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Earlier this year Vogue published a delightful video piece on Baba Avtar Singh, a Sikh man in Punjab, India known for his exceptionally large turban. Baba’s dastaar weighs some 200-pounds and takes over two hours to create every morning! How much do you know about Sikhs and what they believe? Sikhism is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million adherents globally. It was started and is concentrated in the Punjab region of India, the only state in the world with a majority Sikh population of 14 million people. What do Sikhs believe? Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century by Guru Nanak based on principles of equality, fraternal love, goodness, and virtue. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Guru Nanak in these words: Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender. Sikh symbols and holy sites The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh triangular flag hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurdwaras (temples). The emblem on the flag is known as Khanda, a double-edged sword in the centre, a chakkar which is circular, flanked by two single-edged swords. The Five Ks The tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh ordered that all baptized Sikh males must carry five symbols and articles of faith at all times. Kesh is the uncut hair to indicate the perfection of God’s creation. Kangha is a wooden comb used twice a day. It is supposed to be worn only in the hair and is a sign of cleanliness. Kara is a metal bracelet is a reminder that whatever a person does with their hands has to be in keeping with the advice given by the Guru. The Kara is a iron/steel circle to symbolize life as never ending. Kachera is a a specific style of cotton undergarments a Sikh soldier’s willingness to be ready at a moment’s notice for battle or for defense. Kirpan is a strapped curved short dagger which symbolizes a Sikh’s duty to come to the defense of those in peril. Important holidays Vaisakhi is the Punjab harvest festival and new year which also marks the establishment of the Khalsa. It is currently being celebrated. June 16- Guru Arjan Dev commemorates the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, the fifth Guru and the first Sikh Martyr. November 10- Guru Nanak Jayanti celebrates the birth of the first Sikh Guru Nanak. It is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. November 11- Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated all over India every fall. It took on a new meaning and a new name for the Sikhs: Bandi Chhor Divas which celebrates the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind release from prison in Gwalior. You can learn even more about Sikhism and share your knowledge on Deily!