Sikhism is the most practiced faith in Punjab, and roughly 60% of the population belongs to the Sikh faith. 37% of the population practices Hinduism. Other faiths include Islam, Buddhism, Christianity and Jainism. Sikhism is India’s fourth-largest religion and has existed for over 500 years, beginning with the birth of its founder Guru Nanak. The Sikhs are predominately located in Punjab, but also in many other parts of India.
Sikh political history may be said to begin with the death of the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, in 1606. Guru Nanak was a religious leader and social reformer in the 15th-century Punjab. Religious practices were formalized by Guru Gobind Singh on 30 March 1699. Singh baptized five people from a variety of social backgrounds, known as the Panj Piare (the five beloved ones) to form the Khalsa, or collective body of initiated Sikhs. Sikhism has generally had amicable relations with other religions, except for the period of Mughal rule in India (1556–1707). Several Sikh gurus were killed by the Mughals for opposing their persecution of minority religious communities including Sikhs. Sikhs subsequently militarized to oppose Mughal rule. The emergence of the Sikh Confederacy under Ranjit Singh was characterized by religious tolerance and pluralism, with Christians, Muslims and Hindus in positions of power. The confederacy is considered the zenith of political Sikhism, encompassing Kashmir, Ladakh and Peshawar. Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh army in the North West Frontier, expanded the confederacy to the Khyber Pass. Its secular administration implemented military, economic and governmental reforms. The months leading up to the partition of India in 1947 were marked by conflict in the Punjab between Sikhs and Muslims. This caused the religious migration of Punjabi Sikhs and Hindus from West Punjab, mirroring a similar religious migration of Punjabi Muslims from East Punjab. A Sikh place of worship is called Gurdwara. Sikhism does not support pilgrimage to holy sites because according to Sikhism, God is everywhere and not in any certain place. The Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in Punjab is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara.
The Guru Granth Sahib is a collection of the Sikh Guru’s writings that was compiled by the 5th Sikh Guru). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million adherents. Punjab, India is the only state in the world with a majority Sikh population. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples). According to Devinder Singh Chahal, “The word ‘Sikhi’ (commonly known as Gurmat) gave rise to the modern anglicized word ‘Sikhism’ for the modern world.” Gurmat means literally ‘wisdom of the Guru’ in contrast to Manmat, or self-willed impulses.
According to Sewa Singh Kalsi, “The central teaching in Sikhism is the belief in the concept of the oneness of God.” Sikhism considers spiritual life and secular life to be intertwined. Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru established the system of the Langar, or communal kitchen, in order to demonstrate the need to share and have equality between all people. Sikhs also believe that “all religious traditions are equally valid and capable of enlightening their followers”. In addition to sharing with others Guru Nanak inspired people to earn an honest living without exploitation and also the need for remembrance of the divine name (God). Guru Nanak described living an “active, creative, and practical life” of “truthfulness, fidelity, self-control and purity” as being higher than a purely contemplative life. Guru Hargobind, the sixth Sikh Guru, established the political/temporal (Miri) and spiritual (Piri) realms to be mutually coexistent