Do Sikhs Drink Alcohol?

Do Sikhs Drink Alcohol?

Sikhism is a religion originating in India, which was founded by the guru Nanak, who lived between 1469 and 1540. This religion originated in the context of the political and religious conflict between the believers of Islam and Hinduism that occurred between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 

The Sikhs are faithful believers of their religion and their ancestral tradition, and among their most traditionalist beliefs is the prohibition of alcohol consumption. This applies to those who are baptized, however, those who are not may consume alcohol, even though it is not fully approved by those who are baptized. There is a population that does consume alcohol, the Punjabi, a part of which practice Sikhism but they are traditionally allowed to consume this type of beverages but in this article you will find more information on this subject.

This religion is characterized by fundamental principles, which are based on peace and harmony. For this, spiritual meditation is used as a form of worship to God, following the teachings of a guru, which has the role of being a spiritual guide and source of wisdom to overcome personal whims, and finally, assuming the responsibilities of being the head of a family over monasticism.

Sikhism is practiced around the world, with an estimated 26 million believers but, of course, the vast majority of these practice the religion from India.  This population is estimated at 19 million people, most of whom are in the Payab region. Unlike other Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Sikhism believes in one God, i.e. it is a completely monotheistic religion. 

On the other hand, it is considered that there are ten great masters, who were great gurus of antiquity, who had the role of teaching this doctrine. All this is contemplated in the sacred book of the religion, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

Alcohol Consumption in India

Religion and modernity are sometimes in conflict because as time goes by, societies are evolving, exchanging knowledge and expanding, thanks to technology and the interconnectedness we have today. Culture can be spread practically on a global scale, but certain conservative religions avoid practices that are considered normal by most countries and societies. 

The consumption of alcohol is a constant, since it is a pretext for celebrations or social events, however, such practice is not well seen by certain religions such as Islam, and in the case of Hinduism is not a forbidden practice but in general it is not well seen either. There are a lot of examples about the ceremonies that include alcohol, even we can wonder about if Is it allowed to drink alcohol at Hindu weddings?

The consumption of alcohol is interpreted differently by the various sub-branches of Hinduism, and also by caste. Some strictly say that it is not allowed, as is the case of the practitioners of Vaishnavism, but others have certain flexibilities such as Shaivanism which does not have strict limitations, only that it does not recommend its consumption, this in turn depends on the sub sect since for example Lingayatism (sub sect of Shaivism) if it prohibits alcohol outright.

In the case of Shaktism also as in the previous cases will depend on the sub sect, but officially there is no law prohibiting alcohol, however or as a social act, for cultural reasons it is not well seen, in this sect the worshipers of Yantra do not consume alcohol at all, however the believers of Tantra do it regularly. 

In the average Hindu’s house, alcohol consumption is perfectly allowed, however some conditions apply, there are sacred territories where it is not allowed, as well as some sacred days where it is also forbidden. The respect to these rules is such that the labels on alcoholic beverages warn that such beverages cannot be consumed or sold in very specific territories.

Why Do Punjabis Drink A Lot?

The Punjabi are a people inhabiting the northern part of the so-called Indian subcontinent. This region is composed of territories of India and Pakistan, these territories are called the Punjab region, and is in turn divided into two parts, Indian Punjab and Pakistan Punjab. The Punjabis practice different religions but are mainly practitioners of Islam and Hinduism. Punjabis are distinguished from other Indians because they wear distinctive turbans, Why do Punjabis wear turbans? And because of their widespread reputation for being heavy drinkers of alcohol.

Punjabis are a distinctive people, with ancestral traditions and famous for their hard work. Punjabis are known for doing demanding labor, and trying their luck in different parts of the globe, this happened in the massive diaspora of the early twentieth century, seeking North America as their main destination. 

Despite these attributes, they have the reputation of being massive consumers of alcohol. This, however, is a matter of debate among the Hindu communities because although in Punjab society the consumption of alcohol is fully permitted, they themselves consider that they do not consume it in an exaggerated manner. 

The consumption of alcohol became a very important ritual for the Punjabi people as a celebration of the work done, this is valid for both men and women as this happens mainly in those families who work long days of planting in the fields, as a way to de-stress, which makes the act of consuming alcohol in a normalized social ritual in that territory, unlike the rest of India.

Does Hindu Gods Drink Alcohol?

However, not all are limitations or prohibitions. There is a unique and very particular deity within Hinduism, this god is one of the many representations of the god Shiva and is characterized among other things because he consumes alcohol. The name of this powerful being is Kal Bhairav and is well known not only in India, but also in countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal. Kal Bhirav travels the vast territories of the world watching over the cardinal points, he is also known as the protector of the eight directions of the universe and supreme ruler of time.

The presence of Kal Bhairav is constant in the great majority of Hindu temples, specifically those of Shiva, because he is also considered the god of the protection of the temples, to this god is attributed one of the strongest and fiercest faces of Shiva, hence his quality of protector. 

The temple of Kal Bhairav located in the city of Ujjain is the most important temple dedicated to this deity in all India, there it is normal to offer liquor as an offering, in fact it is considered one of the five most important offerings of the tantric rituals. The only person who can serve alcohol and offer it directly to the lips of the god Kal Bhairav is the priest of the temple, and such is the love that the people of Ujjain feel for this deity that they consider him the protector of the city.

Can Female Drink Alcohol In Hinduism?

Hinduism is by its ancestral principles a religion that seeks to be as egalitarian as possible, since in its foundations and teachings is peace and accounting as fundamental principles for the physical, mental and spiritual health of the inhabitants of the earth, for this reason, the treatment of women is just as important as men, as they are equal beings. However, in terms of alcohol consumption it is more common to see men consuming this type of beverages than women, but this is a matter of habit rather than a sexist imposition.

One of the factors that brought alcoholic beverages to Indian territory was the British influence, and this influence is still present in Indian culture, despite the fact that independence was achieved more than seventy years ago. Thanks to this, certain customs and rituals from the western country were impregnated. 

The arrival of the British meant the entry of new alcoholic beverages, as happened with whiskey, which is consumed mainly by men, this habit was acquired by the male population of India. Something similar happened with wine, however, this drink seems to have more acceptance among the female population of India, and it is that this fermented beverage is more associated with gastronomic tastings and social events of a certain elegance, which allows or justifies its consumption under special circumstances. But, as mentioned above, the branch of Hinduism has a strong influence on the consumption of the Indian population, regardless of their sex.

Summary

The Hindu religion is broad and diverse, there are different branches of it, and in turn these divisions within Hinduism have multiple lines of thought called Sub sects, this means that the customs and attitudes of the millions of believers of this religion are directly influenced by the rules of these different interpretations of Hinduism, and therefore, there are actions that are allowed and others that are immediately prohibited. 

This is precisely what happens with the consumption of alcohol in this magnificent and interesting country, it is not fully allowed for everyone, since there are multiple branches that prohibit its consumption or limit it in most cases, with only a few exceptions such as celebrations or rituals. There are also territories and sacred dates in which the consumption of alcohol is prohibited, however these limitations do not prevent that even so there is a deity who is known and even worshiped for consuming alcohol, the name of this god is Kal Bhairav, this deity is mainly worshiped in the region of Ujjain where he is quite loved, so much so that he was named protector of that region.

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