Kirpans, Pocketknives and Southern Boys

Being a Southern boy, I’ve carried a pocketknife for as long as I can remember. Now, my knife of choice is a Spyderco. I learned at an early age how to sharpen and care for one, and I literally can remember every pocketknife I’ve ever owned, and every one that I ever lost. To Southern boys pocketknives are not weapons, they are tools and symbols.

Southern boys are not the only ones who view blades in this way. For example, the Sikhs carry a knife called a kirpan, a ceremonial dagger. According to, kirpans are a reminder to fight for justice and against oppression. The knife is one of the five khalsas, or dress rituals. Kirpans range in size from large ceremonial swords, to tiny knives worn around the neck. It is required that all Khalsa Sikhs wear the kirpan. According to the Religions Paths Web site, the kirpan is one of the five symbols of the Sikh faith. The site says, “The kirpan, alongside the unshorn hair of the believing Sikh, is certain the most visible symbol of Sikh masculinity, and the very potency of the kirpan appears to signify to an outsider the martial qualities of the Sikh.” You can see photographs of kirpans here:

Sikhs have encountered opposition to the carrying and display of their knives on planes and in public. Yet, though I’ve read of many terrorists attempting to use C4 and other explosives, I haven’t read of a single Sikh terrorist wielding his knife yet to take over a plane. Maybe I’ve missed some incidents, but I doubt it. If I have please let me know. I don’t plan on carrying such a blade, but my pocketknife? That will stay with me.