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Kirpan - Kakar - Sikh Ceremonial Short Sword


Kirpan and Gatra

Kirpan and Gatra

Photo © [S Khalsa]

A Kirpan is a Sikh ceremonial short sword. The kirpan is one of five kakar, or articles of faith, required to be worn by an initiated Sikh known as Amritdhari, who has been baptised into the order of Khalsa in the ceremony of Amritsanchar.

  • The kirpan may be made of either steel or of iron.
  • The kirpan has no stipulated length. It is commonly between 3 - 9 inches is curved and has a single cutting edge which may be either blunt or sharpened.

The kirpan is to be worn on the body by the Amritdhari at all times. The kirpan is worn in a sheath hung on a gatra, or strap, and slung over one shoulder. When performing isnaan, bathing, or participating in water sports, the kirpan is commonly secured by the gatra to the turban, or at the waist when an alternate method is required.

The kirpan historically was used for defense in battle and may be used in as a weapon only for self defense or to defend another innocent person from harm. Symbolically the kirpan is a reminder to the spiritual devotee to slay the ego. Ceremonial use of the kirpan involves it's being touched to karah prashad as a blessing during ardas, the Sikh prayer to impart the properties of steadfast strength which occur in steel to the soul.

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Pronunciation: keer pon

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