A display of martial arts by Nihangs, including horse riding stunts, tent pegging and gatka, marked Bandi Chhor Diwas today.
Hundreds of Nihangs from around 12 Nihang Dals, reached the open ground in Railway Colony for the one-hour action packed show.
Mounted on a house, five-year-old Hira Singh, told us that he had already learnt how to perform the basic feats while riding a speeding horse and was now focusing on perfecting his gatka skills. “I’m also getting training in ‘Gurbani’ and my family is proud of the fact that I am leading a life as according to the teachings of the Gurus,” he said.
Ranjit Singh, a Nihang in his early 20s from Dal Baba Bidhi Chand, says his aim is to ride a “jodi” (two horses simultaneously) as was displayed by his fellow Nihang Yash Pal Singh today. “It takes a lot of practice and there is no margin for error controlling two horses at such a high speed,” he added.
“Besides horse riding, I also play ‘nagaras’ (traditional drums), a pair of which is mounted on a horse, on religious occasions. All these things not only need practice but also a strong will as there is always risk of losing control. I have been working on it for the past three years,” he said.
Bandi Chhor Diwas is celebrated the day after Diwali to commemorate the return of Guru Hargobind to Amritsar following his release from Gwalior Fort during the reign of Jahangir. To celebrate his return, people illuminated their houses and the Golden Temple.
Nihang Sher Singh of Dal Baba Bidhi Chand said though Bandi Chhor Diwas falls on Diwali day, to save general public and the devotees from inconvenience, the display of martial arts is organised a day later.
“Training starts early, usually at the age of two years. While some young learners are keen on being a part of kirtans and gurubanis, others prefer taking up horse riding and other martial arts,” he said.
Master Santokh Singh of Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh Ji said: “Nihangs do training to be ‘chardi kalan’ despite all odds. They can fight enemies and adverse natural conditions with the same spirit.”