The five K’s refer to the Sikh articles of faith. The practice of wearing the five K’s dates back to 30 March 1699. On that day Guru Gobind Singh the tenth and last Sikh Guru initiated the first five Sikhs (referred to as ‘Panj Pyare’ –five beloved ones) into the Khalsa fold.

During the initiation ceremony referred to as ‘amrit sanchar’ (equivalent to baptism in Christianity), every initiate into the order of Khalsa is enjoined upon to adopt and never to part from his /her person the five articles of faith. These are:

Kesh – unshorn hair usually tied up as a knot and crowned with a turban. Along with the unshorn hair, the turban has become a crucial symbol. Sikhs cherish the greatest respect for it. They must not cut their hair and they must keep their heads covered with turbans. It may be observed how lovingly, painstakingly, proudly and colourfully they adorn their heads with neatly tied crown-like turbans.

Kanga – a small wooden comb (placed in the hair knot under the turban).

Kara - iron bangle (worn on the wrist)

Kachhera - prescribed shorts (worn as an undergarment)

Kirpan – small sheathed sword (made of steel/iron)

The Sikh Rehat Maryada (Code of Conduct) published by the Shiromani

Gurduara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) clearly states:

“The person to be baptized must have taken bath and washed the hair and

must wear all five K’s.  – Kesh (unshorn hair), strapped Kirpan (sword),

Kachhehra (prescribed shorts), Kanga (comb tucked in the tied up hair),

Kara, (steel bracelet).” Article XXIV (d)

These articles are always with the initiated Sikh. This requirement is observed even at the person’s funeral. “The dead body should be bathed and clothed in clean clothes. While that is done, the Sikh symbols- comb, kachha, kara, kirpan – should not be taken off”. Article XIX (e).

These articles are a clear mark of identification of a Sikh and it is part of their religious vows not to part with them. They are regarded as a gift from their Guru. They are held as keepsakes of the Tenth Guru who had completely identified himself with his Khalsa. They symbolize a relationship of love - the Sikhs’ love for their Guru and also his for them.