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Home » Symbols

THE KHANDA: The Khanda is the symbol of the Sikhs, as the Cross is to Christians or the Star of David is to Jews. It reflects some of the fundamental concepts of Sikhism. The symbol derives its name from the double-edged sword (also called a Khanda) . This double-edged sword is a metaphor of Divine Knowledge, its sharp edges cleaving Truth from Falsehood. The right edge of the double-edged sword symbolises freedom and authority governed by moral and spiritual values. The left edge of the double-edged sword symbolises divine justice which chastises and punishes the wicked oppressors. The circle around the Khanda is the Chakar. The Chakar being a circle without a beginning or an end symbolises the perfection of God who is eternal. The Chakar is surrounded by two curved swords called Kirpans. These two swords symbolise the twin concepts of Meeri and Peeri - Temporal and Spiritual authority introduced by Guru Hargobind. They emphasise the equal emphasis that a Sikh must place on spiritual aspirations as well as obligations to society. On the left side is the sword of spiritual sovereignty, Peeri; on the right side is the sword of political sovereignty, Meeri.
EK-ONKAR: "There is Only One God". The first two words in the Guru Granth Sahib & one of the cornerstones of Sikhism. They appear at the beginning of the Mul Mantra written by Guru Nanak describing the qualities of God in the Japji.

NISHAN SAHIB: Nishan Sahib is the name given to the flag which is seen flying outside every Sikh Gurdwara (Temple). It is a triangular piece of ochre or saffron coloured cloth with the Khanda emblem in the middle. The flag post also has a khanda or spear on top and is usually covered with the same cloth as the flag. The use of the Nishan Sahib was first introduced by Guru Hargobind. Sikhs show great respect to their flag as it is, indeed, the symbol of the freedom of the Khalsa. It is this Nishan Sahib that is referred to in the daily prayer of the Sikhs for its immortality. When we study the verses of the bards that form an integral part of the Guru Granth Sahib, we learn that there was a practice of hoisting of the flag during the divine ministry of Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das and Gur Argan Dev ji. The colour underwent a change, from white to saffron, in the hands of Guru Hargobind and it was first time hoisted at the Akal Takht Sahib in the year 1609.


Comb. A symbol of hygiene and discipline as opposed to the matted un-kept hair of ascetics. A Khalsa is expected to regularly wash and comb their hair as a matter of self discipline.
Ceremonial Sword. A symbol of dignity and the Sikh struggle against injustice. It is worn purely as a religious symbol and not as a weapon. When all other means of self protection fail, the Kirpan can be used to protect yourself or others against the enemy.
KARA: Iron bracelet. A symbol to remind the wearer of restraint in their actions and remembrance of God at all times. Every Khalsa is enjoined to wear the Kara on the right wrist. The Kara being circular in shape, symbolises wheel which itself, when viewed in the background of Indian heritage, simultaneously stands for Dharma and Chakarvarti Raja (universal monarch). Therefore Kara manifests two meanings, eternal and temporal and the Khalsa is enjoined to imbibe both.
KACHHERA: Drawers. A symbol signifying self control and chastity. Every member of the Khalsa must must wear a Kachhera, in order to cover not only the genitals, but it should also cover the thighs up to the knees. The covering of the genitals enjoins him/her to live under the strict discipline of self control. Also the Kachhera stands to repudiate the idea of nudity so dear to Indian asceticism. The Sikh religion advocates, instead, all round development of one's personality possible only when adhering to social norms as a balanced social being. It also allows freedom of movement, which is especially required during time of battle.
KESH: Long unshorn hair. A symbol of spirituality. The Kesh reminds a Khalsa to behave like the Guru's. It is a mark of dedication and group consciousness, showing a Khalsa's acceptance of God's will. Long hair have long been a common element of many spiritual prophets of various religions such as Jesus, Moses and Buddha..

SIKH TURBAN: Turban is closely associated with Sikhism. Sikhism is the only religion in the world in which wearing a turban is mandatory for all adult males. Vast majority of people who wear turbans in the Western countries are Sikhs. The Sikh pagdi is also called dastaar, which is a more respectful word in Punjabi for the turban. Sikh's are famous for their distinctive turbans. The turban represents respectability, and is a sign of nobility. Guru Gobind Singh gave all of his Sikhs turbans to recognize the the high moral status that the Khalsa has to adhere to. A turbaned sikh stands out from the crowd and is easily recognizable. The dastaar, as the Sikh turban is commonly known as is an article of faith. This was made mandatory by the founders of Khalsa and all baptised Sikhs are required to wear a Dastaar.

Historical Background:

Turban is an inseparable part of a Sikh's life. Since Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, all Sikhs have been sporting a turban. The Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct) specifically says that all Sikhs must wear a turban. According to the Rehatnama, compiled after a few years of Guru Gobind Singh's demise, the five Kakars of Sikhism were : Kachhera (a knee-length underwear), Kara (a iron bangle), Kirpan (a sword), Kangha (comb) and Kesh (hair).