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The Namdharis are an Indian sect of Sikhism. Namdharis are also known as Kuka Sikhs. They believe that the line of Sikh Gurus did not end with Guru Gobind Singh because he did not die in Nanded, he escaped and lived in secret. This sect claims he nominated Balak Singh to be the 11th Guru, a tradition that was continued through the Namdhari leaders. Their 12th guru was Ram Singh, who moved the sects centre to Bhaini Sahib (Ludhiana).
They have been strictly vegetarian and a strong opponent of cattle slaughter, and retaliated against Muslims for killing cows in 1872. Their leader Ram Singh was arrested by the British and he was exiled to Rangoon, Myanmar. Dozens of Namdharis were arrested by the British and executed without trial in Ludhiana and Ambala. They consider Guru Granth Sahib and Dasam Granth as equally important, and compositions from the Chandi di Var are a part of their daily Nitnem. Like Hindus, they circumambulate the fire (havan) during their weddings, but they differ in that the hymns are those from the Adi Granth. The Namdharis wear homespun white turbans, which they wrap around their heads (sidhi pagri). They are called Kuka, which means "crier, shouter", for their ecstatic religious practices during devotional singing. They also meditate, using mala (rosary). Some texts refer to them as Jagiasi or Abhiasi.
Role in Indian freedom movement
The Namdharis have been hailed as freedom fighters due to their attacks on cow slaughterers, inflicting death on Muslim butchers in Amritsar and Ludhiana in 1871. A group of 66 Namdhari Sikhs were blown up by a cannon in 1872 for protesting against the British; there is a memorial to them at Namdhari Shidi Smarg Malerkotla in Indian Punjab.
- The Asiatic review, Volume 15 By East India Association (London, England) page 275 .. the Namdhari, an extremist Sikh sect, not being found north or west of the ...
- Henry Schwarz; Sangeeta Ray (2004). A companion to postcolonial studies. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 261–. ISBN 978-0-631-20663-7.
- Singh, Bajinder Pal, 2005. After 133 years of anonymity, Kukar martyrs finally get a name