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Namdharis is an Indian religious group. They consider themselves a sect of Sikhism, but insist that the line of Sikh Gurus did not end with Guru Gobind Singh, but continued through the Namdhari leaders.
Namdhari, also called Kuka , an austere sect within Sikhism, a religion of India. The Namdhari movement was founded by Balak Singh (1797–1862), who did not believe in any religious ritual other than the repetition of God’s name (or nam, for which reason members of the sect are called Namdharis). His successor, Ram Singh (1816–), introduced the sect’s distinctive style of wearing the turban (bound straight across the forehead rather than at an angle), of dressing only in clothing made from white handwoven cloth, and of frenzied chanting of hymns culminating in shrieks (kuks; hence the name Kuka). Under Ram Singh’s leadership, the Namdharis sought a resurgence of Sikh rule in the Punjab. In January 1872, British police apprehended and executed by cannon about 65 Namdharis. Ram Singh was exiled to Rangoon, Burma.
- The Namdharis do, however, consider themselves as Sikhs, but not Khalsa.
- Naamdharis believe that Guru Gobind Singh went into seclusion after surviving the attempt on his life and passed the Guruship on to other human Gurus to this day.
- The Namdharis were founded by their Guru—Balak Singh (1797-1862) in north-west Panjab.
- They were organized into a movement by Bhai Ram Singh of Bhaini who fell under the influence of Guru Balak Singh while serving in the Khalsa as a Risaldari of Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh.
- They are also known as Kookas, Kukas, kooke, kooka or kookeh 'criers', for their shrieks (kuks) given in ecstatic meditative trance.
- The men are distinguished by their white, "round" turbans with their ears fully exposed.
- The more orthodox Kukas also wear attire which included very tight pants and long kurtas.
- They have many non-Sikh traditions like the worshiping of fire (havan), which is more akin to Hinduism than Sikhism
- They are distinguished by their white garb and round turbans, reminiscent of the turbans worn during the Sikh Empire era of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
- The Namdharis have also preserved the classical musical traditions for singing the Sikh hymns known as kirtan, which have partially been lost by the mainstream Sikh panth.
Role in Indian freedom movement
The British Indian records list the extremist activities of the Namdhari Sikhs during the 1870s. While they were occasionally hailed as freedom fighters, their activities included attacks on cow slaughter issue, resulting in killings of some Muslim butchers in Amritsar and Ludhiana in 1871. A group of 66 Namdhari Sikhs were blown up by a canon 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