Saturday, 04 December 2021 11:33 GMT

Who are Nihang Sikhs? Sect in spotlight after Singhu killing


(MENAFN- NewsBytes) The brutal killing of a Dalit Sikh man allegedly by Nihang Sikhs at the farmers' protest site in Delhi's Singhu border Friday once again brought the spotlight to the obscure Sikh warrior order of Nihangs. Nihang Sarabjit Singh took full responsibility for the killing and surrendered to the Haryana Police. Notably, 35-year-old Lakhbir Singh was killed "on suspicion of disrespecting the Sikh holy book."

Details Who are Nihang Sikhs?

Nihang Sikhs are an order of Sikh "warriors," whose origin can be traced back to Guru Gobind Singh's Khalsa in 1699 or his son Fateh Singh (1699-1705). The Nihangs can be easily identified by their blue robes, antiquated swords and spears, and decorated turbans surmounted by steel rings. However, some historians claim there is no concrete historical evidence on the origins of Nihangs.

Quote There are several theories about the origin of Nihangs: Expert

Highlighting the lack of concrete historical evidence, Paramjit Singh Judge of Guru Nanak Dev University, told The Print that there are several theories on the origin of Nihangs. These include one about them "having been a part of the Akaal Sena and later Khalsa Fauj."

Expert 'Nihang' stems from the Sanskrit word 'nihshank': Sikh historian

According to Sikh historian Dr. Balwant Singh Dhillon, the word Nihang has its root in the Sanskrit word nihshank, which refers to courageous, unblemished, pure, and carefree. Talking about the dress code of Nihangs, Dhillon told The Indian Express that it was decided by Guru after seeing Fateh Singh's majestic look in a blue chola and a blue turban.

Nihangs How do Nihangs differ from other Sikhs?

There are two sects of the Khalsa Sikhs: one that wears blue attire that Guru Gobind Singh used to wear during the war while the other doesn't have a dress code. Nihangs follow the Khalsa code strictly and hoist blue Nishan Sahib flag, instead of saffron, atop their shrines, Dhillon told TIE. "They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master," Dhillon added.

Attire What do we know about Nihangs' attire?

Apart from their blue dress code, Nihangs carry traditional weapons such as swords and spears with them. The leather shoes that they wear are known as jangi moze. They have a sharp metal attachment at the toe, which also serves as a weapon. The turbans that they wear are also much bigger than their heads, The Print reported.

Information Who can be a Nihang?

According to reports, any Sikh who follows Sikh traditions, remembers five banis, performs daily rituals at 1 am, morning, and evening prayers can become a Nihang. Upon induction, a Nihang is given robes and weapons similar to Guru Gobind Singh's when he established the Khalsa.

Incidents Brutality of Nihangs: past incidents

Friday's incident was not the first instance where the brutality of Nihangs sparked outrage. In Patiala last year, a group of Nihang Sikhs broke curfew norms and brutally attacked an assistant sub-inspector and several others. They also chopped off the hand of the ASI in that incident. Also, in July 2021, two Nihangs set a statue of ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi on fire in Ludhiana.

Concern Academics express concern about the growing unethical practices of Nihangs

Meanwhile, academics have also expressed concern about the growing brutality of Nihangs. Dr. Gurmeet Singh Sidhu, professor-in-charge of Punjabi University's Guru Gobind Singh Chair, told TIE that the Nihangs are now getting involved in unethical actions by attacking unarmed persons, which was not the case earlier. Talking about the attack on police, Judge said it was surprising, adding, "Traditionally, the Nihangs have been pro-establishment."

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