Animal sacrifice among Nihang Sikhs

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Ritual slaughter[1][2] [discuss] of animals (mostly goats) which employs technique of Jhatka is practiced by certain sects within Sikhism on certain religious events. This sacrifice is now only popular among Nihangs and Hazuri Sikhs [1][3][4] who sacrifice goats on the festivals of Diwali and Hola Mohalla and distribute it as Mahaprashad [5] among the congregants as part of Langar.[6][7][8]

Origin of sacrament[edit]

The introduction of this religious rite is traced by Hazuri Sikhs to Guru Hargobind.[7] It is said that this sacrifice was also performed by Guru Gobind Singh on the founding day of the Khalsa on his own followers.[9] It should be kept in mind certain sections of modern Sikhs do not approve of this sacrificial ritual.[1][4][10]

Tilak sacrament at Hazur Sahib[edit]

The ritual begins with bathing the sacrificial goat with water. While the water is being poured on the goat, liturgical recitations from the Sikh scriptures of Japji Sahib and Chandi di Var are practiced.[7] Thereafter, the goat is taken in the middle of the Gurudwara compound. One Nihang Singh holds the hind legs of the goat while the other slaughters it using Jhatka technique. After this the head of the goat is taken in a saucer and its blood is applied to the weapons of Guru Gobind Singh, which are placed in front of Guru Granth Sahib.[10]

Debate within community[edit]

There exists a debate within this community whether or this ritual is part of Gurmat, i.e., within scriptural sanction of Sikh teachings. Some scholars say that this ritual is misunderstood and do not equate it with sacrificial slaughter found in some other religions.[10] There are yet others who regard this ritual to be entirely outside Sikhism.[2] Others, Nihangs and Hazuri Sikhs in particular, however argue the opposite and consider it Manmat, or product of self-willed minds, to regard Tilak sacrament not to have come directly from Sri Hargobind Sahib.[7][11]


  1. ^ a b c "Sacrifice of a goat within precints of Gurudwara on a number of occasions, apply its blood to arms/armaments kept inside the shrine, distribute its meat as Prasad among devotees at their home." The Sikh Bulletin, July–August 2009, Volume 11, Number 7 & 8, pp 26, Khalsa Tricentenneal Foundation of N.A. Inc
  2. ^ a b The Sikh review, Volume 46, Issues 535-540, pp 45, Sikh Cultural Centre., 1998
  3. ^ "They have had a past history of serving meat in Gurdwaras, which they justify by mentioning that nihang Sikhs traditionally sacrifice goats at Vaisakhi and Hola Mohalla at Hazur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib.",The Queen From Edinburgh, by MIKE WADE, Courtesy: The Times - Scottish Edition, Mike Wade
  4. ^ a b WORLD SIKH CONFERENCE - SYDNEY 2004, A REPORT, pp 6. Sikh Council of Australia ,
  5. ^ "A Nihang carries out 'Chatka' on a 'Chatanga' (a specially selected goat for sacrifice)", The Multifarious Faces of Sikhism throughout Sikh History,
  6. ^ "The most special occasion of the Chhauni is the festival of Diwali which is celebrated for ten days. This is the only Sikh shrine at Amritsar where Maha Prasad (meat) is served on special occasions in Langar", The Sikh review, Volume 35, Issue 409 - Volume 36, Issue 420, Sikh Cultural Centre., 1988
  7. ^ a b c d e f "The tradition traces back to the time of Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji who started the tradition of hunting for Sikhs....The tradition of ritually sacrificing goats and consuming Mahaparshad remains alive not only with the Nihang Singh Dals, but also at Sachkhand Sri Hazoor Sahib and Sachkhand Sri Patna Sahib (two of the Sikhs holiest shrines). " Panth Akali Budha Dal
  8. ^ "Another noteworthy practice performed here is that a goat is sacrificed on Dussehra night every year. This ceremony was performed on Diwali day this year (28 Oct 2008). The fresh blood of the sacrificed goat is used for tilak on the Guru’s weapons. ",SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS OF THE SIKH COMMUNITY,Dr Madanjit Kaur, Institute of Sikh Studies Institute of Sikh Studies, Madan Kaur
  9. ^ Transition of Sikhism into a political organization, pp 79, Gokul Chand Narang,Printed at the "Tribune" press, 1910
  10. ^ a b c Sacrifice at Hazur Sahib – Myth & Truth, Nanak Singh Nishter , World Sikh News, 21 January 2009
  11. ^ "Until today this tradition still exists at all Sikh Takhts, should for any reason this be stopped it would be great manmat (egocentric action of men which is against the teachings of the Gurus)’ (Jhatka Parkash, Page 228)",


  • In the Master's Presence: The Sikh's of Hazoor Sahib, Nidar Singh Nihang, Parmjit Singh, Kashi House, 2008