The 5 Ks of Sikhism
To introduce the religion of Sikhism and to explore the symbolism of the Five Ks
by Lucy Fletcher
Suitable for Key Stage 2
To introduce the religion of Sikhism and to explore the symbolism of the Five Ks.
Preparation and materials
You will need:
- Examples of ‘uniforms’ or distinctive dress, such as police helmet, Cub/Brownie outfit, doctor’s coat, dog collar and cross, Father Christmas outfit, football shirt, Islamic veil/Hijab, etc.
- Artefacts of the Five Ks – a pack can be obtained at educational religious artefacts suppliers. If these are not available then pictures of them can be easily obtained from the internet.
- You could use an OHP, data projector or flip-chart/board to write down the Ks as you explain them, perhaps having only the letter K visible at the start, then filling in the words as you go.
Ask for volunteers to dress up (this could be arranged beforehand if time is tight). Dress each of the volunteers in one of the outfits you have provided, illustrating a range of uniforms and symbols. Then ask the children about each outfit. What does it say about the person wearing it? Listen to the answers and highlight the fact that what you wear can show people about the job you do, what you are interested in and also what you believe in. Can the children think of any other uniforms or symbols they wear that represent something they enjoy or feel strongly about?
Brainstorm how many different religions the children are able to name, e.g. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism. Explain that each religion has different beliefs and customs that are special and specific to the people who follow that faith. You can sometimes tell which religion a person follows by the things they do and also by the things they wear.
Introduce or recap (depending on previous background knowledge) the religion of Sikhism. Sikhism is the youngest of all the major world religions and there are about 800,000 followers in Britain. Someone who follows the religion of Sikhism is known as a Sikh.
There are five very special symbols that Sikh people wear to show that they are committed to their religion. They wear these symbols with pride and honour. Each object begins with the letter K and has its own special meaning.
Then work through each K, demonstrating what they look like with the real artefacts or pictures of them.
Kesh – uncut hair (can be represented by a turban). Sikhs believe that humans were created in the image of God, so to change the human body would be to go against God’s wishes. Hair is a gift from God, therefore Sikhs should never cut their hair, or shave or wax it. It must also be kept clean and combed at all times and men should keep it covered by a turban. By keeping their hair long Sikhs are showing their acceptance of God’s wishes.
Kanga – wooden comb. Because the hair is so important to Sikhs they have a special comb that they keep in their hair all day. It is also used to comb their hair at least twice a day. It represents cleanliness and shows that if their hair is clean and tidy then their minds are clear and focused.
Kaach – special underwear. These are special shorts that Sikhs wear all the time; they remind Sikhs about the vows they have made to God as well as their partners. Children can sometimes find these funny, but it must be stressed that they are very special to Sikhs and must be respected, just as anyone would want their special things respected.
Kara – iron bangle, which means link or bond. This is an iron bracelet that Sikhs wear on their right wrist. It demonstrates the special bond between a Sikh, God and all other Sikhs. It is also a constant reminder to Sikhs to remain true to their religion during times of weakness.
Kirpan – sword. The Kirpan is a small sword which is worn, attached to a piece of special cloth, around the waist. This is a symbol of power and demonstrates the Sikh religion’s tradition of having to fight for their beliefs. Sikhs never use this as a weapon but as a reminder of their history and beliefs.
Finally recap on the Five Ks, highlighting that Sikhs wear them with pride and honour to show that they strongly believe in their religion and God.
Time for reflection
The word sacred means very special.
Think about an object that is special to you. Why is it special and how does it make you feel?
Think about the groups you belong to and why you enjoy being part of that group.
Thank you for everything that we think of as special.
Thank you for making me special and for all the groups I belong to and the people involved.
‘He’s got the whole world' (Come and Praise, 19)