In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program
Youth learn the importance of Sikhism and explore the idea of visible expressions of faith.
Share with youth the following:
We are going to look at a different religion—a very important faith, among the largest in the world with more than 23 million adherents. It is unusual to talk about two major faiths in the same workshop, but there is a good reason for this pairing: In North America, sometimes followers of this faith are misidentified as Muslims. In fact, after the September 11, 2001, incidences of attacks, profiling, abusive behavior, and discrimination toward people of this faith soared. Does anyone know, or perhaps have a guess, which religion this is?
If none of the youth know, inform them that the faith is Sikhism. If the youth name Sikhism, thank them, and then ask them to wait to share further until everyone has a chance to take the Sikh Pop Quiz.
Distribute Handout 5, Sikh Pop Quiz and writing materials. Ask youth to answer the questions without helping each other. After five minutes, have participants talk together and come to an agreement about the answers. Then, compare the group's answers with the Pop Quiz Answers:
Pop Quiz Answers
1. (c) Sat Sri Akal means roughly, "Blessed is one who says God is Truth"
2. (a) Sikhism
3. (e) Punjab—a region partly in India, mostly in Pakistan
4. (c) Early 1900s—Sikhs have been in the United States for over a hundred years
5. (e) All of the above
6. (e) One or two generations
7. (b) Tantamount to taking off their pants
8. (e) Fifth largest religion (behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, and not counting indigenous faiths, atheism/agnosticism, or Falun Gong)
9. False – Sikhs are not to alter the body for purely cosmetic purposes
10. (d) Share with the needy, work honestly and hard, and always remember the Creator in everything you do
Share, in these words or your own:
Sikhs live all over the world. "Sikh" is pronounced "se-ickh" with a short "I," close to the word "sick," not "seek." Sikhism began in the year 1500, about 900 years after Islam and just before the birth of Protestantism in 1517. Its founder, Guru Nanak Dev, was born to a Hindu family in western Punjab (Pakistan near India). While still a young man, he decided he was neither Hindu nor Muslim, the predominant religions in the region. Then, when he was 30, Guru Nanak Dev experienced a revelation and began to preach a new message emphasizing generosity, awareness of God, and the unity and equality of all people, male or female, rich or poor. He named the new religion Sikh, meaning "learner," since Sikhs endeavor to learn constantly to be better people and serve God better.
Guru Nanak Dev began a book which is known as the Guru Granth Sahib. After Guru Nanak Dev died, nine more gurus ("teachers") followed, and most of them added to the Guru Granth Sahib. Since the death of the tenth Guru, there have been no more human leaders of the Sikh faith. However, the book, the Guru Granth Sahib, is accepted as a true Guru and the remaining holy teacher of living Sikh wisdom. The Guru Granth Sahib is considered complete and perfect.
An important aspect of Sikhism is that, at the ceremony where one becomes a full member, they vow to wear at all times five sacred symbols of the faith. The objects, some of which are visible and some not, are potent reminders of the wearer's strongest beliefs and of their sacred obligations to themselves, to their faith, and to others.
Distribute Handout 6, The Turban and Five Ks of Sikhism. Ask for five volunteers to each read a section aloud. Ask for thoughts about the Five Ks.
Continue discussion with these questions:
Place the small objects on a surface where they can be seen. Suggest that every item could be invested with meaning of some kind, depending on who was carrying it and what the object reminded them of. Ask what some of the items might mean if someone were carrying them as sacred symbols.
Do some of the items represent qualities or values participants named as most important to them? If they were going to choose something to carry or wear, how would they go about choosing?
If you have decided objects will be available for youth to take if they wish, offer at this time for each to choose an object (or several). Then, ask youth to sit quietly holding their items for a moment. Suggest that they try, for at least a day, to carry or wear that object with sacred intention, reminding them of why they chose it—think about what it means and call them to their higher selves. Suggest, "It might be interesting to see how that feels."
Answer any remaining questions about Sikhism or, if you cannot answer immediately, plan to obtain answers for the next workshop.
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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