usoa sikhs ron 2_00003708.jpg
usoa sikhs ron 2_00003708.jpg
Now playing
01:13
What is the Sikh faith?
usoa s3 kamau bell paul coleman_00013730.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell paul coleman_00013730.jpg
Now playing
02:44
Kamau visits the world's greatest stargazing site
USOA Hawaii RON 1_00002328.jpg
USOA Hawaii RON 1_00002328.jpg
Now playing
01:03
This Hawaiian couple lived through Pearl Harbor
USOA Hawaii RON 4_00003611.jpg
USOA Hawaii RON 4_00003611.jpg
Now playing
00:52
The past, present and future of Hawaii
Now playing
01:00
The difference between the US and Canada
Now playing
01:12
He left for Canada after Trump was elected
Now playing
10:48
Kamau's epic journey to discover his roots (Part 1)
Now playing
09:22
The Civil War vet hiding in Kamau Bell's past
Now playing
07:50
Ancestry debunks Kamau Bell's family lore
Now playing
01:17
Kamau discovers his activist ancestor's past
Now playing
01:01
Mind blown: Kamau's dad reacts to Ancestry results
Now playing
01:22
Kamau walks on great-great-grandfather's land
Finding Kamau Ep 2 short 2_00003409.jpg
Finding Kamau Ep 2 short 2_00003409.jpg
Now playing
01:07
Kamau Bell's ancestor fought to end slavery
USOA Alabama RON 2_00000426.jpg
USOA Alabama RON 2_00000426.jpg
Now playing
00:47
Kamau Bell's dad may be more famous than him
USOA Alabama RON 3_00004626.jpg
USOA Alabama RON 3_00004626.jpg
Now playing
01:19
This black woman is proud of Confederate flag
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus massimo lecas_00025417.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus massimo lecas_00025417.jpg
Now playing
03:42
Official language police exist in Montreal
USOA HBCU RON 2_00010414.jpg
USOA HBCU RON 2_00010414.jpg
Now playing
01:09
What's next for America's HBCUs?
USOA HBCU RON 3_00005118.jpg
USOA HBCU RON 3_00005118.jpg
Now playing
01:00
What you get wrong about HBCUs
USOA Disabilities RON 1_00002902.jpg
USOA Disabilities RON 1_00002902.jpg
Now playing
01:12
She's a top model with muscular dystrophy
USOA Disabilities RON 2_00010722.jpg
USOA Disabilities RON 2_00010722.jpg
Now playing
01:16
Kamau learns what it feels like to be blind
USOA Disabilities RON 4_00002326.jpg
USOA Disabilities RON 4_00002326.jpg
Now playing
01:11
This deaf actor is a legend in show business
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus heather watkins_00021411.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus heather watkins_00021411.jpg
Now playing
02:50
The activist fighting for disabled people
USOA Gullah RON 1_00003520.jpg
USOA Gullah RON 1_00003520.jpg
Now playing
01:04
How Gullah culture is different
USOA Gullah RON 2_00004019.jpg
USOA Gullah RON 2_00004019.jpg
Now playing
01:04
The Gullah are fighting to preserve their culture
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus robert middleton_00012526.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus robert middleton_00012526.jpg
Now playing
02:13
The house where MLK wrote 'I Have a Dream'
USOA Gullah RON 3_00004909.jpg
USOA Gullah RON 3_00004909.jpg
Now playing
00:54
The importance of preserving the Gullah language
USOA Gullah RON 4_00004218.jpg
USOA Gullah RON 4_00004218.jpg
Now playing
01:00
Gullah basket weaving is an ancient tradition
usoa sikhs ron 1_00004806.jpg
usoa sikhs ron 1_00004806.jpg
Now playing
01:27
'In America, we can't even get our hate straight'
usoa sikhs ron 3_00004812.jpg
usoa sikhs ron 3_00004812.jpg
Now playing
01:01
He's been bullied at school, but feels lucky to be a Sikh
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus mandeep sethi_00023828.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus mandeep sethi_00023828.jpg
Now playing
04:24
Meet the Sikh spreading his message through rap
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus sikh rajan gill_00023010.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus sikh rajan gill_00023010.jpg
Now playing
03:34
Meet the Sikh professor who works as a farmer
USOA Border RON 1_00002016.jpg
USOA Border RON 1_00002016.jpg
Now playing
01:19
Businesses are dying in this Arizona border town
USOA Border RON 2_00002023.jpg
USOA Border RON 2_00002023.jpg
Now playing
00:52
The human cost of America's immigration policy
USOA Border RON 3_00012107.jpg
USOA Border RON 3_00012107.jpg
Now playing
01:23
W. Kamau Bell tries pharmaceutical tourism
USOA Border RON 4_00003209.jpg
CNN
USOA Border RON 4_00003209.jpg
Now playing
01:08
The reservation divided by the border
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus ernie charles_00014213.jpg
usoa s3 kamau bell bonus ernie charles_00014213.jpg
Now playing
02:09
The church that played a pivotal role for slaves

