A fundamental precept of the Sikh faith requires all practicing Sikhs to wear five articles of faith. These are the Kesh (uncut hair), which is kept covered by a distinctive turban. The other articles are the Kirpan (a sword), Kara (metal bracelet), Kanga (comb) and Kaccha (under-shorts). They all have deep religious meanings for Sikhs, who wear them to honor the teachings, wishes, and memory of their beloved Gurus.
These above are not just mere symbols but truly articles of faith. Since faith is largely personal, you are likely to hear different shades of answers from different Sikhs when you ask them about what these articles mean. They bind the Sikh to their Guru in an inexplicable relationship of love and faith.
These articles of faith serve a great purpose for Sikhs in strengthening their connection with their religion and giving them a distinct identity. On a personal plane, they represent a physical discipline that helps Sikhs to maintain their spiritual discipline. In a societal sphere, they are a marking that identify a follower of the way of life revealed to Guru Nanak and are an exteriorization of the mission given to the Khalsa.
These articles remind the Sikh of his/her responsibilities and simultaneously proclaim to the world that the wearer of the 5 Ks belongs to the Divine Presence (VaahGuru) and is obligated by certain spiritual/political duties. These duties include standing firm against all forms of oppression, speaking for the justice for all human being irrespective of their faith, color, ethnicity or background and always helping and defending the downtrodden.
Most Sikhs would rather die than abandon their articles of faith. In the Sikh historical tradition, Sikh heroes preferred to have their heads chopped off, rather than allow their hair to be cut. It is in the face of adversity that a
Sikh must prove himself or herself true to her values.