A Sikh (/sk/ or /sɪk/; Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖ, sikkh [sɪkkʰ]) is a follower of Sikhism, a religion that originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia or a member of the Sikh people.[25]

The Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak. It is stated in the Sikh texts that Guru Nanak while in deep meditation by a river was called to the court of God where he received direct revelations from God for three days. It is stated that God asked Nanak to drink from the cup of Naam (Path/Essence of God) and then promoted Nanak to the highest of all status. From there on he was known as Guru Nanak so that he could teach the world that there is one God, that all humanity is one, and that religious divisions are man-made. The Guru spread his teachings wherever he traveled and demonstrated many miracles when necessary.[citation needed] Near the end of his life the Guru had many followers from many walks of life and religions. The Guruship was consecutively passed down to nine other Gurus, who were stated to have the divine light of God with them. These Gurus strengthened and expanded the Sikh religion and the revelations of God. The final and last Guruship was given to the total combined teaching of the Gurus known as the Sikh holy book/guide The Guru Granth Sahib Ji.[26]

The term “Sikh” has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य (śiṣya), meaning disciple, student, or शिक्ष (śikṣa) (“instruction”).[27][28] Also, some historians suggests that the name “Sikh” is derived from the ancient term Saka.[29] A Sikh is a disciple/subject of the Guru.

According to Article I of the “Rehat Maryada” (the Sikh code of conduct and conventions), a Sikh is defined as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion”.[30] Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar).

Most male Sikhs have Singh (lion) and most female Sikhs Kaur (princess) as their middle names. Sikhs who have undergone the khanḍe-kī-pahul, the Sikh initiation ceremony, can also be recognized by the Five Ks: uncut hair (Kesh); an iron/steel bracelet (kara); a Kirpan, a sword tucked in a gatra strap; Kachehra, a type of special shorts; and a Kanga, a small comb to keep the hair clean. Baptised male Sikhs cover their hair with a turban, while baptised female Sikhs may wear a turban or a headscarf.

The greater Punjab region is the historical homeland of the Sikhs, although significant communities exist around the world.