Sikhism is the fifth-largest of the world’s major religions with as many as 25 million adherents worldwide, including an estimated 500,000 Americans. There are about 250 Sikh congregations and gurdwaras (places of worship) in the United States. Founded more than 500 years ago, Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that calls for perpetual devotion to and remembrance of God, truthful living, selfless service and the equality of all mankind.

While most Sikhs are from India or of Indian descent, Sikhism is open to all people. The term Sikh means "disciple", or "learner" and adherents study the teachings of Sikhism’s 10 Gurus enshrined in Sikh scripture, “Guru Granth Sahib,” which Sikhs view as the supreme spiritual authority.

Many Sikh men and some Sikh women can be easily identified by the dastar, or turban, which represents spirituality, sovereignty and equality. However not all Sikhs wear the dastar. Observant Sikhs typically agree that all Sikhs should maintain the articles of faith, which include uncut hair. Some Sikh men wear all five while others may wear as few as one or none. This means individual Sikhs cannot always be identified based on appearance alone.


As the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States, the Sikh Coalition’s communications department routinely handles queries from reporters. The organization specializes in providing resources and connecting journalists to Sikh experts in other fields. Email: Phone: (510) 659-0900.

The "About Sikhs" section on the Sikh Coalition's website offers basic information and includes a downloadable “Sikhism Reporter's Guide” that answers frequently asked questions about Sikh communities, faith and traditions. The project was completed in conjunction with the Religion News Foundation.

There is no single repository of empirical data on Sikhism. Ask scholars and advocacy organizations. Look also at the covering Sikhism guide published by the Religion News Foundation. There are many terms and definitions inside the Reporter's guide on the Sikh Coalition’s website.

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