Sikhism Defined - Sikhi The Sikh Religion

Historical Timeline Of Sikhs in America

Proud Young Sikhs Americans
Proud Young Sikhs Americans Psoe With Statue of Liberty. Photo © [Kulpreet Singh]

Definition of Sikhism and Sikhi

Sikhism is an English term commonly used to represent the Sikh religion. The correct word for the Sikh faith used by Sikhs themselves is Sikhi meaning the disciples practice of learning and following their Guru's instruction.

Spelling and Pronunciation of Sikhism and Sikhi

Pronunciation:
Sikhi. The first syllable of Sikh Gurmukhi vowel i sounds has a short sound like the i in sick.

The first syllable Gurmukhi consonant kh is aspirated  and pronounced by holding your hand in front of your lips to feel a puff of air when speaking. The second Gurmukhi vowel i is pronounced ee.

Spelling: Sikhism, Sikhi and Sikhee are all considered correct phonetic spelling.

Sikhism, or Sikhi, is a belief in one creative being known as Ik Onkar, adherence to the teachings of ten gurus, and allegiance to Sikhism's holy scripture, Guru Granth, the everlasting guru of the Sikhs.

Sikhism does not believe in proselytizing or forced conversion. The Sikh faith promotes honesty and integrity, defending the weak, and sharing with the less fortunate.

Sikhi originated with Guru Nanak in 1469, and has grown to be the fifth largest religion, with 26 million Sikhs in existence around the world. Sikhism spread to the United States in the late 1800's.

Historic Timeline of Sikhs and Sikhism in America

  • 1897 - Sikhs, mostly unmarried men, first immigrate to the United States. For 27 years, strict immigration laws prevent Sikh men from bringing their families to the US. Sikhs are unable purchase or own land and have difficulty getting work legally.
  • 1912 - Sikhs build the first US gurdwara in Stockton California.
  • 1915 - Sikh populations dwindle. Most Sikh men have either returned to Punjab or married Mexican women. Immigration laws deny Sikhs US citizenship because of race.
  • 1940s - Immigration laws change and Sikhs are granted citizenship.
  • 1965 - Immigration laws relax. Sikhs begin steadily immigrating and building hundreds of gurdwaras all around the United States.
  • 1970's - Interested Americans begin to convert to Sikhism.
  • 1984 - Tensions in Punjab (India) result in a growing number of Sikhs seeking political asylum and amnesty in the US.
  • 2001 - Sikhs experience a backlash of 911 related bias incidents arising from misunderstanding of Sikh religion and culture.
  • 2012 - A series of hate crimes directed at Sikhs include the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting of six worshipers by a lone gunman.
  • 2015 & 2016 - Sikhs become targets of racial tensions, bigotry and hate crimes by those ignorant of Sikhism and its values in a violent backlash against the atrocities of Islamic State terrorists (ISIS / ISOL).

In addition to a growing population of Sikh immigrants, a steady number of Americans continue to convert to Sikhism. New gurdwaras are constantly being built to serve the needs of worshipers. An estimated one million people residing in the United States practice Sikhism.