Five K (Kakaar) FAQs

What are the 5 ks or five kakaars

Kesh – uncut hair

Kangha – wooden comb

Kara – iron bracelet

Kachhera – undergarment

Kirpan – traditional representation of a sword 

What is the significance of the 5ks?

The 5K’s are a major part of the Sikh identity. They represent the values of every representative of the Sikh faith. When you take Amrit you are given the 5K’s because they are gifts from God.

Are there other requirements to know of other than the 5ks?

Sikhs are also required to refrain from:

-       Cutting, trimming or dying any hair on the body

-       Eating halal or sacrificial meat

-       Cohabiting with a person other than one’s spouse

-       Consuming tobacco, alcohol, or recreational intoxicants

-       Piercing of the nose or ears for wearing ornaments 

When is the appropraite age to take amrit(baptized)?

The person who is taking Amrit should not be of very young age; he or she should have attained a plausible degree of discretion and understanding of what it means to take Amrit. However, there is no age restriction on when one can take Amrit.

What does kesh mean?

-       Unshorn hair symbolizing acceptance of God’s will

-       All the hair on the body are considered to be kesh

-       The hair must be kept covered at all times with a Keski or Dastaar (turban or head-covering) representing spiritual wisdom

-       Hair is considered a gift from god, and so hair becomes a symbol of loving God and respecting everything God has given 

What does kangha mean?

-       It is a wooden comb representing self discipline, hygiene and ridding oneself of impurities and what is morally undesirable

-       It is worn in the hair and used to keep hair neat and tidy 

What does the Kara mean?

-       An iron or steep bracelet worn on the wrist

-       The circle signifies the oneness and eternity of God an to use one’s hands for the benefit of humanity 

What does kachhera mean?

-       Cotton undergarment representing high moral character and restraint

-       It may be made from any cloth, but its legs should not reach down to below the shins 

What does Kirpan mean?

-       It is a traditional stylized representation of a sword, which must be worn sheathed, re-strained in a cloth belt and next to the body

-       The kirpan signifies the duty of a Sikh to stand up against injustice

-       Most kirpans range in size from 6 to 9 inches in length 

Can I wear my turban in The workplace?

-       Ontario Human Rights Commission:

  • The right of Sikhs to wear religious headgear, the turban, is protected under the Code, subject to the tests for bona fide occupational requirements and the undue hardship standard.
  • Employers are to accommodate and individual assess health and safety risks against the undue hardship standard where an employee is requesting an exemption from a hard-hat requirement to wear a Turban.
  • Under section IV-7c(ii) – Dress Codes – it states that it is best to avoid attempts to restrict the wearing of religious headgear based on concerns about image or customer preference

-       Loomba v. Home Depot

  • Court found that Loomba did not have to wear a hard hat while working as a security guard at a Home Depot location 

If I am injured at work and cannot tie my turban can i get compensation for this?

Yes. WCAT-2003-01615 (RE), 2003 CanLII 73970 (BC WCAT)

  • Court found in favour of appellant, who lost his right arm due to a work injury, in being provided financial assistance for turban tying
  • Appellant was not able to tie his turban and did not want to burden any of his family members for the rest of his life in helping him tie his turban. Thus, court also provided him with financial assistance for turban tying in addition to his daily financial assistance that was provided

What are the police and Canadian Forces’s uniform regulations in relation to turbans?

Police Uniform Regulations

-       Turban

  • Any rank of a baptized practicing member of the Sikh religion can, in place of other headgear, where a turban of the color dark navy blue with a municipal cap badge centered on its front
  • There was nothing on sizes so we assume that size is not an issue

-       Hair and Beard

  • Keep the hair and beard uncut provided that it is kept neat with the hair tied in a bun and concealed under the issued turban

Canadian Forces

-       Both Sikh men and women are allowed to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving

-       Hair and beard are allowed to be kept 

Can i drive my motorcycle with my turban instead of the helmet?

Motorcycle Helmet law:

  • S. 221 of the BC’s Motor Vehicle Act allows individuals of the Sikh religion with unshorn hair to wear full turbans
  • This exemption has also been given to Sikhs in Manitoba
  • This exemption has also been propped through Bill 194 in Ontario which seeks to amend the highway traffic act to exempt Sikh motorcyclist from the requirement of wearing a helmet. 

Can I Play sports with my turban on?

Karate

-       May wear religious mandated head-wear of type approved by the World Karate Federation

Soccer

-       A player may use equipment/clothing other than the basic equipment provided that its sole purpose is to protect him physically and it poses no danger to him or any other player

-       Headgear is not considered dangerous and are permitted

Basketball

-       Players cannot wear equipment(objects) that may cause injury to other players even if covered with soft padding 

-       Players cannot wear turban or head gear while playing soccer 

What are the hospital regulations in relation to hair trimming, shaving or cutting for medical procedures?

A Patient must be consulted and must give explicit permission prior to trimming, cutting or shaving any hair from any part of the body even for routine procedures such as taking blood 

What are the regulations in relation to Personal hygiene when working in the food processing, storage, distribution and handling areas?

-       All people entering food processing, storage, distribution and handling areas have an appropriate degree of personal cleanliness and take the appropriate precautions to prevent the contamination of food and food contact surfaces.

-       Employees in processing areas should wear effective hair restraints, such as hair nets.

Can I wear my kangha While I play sports?

