Sikhs are members of a monotheistic religious community called Sikhism, which originated in the Punjab region of India during the late 15th century. Sikhism is considered a distinct religion, separate from both Hinduism and Islam, and it is the world's fifth-largest organized religion.
A Sikh is an individual who follows the teachings of Sikhism, as outlined in the religion's holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs believe in the concept of One God and the teachings of their ten gurus, or spiritual leaders, who conveyed the message of equality, justice, and devotion.
Sikhs maintain certain distinct characteristics that set them apart visually. Many Sikh men wear turbans, known as dastar, as an article of faith and to cover their uncut hair, which represents their commitment to Sikh values and identity. Sikh women often wear a scarf on their heads, known as a chunni or dupatta.
Sikhs are known for their strong sense of community and social responsibility. They emphasize equality and serve others through acts of selfless service, or seva. The central tenets of Sikhism include compassion, honesty, humility, and the pursuit of a spiritual life.
Sikhism has a rich history and a significant presence in various countries worldwide, with major populations in India, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Sikhs adhere to a distinct code of conduct, known as the Sikh Rehat Maryada, which guides their daily lives and rituals.
The word "Sikhs" has its roots in the Punjabi language. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word "shishya", which means disciple or learner. In Punjabi, "shishya" is pronounced as "sikhya" and eventually evolved into the word "Sikh". The Sikh community, followers of Sikhism, adopted this term to refer to themselves, signifying their identity as disciples of the teachings of Guru Nanak, the first guru of Sikhism.