Many Sikhs like to talk in terms of : Sikhs must do this, must do that. Of course Sikhs have to make an honest living, share with others, think about God and more of those things that follow from the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib.
But the ‘must do’s’ that most Sikhs talk about are for instance what not to eat or drink or what to wear or not to wear. Underneath in italics are some of these must do’s and underneath them my thoughts, which I think (hope) are based on gurmat.
A Sikh must not use intoxicants like alcohol, tobacco, marihuana or opium.
A Sikh who practices Guru’s teachings does not need to use any intoxicants. Artificial stimulants do not give you real happiness; the real happiness comes from God, who gives inner peace and lasting happiness.
A Sikh is not allowed to eat meat.
Although there is no absolute rule against eating meat, either in the panthic Rehat Maryada (code of conduct), or in the Guru Granth, a Sikh’s happiness should not depend on the eating of meat. Panjabi style vegetarian food is tasty and supplies sufficient proteins through milk, panir (fresh cheese) and dehie (natural yoghurt) and through a variety of pulses.
Sikhs should not eat beef.
There is no such rule, the only restriction regarding eating meat is on the eating of meat of ritualistically slaughtered animals (halal, kosher).
Sikhs must wear a turban.
The Guru has given us the right to wear a turban, has given us the gift of the turban.
Sikhs must not cut or shave their hair (Kesh), should wear a wooden comb in their hair (Kangha), wear a steel bangle on their right arm (Kara), a (small) sword (Kirpan) and an Indian style boxer short, called a Kachhera.
In 1699 the Guru asked us, and still daily repeats this question, to give our heads. This means that we should commit ourselves to the Guru’s way, even when others mock us or discriminate us or when that is dangerous. The 5 Ks are Guru’s gifts to those who give their heads. If you are not seriously trying to walk on Guru’s path, to walk in God’s will, you should not wear the 5 Ks. The Sikh or Khalsa identity is a spiritual identity; the 5 Ks and the turban are a spiritual uniform.
The Sikh Guru, the Guru Granth, the word of God as it comes to us through the writings of 6 of the 10 Sikh Gurus, and through the writings of other contributors to the Guru Granth, emphasises a positive approach, pointing to liberation.
Do you want to be liberated or do you want to be the captive of the prejudices of your culture, do you want to be the slave of your possessions ? The Guru’s way will make you truly rich, but walking on that path will be full of challenges.