Story highlights

There are 25 million Sikhs in the world

The religion was founded 500 years ago

Sikhs believe caste system is wrong, that everyone is equal

Men often wear turbans to cover their uncut hair

Editor’s Note: Editor’s note: This story was originally published on August 5, 2012. Watch “United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell,” Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

CNN —  

Sikhism, the world’s fifth most popular religion, is a monotheistic faith that believes in equality and service to others, Sikh officials say.

“Everyone is the same,” says Raghunandan Johar, president of the Guru Nanak Mission of Atlanta. “There is no distinction, no caste system.”

Navdeep Singh, a policy adviser to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says Sikhs believe in freedom of religion, community service and inclusiveness.

At temples, or gurdwaras, where Sikhs hold services, everyone is welcome.

“You can come and be equal,” he says.

Doing good deeds is important for you to be with God after death, Johar says. Sikhs believe that if you don’t live a life full of good deeds you will be reborn and repeat the circle of life and death.

There are 25 million Sikhs around the world, Singh says, about 700,000 of which live in the United States. Most Sikhs are in India.

Sikhs do not have a particular day of worship, he says, but due to the American work week, Sunday is a popular day for services. Johar says his gurdwara has formal services on Wednesdays and Fridays, in addition to Sundays.

At a typical gurdwara, the doors open up at 6 a.m. for prayers. A formal service includes the singing of hymns and a team of leaders who have studied the faith reciting from the Guru Granth Sahib, Sikhism’s holy scriptures. That book, more than 1,400 pages long, includes writings from Sikhism’s 10 gurus as well as writers from other religions.

It is an example of Sikhism inclusiveness, Johar says.

“There is not a single word of hate in it,” he adds.

At the end of the service, congregants pray for the “well-being of the world” then head to the langar, the community kitchen that serves meals for anyone who wants one.

“(Founder) Guru Nanak said that if you want to meet God, serve the poor people,” Johar says.

Gurdwaras around the world variously incorporate clinics, schools, guest quarters and community centers, which Sikhs say is a sign of the religion’s values of service and equality.

The first gurdwara in the United States was built 100 years ago in California, Singh says.

Most Sikh men don’t cut their hair and wear turbans and beards. Many American Sikh women dress like other Westerners or wear the salwar kameez, a traditional north Indian garment of a long shirt and loose-fitting pants.

Sikhism emerged more than 500 years ago in Punjab, in what is now India. It was founded by Guru Nanak, a non-practicing Hindu who was against rituals and praying to idols.

“He received a revelation,” Johar says.

Guru Nanak taught a message of love and that all religions were good.

“If you are Hindu, he said be a good Hindu,” Johar says. “If you are Muslim, be a good Muslim. If you are Christian, be a good Christian.”

Sikhs, he says, are taught two other important things in addition to serving others and serving God: Work hard and never beg.

CNN’s Jose G. Santos contributed to this story.