Normative Definition: A Sikh is someone born to Sikh parents. A person may also convert to the Sikh faith, and feel himself/herself a Sikh, if accepted by the Sikh Panth. Such a person must change his or her name by deed poll to Singh or Kaur as the second or last name. If desired such a convert may accept Amrit and join the Khalsa Panth as defined in Sikh Rehat Maryada. Sikh faith does not encourage conversions. It is not a proselytising religion. All religions are equal in Sikh ideology.
In Sikh faith, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity, the religion of the father decides the automatic faith of the offspring, but a Sikh mother may decide to bring the child as a Sikh and follow the naming ritual as in Sikh faith. The Sikh Panth will readily accept such a child as a Sikh.
The Sikh Courier, volume 56 No 108, page 11
Since I became a Sikh I read many articles on the definition of a Sikh. Most people taking part in these discussions agreed that being a Sikh is not about being born into a Sikh family, being a Sikh is about beliefs and behaviour.
The controversy in the discussions was the status of the Khande Di Pahul initiation ceremony, about being a Mona, Keshdhari or Amritdhari. It is clear that the above ‘normative definition’ is wrong, is against gurmat.
The Sikh Guru speaks to all, regardless of caste, creed, race or nationality, the Sikh Guru does not favour people with certain names over those with other names, the Sikh Guru does not favour uncut hair over shaven heads.
The definition of a Sikh in the Rehat Maryada could do with some more clarity but it does have the basics right. It talks about believing in One God, believing in the ten Gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib and about believing in the Khande Di Pahul of Guru Gobind Singh.
Anybody is welcome in the Gurdwara, anybody can be a sikh, a student of the Wonderful Bringer of Light into darkness, and you do not have to change your name to be such a sikh.
I heard Guru’s call, and wanted to give my head. I changed my name, I adopted the 5 Ks and the turban and I seriously try to follow Guru’s teachings in my daily life. I am a Khalsa.
I think that we should admit that ‘sikh’ as used by Guru is a general term which applies to all who are true ‘students’ of The One. We could introduce three different terms: sikh, Sikh and Khalsa. The sikh is anybody who follows the general principles laid down in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh is somebody who is working towards undergoing Khande di Pahul, and the Khalsa are those that have undergone Khande di Pahul.