Learn about Sikhs and the Sikh religion with The Sikh Next Door Celebrating America's Diversity in the Classroom
Curriculum Overview | Sample Curriculum | FAQs

For Teachers: FAQs

Below are the Frequently Asked Questions from the "For Students" section of this site. Should you have additional questions about Sikhism, Punjabi culture, the film or comment on anything else related to the project, please click here.

Hair/Dress

  1. Why don't Sikhs cut their hair?
  2. If Sikhs can't cut their hair, why isn't it always down to their ankles?
  3. How often do Sikhs wash their hair?
  4. Why do Sikhs cover their hair with a turban?
  5. When do Sikhs start tying turbans?
  6. Does the color of the turban matter?
  7. Do girls and women also wear turbans?
  8. How long does it take to tie a turban?
  9. How long is the fabric for a pagri?
  10. What is the traditional dress for girls and women?
  11. Where do Sikhs get turbans and the salwar kameez?

General/Historical

  1. What does the word "Sikh" mean?
  2. When and where did Sikhism begin?
  3. Are Sikhs part of another religion?
  4. Are there really famous Sikhs?

Lifestyle

  1. Can Sikhs have pets?
  2. Can someone who is not born a Sikh become a Sikh?
  3. Do Sikhs go to church on Sundays?
  4. Where do Sikhs get married?
  5. Can Sikhs visit other places of worship?
  6. Do Sikh celebrate holidays?
  7. Do Sikhs eat meat?
  8. How do Sikh kids clean themselves?
  9. Do Sikhs use incense for religious reasons?
  10. What languages do Sikhs speak?

Hair/Dress

Q: Why don't Sikhs cut their hair?

A: Sikhs believe that people are created with long hair for a reason and they accept hair as a beautiful part of their bodies. However, Sikhs do not mind if others cut their hair.
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Q: If Sikhs can't cut their hair, why isn't it always down to their ankles?

A: Most Sikhs do not have hair down to their ankles because older hair falls out and hair eventually stops growing.
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Q: How often do Sikhs wash their hair?

A: It depends on how often it needs to be washed to maintain cleanliness. Girls who have their hair open may wash it daily; boys who have it tied in a turban may wash it once or twice a week or more.
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Q: Why do Sikhs cover their hair with a turban?

A: When the religion was founded over 500 years ago, only wealthy men wore turbans as a sign of status and many kings wore turbans. Since Sikhs have believed in the equality of all people since the creation of their religion, all Sikhs wear the turban as a sign of equality.
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Q: When do Sikhs start tying turbans?

A: Sikhs usually start tying the under-turban, called a patka, when they begin pre-school. They can choose to tie the larger turban, called a pagri, at any age; some start in high school and others when they go to college.
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Q: Does the color of the turban matter?

A: No. The color of the turban is based on personal preference. There are hundreds of different colors even tie-died colors and unique prints.
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Q: Do girls and women also wear turbans?

A: Yes. Girls and women have the choice of wearing of a turban.
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Q: How long does it take to tie a turban?

A: A patka can usually be tied in three to five minutes. The pagri takes 10-15 minutes to tie, although some Sikhs require more time.
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Q: How long is the fabric for a pagri?

A: A pagri is usually between 10-15 feet long. It does not seem as long when it is properly tied because it is folded.
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Q: What is the traditional dress for girls and women?

A: Women wear a salwar kameez which is a loose tunic top and baggy pants with a draw-string. In the gurdwara, women who are not wearing turbans cover their head with a chunni, a small scarf covering their head but not their face.
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Q: Where do Sikhs get turbans and the salwar kameez?

A: These can usually be bought in fabric stores in the U.S. Some Sikh Americans also get them if they visit India or have them mailed from their relatives there.
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General/Historical

Q: What does the word "Sikh" mean?

A: "Sikh" means student, someone who is supposed to keep learning throughout their lives.
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Q: When and where did Sikhism begin?

A: Sikhism was founded in the fifteenth century in the Punjab region of South Asia (present-day northwest India and Pakistan).
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Q: Are Sikhs part of another religion?

A: No. Sikhism is a unique religion with its own beliefs and holy book.
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Q: Are there really famous Sikhs?

A: The current Prime Minister of India is a Sikh named Manmohan Singh. The first Asian American elected to the U.S. Congress was a Sikh named Dalip Singh Saund in 1956, who served three terms from California and wrote the book Congressman from India.
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Lifestyle

Q: Can Sikhs have pets?

A: Yes. There is no restriction on Sikhs having household pets like cats or dogs.
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Q: Can someone who is not born a Sikh become a Sikh?

A: Yes. Anyone who wants to can become a Sikh, but no one is forced to become a Sikh.
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Q: Do Sikhs go to church on Sundays?

A: Yes and no. Sikhs worship together in a gurdwara, which is like a church for Christians. Services can be held any day of the week, and since many of their neighbors in the U.S. attend services on Sundays, gurdwaras usually have larger attendance on that day of the week.
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Q: Where do Sikhs get married?

A: Sikhs can get married anywhere as long as the Sikh holy scripture is a part of the ceremony. Many Sikhs choose to get married in a gurdwara.
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Q: Can Sikhs visit other places of worship?

A: There is no restriction on Sikhs visiting other places of worship like churches, synagogues or mosques.
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Q: Do Sikh celebrate holidays?

A: Yes. Sikhs celebrate many of their own religious holidays and many cultural holidays from Punjab. Many Sikh Americans also celebrate holidays such as the Fourth of July and Halloween.
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Q: Do Sikhs eat meat?

A: There are no restrictions against eating meat in Sikhism. One small exception is that Sikhs are not supposed to eat food offered to God. As in any other religion, there are Sikhs who choose to be vegetarian.
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Q: How do Sikh kids clean themselves?

A: Just like everyone else, Sikh kids take showers and use soap and deodorant. Cleanliness is very important to Sikhs.
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Q: Do Sikhs use incense for religious reasons?

A: There is no religious significance to incense.
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Q: What languages do Sikhs speak?

A: Sikhs speak the language of the country where they live, such as English in the United States. The traditional spoken language from Punjab is called Punjabi.
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Sample Curriculum

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Sikh students

Sikh students