What is a kirpan in Sikhism?

Sikh Groom with kirpan

What is a kirpan and what does it symbolise?

A kirpan carries multiple symbolic meanings and has great importance in Sikhism. The compact sword measure around 6 inches in length and is typically secured within a shoulder belt. Wedding kirpans however can extend to several meters in size.

Carrying the Kirpan shows that Sikhs are brave and will protect others. It reminds them to be ready to do what’s right. The kirpan is always with them, reminding them to be spiritually strong. Sikhs believe in fairness and justice for everyone. The kirpan shows they are committed to treating everyone fairly and standing up for people’s rights. It’s like a symbol of fairness and justice for them.

Wearing the kirpan is a way for Sikhs to show their strong faith and dedication to the teachings of Sikh gurus. It’s a physical symbol of their commitment to living by Sikh principles like truth, compassion, and selflessness.

Sikhs also see the kirpan as a reminder of their duty to their community and society. It’s a constant symbol of their responsibility to be kind and caring members of society.


Sikhism Five Ks

For those who are part of the Khalsa, a group of initiated Sikhs, the kirpan is one of the Five Ks they must always wear. These Five Ks, including the kirpan, are essential to their Khalsa identity and represent their deep devotion to Sikhism.

Sikhs consider the kirpan a gift from their tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It is seen as a symbol of the Guru’s grace, blessings and teachings. Wearing the kirpan is a way for Sikhs to carry the Guru’s wisdom and guidance with them constantly.


Wedding Kirpan

In the context of a Sikh wedding, the wedding kirpan plays a significant role during the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony). When the bride and groom circulate the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the kirpan is held above their heads by a designated person. This gesture symbolises the protective and guiding presence of the Guru in their married life, reinforcing the values and principles represented by the kirpan.

In essence, the wedding kirpan is a powerful and multifaceted symbol in Sikhism. It encapsulates core Sikh values, including courage, justice, equality, faith and the duty to protect and uphold Sikh principles. As a constant presence in a Sikh’s life, it serves as a tangible reminder of their faith, responsibilities, and commitment to a life guided by Sikh teachings.

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