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Definition: Khalsa, The from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

The entire community of fully initiated SIKHS, founded in 1699 by Gobind Singh, the last GURU. Orthodox Sikhs are ritually admitted to it at puberty, after which they take the additional name Singh, ‘lion’ (for men), or Kaur, ‘princess’ (for women). They must demonstrate their allegiance by observing the five signs, known as the ‘Five Ks’: kanga, ‘comb’; kara, ‘steel bangle’; kesh, ‘uncut hair and beard’; kirpan, ‘short sword’; and kuccha, ‘short trousers’.

Summary Article: Khalsa from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

The order or community of the Sikhs, created by Guru Gobind Singh at the festival of Baisakhi Mela in 1699. The Khalsa was originally founded as a militant group to defend the Sikh community from persecution. Initiation of both sexes is through the ceremony of Amrit Sanskar, a form of baptism. Membership is a commitment to upholding the Rahit (Sikh code of ethics and rituals) and helping the community.

Sikhs can choose to be initiated into the Khalsa when they reach the age of responsibility, although there is no upper age limit. After initiation the new Khalsa members adopt the last name of ‘Singh’ (lion) if a man, and ‘Kaur’ (princess) if a woman. They must only follow Sikhism, worship every day, wear the Panj Kakas (five Ks), and follow the gurus' teachings. This means a commitment not to have their hair cut, or beard in the case of men; not to smoke, drink, or indulge in other mind-altering drugs; to eat meat killed only according to Muslim custom; and not to commit adultery.

Members of the Khalsa should live a life of right conduct (kiral karna), conducting their lives at work and at home in a pure, fair, and honest manner. Contributing to the community is an important duty. Sharing through charitable work (vand chakna) is essential, and members of the Khalsa are expected to give up a tenth of their income. Service should be given selflessly, with the expectation of no reward – a concept known as seva.

© RM, 2016. All rights reserved.

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