On January 9th we celebrated the birth of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth (and final human) Guru of Sikhism.
He defended the faith throughout his life, founding the Khalsa (a sect of sworn Sikh warriors) and introducing the five K’s that Sikhs must wear to this day, as well as naming the Sikh holy book the Guru Granth Sahib as his successor and eternal Guru. Processions are common when his birthday is celebrated, usually in January or December in the Gregorian calendar, featuring jubilant devotional songs, gatherings at Gurudwaras, and special meals and treats to share with each other.
There are a little over 400,000 Sikhs living in the UK, most of whom live in England. The first Sikh settlers started arriving from the Punjab in around 1911 as the first Gurudwara in London was built, with Sikhs settling in midland towns like Leeds and Birmingham and London boroughs like Southall and Hounslow.
Sikhs have been exempted from certain laws to enable them to fully express their faith in the UK, classing the Kirpan – a short sword and one of the five K’s – as religious dress rather than an offensive weapon.