An interview conducted by UK based Barking Dog Media and Inderbhajan Palahey from UK - longtime customer, become a dear friend….
Khalsa Raj may be based in the United States, but their skills and capabilities have won them devoted followers around the globe. One of our earliest and very loyal clients is Dr. Inderbhajan Singh Palahey, who is based in Leicester in the UK, and who first discovered our work close to 30 years ago. “I found out about Jot while I was a student at university,” he recalls. “A dear friend commissioned a Kirpan (Sikh ceremonial dagger) from Jot Singh and was discreetly showing it to close friends, and we were all in total awe. It was like nothing I’d ever seen – so beautifully crafted, with the most exquisite detail. I vowed there and then that, as soon as I could afford it, I would commission one too.”
He kept his promise to himself, and, once established in a career in dentistry, reached out to Jot Singh.
“This was in the late nineties, long before the internet,” he continues, “so we were communicating by sending sketches via fax. I was quite particular about what I wanted, and Jot enjoyed working on the project. We discussed our ideas and worked together to finalize the design.”
The bespoke piece that resulted was a kirpan, the sacred, ceremonial dagger worn by many Sikhs as a symbol of their commitment to protect and defend others.
“We carry them all the time, and there are deep principles behind it,” Dr Palahey explains. “The Tenth Guru introduced the wearing of the kirpan at Vaisakhi 1699: the saint soldiers were born –martial but with saintly intent. The idea is that you should be able to defend yourself, as a last resort, if you’re pushed against the wall and there was no other option.”
“It’s also about protecting and defending others, so, if you see someone in need, you stand up for them. If you’re in trouble, it would be my duty as a Sikh to come in and try to protect you and only as a last resort, use my kirpan
Whilst many baptised Sikhs wear the kirpan hanging from a visible cross-body strap, Dr Palahey prefers to keep his hidden. It was his desire for a less obvious look that led him to commission a second kirpan a few years later.
“I came across the idea of a folding kirpan, where the blade folds into the handle, and spoke to Jot about it. The folding kirpan is the one I wear all the time. Its handle is mother of pearl inlaid with solid gold engraving with a blade forged of Damascus steel.
Kirpans vary in size from those with a small two-inch blade to a six-inch blade, with those for display sometimes even larger. My folding kirpan has a three-inch blade, and I had Jot make a tan leather pouch for it that fits on a belt. Nobody would know what I’m wearing. It could be a mobile phone. A lot of Sikhs like to wear their kirpan exposed, but I’m more discreet.”
By this time Dr Palahey and Jot had become friends.
“I got to meet Jot shortly after I’d commissioned my first kirpan,” Dr Palahey remembers. “We became friends through the first project and kept in touch by phone. Then he came to the UK and we got to meet. He used to come to France most years to teach yoga and meditation and display his masterpieces (Kirpans and jewellery) then from there, he’d make a trip over to the UK to teach, continue to show and offer things for sale and visit with friends in London and Birmingham.”
Both Dr Palahey’s kirpans feature similar exquisite engraving, highest quality and attention to detail that characterize Khalsa Raj’s unrivalled workmanship, he notes. “Jot is recognized and highly respected within the global sphere who create genuinely beautiful pieces like these, and the only one in the world of Sikhs creating hand-made kirpans of the highest calibre.”
Everything worked so well together on the creation of the two kirpans, he adds, that the two of them decided to collaborate on another project – the commission of an artful stand to hold a very decorative kirpan: on behalf of the most esteemed Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh of the Guru Nanak Nishkaam Sevak Jatha
“The kirpan was for a very special Sikh celebration (the 350th anniversary of the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh who bestowed the kirpan and the Sikh soldier concept) and was going to be presented in a ceremony, at the birth place of the tenth Master, at Patna Sahib in India. I designed the stand and had it manufactured. It was a flame design in cast aluminium with large diamanté’s in the tips of the flames, complimenting the excellent kirpan, in green jasper, encrusted with diamonds, tourmaline and gold engraved images – it was quite possibly one of the most exquisite examples of a kirpan ever, absolutely fabulous.”
Khalsa Raj’s kirpans, ceremonial swords, jewellery and gifts come at a range of price points, with the Song of Khalsa sword collection designed to be more affordable if you might be looking for an excellent sword at a reasonable price.
“It’s always worth spending a bit more,” Dr Palahey maintains. “The market has been inundated with cheap, poorly made kirpans, and I’m disappointed that so many Sikhs haven’t invested in a wonderfully crafted fully functional and beautiful kirpan and would rather spend £20 on poor quality, shoddy, blunt ‘kirpans’. Although it’s symbolic, and you’ll hopefully never need it, a kirpan needs to be practical: would the Tenth Master wear one of these?
“Both my kirpans are hand-finished and hand-engraved. The beauty and the quality of the workmanship is outstanding and I still enjoy holding and wearing them, even after 20 years. Jot’s more affordable designs have his signature look to them, and are so much better than anything else in the marketplace. If you’re going to wear a kirpan all the time, why not choose something of quality? I’d say to anyone: spend a bit more money and it’s worn 24-7, so invest in something truly special: It’s worth it.”
Inderbhajan's large Kirpan (click image for details)
Inderbhajan's folding Kirpan (click image for details)