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Sikh birth customs
  1. R Gatrad1,
  2. J Jhutti-Johal2,
  3. P S Gill3,
  4. A Sheikh4
  1. 1Manor Hospital, Walsall, UK
  2. 2Department of Theology, University of Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham, UK
  4. 4Division of Community Health Sciences: GP Section, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr P S Gill
    Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK;

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An overview of Sikh theology and its impact on perinatal practice

This is the third in a series of occasional articles on birth customs among the major non-Christian faiths in the UK. Reviews on birth customs among Muslims and Hindus have already been published.1,2 Here we provide an overview of the basic tenets of Sikh theology and its impact on perinatal practice.


Although the largest Sikh communities are to be found in the Punjab in Northern India, Sikhs are now scattered around the globe, including Europe and North America. In the UK, where Sikhism is the fourth commonest religion, there are over 336 000 Sikhs. The largest Sikh conurbations are in Southall in west London and the West Midlands.3


The word “Sikh” is derived from a Sanskrit word “shisya” meaning a “learner” or a “disciple”. Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in the 15th century against a backdrop of Hindu/Muslim conflict.3 There then followed nine further gurus who promoted inclusiveness and union with God for all, irrespective of gender, caste, race, or religion. Guru Gobind Singh, the last guru, decreed that after his death Sikh scriptures in the form of the religious book called the Guru Granth Sahib, should be followed and command the same respect and authority as a human guru.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion and the ultimate goal of Sikhs is to achieve liberation (Mukti or Moksha) from the cycle of birth, death, and re-birth and eventually be one with the Divine, depending on the outcome of their Karma (deeds).

Sikhs can essentially be divided into two main groups: the baptised and the non-baptised. The Pahul or baptism ceremony (Amrit Sanskar) is undertaken when an individual fully comprehends the implications of such an act. Hence, it is rare for a …

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  • Competing interests: none declared