The kirpan is a ceremonial sword or knife carried by Sikhs. It is a religious commandment given by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699 that Sikhs must wear five articles of faith at all times, the kirpan being one of five articles.

The word kirpan has two roots: the first root is kirpa, which means “mercy”, “grace”, “compassion” or “kindness”; the second root is aanaa, which in turn means “honor”, “grace” or “dignity”.

Sikhs embody the qualities of a Sant Sipahi or “saint-soldier”. One must have control over one’s internal vices and be able to be constantly immersed in virtues clarified in the Guru Granth Sahib. A Sikh must also have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of their colour, caste, or creed.

Kirpans are curved and have a single cutting edge that may be either blunt or sharp.They are often between 3 and 9 inches long, and must be made of steel or iron.