The brutal murder of a Dalit allegedly by Nihang Sikhs has brought into sharp focus the role of the Nihangs in the ongoing farmers' protests against the new agricultural laws of the central government.
New Delhi: The brutal murder of a Dalit allegedly by Nihang Sikhs protesting against the new agricultural laws at the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana has created a sensation across the country.
The incident has brought into sharp focus the role of the Nihangs in the ongoing farmers' protests against the new agricultural laws of the central government.
Let us have a look at the history, traditions and origins of the Nihang Sikhs
Q. Who are the Nihang Sikhs?
When Guru Gobind Singh established the Khalsa to protect the Hindu religion or Sanatan Dharm from foreign invaders including the Mughals, the Nihangs formed its formidable vanguard.
Known for their bravery and ferocity in battle, the Nihangs have a proud history of winning battles despite being heavily outnumbered.
The are identified a by their loose, dark blue costumes and yellow/saffron turbans which are sometimes elaborately decorated. In acccordance with their religious obligations, they are always armed with various weapons including swords, daggers, spears and sometimes guns.
Q. What is the meaning of the word Nihang?
The word Nihang is derived from the Persian word for a mythical sea creature resembling a crocodile. The Nihang Sikhs were so feared by the Mughal army that Mughal historians have compared them tho the ferocity of crocodiles.
Q. How did the Nihang order and its attire originate?
There are several widely held belifs regarding the origin of the Nihang martial order within the Sikh faith. One belief holds that Fateh Singh, the infant son of Guru Gobind Singh, appeared before him wearing a deep blue attire and a blue, plumed turban which later became the Nihang attire.
According to another belief, Guru Gobind Singh had donned a blue dress as a disguise Another after his escape from the Chamkaur fort following a historic battle with the Mughals which later became the Nihand attire.
Q. How did the Nihangs become prominent within the Sikh faith?
When Maharaja Ranjit Singh unified the various Sikh misls into the formidable Sikh empire, he made the Nihangs a special wing of the Khalsa, or the Sikh army.
The Nihangs formed irregular guerrilla squads within the army of the Sikh Empire. Some of the battles fought by the Sikh Empire in which the Nihangs carried out daring expeditions were the battles of Kasur (1807), Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819) and Nowshera (1823).
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Q. How did the Mughal and British empires deal with the Nihangs?
The Nihangs were openly antagonistic to the Mughals as they carried out widespread religious persecution including the killings several Sikh gurus. They were also hostile to the British during the early days of British colonial power in India. As a result they had to face a lot of persecution and oppression.