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Scottish Inter Faith Council logoInformation on these pages has been used with permission from Scottish Inter Faith Council.

Local contact information

The local contact information below has been compiled by the Chaplaincy at the University of St Andrews.

Guru Nanak Sikh Temple

1-3 Nelson Street
Tel: 01382 222 3383 
Ravinder Kaur Nijjar Mobile: 0781 173 8706


Guru Nanak Gurdwara

1-3 Nelson Street
Tel: 01382 222 3383 

Edinburgh Bhatra Sikhs

1 Mill Lane
Sheriff Brae

Central Gurdwara Singh Sabha

138 Berkeley Street
G3 7HY

Guru Nanak Sikh Temple

19-27 Otago Street
G12 8JJ

Introduction to Sikhism

The Sikh faith is a distinct religion revealed through the teachings of the 10 Gurus, the first of whom was Guru Nanak Dev ji. He was born  in 1469 CE in the Punjab, India. In 1708 the tenth and  the  last  human Guru, Guru Gobind Singh ji, vested spiritual authority in the Holy Sikh Scriptures (Guru Granth Sahib ji) and temporal authority in the community of baptised Sikhs (Khalsa Panth).

Basic beliefs

Sikhs strictly believe that there is One God, who is Nirgun (transcendent) and Sargun (immanent). While being absolute and beyond human comprehension, God can be realised and experienced through contemplation and service. The object of a Sikh's life is to develop God consciousness and ultimately to receive God's grace. Life presents the opportunity to do so through truthful living and selfless service in the context of a family life. A Sikh's way of life is guided by the following principles: Nam Simran - remembering and praying to God at all times; Kirat Karna - earning a living by honest means; Wand Shakna - sharing with the poor and needy; Sewa - selfless service to God and humanity; Equality - to treat all human beings as equal.  A Sikh practices purity of thought,  purity of action, and respect and love for God's Creation. He or she has been given the human form to practice dharma (spirituality).

Customs and practices

The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, abolished distinctions of caste, colour, race or religion by introducing the concept of equality by making it obligatory for baptised Sikhs to
a) share Amrit (holy water),
b) adopt the same religious name of Singh (lion) for men and Kaur (Princess) for women;
c) wear five articles of faith, commonly known as the five K's. These are: Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha (a small wooden comb), Kara (an iron/steel bangle), Kirpan (a short sword) and Kachhera (special shorts).

Although not mentioned in the five articles of faith, the daastar (turban) is an essential accompaniment, which is worn to maintain the sanctity of Kesh (hair) and is treated with utmost respect.  The Guru instructed Sikhs to say prayers in the early morning, at sunset and before retiring, to abstain from alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and to ontribute a minimum one-tenth of their wealth, mind and body for religious purposes or to the needy.

Places of worship

The Sikh place of congregational worship is called a Gurudwara, meaning 'Doorway to the Guru' or 'House of God'. The Gurudwara usually consists of two halls: a prayer hall and a larger hall where the congregation sits together and shares a free community meal. Everyone  is  welcome at the Gurudwara providing they abide by the code of discipline. On entering the Gurudwara and before going into the prayer hall, heads must be covered with a large scarf or handkerchief both for men and women, shoes removed and hands washed. It is preferable if women wear long skirts and trousers. The prayer hall represents God's court. Sikhs give utmost respect to the Holy Sikh Scriptures, which is the embodiment of all the Gurus and contains the Word of God.

Main festivals

A Sikh festival or holy day is called a Gurpurb: Remembrance Day. This usually refers to the birth or the death of the Gurus. Vaisakhi (13 / 14 April) celebrates the day in 1699 when Guru Gobind Singh Ji founded the order of the Khalsa, the community of baptised Sikhs. Diwali (October / November) commemorates Guru Hargobind Ji's return from imprisonment to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple).

Food and diet

Sikhs do not take alcohol, tobacco or other intoxicants. Observant Sikhs, especially those who are baptised, are vegetarian. They also exclude eggs and any food containing animal derivatives.

Concerns of the community

Government funding is required to maintain Punjabi language classes. Hospitals, schools, social work departments etc need to be given clear guidelines that Sikh articles of faith cannot be removed, for example in cases of pupils doing PE in schools, patients undergoing operations and travellers flying by air. Generally the older generation and parents find it difficult to pass on the rich spiritual heritage to the younger generation due to the demands of society. The Welfare State's policies need to be reviewed and modified to promote family ethos and stability.

You can get more information about religious movements from Inform, a charity based in London.


The Chaplaincy Centre

3A St Mary's Place
St Andrews
KY16 9UY
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 (46)2866 or (46)2492

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