Should Sikhs Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is everywhere. Once December draws in it’s impossible to escape some sort of festive cheer, but does that mean as Sikhs we should celebrate it too? We think it’s a question to consider and we’ve got some ideas for anyone thinking the same.

It’s important to remember Christmas is a religious occasion, the biggest in the Christian calendar, marking the birth of Jesus. Going to school in the UK many Sikhs will have participated in nativity plays and carol singing as these activities are embedded in the school curriculum inspired by Church of England values.

Outside of school, the commercial world spends millions on TV adverts all competing for the most cozy Christmas vibe. Festive lights in town centres leave us feeling starry eyed not to mention the houses up and down the country sporting a giant sized Santa bopping to a winter breeze. It’s hard not to get in the mood, right?

As Sikhs December is officially a time of Sacrifice, known as Poh. At the beginning of the month we remember Guru Tegh Bahadar Ji who gave up his life to support Hindus who were being forced to change religion. He was martyred in 1675. 30 years later his wife and grandchildren also sacrificed themselves including, Sahibzada (Prince) Zorawar Singh and Sahibzada Fateh Singh. The two boys aged just 6 and 9 upheld their values to stand up against discrimination and betrayal. Instead of denouncing their Sikh faith they faced martyrdom and were stoned to death in late December 1705 by Wazir Khan, a Mughal Governor who had captured them after betraying their father Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Some Sikhs will avoid all festivities as they embark on a period of remembrance of a difficult period of Sikh history. This can be tricky for young Sikhs to understand amidst external festivities, but with knowledge comes power and many Sikh children are nurtured to understand the reasons why Sikhs choose a more subdued approach in December. 

As our lives get busier family time is precious and regardless of their sentiments towards festivities many Sikh families will choose to get together at Christmas as they have time off work. Some families stick to Panjabi food and conversation. Other families go all in with presents under the tree, Christmas dinner, the Queen’s speech and crackers.

Some families don’t give gifts at Christmas and may instead give gifts to their children on the birth day of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, to support their children’s understanding of Sikh history. Some families may even give gifts on both occasions! An important correlation between Sikhs and Christmas is the big focus to remember the needy, and many Sikhs join Christian and Sikh organisations in feeding the homeless and offering them shelter and warmth.

A key thing to remember is Christmas day marks a time of year where many are celebrating their religion. Just as Sikhs go out to do Nagar Kirtan’s at Vaisakhi to raise awareness of the occasion, Christians are doing Carol singing and celebrating with bright lights and Christmas trees. Embracing religions in a tolerant society of each other is key in breaking down barriers between communities. 

Overall, whatever your sentiments of Sikhs celebrating Christmas it’s important to remember to respect the decisions of families around you. Everyone is different and choices and decisions are made as a reflection of our upbringing, experiences and personal values. For those celebrating, we wish you a very happy Christmas whilst we also take time to reflect on the sacrifices made by our Sikh Guru’s and Princes. 

Start the new year with a personalised Ardaas prayer. You can recite blessings for your family, yourself or to send to those you love. We’ll do your Ardaas for you, minimum contribution £5, thank you for allowing us to do your sewa.


International Day of Rural Women

As Sikhs our ancestry and culture is embedded in agriculture and rural life. Today we celebrate International day of Rural Women and the value rural women add to our global society.

In rural Punjab women take on a multitude of roles. From harvesting land, looking after cattle, taking care of family as well as household duties, her responsibilities are never ending. From the day she was born it’s likely the daughters of rural Punjab have to prove themselves to be hard working, honourable and responsible even before the expectations of being an ideal wife and ideal mother. 

Despite employers in Punjab appreciating the high output, discipline and honesty of it’s female workforce, there is a huge discrimination against women who are not paid equally to men and neither do they have a permanent employment status. Despite working as hard as their male counterparts expectations at home do not change for working women in regards to ‘woman’s work’ including, washing, cooking, cleaning, raising children.

