Khalsa Sikhs are instructed to wear the five ks by Guru Gobind Singh since 1699. The five ks is the emblem of faith for Khalsa devotees. For Khalsa Sikhs to wear five ks is the “Sikh way of life”. In five ks each k has individual importance. To be a Khalsa Sikh (pure) or Amritdhari Sikh (Amrit sanskar participant), a Sikh has to take Amrit and keep all 5 ks. The members of Khalsa Sikh wear this to get identified as Khalsa.
The meaning of the 5 Ks in Sikhism
The 5 Ks in Sikhism are taken together to symbolize that the Sikh who wears them has dedicated themselves to a life of devotion and submission to the Guru.
The five Ks are:
- Kara (a steel bangle)
- Kirpan (sword)
- Kachera (cotton shorts)
- Kesh (uncut hair)
- Kangha (wooden comb)
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One of the k in five ks is kara which is a steel bangle. This circular kara depicts that divine energy has no beginning and no end. This is the symbol of strength, integrity, and truth. This kara reminds Sikh people that they should follow the advice of their guru when they do something with their hands.
It is the duty of Sikh people to protect those who are in peril. The kirpan is a ceremonial dagger. All Sikhs should keep this dagger attached to their body for self-defense and to protect the weak and innocent. A true Sikh always stands for justice and human rights. A kirpan is used to defend those poor people who suffer unjustly, and cruelty from others. This kirpan is a sign of courage that encourages Sikhs to always come forward and take the distressed out of danger.
Kachera is a sort of undergarment that is worn by Sikhs under shalwar and the meaning of wearing it is that a Sikh soldier has to be alert and ready at a moment’s notice for any kind of battle or to save someone. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Sikh warriors used this kachera that enabled them to ride horses comfortably. Another advantage of wearing kachera is that it is easy to wear, maintain, wash and carry. It also signifies the self-respect of a true Sikh and it helps them to gain mental control over lust which is considered one of the five evils in Sikh philosophy.
Sikhs consider their hair as a blessing as it is a symbol of strength and holiness. Here kesh means not cutting hair. To them, hair is a crucial part of the body. Sikhs are seen with turbans to cover their hair and these turbans also help them to stand out to help those who are in need. Turban is taken as the main following Sikh principles. Sikhs keep their hair uncut to show their respect for the perfection of God’s creation.
Since Sikhs keep their hair long, which must be kept neat and clean, this is the reason they need a comb. This comb is known as kangha and it is made of wood. They use it twice daily to detangle their hair. This is a sign of cleanliness. According to the Sikh religion the way they comb their hair to keep it tidy, in the same way, their lives should be shaped – organized and tidy. Guru Granth Sahib believed that hair should be kept to grow in a natural way. Some saints used to have long tangled dirty hair but Sikh Guru advised them to comb their hair twice a day.
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These five things form 5 ks which make Sikhism unique, making them strong, courageous, and disciplined.