Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in the Punjab area of what is now Pakistan in 1499. Historians generally believe that Sikhism is a blended religion, and contains elements of Hinduism, Islam, and Bakti, along with many independent beliefs and practices.
Some Sikhs believe that their religion is a re-purification of Hinduism and they view Sikhism as part of the Hindu religious tradition, while others believe that their religion is a direct revelation from God and was not derived from either Hinduism or Islam.
The goal of Sikhs is to form a close, loving relationship with God. Sikhs believe in a single, formless God with many names, which is similar to the Islamic concept of a single God with 99 names.
Sikhs also believe that God and his teachings can only be known through meditation. Like Hindus, Sikhs believe in samsara, the repetitive cycle of birth, life, and death, reincarnation, and karma, the accumulated sum, and good and bad deeds in one’s lifetime.
Sikhs, however, have rejected the caste system of the Hindu religion. They believe that everyone has equal status in the eyes of God. This is a very important principle that is basic to all Sikh beliefs, behaviors, and rituals.
Sikhs hold worship services in what is known as gurdwaras (gates to the gurus), the most revered of which is the Golden Temple at Amritsar, India. These services, held on Sundays for several hours, contain a mixture of singing, meditation, and readings from the Guru Granth Sahib.
Since Sikhs recognize no day of the week as more holy than others, the fact that worship services take place on Sunday is solely out of convenience, as everyone is off of work at that time.
Currently, there are about 22.5 million Sikhs throughout the world. Most live in the Punjab area of Pakistan. Approximately 500.000 live in North America, with 150,000 living in Canada.