Powerless is a word some use to describe rural women. It’s still rare for girls to be encouraged to take up higher education and economic freedom in the rural villages in Punjab. It’s harder still for women to work afar from home with transport costs and also lack of child care facilities.

It is the norm for women who make money to supplement their husbands income. She’ll work 12 hours a day yet her husband decides how to spend the income and that can often be squandered on alcohol and gambling, without any control from her.  

Rural women around the world have many issues that haunt them including hunger, poverty, unemployment, climate change, drug addiction and suicide. 1 in 3 women work in agriculture globally and 40% of the global population, around 3 billion people, live in the rural areas of developing countries. The majority of these people depend on a small farm to earn a living and the outcome of their work in never guaranteed, especially with the issues facing our climate today.

Changes are beginning to happen. Successful female farmers are not uncommon and investments in rural women to support new, innovative farming techiques are advancing. More doors and opportunities are opening to all farmers to deliver sustainable farming methods to eliminate hunger and poverty.

The women of Punjab are a backbone to agricultural and family life. If women were given the same opportunities as men in rural India alone, farming output would feed over 100 million more people! (according to the FAO, Food and Agricultural Organisation.)

Sikh women in rural Punjab rarely expect acknowledgement of their selflessness to their families and society, yet today, International Day of Rural Women, is a day when we should stop and reflect on their sacrifices. 


Empowering women and girls in Sikhism

From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. 
Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. 
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. 
So why call her bad? From her, kings are born.

From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. 

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

There is no doubt that the founder of Sikhism held women with the upmost regard and respect. Guru Nanak Dev Ji installed values of equality between men and women as a founding principle of Sikhism. In the above Shabad (verse from Guru Granth Sahib Ji) the important roles of women throughout their lives are highlighted.

Women are glorified with the statement: “From her, Kings are born” and the importance of women is cemented with; “Without women there would be none at all’.

These words are as important today as they were back in the 15thCentury. The culture at the time would have viewed men as more important than women, disregarding women as second class. Guru Nanak challenged this perspective of women. He promoted the vision of equality and respect of all women and their impact in society and creation of life.

Despite a lot changing since the 15thand 16thcenturies when Guru Nanak lived, there are undoubtedly continued stigmas, crisis’, and issues for women globally. Campaigns such as International Day of the Girl and International Women’s Day highlight the need to advocate on behalf of women towards equality and respect for the role of women in society.

Here is a list of 10 issues facing women and girls today:

  • Child brides – An estimated 140 million girls will become child brides between 2011 and 2020 (www.globalcitizen.org)
  • Gender inequality – Only 6 countries of 187 measured give women equal work rights as men in a recent World Bank report. 
  • Sexual violence – An estimated 1 in 5 women will experience rape or attempted rape.  (Action Aid)
  • Domestic violence –  38% of all murdered women are murdered by their partner. (Action Aid)
  • Human trafficking – Women and girls are usually trafficked for marriage and sexual slavery. (UN.org)
  • Reproduction health and rights – 47,000 pregnant women die every year due to complications from unsafe abortions. (Amnest.org)
  • FGM – More than 200 million girls have been cut in 30 countries across the Middle East and Asia. (www.who.int)
  • Labour rights – In many industries, female workers are systematically denied their rights to regular pay, hours, contracts. (labourrights.org)
  • Access to education – Approx 500 million women in the world are illiterate. (World’s Women Study 2015)
  • Female infanticide – Over 170 million baby girls have gone missing in Asia (http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in)

Celebrating International Women’s Day and International Day of the Girl enhances awareness of these problems and many more from across the female diaspora. These issues are prevalent around the world and as more awareness is raised, more people will recognise the need for help and take a stand against them.

As a Sikh our duty is to support anyone in crisis and to defend the defenceless. A key way to show our support for women and girls is to deepen our understanding of global issues against them, raise awareness and support them directly or the charities and agencies working to help them. 

