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Sikhing Answers

Why Is The Karra Made Of Iron Or Steel?
Sikhing Answers - XVI




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Why is the karra always made of iron or steel?

What if I'm allergic to iron and steel?

Is it important that it be made of a base metal, and not a precious metal?   

Is it okay for the affluent to wear gold karras?

Can we wear stylized ones? With cool inscriptions and designs? 


Posted on March 23, 2012

Closing Date: March 30, 2012


Conversation about this article

1: Mahinder Kaur (Bankok, Thailand), March 23, 2012, 9:32 AM.

Like all things in Sikhi, the stress here too is on simplicity in order to prevent ostentation and differentiation. The karra is meant to be made of base metal for all, so as not to encourage the rich to show off their affluence and think that their wealth is worth anything spiritually. Nowadays, the karras are of steel because of allergies relating to rust and oxydization. If a person is allergic to base metal, it is okay then to wear one made of silver. But wearing a karra made of gold reflects nothing but vacuous pretensions and a total lack of understanding of what Sikhi is all about. The karra is symbolic, not functional, and a symbol, by sheer definition, cannot be, should not be, muddled if it is to signify anything meaningful.

2: Harji (Paris, France), March 23, 2012, 9:55 AM.

The karra is not a piece of jewellery. It is meant to be basic and simple. Stylizing it by shaping it in new ways, or etching inscriptions - even if they are from gurbani - goes against the very grain of Sikhi. Moreover, I believe a karra is most attractive when it is at its most simple. Don't take my word ... I've had children and adults from all walks of life - all non-Sikhs - tell me, unsolicited, that they are wowed by my stylishness in wearing such a piece!

3: Jasbir Kaur (Mumbai, India), March 23, 2012, 12:58 PM.

I get a rash when I wear a regular karra. I think it is because the one I picked up last wasn't really steel. I have switched to a silver one, and that works out fine.

4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 23, 2012, 1:05 PM.

The iron karra replaces the thread of superstition - the janeu - worn by Hindus, and the talismans worn by both Hindus and Muslims to ward off evil spirits, demons, evil eyes and monsters! The karra is tied to no superstitions - instead, it symbolizes every Sikh's rejection of superstitions.

5: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), March 23, 2012, 2:49 PM.

Karra - A circle, no beginning, no end. Mine is almost as old as I am. My karra is my beloved friend and will stay with me to the end. "jeevat sahib sayvi-o apnaa/ chaltay raakhi-o cheet" [GGS:1000.2] - 'In my life I served my Lord and Master; as I depart, I keep Him enshrined in my consciousness."

6: I.T.S. (Yonder North, SC, U.S.A., ), March 24, 2012, 2:21 AM.

I have one made of surgical steel presented to me by one of my medical suppliers and it is a thing of beauty.

7: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), March 24, 2012, 2:51 AM.

From what I understand, wealthy Hindus wore a golden karra around their wrists as a status symbol of their class and caste. The Sikh karra is made of iron so that it could be wore by the average person and remind him/her that every Sikh is a Warrior-Saint.

8: Bibek Singh (Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.A.), March 24, 2012, 8:17 AM.

When I was at IIT Kanpur (U.P., India), I was involved in a year-long project related to Magnetic Resonance Imaging. In essence, it was a study on how devices like X-Ray machines and MRI machines work. We know that if two magnets are placed on a table, then their positions can be influenced by their movement. Going to the topic under discussion, our body has hemoglobin (i.e., iron content), which is affected (in a negative manner) by the earth's huge magnet. To reduce that impact, we must wear an iron bracelet and a wooden kangha. I will be publishing a paper on these findings by June.

9: Tarminder Singh (United Kingdom), March 27, 2012, 2:45 PM.

The karra is one of the kakaars (Ks) prescribed to the Khalsa. In battle it had a function: worn on the sword arm, it provided protection to the wrist. A traditional karra would therefore have been quite wide and thick in order to withstand a sword blow. I own such a karra which was custom-made for me by my martials arts teacher. A Sikh wears a karra as a constant reminder to use one's hands in a manner that does not break the maryada - so, drinking alcohol or smoking whilst wearing a karra are completely dishonourable acts.

10: Jaspaul Singh Aulakh (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), March 28, 2012, 5:37 PM.

As far as I have always known, the karra was to act as a trigger or a reminder to take note of actions we are taking with these hands (or life in general). I disagree with saying that inscriptions or engravings go against Sikhi, as when we look back on the pieces owned by the Gurus and followers then, the sword, armour, kirpan, shields and karray, many were shown with engravings and inlaid designs. I personally wear mine as a symbol and a trigger for introspection for myself, and as a symbol of my faith. Mine was given to me on my 21st birthday, and has the inscription: "jo maangey thaakur apne te soee soee deyvai" and is a flat band made from white gold. It is not to show off to other people, and does not look like anything different than the flat one I previously had from Amritsar, but does act as a reminder to me to take note of what I am doing, and that whatever it is that I am focusing on (positive or negative), whatever it is that I am asking for from Waheguru, that is what shall be. The white gold gives it weight and reminds me of the value that I place on myself, my faith, and the actions that I take every day!

11: Jagdeep Singh (Ludhiana, Punjab), May 20, 2012, 7:45 PM.

The karra should be always made of iron, because our Gurus also used to wear iron ones, not gold. Writing something meaningful on it is okay. Because, for example, the kirpan can also have verses of bani inscribed on it. Designer karras are okay, but simple designs are the best.

12: Yodhpal Singh (Texas, USA), August 28, 2014, 3:51 PM.

The karra is to constantly remind the Sikh to do God's work, a constant reminder of the Sikh's mission on this earth and that he or she must carry out righteous and true deeds and actions, keeping with the teachings of the Guru. The karra is a symbol of unbreakable attachment and commitment to God. It is in the shape of a circle which has no beginning and no end, like the eternal nature of God. It is also a symbol of the Sikh Brotherhood (which, of course, includes sisters).

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Sikhing Answers - XVI"

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