Soccer

-       A kangha may be worn as long as it is covered under the turban so it is secure

-       This allows for the kangha to not cause injury to others and oneself while playing the sport

Karate/Wrestling

-       Wearing an object that might cause injury to the opponent or yourself is not allowed

Basketball

-       Players cannot wear equipment(objects) that may cause injury to other players even if covered with soft padding  

What are the police and Canadian Forces’s uniform regulations in relation to the kangha?

Police Uniform Regulations

-       A member of any rank who is a baptized practicing member of the Sikh religion may wear a kangha under the turban

Canadian Forces

-       Both Sikh men and women are allowed to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving 

What are the police and Canadian Forces’s uniform regulations in relation to the Kara?

Police Uniform Regulations

-       A member of any rank who is a baptized practicing member of the Sikh religion may wear, under the required uniform, a replica of the kirpan

Canadian Forces

-       Both Sikh men and women are allowed to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving 

Can I wear my kara in The workplace?

-       Where applicable: Sikh workers will now be permitted to wear the kara on the job, as long as the kara is worn tightly on the arm, restrained with an elbow support and covered by a rolled down sleeve

-       As with other employees, the arm and hands are to be covered with a glove and disposable sleeve 

Can I wear my kara While I play sports?

Soccer

-       All items of jewelry (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather, rubber bands etc.) are strictly forbidden and must be removed

Karate/Wrestling

-       Wearing an object that might cause injury to the opponent or yourself is not allowed 

Basketball

-       Players cannot wear equipment (objects)that may cause injury to other players even if covered with soft padding 

What are the hospital regulations in relation to the kara during medical procedures?

-       During Surgery the kara can be taped off

-       During CT scans the hand with the kara can be moved to the side 

Can I wear my kara When i take an mri at the hospital?

No, unfortunately it is very dangerous and unallowable to have metal objects in the MRI area/room 

What are the hospital regulations in relation to the kachhera during medical procedures?

-       The Kachhera may be worn at all times, including during bathing

-       Women during childbirth may want to tie the Kachhera to one of their legs

-       Patients may request that the Kachhera be tied to one of their legs during surgery 

What are the kirpan regulations in the workplace?

Ontario Human Rights Commission:

-       The right of Sikhs to wear the Kirpan is protected under human rights legislation and will not, in most cases, be found to constitute a health and safety risk amounting to undue hardship.

-       An employer should be wary about prohibiting any Sikh employee from wearing a ceremonial dagger, or kirpan in the workplace,

-       In most cases, any health and safety risks can be lessened by steps such as requiring it to be safely concealed (Creed – accommodating employees’ religious needs, Section IV-8f(ii)).

What are the police and Canadian Forces’s uniform regulations in relation to the kirpan?

Police Uniform Regulations

-       A member of any rank who is a baptized practicing member of the Sikh religion may wear, under the required uniform, a replica of the kirpan

Canadian Forces

-       Both Sikh men and women are allowed to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving 

Can i wear my kirpan when i am taking a standardized test (lsat, mcat, Sats, etc.)?

Yes, a kirpan is allowed to be worn in public places, schools and test centers.

Can i wear my kirpan in the VIA rail?

Yes, VIA rail riders are allowed to wear the Kirpan on trains. 

Can i wear my kirpan at Parliament Hill, Provincial Court and other Provincial Legislatures?

Yes, a kirpan is allowed to be worn at Parliament Hill and other provincial legislatures. 

Can i wear my kirpan during the Olympics?

Yes, according to the Olympic Kirpan Accommodation Policy:

-       Sikh guest wearing the kirpan should inform security personnel before being screened at venues

-       The kirpan must be worn under clothing and not easily accessible

-       The kirpan length cannot exceed 7.5 inches, with a maximum blade length of 4 inches.

-       The individual wearing the kirpan must be wearing all the other Sikh articles of faith

Can i wear my kirpan in Canadian NHL arenas?

-       Yes, Sikh guests wearing the kirpan should inform a member of the event service team at the security gate.

-       The guest wearing the kirpan must be wearing all the other Sikh articles of faith.

-       The total maximum length of a kirpan can be 7.5 inches, with a blade of no more than 4 inches in length and it should be worn underneath the clothing. In accordance with the Sikh tradition, the kirpan should be worn in a fabric belt (gatra) and secured into its sheath.

Can I wear my kirpan While I play sports

Soccer

-       All items that can cause injury to others are strictly forbidden and must be removed

Karate/Wrestling

-       Wearing an object that might cause injury to the opponent or yourself is not allowed 

Basketball

-       Players cannot wear equipment(objects) that may cause injury to other players even if covered with soft padding 

What are the hospital regulations in relation to the kirpan during medical procedures?

-       In some situations, (i.e. CT scan), the kirpan can be held to the side by the patient and the image can be taken

-       In mental health, patients wear necklaces with symbols of the kirpan and the comb due to safety concerns 

Can I wear my kirpan When i take an mri at the hospital?

No, unfortunately it is very dangerous and unallowable to have metal objects in the MRI area/room 

Can i wear my kirpan to school and in public places?

Yes. Multani v Commission Scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys:

  • Leading case on kirpan accommodation where Supreme Court of Canada found that prohibition against wearing a kirpan in school infringes Freedom of Religion and has allowed Sikhs to wear the kirpan in public places
  • Also found that the kirpan is a religious symbol and not classified as a weapon 

Are kirpans okay when flying on an airplane?

No, as per TSA regulations Sikhs may put their kirpan into check in luggage but cannot carry it with them on an airplane