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Sikhism: Symbols and Icons

Page history last edited by Brock Baker 12 years, 1 month ago

 Symbols

 

 

            The Khanda: The religious symbol of Sikhism, the Khanda, consists of 2 curved swords, a double edged dagger, and a Chakkar (a circular weapon). This symbol stands for bravery, great spiritual power, the eternal nature of God, and the oneness of humanity.  The Khanda is one of the most important symbols of Sikhis and is regarded as the international symbol of the religion.

 

 

            The Ik Onkar: This symbol is also very important to the Sikhs. It means that God is one and that everyone is equal. The Ik Onkar is also meant to represent the Sikh’s one God. It is the first symbol in the first verse of Siri Guru Granth Sahib, a very important scripture to the Sikhs. This verse is commonly referred to as the Mool Mantar.

 

 

Amrit: A drink of sweetened water that is used to initiate men and women into the Khalsa (pure), a military order that Guru Gobind Singh organized his followers into. The ceremony is simillar to the baptism in Christianity.

 

Dress

 

Articles of clothing and personal care are very important and religious to the Sikhs.

 

The Five Ks: Or Panj Kakaar/kakke are five articles of clothing that baptized Sikhs must wear at all times. They are meant to display one’s devotion to the faith and to God. A Sikh who has adorned all five of the K’s is referred to as Khalsa Sikhs, and those who have not are known as Sahadjdhari. The five K’s include Kesh, Kangha, Kirpan, Kachera, and Kara.

 

                     Kesh (uncut hair): Having uncut hair on any part of the body for both men and women is mandatory and is considered the most important ‘K’.

 

                     Kanga (a small, wooden comb): For hygiene and maintenance of the Kesh and must be worn at all times. It us usually tied behind the ‘Rishi Knot’ and underneath the Turban.

 

 

Kirpan (strapped sword): This is worn to defend ones faith and protect the weak. A constant reminder of one’s duties as a Khalsa and is worn to show bravery, not to be used as a weapon.

 

Kacha (cotton breeches): Comfortable and dignified clothing which is meant to symbolize disciplined sexuality, and is worn by both men and women of the Sikh faith. It is also supposed to give feelings of dignity, modesty, and honour to those who wear it.

 

 

 

 

Kara (iron bracelet): The Kara is meant to remind the Sikh that they are bound to the Guru and restraint from evil deeds. It is usually worn on the right wrist, when a Sikh goes to do something, they look at their Kara and think twice before doing anything evil.

 

http://www.realsikhism.com/symbols.html

 

Architecture

 

The Sikhs, like many religions, have important buildings and places of worship; but Sikh architecture can be found in many other places as well, such as forts, palaces, residential places, colleges, etc.

 

 

 

The Golden Temple: Is regarded as the holiest shrine to the Sikhs, and is a very important symbol of the religion. To Sikhs, it is regarded as the Dharbar Sahib ‘The Court of God’. It was originally a small lake in the middle of a forest, and it is said that The Buddha had frequently visited. Many years after Buddha, Guru Nanak (the supposed founder of the Sikh religion) visited the area frequently as well. After his death, the area became a sacred shrine to the Sikhs, the lake was enlarged and the temple was built. The temple has been destroyed numerous times by Moslem armies, and each time it has been rebuilt by the Sikh’s, each more beautiful than the last. Within the temple rests the Adi Grantha, the holy scripture to the Sikhs. The building also has four entranceways, symbolic of the universality of the Sikh truth and that the temple is open to all.

 

 

The Gurdwara: Meaning ‘The Gateway’, this is a place where there Guru could be reached. It is not one specific building, it can be located anywhere the Guru Granth Sahib is installed (a room in a house, a specific building, etc.) Public Gurdwara’s have three main functions; Kirtan, the singing of hymns from the Granth Sahib, Katha; the reading from the Granth Sahib, and Langar, a free community kitchen for all visitors of all religions. They also serve the community as a library for Sikh literature, school’s to teach children about the faith, and to serve the community through volunteer work. It’s basically the Sikh’s version of a Christian church.

 

The Five Holy Takhts

 

The Five Holy Takhts (thrones) are five Gurdwara’s that hold a lot of importance to the Sikhs, and are considered the seats to the most important authorities of the religion, and is where many important decisions regarding the religious and social lives of Sikhs have been made.

 

 

Art

 

     Art has been fairly discouraged in the Sikh communities, and many frown upon even painting and portrayals of Sikh Guru’s in art, due to Hindu influence and the worshipping of the portraits instead of the Guru’s word. The same reasons also reflect on Sikh’s discouragement of a visual portrayal of the history of the Gurus. Though change is coming slowly and art is being integrated back into the communities, one famous Sikh artist is Dr. Sukhpal Singh, a painter and replica maker. He creates replicas of temples and Gurdwaras. His replica scale model of Guru Ka Bagh, was presented to Queen Elizabeth during her visit to Amristar, India in 1998 and was put on display in Buckingham palace. The Sikh communities of New York have even created their own Sikh Art and Film Foundation, which hosts a Sikh film festival and heritage galas to celebrate their Sikh heritages.

 

                           

 


Bibliography

The Five K's

 

Book:

Partridge, Christopher. Introduction to World Religions. Augsburg Fortress: First Fortress Press, 2005

 

Website:

 The Skih Temple of North Texas. THE Five K's. 24 May 2001. 15 Sep. 2008 <http://www.sikhtempledallas.org/index.shtml>.

 

Website:

Government of Punjab. The Order of the Khalsa-significance in World History and Civilization. Unknown. 14 Sep. 2008 http://punjabgovt.nic.in/culture/culture1.htm.

 

The Five Holy Takhts 

 

Website:

Brar Singh, Sandeep. Gurdwaras - the Most Sacred Shrines. 1998. 14 Sep. 2008 http://www.sikhs.org/gurdw1.htm

 

Website:

Sikh Temple Nanaksar. Five Takhats of Khalsa. Unknown. 15 Sep. 2008 http://www.sikhtemple.com/holy%20takhats.html.

 

Website:

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Five Holy Takhts of Khalsa. Unknown. 16 Sep. 2008 <http://www.sgpc.net/festivals/nanakshahi.asp>.

 

The Golden Temple

 

Book:

Partridge, Christopher. Introduction to World Religions. Augsburg Fortress: First Fortress Press, 2005

 

Book:

Thursby, Gene R. World Book Encyclopedia S-Sn 17. Chicago, IL: World Book, Inc., 2005.

 

Website:

Amristar Travel . Amristar Golden Temple. 2007. 16 Sep. 2008 http://www.amritsartravel.com/golden-temple.shtml.

 

Sikh Art

 

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Iceberg C-21 Breaks off Shackleton Ice Shelf. 25 Mar. 2003. 25 Feb. 2005 http://www.mrsikhnet.com/index.php/2007/03/06/the-taboo-of-sikh-art/.

 

Jadoo Information Services. Sikh Art. 06 Feb. 2006. 23 Sep. 2008 http://www.sikh.com.au/Sikhart/Sukhpal/index.html.

 

The Sikh Art and Film Foundation. Annual Sikh Film Festival. 2008. 23 Sep. 2008 http://www.sikharts.com/index.html.


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