This Guru Ji’s Nishaan Sahib craft idea is quite history-heavy, so, perhaps, more suitable for slightly older children, although no doubt younger ones will have lots of fun making it as well. We all are familiar with the traditional orange Nishaan Sahib with a Khanda symbol on it. Interestingly in early 20th century, Nishaan Sahib in Harimandir Sahib (Golden Temple, Amritsar) did not have modern Khanda symbol on it, but rather an image of a shield, long sword and a dagger (katar) – see images here.
The brief history of Nishaan Sahib:
- At the time of Guru Amar Das Ji Nishaan Sahib used to be white (reference from Gurbani, SGGS Ji ang 1393)
- Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji had orange Nishan Sahib.
- Guru Gobind Singh Ji had blue Nishan Sahib with the images of shastr on it.
- Maharaja Ranjit Singh has reversed to orange one upon the request of some of his subjects. Nihung Singhs did not accept this change and stuck with original Guru Gobind Singh Ji’s blue colour for their Nishaan Sahib.
The modern symbol of Khanda (Khanda sword, chakkr and two kirpans) was present from the 19th century, but it wasn’t the only way and it wasn’t fixed like nowadays. Any symbol made of the combination of different weapons was acceptable and was used in Sikh insignia. It seems that Khanda symbol has become fixed around the middle of 20th century.
You can read more on the history of Nishaan Sahib and the insignia from Sikh Museum. Make sure to have a look at all the articles from the menu – they have a great collection of historical images for reference.
To make Guru Ji’s Nishaan Sahib you will need:
- blue card
- drinking straws or a thin wooden dowel rod
- glitter card/ shiny card
- blue tissue paper (optional)
- blue loom bands (optional)
- Cut a card into an A5 or A6 shape depending on how big you want your Nishaan Sahib to be and cut those rectangles diagonally.
- Draw a circle (shield), a triangular dagger (katar) and a long curved sword (kirpan) on a shiny or glitter card. You could use one with a sticky back or just regular card. If you don’t have any shiny card or wrapping paper, you could use kitchen foil.
- Cut the weapons out and glue them on the triangle of the blue card. There’s no specific layout – they could go in any way. I’ve laid them out according to the old images I’ve seen.
- Optional step: measure a strip of tissue paper in the length of your straw or wooden dowel rod. Wrap it around the pole and secure with blue loom bands. You could tie the loom bands at the top and then slide them to go along the length of the rod/straw.
- Attach the Nishaan Sahib to the pole with some tape.
- Optional step: cut out a little Khanda sword shape from the scraps of the card and secure it with the top loom band. If you’re not doing the loom bands, just tape it to the top.
- Cut a length of ribbon and tie it at the top of the Nishaan Sahib.
This is quite an intricate craft that has many elements of the real Nishaan Sahib. You can adapt it and simplify according to the ages and abilities of your children.
Here’s another link with a very detailed information on history and significance of various parts of Nishaan Sahib.
Quote from the link above on the significance of the “dastar” (the ribbon bit) of Guru Ji’s Nishaan Sahib:
DASTAR. It means a turban. It is a blue cloth band of short width and about three hands in length (From elbow to the tip of fingers – 18″, is one hand). It is tied at its middle to the top where the end of the pole and Khanda (Double edged sword) join. It leaves its two equal lengths free to wave. It is tied to most of flags. It has the same high esteem and significance as the Phrera itself.
In the battle of Anandpur, 1703 AD, at the time of Guru Gobind Singh, Bhai Man Singh son of Bhai Jita Singh, who was a regular Nishan-Sahib bearer, was leading the Sikh force with a blue flag. He fell down wounded and the flag also, came down with him. At this, the Great Guru tore a piece from his blue Dastar (Short turban), left its one end free, tucked the other end into his regular turban and declared that the Standard of the Khalsa (Phrera) shall never fall again. Tying a Dastar to a Nishan Sahib started since then. A Nihang leader displays a blue Phrera from his turban (Dr.Dilgir, referred above). Rarely, there are saffron Turbans on some of the saffron Phreras (flags) but it is not the old tradition.