Kids Corner


Celebrating Sikh Icons & Symbols …
Through Jewelry:
The Art of Ranjit Kaur Powar





Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Master, made a profound statement in his composition, the “Zafarnamah“.

Addressed to Emperor Aurangzeb to counsel him against the relentless atrocities unleashed by him on his people, Guru Sahib wrote:

"Once all modes of redressing a grievous injustice have failed,
Raising of the sword of justice is pious and just

In keeping with this spirit of always being vigilant against injustice, he created the Khalsa and bestowed five articles of faith to them as part of their daily discipline: all equally binding on male and females Sikhs.

They are known as The Five Kakkaars.

There are many interpretations of why Guru Sahib chose these articles of faith for the Khalsa, but I like to believe that in addition to the symbolic value they might hold, He wanted to ensure that the new renaissance man and womam He had created in the form of a saint-soldier, was God-fearing, strong, courageous, fair, steadfast, wise, humble, and lived a clean and healthy life.

No matter what we get out of his gifts, these five articles of faith have become inseparable from the person of the Khalsa, who in many an occasion, have been willing to pay with their lives to retain their “Kakkaars” in obedience and unquestioning submission to the Guru’s directive.

Even though the contemporary Sikh Insignia, the “Khanda” commands a place of pride and deep meaning within our community today, it seems to be the culmination of a long history and a bundle of traditions, surfacing in its current form after the Ranjit Singh era.

One of the earliest manifestations, for example, is the emblem sported on the  turbans of the 45th Rattray’s Sikh regiment in the British army. This consisted of a miniature Khanda (double-edged sword) placed vertically on a “Chakkar” or round
sharp-edged steel ring, originally worn as a quoit in a larger diameter by Nihang Singhs around their massive turbans.

Obviously, this emblem was construed from earlier designs supported by warriors of the great Sikh Empire and the nearby Sikh kingdoms.

We have been amiss as a community in that inspite of these Sikh symbols holding a place of great pride and emotional attachment for every Sikh, initiated in the Khalsa or not, they have rarely been crafted in aesthetically appealing

On visiting the great historical gurdwaras or religious events, all that is offered as take-away souvenirs by the vendors are cheap, metal khandas and kirpans strung in black thread or steel chains. Or, if you want more choices, you could opt for a steel karra with a lackadaisical inscription on it.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I recently came across some contemporary Sikh iconic jewelry designed in silver, natural semi precious gem stones, pearls and shells.

These natural materials have been put together most artistically by the designer to create attractive pieces which are certainly an adornment, but at the same time retaining a dignified simplicity due to their inherent symbolism.

Most of them are one of a kind, hand crafted by master artisans from Punjab and elsewhere on the subcontinent.

The author of these amazing accessories of neo-Sikh couture is Dr. Ranjit Kaur Powar from Chandigarh, Punjab, who is deeply connected to her Sikh ethos and roots and passionate about expressing it through the medium of hand-crafted jewelry.

She is currently working with the Government of Punjab, but, according to her, is in the process of unshackling herself from a provincial services beaurocratic job to being a full-time jewelry designer and maker.

May 2, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Simarjot Kaur (Patiala, Punjab), May 03, 2014, 12:26 AM.

Ranjit has done some fabulous pieces in Sikh jewelry. She is a voracious reader, especially on Sikh history and culture. Carry on with your great work, dear friend.

Comment on "Celebrating Sikh Icons & Symbols …
Through Jewelry:
The Art of Ranjit Kaur Powar "

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.