Title:  Nihangs


Nihang Singhs belong to a martial tradition begun by the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. Their way of life, style of dress, and weaponry has remained little changed since the Guru's lifetime, three hundred years ago. Today, some Punjabis see them as a relic of a time long past, but others recognize Nihangs as a colourful and important part of Punjabi heritage.

Nihangs are a semi-nomadic people. They are organized into "armies" and live in camps known as "cantonments". Men and women both train in horsemanship, swordsmanship, and in the Punjabi martial art known as gatka. During times of persecution in the past, the Nihangs defended Sikh shrines and the Sikh way of life and become known for their bravery against all odds. In times of peace they travel to festivals and fairs throughout India, staging displays of horsemanship and martial skills. The annual Hola Mohalla fair held in Anandpur Sahib on the festival of Vaisakhi is especially notable for the Nihangs' colourful displays of pageantry.

A Nihang Warrior

A Nihang Singh leading a procession at the annual fair held in Chamkaur Sahib on the festival of Dussehra. He wields swords in both hands as drums beat in the foreground.

Another Nihang

Another display at the Dussehra festival. A crowd of Nihangs look on.

Yet Another Nihang

A Nihang posing for a photograph during a pause between rides as his fellows perform remarkable feats on horseback to the delight of thousands of spectators.

A Parade of Nihangs

A procession of Nihangs. Baba Ji Santa Singh, jathedar (leader) of the Budha Dal (army), rides the white stallion.

Nihangs at Hemkunt Sahib and the Anthropologist

The anthropologist stands beside Nihang Singhs who made the journey to Hemkunt Sahib.

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