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.


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.