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19 November 2010, 06:00
Parents are being told not to be worried if they see Sikh students wearing a dagger at school.
Teachers in Bedford have been sent new guidance allowing Sikh students to wear the Kirpan underneath their school uniform.
The Kirpan is something a child wears once they have been baptised and can be no longer than six inches at school.
Jane Shipperton is from Bedford’s Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) who has just issued the new guidance to schools in the town.
She told Heart what the Kirpan symbolises:
“If you ask Sikh’s they would see it as respecting human life and as part of their agreement with god that they are protecting each other. The Kirpan is always covered and is not easily accessible.”
She continued to say that there is no need for parents to be worried at all about this:
“We have never had any reaction from parents in the past. We are satisfied that we have issued very good advice and Sikhs do not see the Kirpan as a dagger or an offensive weapon. Many many Sikhs who are baptised are already wearing the Kirpan in school and nobody is aware of it because it is well and truly covered and wrapped up.”
Tirath Singh Bhavra - from the Sikh community in Bedford - told Heart:
"It's a blunt blade, it's not a sharp blade, it's very small. It's not something that could harm. And it's only a minority of the baptised Sikh's that would be going to school with it."
He's confident children won't be using them as a weapon:
"I think it's just a fear, that it is a blade and it's like a knife. It's not a blade, it's not a knife, it is a blessing."