Sikhism is a religion founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak that encompasses parts of both the Islamic and Hindu religions, according to senior organizational leadership major Arwinder Kaur.
School of Business Adjunct Instructor Guriq Trana said that Sikhism began in India and is the fifth largest religion in the world.
“It started in India. But really at the time, the two dominant religions in India were Hinduism and Islam, so Sikhism borrowed a little bit from each,” Trana said. “The founders of Sikhism said, ‘There are some things we don’t like about Hinduism, [and] there are some things we do. And then there are some things we do and don’t like about Islam.’ It’s kind of a combination.
According to Trana, being a Sikh involves a number of practices. For example, men never cut their hair or shave their beards, and they wear turbans. Men also carry a ceremonial comb for grooming purposes and they wear a steel bracelet.
Sikh practices, however, go beyond dress. Trana said there are also health-related guidelines by which Sikhs also abide.
“ “If you are a practicing Sikh, [that means] no smoking, no drinking and no meat. That’s the part that comes from India,” Trana said. “Most Indians are vegetarian, and they certainly don’t eat beef. It [Sikhism] is a monotheistic religion that believes, like most religions do, that we are all the same.”
The religion sees every human being as equal and does not place anyone into a group because of appearance.
“It is a universal religion where we recognize all human beings as equal,” Kaur said. “That is very important, for us to treat everyone as equal. We don’t recognize race, class, caste or any distinctions which make us. So we don’t believe in the color or anything. Men and women are both equal. We believe that God is the internal power that lives in everybody’s body. Equality is for all mankind, and [we believe in] speaking up against injustice and speaking up for others. The word Sikh means ‘disciple’ or ‘student.’ So we always take ourselves as those human beings who help others, those who are always ready for sacrifices”
Trana said that because he understands how difficult it can be adapting to life on campus can be for a Sikh, whenever he sees students on campus who look to be a members of Sikhism, or another similar religion, he likes introduce himself to them.
“I just go up and introduce myself and speak in Punjabi. That’s the language that the Sikhs speak. They have their own language and their own script, which is different from Islam or different from Hinduism or English,” Trana said. “I go up and I say, ‘Hello,’ just to introduce myself and see how things are going. It’s tough when you’re younger. You know you want to be different, but you also want to be like everybody else at the same time.”
Sikhism is a part of the campus community, Trana said, so exposure to it and other religions helps students see what they will be experiencing when they go out into the world.
“If you educate students to go out into the workforce— most people go out and work in big cities or small towns—I think you need to send out students who have seen and have interacted with people from different places, because that is what they will be facing in the real world,” Trana said. “So I think when they see it here in this environment, it’s a great thing, because if you are on a campus where there is little exposure to people that are different from you, when you leave here, you’re going to see different people. And the more exposure you get, the better it is when you go somewhere else.”