Sikhism Basic Beliefs and Practices FAQ

Sikh Religion Facts Q & A

Sikhism is a faith having both spiritual and secular components. The Sikh religion began with Guru Nanak who rejected idolatry and caste in favor of equality based on the belief that the creator is present in all of creation without regard to rank, gender, or color. Sikhism practices are based on the teachings developed by a succession of ten gurus which are recorded in the scripture of Guru Granth and in the Sikhism code of conduct document. Sikh traditions, beliefs and practices have been continually maintained and observed in historic spiritual centers where the ten gurus held court. The Golden Temple and Akal Takhat are regarded as the most sacred of Sikh holdings and residence of the highest authority in Sikhism.

What Are the Basic Sikh Beliefs?

India, Penjab, Amritsar, Golden Temple
Bruno Morandi

The Sikh faith, beliefs and tenets outline a method to overcome ego and achieve humility in order to realize the divine within and merge with the creator and creation as one.


Is Hair an Essential Aspect of Sikhism?

Sikh Man with Kes, Uncut Hair and Beard
Sikh Man with Kes, Uncut Hair and Beard. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

The Sikhism code of conduct states unequivocally that all Sikhs are to keep every hair intact from birth. Baptized, or initiated Sikhs who cut or otherwise dishonor hair must confess and accept penance be reinstated. Gurbani scripture of Guru Granth likens hair to prayer praising the complete and beautiful form as ego free.


Is It Ok For Sikhs to Cut Their Nails?

Nails and Manicure Set
Nails and Manicure Set. Photo © [S Khalsa]

The answer might surprise you. Sikhs may not trim their hair, but are expected to do honest work with their hand and maintain cleanliness in order to perform community service.


  • Do Sikhs Cut Their Fingernails?

Are Sikhs Allowed to Go Naked or Bareheaded?

Ablution at Golden Temple in Sarovar Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar
Ablution at Golden Temple in Sarovar Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar. Photo © [Courtesy Gurmustuk Singh Khalsa]

Guidelines for the Sikhism dress code preclude complete nudity whether washing hair, bathing or engaging in intimate relations.


Do Sikhs Believe in Circumcision?

Grandfather Dedicates Newborn Grandchild
Grandfather Dedicates Newborn Grandchild. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Sikhism views all of creation as the creator's perfection and forbids mutilation of the body. Sikhs are sworn to protect the innocent and defenseless including newborn infants incapable of protest. The practice of circumcision is addressed in the Sikhism code of conduct and in various Sikh scriptures including the compositions of Bhai Gurdas, Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Granth.


Is Gambling Allowed in Sikhism?

Gambling With Raffle Ticket Rolls
Gambling With Raffle Ticket Rolls. Photo © [Lew Robertson / Getty Images]

A fine line exists between participating fundraising activities like raffles, compulsively playing the lottery, and addictive gambling.


Are Sikhs Allowed to Eat Meat?

Guru Raam Daas Gurupurab Langar
Guru Raam Daas Gurupurab Langar. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Eating meat verses a vegetarian diet is a controversial issue in Sikhism for some. Traditionally all meals served from the gurus free kitchen in Sikh places of worship have always been vegetarian. All Sikhs agree that meat of an animal slaughtered slowly with ritual prayers is to be avoided as stipulated in the code of conduct, however some Sikhs interpret the code to say that nothing killed is permitted for food. Sikhism scripture of Guru Granth addresses the state of consciousness in those who kill animals and eat their meat.


Are Intoxicants Forbidden in Sikhism?

Medical Marijuana
Medical Marijuana. Photo Art © [William Andrew / Getty Images]

Intoxicants dull the consciousness and impairs judgment. When intoxicated the senses become susceptible to five evil voices and vices of egoism resulting in addictive behavior and causing separation of the soul from the divine.


What Do Sikhs Believe About Marriage?

Anand Karaj - Sikh Wedding
Anand Karaj - Sikh Wedding. Photo © [Rajnarind Kaur]

Sikhs believe that marriage is for life. The Sikhism wedding ceremony fuses the soul of bride and groom with the divine into a single entity.


Do Sikhs Practice Shunning and Excommunication?

The Panj Pyara Prepare Amrit
The Panj Pyara Prepare Amrit. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

Grounds for barring, boycott, excommunication, or shunning are based guidance of the Sikhism code of conduct and include:

  • Abortion and honour killing.
  • Dishonest or un-honorable earning.
  • Anti-gurmat activities and practices.
  • Willful and repeated departure from the Sikhism code of conduct mandates.

Excommunication and reinstatement of an offender takes place in front of a Panj Pyare council of five Sikhs of unquestionable standing.


What is the Basis of the Sikhism Code of Conduct?

Sikh Reht Maryada
Sikh Reht Maryada. Photo © [Khalsa Panth]

Sikh Rehit Maryada (SRM) the Sikhism code of conduct guides every aspect of the Sikhs life whether or not initiated. Sikhs who elect to become Amritdhari initiates are expected to live according to baptismal requirements set in place by Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.


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Your Citation
Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Sikhism Basic Beliefs and Practices FAQ." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Khalsa, Sukhmandir. (2020, August 26). Sikhism Basic Beliefs and Practices FAQ. Retrieved from Khalsa, Sukhmandir. "Sikhism Basic Beliefs and Practices FAQ." Learn Religions. (accessed January 25, 2021).