Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Description of 18th Century Singhneea

Adorning weapons, chakars [quoits] and knifes they wore many [in their dumallas – high conical turbans]. Forty kilos of weapons and armour they adorned. Dressed alike were young and old women. They were strong, powerful and of great charity. Some wore dress of women. Five dressed like men [i.e. in full warrior dress]. Getting Singh and Singhnias ready thus. Sending one Sirdar with them, the Singhnia set off towards the royal palace. The powerful Singhs stood outside. All the royal women came out to see them. They [Singhs] had great moustache and beards. Their eyes were full of rage and eyebrows greater. Wearing many weapons. Seeing their great form and beauty, they were as if incarnations of the warrior spirit. The Begams were astonished. Begams sent them [Singhs] gifts. Saluting the Singhs, they sent them away. Then they looked at the Singhnia. They took them into their palace. They [Singhnia] said, “Sat Siri Akal”. They replied “Salaam” and sat them down. Seeing their form and strong bodies. Dressed in armour and weapons. Listening to their conversation of plundering and war. And how to kill a hunt. And how to aim with bows and muskets. Hearing them, they were astonished. Under their ‘Salwars’ [trouser like garments], were ‘Kashehras’ [breeches]. Seeing their great clothes. Listening to their manly words. The Begams were astounded. The four Singhnia had a special female dress. They wore silver ornaments twenty pounds in weight. Seeing this they were awe struck. Their Salwars were twenty yard long. They wore heavy lower garments. Their top knots stood span and half high. Their Shmeezes were of special design. Their physiques were large and heavy. Seeing them the Begams were astounded because they stood unarmed and weak of body. Fearing the Singhnia they cowered to half their size. Then began discussion on religion. Singhnia dismissed all other religions. The traditions of Muslims [Turks] they called false. The way of Mohammed they said was full of faults. The Singhnia described all the atrocities of the Turks. Hearing them the Begams shuddered. Shocked they covered their mouths with their hands. Hearing of the chastity, sincerity and morals of the Singhs. The Begams spoke nodding their heads. “Singhnia you are of great fate. You move about with you husbands. We are pathetic and suffer greatly. Our life is like life imprisonment. One king has sixty wives. By marrying we are as if trapped in a trap”.’

(‘Naveen Panth Prakash’, Giani Gian Singh Nirmala, 1877, Bhasha Vibhag Publication, Pa.1151-1153)

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