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Guru Nanak, a painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848–1906)Sikhs believe in one God who created the Universe. The Sikh holy city is Amritsar in Punjab, India, which is home to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple). The teachings of the gurus, the founders of Sikhism, are written down in the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib. The gurus taught that Sikhs should develop Five Virtues: Sat (truth), Daya (compassion), Santokh (contentment), Nimrata (humility) and Pyar (love). Those who fully develop these qualities, leading a disciplined life and helping others, can break the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In so doing, they will reach Mukti, or oneness with God. Today there are around 27 million Sikhs, most living in the Punjab region of northwestern India.

Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) at Amritsar, Punjab, India, the principal Sikh place of worship (gurdwara)

A granthi (reader) reads from the Guru Granth Sahib while holding a fan called a chauri (a sign of authority).


Sikhs follow the teachings of ten leaders called gurus (guru is the Punjabi word for “holy man”) who lived between 1469 and 1708. The first guru and founder of Sikhism was Guru Nanak (1469–1539), who was born a Hindu near Lahore, in present-day Pakistan. Guru Nanak believed that ceremonies and rituals divided people of different religions, but it was how people behaved and what they believed in that mattered most. The gurus who came after him were all chosen to carry on his work.

When a baby is born, the Guru Granth Sahib is opened randomly and the child is given a name starting with the first letter of the hymn on that page.

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