CREDOS: Sikhism — V

Some major Sikh festivals fall and are held on the same day as Hindu festivals, such as Holi and Diwali. However, for Sikhs they have a different meaning altogether, that is commemorating special events in the lives of the Gurus. In addition, the Sikh community also celebrates festivals called gurpurbs. During these the holy Guru Granth Sahib is often read from beginning to end, and may be carried through the streets in procession.

After the collapse of the Mogul empire in the mid-18th century, the Sikhs established dominance in the Punjab state of India until their army was defeated at the hands of the British in 1846 and 1849. Their fighting skills were so admired that the British army recruited the Sikhs, and many gave their lives in the two World Wars. The 20th century has seen continued strife for Sikhs in the Punjab, both with the colonial British and later with Muslims and Hindus. The partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 split the Punjab between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. Sikhs opted to join India, but there has been a growing sense of betrayal, particularly after the Indian army attacked the Golden Temple in 1984. Many now feel that an independent state is the only safeguard from Hindu extremism.

Many Sikhs now live outside their native Punjab, the main exodus occurring after 1947. The majority came to UK although some settled in Canada, the US and South and East Africa. Communities try to maintain their culture and traditions through educational and social activities.