1. Kakkars – Articles of Faith: The most obvious reason to wear Kakkars, the five articles of faith, is because Guru Sahib told us. Kakars are his gifts to us. It is very practical to wear them, and they serve many purposes:
ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਬਚਨ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਸਚਾ ਏਹੁ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥
Follow what Guru Sahib told us to follow, as Sikhs we must follow everything Guru Sahib tells us.
ਗੁਰਿ ਕਹਿਆ ਸਾ ਕਾਰ ਕਮਾਵਹੁ ॥
So do that work, which the Guru tells you to do.
2. Kanga – Wooden Comb: Wearing a Kanga, tin the hair or our Kes is very practical as we always have a comb on us to keep our Kes clean. Also having a wooden comb in our hair helps keep static electricity from building up which is a good thing. Guru Sahib tells us to take care of this body that we have been blessed with. Having clean, and healthy, hair is the responsibility of a Sikh. That is why Guru Sahib tells us to wash our hair daily, and comb it twice daily:
ਕੰਘਾ ਦੋਨੋ ਵਕਤ ਕਰ
Kanga is to be used twice daily
(Bhai Nand Lal Singh)
3. Kes / Keski – Hair and Short Turban: The practical purpose of having a Keski is to cover our hair, keep it from tangling, and to keep it clean. Having Kes is very beneficial health wise. Keeping hair has a direct relationship with the chemicals in our brain, as well as our endocrine systems, and hormonal functions.
4. Kara – Iron Bangle: The Kara provides us with iron as the bangle rubs against our arm. It protects us from cuts and bruises in battle when the enemies strikes. Most of all it reminds us that these arms belong to Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, and we must never use these hands, or arms, in a way that would not please Guru Sahib.
5. Kirpan – Short Sword: The Kirpan is very practical short sword as it can preserve our life, and the lives of others. A Sikh must always be ready to defend himself, or herself, as well as those that need defending. As Gursikhs, we have a responsibility to make sure everyone around us, regardless of religion, gender, caste, etc. feels safe, and will be defended if need be. The Kirpan is also used for blessing before partaking of the sweet sacred offering of Prashad and the fantastic free food of Langar. The Kirpan also reminds us to slay our own ego so that we can be rid of pride in order to realize that we are one with the creator, and all of creation.
ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾਣ ਪਾਣ ਧਾਰੀਅੰ॥
He is equipped with a sword in one hand
ਕਰੋਰ ਪਾਪ ਟਾਰੀਅੰ॥
Which eliminates myriads of sins.
(Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Jee, 101)
6. Kachhera – Undergarment: The Kachhera reminds us of our moral duties towards men, and women, that are not our husbands, or wives. A Sikh may only have sexual relations with either his wife, or her husband. The Kachhera is there to remind to us about that. Guru Sahib says:
ਨਿਜ ਨਾਰੀ ਕੇ ਸਾਥ ਨੇਹੁ ਤੁਮ ਨਿੱਤ ਬਢੈਯਹੁ ॥
Have physical relations with your own wife only,
ਪਰ ਨਾਰੀ ਕੀ ਸੇਜ ਭੂਲਿ ਸੁਪਨੇ ਹੂੰ ਨ ਜੈਯਹੁ ॥
but never, even in your dreams, go to the bed of another woman.
(Charitropaakhian, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib Jee, 842)
7. Naam Jap – Meditation on the Divine Identity: Each precious hair of our Kes is like a tongue which continually vibrates Naam to help us awaken to the awareness of our Divine Identity by reminding us that we are one with the Divine. By giving us a Kanga, and Keski, to protect our Kes, Guru Sahib has made sure our Kes will always be clean and healthy. It is also Hukam for Gursikhs to wash their Kes daily, and comb it twice a day, ensuring they remain healthy, and clean, thus allowing us to Jap Naam that much more.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਰੋਮਿ ਹਰਿ ਧਿਆਵੈ ॥
With each and every hair a Gursikh vibrates with Akaal Purakh’s Naam.
8. Bound to Guru: Our Kakkars are our dedication to Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib told us to wear them, so we do what Guru Sahib tells us to. We are dedicated to Guru Sahibs Hukam. By accepting everything Guru Sahib tells us to do, we are trying our best to pleasing Guru Sahib. We wear the Kara to show that our hands are bound to Guru Sahib and that he can do whatever he wants with us:
ਕਬੀਰ ਕੂਕਰੁ ਰਾਮ ਕੋ ਮੁਤੀਆ ਮੇਰੋ ਨਾਉ ॥
Kabeer, I am the Lord’s dog; Moti is my name.
ਗਲੇ ਹਮਾਰੇ ਜੇਵਰੀ ਜਹ ਖਿੰਚੈ ਤਹ ਜਾਉ ॥74॥
There is a chain around my neck; wherever I am pulled, I go. ||74||
-Bhagat Kabeer Jee, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, 1368
9. Adornment: Our Kakkars, along with other Shastar weaponry, are our Shingars, our jewelery. When a bride is married to her husband, she adorns herself jewelery to look pleasing to her husband. Our husband is Akal Purakh, and we want to look pleasing to him. These aren’t any ordinary jewels, and jewelry, but these are the best kind of jewels. These Shingars not only have practical purposes, but they look beautiful to Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib blessed us with his own form, and his own jewelry.
10. Humility: These Kakkars which are our jewelery are not fancy, nor made of gold, or expensive jewels. They are made of the poorest iron metal which is very durable. Guru Sahib made us wear Sarbloh to remind us daily that a Gursikh needs to remain humble, and endure, not give in to ego indulgence, and pride, but to always see himself, and herself, as the most humble, poorest of the poor.
ਮਨ ਤੂੰ ਮਤ ਮਾਣੁ ਕਰਹਿ ਜਿ ਹਉ ਕਿਛੁ ਜਾਣਦਾ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ ਹੋਹੁ ॥
O mind, don’t be so proud of yourself, as if you know it all; the Gurmukh is humble, and modest.
(Sri Guru Amar Das Jee, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, 441)