MELĪ, lit. attached or companion, appears in the Sikh Scripture in different connotations — usually as a verb form, past indefinite of melaṇā (to attach, join, bring together), in the feminine form (GG, 54, 63, 90, 243, 379,389, 584 et al.); as an adjective meaning loving, attached (GG, 4243); and as a noun meaning associate, friend (GG, 392). In Zulfīqār Ardistānī, Dabistān-i-Mazāhib, the term meli has been used as a title for a class of preachers among the seventeenth-century Sikhs. Preaching districts or mañjīs had been set up during the time of Gurū Amar Dās (1552-74). The chiefs, designated masands, functioned as the Gurūs' local representatives. They preached the Gurūs' word in saṅgats or fellowships of the holy, performed the rites of initiation, collected tithes and offerings meant for the Gurū and ran the laṅgar (community kitchen). In some of the larger districts, the masands, the Gurūs' representatives, appointed their own assistants. These assistants were known as melīs. According to Zulfīqār Ardistānī, as the masands formed a link between the Gurū and the laity, the melīs formed a link between the masands and the Sikhs living in their respective districts.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)