As we have discussed in some of our previous articles, symbols have cultural value and they get associated with a particular belief over a period of time--this association can be there ab initio and sometimes grows very late in the history of that belief.
Some symbols are common
Some symbols look common to different beliefs though there may be a slight modification or alteration. This usually happens if the beliefs have their origin among the same people or geography. You will notice a lot of overlap between symbols in Indian continent.
Symbols in Sikhism
Like other beliefs and systems, Sikhism also has some unique symbols and icons that are associated with it. If you noticed the particular architectural style of Sikh temples also follow a particular pattern. Some items of apparel and terminology also form part of these symbols.
Ik Onkar is the symbol that represents the One Supreme Reality and is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy. You can notice this symbol on buildings, monuments, Sikh Temples (Gurudwaras) and even the property of Sikh devotees.
The Khanda depicts the Sikh doctrine Deg Tegh Fateh in emblematic form. It is the military emblem of the Sikhs. It is also part of the design of the Nishan Sahib. They represent the dual characteristics of Miri-Piri, indicating the integration of both spiritual and temporal sovereignty together and not treating them as two separate and distinct entities.
These are special symbols or items suggested in Sikhism that start with the word 'K'. These were given to Sikhs by Guru Gobind Singh when he gathered together the first members of the Khalsa on Vaisakhi day in 1699. These symbols give Sikhs a unique identity signifying discipline and spirituality.
Kesh literally mean hair. But in Sikhism, cutting of hair is prohibited. And therefore, uncut hair, which is kept covered by a turban, or dastaar are prescribed and observed.
Literally meaning a sword or a dagger, it's a ceremonial symbol, symbolizing readiness to protect the weak, and defend against injustice and persecution. The kirpan is normally worn with a cloth shoulder strap called a gatra.
It literally means a bracelet but in Sikhism steel bracelet is symbolic of strength but resilient under pressure.
It literally means a comb, but in Sikhism a small wooden comb, symbolizing cleanliness and order is worn.
Literally meaning a boxer shorts, it symbolizes self-control and chastity; prohibition of adultery. The warrior class of earlier Sikhs used to wear it along with long shirts.
The word Singh means a lion. In India, lot of communities put Singh as their surname, but Sikhs use it as a common middle name for boys, and Kaur (meaning sword) for a girl.
It's a common word used for Sikhs though its origin can be traced to Mangolian language. It literally means head of a family or a clan, but its long association with Sikhs have made it a common noun used for Sikhs.
Symbols keep evolving
As we mentioned earlier, symbols keep evolving and their association with a particular belief may vary and change with time. Sikhism is a young belief and continues to influence people around the world. Very recently, I have come across people in the West who follow Sikhism but practice Kundlini Yoga!
Have you seen any of these?
I am sure if you live in India, you must have noticed some of these symbols. Can you recognize any of these?