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The Nishan Sahib is a Sikh holy triangular flag made of cotton or silk cloth, with a tassel at its end. The word, Nishan means symbol, and the flag is hoisted on a tall flagpole, outside most Gurdwaras. The flagpole itself covered with fabric, ends with a two-edged dagger (khanda) on top. The emblem on the flag is known as Khanda, which depicts a double-edged sword called a khanda (☬) in the centre, a chakkar which is circular, and flanked by two single-edged swords, or kirpans.
Traditional symbol of the Khalsa Panth, the Nishan Sahib can be seen from far away, signifying the presence of Khalsa in the neighbourhood. It is taken down every Baisakhi, and replaced with a fresh flag, and the flagpole refurbished.
According to Singha, usage of Nishan Sahib originates with Guru Hargobind, however khanda usage starts later, probably in the 19th century. According to McLeod, Nirankari Satguru Darbar Singh (1855–70) raised a red Nishan Sahib "as a symbol of revolution which was to free the Sikhs from Brahman clutches".
It was also the flag of the Sikh Empire.
The Nishan Sahib is placed outside every Sikh Gurdwara and is supported by a pole of timber or metal.
The Khanda, a Sikh symbol, is rendered in blue on the saffron background. The khanda is placed high up on a flagpole as a sign for all Sikhs and indeed any other people that they can come and pray in this building. Great respect is shown to this flag and the flag is considered sacred and washed using milk and water every year in April at the festival of Vaisakhi. The Nishan Sahib is changed once the saffron color has faded.
Like a Flag of any institution, this Flag symbolizes the presence of the Khalsa and hence is hoisted at every Gurdwara premises. Therefore, anybody in need of help, however with the Khalsa now being in non-war status, but always functional, the Gurdwaras serve the purpose of congregational meeting, Langar and lodging.
- Dr. H.S. Singha (1 January 2005). Sikh Studies. Hemkunt Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-81-7010-245-8. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- W. H. McLeod (1984). Sikkism: Textual Sources for the Study Of.... Manchester University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-7190-1063-7. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- William Owen Cole; Piara Singh Sambhi (1998). The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-898723-13-4. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
- Eleanor M. Nesbitt (2004). Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches. Sussex Academic Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-84519-033-0. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
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