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Swiss Army knife maker crafts Sikh kirpans

Devout Sikhs normally carry kirpans (tribuneindia.com)

Victorinox has launched a range of Sikh religious knives or “kirpans” in India.

The ceremonial knives went on sale as Sikhs marked the 400th anniversary of their holy book.

The Schwyz-based company said the knife, which all devout Sikhs are required to carry, was a symbolic product aimed at the middle class.

The single-edged kirpan, sold with a case and a belt worn over the shoulder, is available in two sizes: 3.6 inches or 7.2 inches.

Prices will range from 1,360 rupees (SFr37) to 3,400 rupees, which is approximately 34 times the price of some local versions.

These sell for between 100 and 600 rupees and are sold outside Sikh temples or gurdwaras.

Victorinox’s kirpans will be available from around 450 retail outlets around the country.

New market

The company is hoping that the knife, designed by a Spanish representative of the firm and incorporating an ornate brass and enamel design, will capture a whole new market.

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

“This is not a thing we will sell as a commodity,” added Goel.

Of the total number of Sikhs, 19 million live in India.

The knife was launched on Wednesday, the day that Sikh religious leaders carried their religious book, the Granth Sahib, to Amritsar’s Golden Temple to mark the 400th anniversary of the day that the book was first brought to the north Indian shrine.

Sikhism is the world’s fifth-largest religion and was started in the 16th century by the religious teacher, Guru Nanak.

New markets

The kirpan is the latest in a series of products aimed at new markets that have been brought out by Victorinox.

In March this year, the company launched the “Memory USB” version with a memory key that plugs into computers. The “flash memory stick” allows owners to store data such as presentations or database files for easy transport.

Victorinox employs 1,000 people and is the larger of the two official producers of Swiss army knives.

The company exports 90 per cent of its products to more than 100 countries.

The Swiss Army knife is very popular in India where it is known as a “MacGyver”, after the hero of a television series who used his trusty knife to save himself from many tricky situations.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Victorinox produces each day:
34,000 Swiss Army knives.
43,000 other multi-tools.
43,000 professional knives.
In total the company produces 800 different models of tools and knives.

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