Day to day we can empower women by remembering to value our sisters, mothers, wives and daughters. It is them who Guru Nanak praises, for their input, sacrifices and commitments to the lives of those around them. To support women and girls afar, we can advocate on their behalf by challenging businesses that take advantage of cheap labour. Pressurise Governments to keep girls in education. Support charities who help victims of violence and violation. Raise awareness of issues facing women globally using social media hashtags to get these issues trending. We can also actively celebrate the birth of girls and their achievements with the aim to change views and values about women for future generations.

As Sikhs, we take our lead to challenge any attitudes of inequality between men and women from Guru Nanak Dev Ji. We follow His path when we show our love and respect to women throughout their lives and like Him we should all express how important women are to us all.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!


Do Ardaas from the heart

We do Ardaas prayers to connect to Waheguru Ji.

In Sadh Sangat (congregation of Sikhs) the Ardaas prayer is recited on all occasions. At the Gurdwara, it’s normal practice for the Giani Ji to include blessing requests within the Ardas for various families for many reasons including good health, celebrating a new born baby or new home.

Many Sangat and Amritdhari Sikhs recite the Ardaas themselves to experience a personal connection with Waheguru to receive blessings. In Sikhism it’s important for everyone to recite prayers as and when possible to establish the ultimate goal, a connection to Waheguru. In your darkest moment and happiest state, Waheguru should always be remembered for his blessings.

Using Sikh Blessings you can request an Ardaas prayer to be read by a Giani Ji in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Our aim is to support everyone to have access to the Ardaas and experience the power of prayer in all celebrations and circumstances. We know it’s not easy for everyone to read Gurbani and recite it. We do implore everyone to try, but if you’d prefer a Giani Ji to recite an Ardaas on your behalf our service enables that. 

The Ardaas prayer will be sent to you digitally and can be listened to privately, or with others, such as family, who can also focus on the blessings. You can listen to the recorded prayer whenever you feel the need to, using it to help you connect to Waheguru. Whether you do or don’t understand Gurbani it’s important to listen to the Ardaas and focus your mind on Waheguru and your reasons for the prayer with all your heart.

Every Sikh is on a path to get closer and closer to Waheguru. Whether you are doing an Ardaas on your own, or requesting one from the Gurdwara, Sikh media channels, or online with Sikh Blessings, taking that step is always a positive one towards Waheguru. When choosing Sikh Blessings we will invest into charities and causes using your contribution of £21 or more. We believe that supporting others is important and will enhance the blessings received. If you’re able to contribute more, we will invest more into charity, and into our website and online admin services and send you a link about where your personal investment was used.

There are many benefits to using our service, these are outlined below:

  • Your Ardaas will be recited by an experienced Giani Ji on your behalf for you to listen to
  • Your Ardaas remains private or you can share with others if you prefer
  • You can listen to your Ardaas whenever you feel the need to focus on the blessings you need from Waheguru
  • You can use the Ardaas recording to help you recite Ardaas going forward
  • You can request an Ardaas as a gift for someone else e.g. on their birthday
  • An Ardaas is the perfect way to let someone know they’re in your prayers
  • If you cannot reach the Gurdwara but want to do Ardaas in front of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji our service meets your needs
  • If you want an Ardaas read on a special occasion where a Giani Ji may not be available you could use our service, e.g. visiting a baby in hospital. 

As long as you recite, or listen to Ardaas using your heart your prayers will be heard. With Guru Ji’s Kirpa when you take one step towards Waheguru he will take 1000s towards you and shower you with blessings.

Thank you for reading about our seva (service).

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!


Mental health and Sikhism

Conquer your Mind

Conquer the World.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji

On World Mental Health Day it’s important to consider how religion can help to obtain peace of mind and good mental health. The act of meditation itself is clinically proven to affect the brain’s regulation of stress and anxiety in a positive way as well as lead to improvements in psychological well being. 

