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Pronounced “KAH-bah.” A large cube-shaped house of worship that Muslims believe was built in Mecca by Abraham and Ishmael. Muslims around the world face the Ka’bah when they pray, and circle it several times as a rite of hajj.

Filed in Judaism


A doctrine of ancient Jewish mysticism that provides a path for humans to achieve an understanding of the divine mysteries of God and the universe. It teaches that such understanding can only be attained by praying and contemplating the hidden meanings of the Hebrew words and letters of the Torah. It had its greatest following in Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries. Preferred spelling is Kabbalah. Uppercase in all references.

Filed in Judaism


Undershorts worn by Sikhs as a symbol of dignity, modesty and the control of sexual desire. They are one of the articles of faith known as the Five K’s (or kakaars) — outward symbols of Sikh faith — ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Filed in Sikhism


A men’s headdress.

Filed in Islam


Pronounced “KAH-lee.” In Hinduism, a form of the goddess, one of the many feminine forms of the divine as mother of the universe. She is the source of protection and liberation.

Filed in Hinduism


A small comb worn by Sikhs under their turbans to tidy their uncut hair. It is one of the articles of faith known as the Five K’s (or kakaars) — outward symbols of Sikh faith — ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Filed in Sikhism


A steel bracelet worn by Sikhs as a reminder to carry out God’s work. It is usually worn on the right arm and is one of the articles of faith known as the Five K’s (or Kakaars) — outward symbols of Sikh faith — ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. See Five K’s, Five Kakaars.

Filed in Sikhism


In Buddhism and Hinduism, the universal law of cause and effect; the effect (or fruits) of a person’s actions in one’s next lifetime. Lowercase in all references.

Filed in Buddhism, Hinduism


Pronounced “core.” A last name shared by all women who practice the Sikh religion, it means “daughter of kings” or “princess.” The 10th Sikh teacher, Guru Gobind Singh, gave Sikhs the same last names as a sign of equality (traditional last names in 17th-century North India indicated caste). Women are seen as equals in the Sikh tradition.

Filed in Sikhism


Modern faith communities that follow the religious beliefs and rituals of ancient Egypt; also called Egyptian neopaganism.

Filed in Other faiths


The wearing of long uncut hair by Sikhs as a symbol of respect for the natural perfection of God’s creation. It is one of the articles of faith known as the Five K’s (or kakaars) — outward symbols of Sikh faith — ordered by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

Filed in Sikhism


The name adopted by proponents of an independent Sikh homeland in India. It means “land of the pure.” Khalistani separatists declared their independence from India on Oct. 7, 1987, but this declaration has not been recognized by any nation.

Filed in Government and politics, Sikhism


Pronounced “KAHL-sa.” The body of initiated Sikhs. One joins by undergoing the amrit sanchar ceremony (colloquially, “taking/receiving amrit”). Afterward, initiates agree to live according to Sikh values, recite the daily prayers without fail and keep five articles of faith (the Five K’s) on their persons at all times: kesh, unshorn hair; kanga, a small comb; kara, a steel bracelet; kachera, soldier shorts; and kirpan, a religious article resembling a knife. A Sikh who has not undergone the amrit sanchar ceremony may nevertheless elect to keep any or all of the articles of faith. A Sikh may join the Khalsa at any age, and many never do. In its capacity as permanent co-guru (along with Guru Granth Sahib) the Khalsa is referred to as Guru Khalsa Panth.

Khalsa can be used as either an adjective or noun (in which case it takes the definite article): is Khalsa, has joined the Khalsa. The term amritdhari is synonymous.

See also amrit sancharFive K’s and Guru Granth Sahib.

Filed in Sikhism

King, Martin Luther Jr.

The civil rights leader and Baptist minister was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and assassinated on April 4, 1968. A federal holiday honoring him takes place on the third Monday in January. Refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on first reference.

Filed in Baptist/Southern Baptist, Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism


Pronounced “KIR-pon.” A ceremonial dagger, it is a Sikh article of faith that symbolizes a commitment to fight against injustice. Initiated Sikhs wear the kirpan at all times. See Five K’s, Five Kakaars.

Filed in Sikhism


Quran is the preferred spelling and is capitalized in all references. The spelling Koran should only be used if it is in a specific title or name. See Quran.

Filed in Islam


In Judaism, refers to ritually pure food prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Lowercase in all references. Kashrut is the term for Jewish dietary laws, while kosher is the adjective.

Filed in Judaism


Pronounced “KRISH-na.” One of the most popular representations of God in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and is best-known as the teacher in the Bhagavad Gita. For most Krishna devotees, his name refers to the unqualified absolute, or Brahman.

Filed in Hinduism


A skullcap worn by some Muslims.

Filed in Islam


The name of a popular African-American festival held between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Uppercase in all references. The name is a Swahili term meaning first. Begun in 1966, Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage. It has become increasingly associated with religion as more churches observe it. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Filed in African-American, Christianity, Protestantism, Religion and culture

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