Sikhs are the followers of the religion of Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and his nine successor Gurus. The term "Sikh" literally means disciple. The adherents of Sikhism make it the fifth largest organized religion in the world.
The majority of Sikhs live in the
The baptized order of Sikhs are known as Amritdhari Sikhs, forming what is known as the Khalsa Panth. Amritdhari Sikhs are required to adorn certain symbols to represent their faith and spiritual ideals. These are known as the Panj Kakkars or the Five Ks:
- Kes: Uncut or unshorn hair. Hair is kept unshorn to show respect for God, by seeing it as a gift from God, and keeping the hair in the natural state. Most Sikh men, and some women, who adorn their kes wear a turban to keep the hair neat and tidy.
- Kanga: A small, wooden comb worn in the hair to represent cleanliness.
- Kara: A steel bracelet representing oneness to God, and to have a constant reminder of the Gurus' teachings.
- Kirpan: A small dagger representing a Sikh's duty to defend against injustice and hatred.
- Kachera: Shorts to represent chastity and purity.
Kesdhari Sikhs are Sikhs who have not been baptized, but still maintain their kes, or uncut hair. Kesdhari Sikhs may also adorn some, if not all, of the 5 Ks. However, the main difference which differentiates them from Amritdhari Sikhs is that they have not gone through the formal baptism, or initiation process into the Khalsa Panth.
Sehajdhari Sikhs are literally known as "slow-learners." Many of these Sikhs cut their hair, and may not adorn any of the 5 Ks. In the West, many young Sehajdhari Sikhs find it fashionable to adorn the kara, or steel bracelet, on their arms.
Sikhs do not judge other Sikhs based on which stage in their life they are in, and how closely others adhere to Sikh principles. This is due to the fact that Sikhs believe this judgement can only be left to God.