Meditation helps you focus and feel relaxed. It’s a common practise for Sikhs, and the most common form of meditation is to do Naam Simran, repeat God’s name; Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru. The goal of meditation is to feel relaxed, obtain inner peace, and connect to your soul / connect to God.

By doing Naam Simran, a level of enlightenment can be reached once you connect with your soul. Some say it’s like your subconsciousness awakening into your consciousness. Meditation can leave you feeling positive as you transcend into a realm of realisation and truth. 

The positivities of reaching a level of enlightment include feeling complete in yourself. You’re able to live a life where you are happy for yourself and thus happy for others. You do not envy those with more than you, nor detest those who are against you. Feeling content in yourself and your realisation of truth over powers all other emotions, and allows you to forward sentiments of peace and prayer to all you meet. In Sikhism we call this state Chardi Kala. 

When Naam Simran enlightens us we realise God abides in all. All humans, all animals, all beauty, all actions, all consequences, all is in His hands. Enlightenment is a true blessing from Waheguru and can take some a few moments of meditation and others a lifetime to obtain. 

Regardless of the level of inner peace you reach when participating in meditation, the impact on the brain of meditation is proven to be clinically positive. Depression has been listed by the World Health Organisation as the leading cause of ill health worldwide and meditation is listed in some research to be as effective, if not more effective than anti depressant medication.

If you’re suffering with mental health issues and depression, a good place to start would be to visit your local Gurdwara and sit in the presence of Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Take in your surroundings and focus on Guru Ji. Breath in and out and repeat Waheguru Naam Simran in your mind or even better aloud. You can repeat an Ardaas or any prayer in the presence of Guru Ji to receive blessings.  Repeat your visits to the Gurdwara or perform Naam Simran at home to receive the blessings of Waheguru and obtain inner peace.

Alternatively the Sikh Blessings Giani Ji can perform an Ardaas for you, which you can listen to at the Gurdwara or at home. The idea of this prayer is to feel at peace and at ease, helping you to take one step towards Guru Ji and receive his blessings. We know mental health is hard to discuss, and you may not want to talk about it face to face with someone at the Gurdwara. Our Ardaas service is confidential, efficient and inclusive of all.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.


‘Sikh Blessings’ a new Sikh Service offering the Power of Prayer

A new and unique online Sikh prayer service has launched offering the Power of Prayer on a digital platform. Sikh Blessings enables an individual to request a personalised Sikh Ardaas prayer for themselves or for their loved ones. The Ardaas is read by a Giani in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji before being sent via email or Whatsapp. 

There are many reasons why somebody may choose Sikh Blessings for an Ardaas in between their regular trips to the Gurdwara. The convenient service allows for an Ardaas to be read for all celebrations and circumstances. In addition to other media, TV and Sikh radio services, Sikh Blessings meets the needs of Sangat who cannot fulfil their religious needs in the traditional way.

An investment of £11 is given in return for an Ardaas prayer and the service contributes to various charities and causes remaining true to it’s values: Pray, Work, Give – the three key principles of Sikhism.

Sumanjeet Kaur launched the site after receiving a digital Ardaas for her baby girl who was born 2 months premature. “When I received the Ardaas for Khivi, it gave me peace of mind that Waheguru was helping her to get stronger and stronger each day. I realised a personalised Ardaas was important for anyone who cannot get to the Gurdwara. I felt there may be others with the same need, and inspired by the strength of my daughter I decided to start Sikh Blessings. 

Supporting charities close to our heart is hugely important to us. If we can give back and support others we believe Waheguru will bless our service and those who use it. We know transparency is important at Sikh Blessings and this will be a priority once the service gains momentum.” 

If you would like an Ardaas read and sent to you because you cannot go to the Gurdwara, you want a convenient service, your Ardaas is too personal to request face to face or because you want to send it to a loved one on their birthday or time of need, reach out to the team at Sikh Blessings.  Your Ardaas will be respectfully completed and sent to you to listen to and cherish during your times of need and joy.

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