CANTON, Mich. (WJBK) - At first glance, they may look scary and dangerous, but members of the Sikh faith who carry religious swords called Kirpan say they are not weapons at all.
"It's a religious symbol. It just reminds you for your spirituality. It's a fight against your internal evils," said Sikh community leader Tejkiran Singh.
The small sabers worn under people's clothing are in the middle of a controversy in Canton where a fourth grader who follows the religion and its customs brought one to Bentley Elementary School.
After they are baptized, members of the faith, which originated in South Asia in the 15th century, are expected to carry the symbol all the time.
After inspecting the saber and determining it did not have any sharp edges, the principal initially gave it back to the boy. However, the Plymouth-Canton School District said they reviewed state and federal law and since the symbol resembles a weapon, they banned it in December.
"Equal damage could be done with a fork or with a butter knife. Every kid has a pair of scissors, a pencil," Singh said.
"It should stay at home, in my opinion," said one person.
"If it's somebody's religion, I would wonder if there's a reason or purpose for them to have to have it at school," said another.
As a result of the ban, members of the world's fifth largest organized religion are working to educate the community about their customs and traditions.
They also plan to meet with the school district next week in the hope of working out an arrangement that will allow children to practice their religion without violating school rules.....READ---http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/local/religious-symbol-controversy-in-canton-20110106-wpms