(The Harmandir Sahib (The abode of God) or Golden Temple, located in Amritsar, Punjab India)
The Sikh tradition was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century C.E. in the Punjab region of what are today India and Pakistan. According to Sikh beliefs, the same revelatory spirit inhabited Guru Nanak and his nine successors. Today, this spirit can be found in the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, the foundational scripture of the Sikh tradition. The Guru Granth Sahib’s hymns describe and praise God, and provide moral guidance for all Sikhs. Sikhs reject ideas of divine incarnations, and hold that liberation results from being absorbed into God. Sikhs also reject the social doctrine of caste, and adhere to practices of equality in worship and life. The centers of Sikh worship are known as gurdwaras (“house of the Guru”) and langar (communal refectory). All Sikhs must enter a gurdwara with bare feet and a covered head. A Sikh worship service includes prayer and singing hymns from scripture. The service is concluded by the distribution of karah prasad, a sacramental food made of flour, butter, and raw sugar that is shared by all to demonstrate equality and the rejection of caste. Sikhs attempt to live balanced lives of worship, work, and charity centered on community. Besides gurdwara worship, festivals are also important community activities.