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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 September, 2004, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
Swiss army knife made for Sikhs
A Sikh priest displays a traditional kirpan
Devout Sikhs are required to carry a traditional knife or kirpan
Swiss army knife maker Victorinox has launched a series of Sikh religious knives or 'kirpans' in India.

The knives have been released for sale to mark the 400th anniversary of the Sikh holy book.

Victorinox hopes to sell the ceremonial knife, which all devout Sikhs are required to carry, to middle class Sikhs.

Made in two sizes, they will sell for up to 3,400 rupees ($73; 41), some 34 times the price of some local versions.

These retail at between 100 and 600 rupees and are sold outside Sikh temples or gurdwaras.

By contrast, Victorinox's kirpans will be sold in about 450 shops around the country.

Detailed design

Available in either 3.6 or 7.2 inches, the single-edged knives will be sold with a case and a belt to be worn over the shoulder.

As first revealed by BBC News Online in June last year, the Victorinox kirpans incorporate an ornate brass and enamel design.

"There are 25 million Sikhs in the world and this is a very symbolic product," said Anish Goel, the Indian representative of Victorinox.

"This is not a thing that we will sell as a commodity."

Sikhism, the world's fifth largest religion, was started in the 16th Century by Guru Nanak, a religious teacher.

Sikh religious leaders carried their holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, to Amritsar's Golden Temple on Wednesday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the day the book was brought to the shrine in northern India.

Swiss knife maker takes on India
19 Jun 03  |  South Asia

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