When people visit Northern India, specifically the state of Punjab, they are sure to see some bands of people wearing royal blue robes. They normally wear turbans wrapped around their heads and blue tunics and carry metal weapons. A large number of them would be on horseback.
They are the Nihang Sikhs or the Akali. They are the Sikh warriors who are direct descendants of the original Sikh army organized by Guru Gobind Singh Ji (the tenth guru of the Sikhs). Guru Gobind Singh referred to them as “ladle fauj” (beloved army) and trusted them totally.
|Nihang Sikh and Boy (Photo credit: Gurumustuk Singh)|
Guru Gobind Singh Ji was against the religious persecutions of the Mughals, specifically Aurangzeb. He was not only a spiritual leader but was also a great warrior. He spent a great deal of time fighting against injustice, oppression and suppression. He was fearless and his “ladle fauj” (beloved army) were as fearless as he was. Nihangs or Akalis did not fear death and would fight against injustice to their last breath.
|nihangs ride (Photo credit: harpography.com)|
The Nihangs are semi-nomadic and generally live in “cantonments” or “army camps.” Both the men and the women are trained in the traditional Punjabi martial arts called the “gatka,” horsemanship and swordsmanship.
|Nihang Sikh (Photo credit: Gurumustuk Singh)|
Today, they travel during festivals and fairs all throughout Punjab to display their unrivaled skills in horsemanship and in the gatka. During the festivals of Hola Mohalla or Vaisakhi they can be found in Anandpur Sahib.