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Current Affairs

Nihangs

Date: 18 October 2021 Tags: Religions

Issue

The Nihangs have been accused of chopping limb of a man and later lynching him for allegedly showing disrespect to scriptures.

 

Background

The incident comes one and half year later of a similar incident when Nihangs had chopped off a hand of police official.

 

Details

This incident took place at the Singhu border protest site and the victim belongs to a group that has been protesting against three farm laws.

 

The group

  • The Nihangs are an order of Sikhs who wear blue dress, carry arms such as swords and spears. They also wear a decorated turbans surmounted by steel quoits.

  • The word Nihang stands for alligator, sword and pen in Persian. The word may have originated from Sanskrit word nihshank which means without fear, unblemished, pure, and carefree.

 

Formation

  • The Nihang order was formed when the Khalsa was formed by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. The word also finds mention in Guru Granth Sahib.

  • Some historians trace the order’s history to Guru Gobind Singh’s son Fateh Singh when he dressed up in a blue chola and blue turban with a dumala.

 

Difference with other Sikhs

  • Nihangs observe the Khalsa code of conduct in its strictest sense. They do not profess any allegiance to an earthly master.

  • Instead of saffron they hoist a blue Nishan Sahib (flag) atop their shrines. The Nihangs consume a popular drink called shardai or sharbati degh (sacrament drink).

 

Role in Sikh history

  • Nihangs defended Sikh faith during the onslaught of Mughals and also during the invasion of Ahmed Shah Durrani. 

  • They had their independent existence in Akal Takht. After the fall of Sikh Empire in 1849, they lost their powers.

 

Current status

  • Nihangs stay in their respective deras and take part in pilgrimage of Anandpur Sahib, Damdama Sahib Talwandi Sabo and Amritsar.

  • They are known to possess martial skills and today constitute a small community headed by a leader known as jathedar.

 

Becoming a Nihang

  • Following Sikh traditions

  • Remembers five banis

  • Performs daily ablutions by waking up at 1 am

  • Performs morning and evening prayers

  • Individual can belong to any caste or creed

  • He should be a baptized Sikh