THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20: Among sacred texts around the world, the Adi Granth is unique in several ways: It contains wisdom from esteemed members of other religions, was compiled by multiple faith leaders and now is seen as the head of Sikhism itself—the faith’s central guru or teacher. Today, Sikhs honor the Installation of the Scriptures as Guru Granth. On this day in 1708, the ninth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, announced that he would be the last in a line of living Sikh Gurus. Today, the sacred collection known as the Adi Granth was officially installed as the 10th and everlasting Guru, named Guru Granth Sahib. (Learn more at Sikhs.org.)
Sikhs do not worship the Guru Granth Sahib, but they do reverently respect its wisdom as their spiritual guide. Many Sikh practices reflect this reverence: the Granth Sahib is opened in the Gurdwara (house of worship) every day, in the center of the Gurdwara and on a raised platform known as a throne; the book is always opened, read and closed ceremonially, with an awning placed above it; and whenever the Guru Granth Sahib is brought into a room, Sikhs stand up to honor its presence. (Wikipedia has details.) Many Sikhs even choose to learn Gurmukhi, the language designed and used by the Sikh Gurus, so that they can fully comprehend the meaning of all writings in the sacred book.
Just what does Guru Granth Sahib contain? The book is divided into poems, with messages such as: all people of the world are equal; women are equal to men; there is one God for all; one should speak and live truthfully; and all should live in God’s will/order. (Read more from the Times of India.)
As a fairly young religion, Sikhism is not as widely understood as more ancient faiths. Many Sikhs spend time raising awareness, particularly since some of their customs (ex: covering the head) can be misunderstood by the unaware. The 8th Annual Sikh International Film Festival recently raised awareness in New York, as tens of thousands gathered to get an inside peek at this lesser-known body of faith. (Check out an interview from NPR.)