Ik Onkar (God is One)
Sikhism is a fascinating religion. In my little knowledge about the religion, I learnt about the concept of Kakaars or the Five Ks of Sikhism, and my respect for the religion has increased manifold.
The tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, while creating the Khalsa Panth, commanded his followers to wear Kesh, Kangha, Kara, Kaccha, and Kirpan. The Amritdhari Sikh - one who is baptised by taking amrit (the nectar water), wears these 5 articles of faith which are not just symbols, but carry a deeper meaning that signify a life of discipline and spirituality.
Here's what each of them signifies
1. Kesh (Uncut hair)
Hair growth is a natural process and keeping it uncut symbolizes that one accepts God's gift as he intended. It is also an indication that the person doesn't take pride in physical appearance, has moved beyond that, and prefers to live a simple life.
2. Kangha (Comb)
Guru Gobind Singh emphasized on cleanliness, and to keep the uncut hair neat and tidy, a small wooden comb was mandated. It also symbolises a disciplined and orderly life, as opposed to unkempt hair. This also means that one not only accepts what God has given, but also maintains it with grace.
3. Kara (Bracelet)
Kara constantly reminds a Sikh of the vows taken by him/her, and also of the Guru's advice. It's also a reminder that one is not supposed to indulge in any act that the Guru would not approve of. The Kara is also a symbol of strength and integrity. Its circular shape signifies the oneness and eternity of God, and a permanent bonding with the community.
4. Kachera or Kaccha (Undergarment)
Kachera or Kaccha covers the private parts of the body and is a symbol signifying chastity and self control over lust and desires. The design is such that it ensures comfort and freedom of movement. Also, in the past, when Sikhs were engaged in combats and rode horses, it was suitable to wear these knee-length shorts.
5. Kirpan (Dagger)
Keeping a Kirpan symbolises a Sikh's duty to fight against injustice and defend their morals. It is mandatory for all baptised Sikhs to wear a tiny Kirpan on their body. It is kept in a sheath and can be worn over or under clothing. The Kirpan is also a symbol of spirituality and bravery. Originally the Kirpan was kept sharp and used as a defensive tool to fight against harsh rulers, the acts of injustice, and to protect women and children.