Sikhism and the 5 K’s

“Recognize the Lord’s Light within all, and do not consider social class or status; there are no classes or castes in the world hereafter.” – Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 349

So in preparation for going to the Sikh Gurudwara I decided to read up on the Sikhs and these are some things that I found significant and interesting about them. Sikhism was first founded by the Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

He was born into a Hindu family and visited Mecca for Hajj during his lifetime. He believed that Muslims and Hindus fighting each other to prove whose gods were better was a stupid choice that was unholy. He followed neither Islam or Hinduism believing that there were many paths to holiness with the one way being through the Sikh faith. The Sikh faith has been unfairly called a hybrid of Islam and Hinduism due to their belief in one God and their more relaxed religious laws. Sikhism is its’ own faith with a very elaborate and different belief system.

After the death of Guru Nanak there were nine more Gurus who added to and continued to develop the message of love that was originally found by the Guru Nanak. One of the most famous of these things are the Five K’s which were created in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh. These Five K’s are the Kesh, Kara, Kanga, Kaccha (Kachh, Kachera), and the Kirpan.

The first K, the Kesh, is uncut hair. The reason the hair is uncut is as a symbol of holiness and that one is practicing the Sikh faith. Also to have uncut hair is to show that you are accepting God’s plans for your life and that you do not want to do anything to alter yourself or the plans that God has created for you.

The second K, the Kara, is a steel bracelet. This is used to show a bond to God, the gurus and all other Sikhs who come before and after them. The goal is that the bracelets remind the Sikhs that they are a part of God’s plan for the world and for them.

Then we have the Kanga, which is a wooden comb. The Kanga is designed to symbolize the care that Sikhs take in their body as a vessel to do good deeds for God. It is also used to represent a clean mind and body for their work here.

Fourthly, is the Kaccha, or special underwear. These have both a religious and utilitarian use. These underwear go to the knee, and are basically the holy version of boxers (Sorry!). Also, these Kaccha were great for horse riding when the Sikh would go to war!

The fifth K is the Kirpan or a ceremonial sword. There is no a set requirement for the design or size of the sword and can be any huge variety of sizes and shapes (Phrasing!). The Kirpan is used in the defense of good, the weak and in the struggle against injustice. Additionally, the Kirpan is also used as a symbol of God and how he embodies those things.

So one other beautiful practice of the Sikh is Langar. For those of you who are not familiar, Langar is a lunch provided by Sikhs with the intention of feeding the poor and trying to decrease poverty.  Langar is also designed to bring people together to have them eat in a community setting where everyone is seen as equal.

I still haven’t been to the local Gurudwara but I am thrilled for when I go. The Sikh faith is an extremely fascinating and beautiful one built on the belief that all are equal. Also, I am highkey hoping for homemade Indian food, so I will let you know if I get some. Lastly this is only the first of many chapters on Sikhism and it’s just a broad view of things I found interesting in my first look.

Until next time!

Bryce M. Ridley

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