The Nihang Singh's

Nihang (pronounced Nee-hung) is a an armed Sikh order. Early Sikh military history is dominated by the Akali Sikh military order particularly for many famous military victories won while often heavily out-numbered. The Akalis have historically been held in great affection and respect by Sikhs due the pivotal role they have played in Sikh history and Sikh military history in particular.

The Nihang order is today mostly ceremonial due to it being peace time but in times of war for the Sikh religion the Akalis have historically spear-headed the attack on the enemy.

 

The Nihangs differ essentially from all other Sikh orders in being a militaristic organisation but they are similar in some areas, in that, they are and belong to the Khalsa, created by Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Nihangs wear chequered dresses of a particular shade of blue known as "electric-blue", bangles or bracelets of steel round their wrists, and quoits of steel (Chakra) in their lofty conical blue turbans, together with daggers, knives and swords of varying sizes and iron chains.

Bundha Singh Bahadur Ji, the famous disciple of Guru Gobind Singh and Sikh warrior-general went from being a Hindu to a Sikh and adapted to wearing this attire.

 

The career of the Akali, Phula Singh illustrates both their defects and their abilities. Phula Singh - born 1761 - first came into notice as the leader who led the attack on Thomas Metcalfe's escort at Amritsar in 1809. He was then employed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, as a leader in the Indus valley. Finally, Phula Singh and his Akalis contributed to, or rather virtually won for Ranjit Singh, the great Sikh victory over the Yusufzai Pashtans at Teri in 1823. In this battle, Phula Singh met with a heroic death, and his tomb at Nowshera is now an object of pilgrimage to Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike.

Under Phula Singh's leadership, and perhaps before his rise, the Akalis had become a terror to friends and foes alike, and the Sikh chiefs, from whom they often levied taxes (Raakhi), dreaded them by force. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was highly pleased by the battles the Nihangs would win.

 

 
     
 
     

During the time of the Sikh Empire, the Akalis were almost completely autonomous and did what they felt was best for the protection of Sikhs and Sikhism, onlyMaharaja Ranjit Singh could control them and their leader General Akali Phula Singh, after much gentle persuasion.

When General Akali Phula Singh died in 1823 on the battle field at Teri, Sikh Scholars and historians record, that the Emperor himself cried at the loss and the entire Sikh Khalsa Army, including all the Generals, officers and soldiers were deeply affected with the loss. Emperor Ranjit Singh ordered the immediate construction of a monument, on the site where Akali Phula Singh fell, to commemorate this Sikh icon. While he was alive Akali Phula Singh would argue with the Emperor, but both including the Emperor had a deep friendship and respect for each other.

It is widely known that Ranjit Singh respected him greatly. He was unafraid of the emperor and punished him for disrespecting a Nauch girl. The emperior dared not disobey Phula Singh and had to pay Tankhah (Punishment) after his guilt was proved.

The Akali headquarters was the Akal Bunga at Amritsar, where they assumed the lead in directing religious ceremonies; indeed, they laid claim to exercise a general leadership of the whole Sikh community. Since Ranjit Singh's time Anandpur Sahib has been their real headquarters, but their influence is still being felt in the world today.

 
     
 
Today, Nihangs foregather in their hundreds at Anandpur, on the occasion of the festival of Hola Mohalla and display their martial skills. This tradition has been in place since the time of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
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