sahib, a collection of Holy Scriptures, has teachings and writings of Guru Nanak Dev and other Gurus as well as Sikh, Hindu and Muslim saints. They provide unique and unequalled guidance and advice to the whole of the human race. They taught us the true value and meaning of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev taught his way of life in the form of songs and later on those words formed the beginnings of the Sikhs' sacred writings, later to become the "Shri Guru Granth Sahib".
Guru Nanak Dev spread the message EK ONKAR that means we are all one, created by the One Creator of all Creation. The meaning of each word of Mool Mantar:
Ek Onkar- There is only One God.
Sat Naam- Truth is his name.
Karta Purkh- He is the creator.
Nir Bhau- He is without fear.
Nir Vair- He is without hate.
Akaal Moorat- He is immortal, without form.
Ajooni- He is beyond birth and death.
Saibhang- He is self-illuminated.
Gur Prasad- He is realized by the kindness of the true Guru.
At the time of assigning name of new born baby, a man is given the name with ‘Singh’ that means lion, the woman is given the name with ‘Kaur’ that means Princess. Only through his/her name, a child can well recognize that he/she belongs to Sikh religion.
Sikh history has the several women who played a leading role in the events of their time and left their imprint on our history. The word Kaurageous is used for Sikh women unity. In the past, women were treated as inferior and man’s property. But Guru Nanak Dev through his preaching told the entire society that women were not slaves and they were worthy of praise and equal to men. They encouraged the freedom of speech and equal participation of women in worship, society, and on the battlefield. Women in Sikhism have played a glorious part in the history. The role of women in Sikhism is explained in Guru Granth Sahib. There is absolutely no discrimination against women. Now, Women are allowed to lead religious congregations and can even take part in recitation of the Holy Scriptures.
As being Sikhs, We all should be proud of our unique religion “Sikhism” that regard equality between men and women. We must learn and practice the teachings of equality which our Gurus taught us in Sikh religion.