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Explaining Kirpan to NON SIKHS !


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EXPLAINING WHAT THE KIRPAN IS TO A NON-SIKH

by Manvir Singh Khalsa

WHAT IS A KIRPAN (pronounced Kir-paan)?

    It is a small sword held by a material strap which goes across the body.

    [*] It is not an offensive weapon but a protective tool

    [*] Kirpan means ‘hand of kindness/mercy’, which highlights how the Kirpan is not to be used to attack anyone but merely to defend oneself or another as a last resort.

      WHO CARRIES A KIRPAN?

      Initiated Sikh men and women, irrespective of age.

      WHY CARRY A KIRPAN?

      It is part of the Sikh uniform which consists of 5 articles:

      1. Kes: uncut hair (tied up and the head and crowned with a turban)

      - The Kes is an identity of a Sikh and also has spiritual significance.

      - The Kes is a stamp or seal that a Sikh¡'s head is God's.

      2. Kanga: small wooden comb (placed in the hair knot under the turban)

      - The Kanga is used to keep the hair clean.

      - Just a Sikh combs their hair daily; he or she should also comb their mind with the Guru's wisdom.

      3. Kara: Iron bangle (worn on the wrist)

      - The Kara is a gift of a Guru which acts as a reminder to do the right action (with our hands).

      - The Kara is made of iron which symbolises how a Sikh should have strength and courage.

      4. Kirpan: small sword (made of steal/iron)

      - The Kirpan is to be used to upkeep righteousness

      - The Kirpan represents sovereignty and kingship bestowed upon the Sikhs by their Guru.

      - The Kirpan exemplifies the warrior character of a Sikh.

      5. Kachhera: Long undergarment (which is above the knees, and worn as an undergarment)

      - The Kachhera is worn to be respectable and dignified at all times.

      - The Kachhera reminds a Sikh to practice self-control and to have a high moral character.

      The 5 articles have the same value as the uniform of a policeman or a soldier and something more subtle than that. This means equality, uniformity, unity and identity of the wearers. Every member of a team is required to put on a certain prescribed uniform for this very purpose. In the same way a Sikh has to wear the 5 Articles (known commonly as the 5 Ks) as part of being a "Warrior-Saint", a 'Khalsa'.

      IS IT OPTIONAL TO WEAR A KIRPAN?

      No! It is mandatory for initiated Sikhs to carry a Kirpan (this is recognised by the British Law).

      WHAT IS THE FUNCTION OF THE KIRPAN?

        [*]Defence (as a last resort, to upkeep righteousness and justice)

        [*]Used to bless Sikh Holy Communion, called 'karhaah parshaad', at the end of religious functions.

          WHAT ARE OFFENSIVE OR MISLEADING SUGGESTIONS ABOUT THE KIRPAN?

            To suggest that is a 'dagger', 'knife' or 'offensive weapon'.

            [*]To suggest it is a merely cultural symbol.

            [*]To suggest that the Kirpan can be replaced by wearing a miniature or replica Kirpan.

              IS IT LEGAL TO CARRY A KIRPAN IN BRITAIN?

              Yes it is! Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (section 139) and Criminal Justice 1996 (section 3 and 4) allows anyone to carry a blade exceeding the length of 3 inches for religious, cultural or work related reasons. The Criminal Justice Act and the 2003 Religious Discrimination Act safeguards the Sikhs to carry the Kirpan.

              manvir_singh_khalsa@yahoo.co.uk

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