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Text for children
Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the ten gurus, called upon all dedicated members of the Sikh brotherhood (and sisterhood)(called the Khalsa) to wear the five articles, called Kakkars or "5Ks". These 5Ks are not merely symbols or icons but their articles of faith and actual utilities of life. The Five Ks reflect their commitment to the pure way of life and their commitment to higher human values. For practising Khalsa, these 5Ks are a mandatory part of their faith; the tenth Sikh Guru compelled them to wear these 5 articles of faith at all times.
These Kakkars form the martial uniform of the practising Sikhs or the KHALSA, which is sometimes referred to as "Akal purakh ki fauj" or "God's own Army" fighting relentless battle against tyranny and suppression (adharam or anti-dharam)). They are bound to a commitment to living truthful life against all odds. Commitment to flawlessly and to remain true to moral and higher human values; to behave in the manner laid down in their perpetual Guru, 'Sri Guru Granth Sahib'; to not engage in self willed conduct (manmat); to follow the guidelines of the Guru as defined and amplified in SGGS or Sri Guru Granth Sahib at all times.
The Kesh is long uncut hair. It has become the most visible way to identify Sikhs, who promise not to cut their hair but let it grow as a symbol of their faith and in respect of the pure human form given by God. Because during their lifetimes the hair will get very long, they wear turbans, "Keski" or "Chunni" to keep it tidy. They believe that keeping uncut hair demonstrates their acceptance of the natural state of the human body as given by God. Almost all people you see wearing turbans in the West are Sikhs. For most Sikhs, the kesh and turban (or chunni) are both an integral part of their articles of faith.
The kanga is a small wooden comb used to keep their long hair tidy, but it is more than that, it is a symbol of cleanliness and a reminder to keep ones life in tidy order and "comb" away impure thoughts. The kanga is worn at all times by all practising Sikhs. It is normally worn in the joora or the topknot of unshorn hair after the hair has been combed. A Sikh is required to comb his or her hair twice daily.
The Kara is an iron bangle worn on the wrist of the dominant arm. It is a closed circle with no beginning and no end...as with God there is no beginning and no end. It is a reminder to behave well, keep faith and restrain from wrong doing. Since we use our hands for almost everything we do, the bangle is a constant reminder of to do good deeds and remember God while performing your duties.
The Last two are a reminder that Sikhs are warriors and always fight for righteousness and to protect the weak.
The kaccha is similar to a soldier's under-shorts, a loose, white, cotton undergarment symbolising a high moral character and spiritual freedom and a duty to exercise constrain and control at all times.
The warrior's sword, representing a commitment to justice. These days a kirpan is worn as a symbol of dignity, readiness to defend and self respect. It demonstrates the availability of power and reminds Sikhs that they must be ready at all times to defend and be ready to fight a spiritual battle, defend the weak and oppressed, and uphold Truth.