SIKLĪGAR SIKHS constitute that section of lohārs or ironsmiths who once specialized in the craft of making and polishing weapons. Siklīgar is derived from Persian saql, lit. polishing, furnishing, making bright (a sword), the term saqlgar meaning a polisher of swords. In medieval India, Siklīgars were in great demand for manufacturing spears, swords, shields and arrows. Some of them later learnt even to make matchlocks, muskets, cannon and guns. Traditionally treated as of a low caste, Siklīgars first came in contact with Sikhism during the time of Gurū Hargobind (1595-1644) who had initiated the practice of arms among Sikhs. The advent of modern weapons and industrial technology has hit the Siklīgars hard economically. Engaged in the pursuit of an obsolete occupation, they are now a poor and backward people forming one of the scheduled castes as defined under the Indian Constitution. Also known as gāḍḍī-lohārs they roam about in small groups carrying their meagre possessions on specially designed carts (gāḍḍī, in north Indian dialects) and making and selling small articles like knives, sickles, betel-nut cutters, sieves, locks, buckets and toys which they manufacture from waste-metal. The influence of Sikhism is still clearly discernible in the dress and social customs of some of the Siklīgars. The males, especially those of the older generation, wear their hair long. Their women-folk wear salvār (loose trousers) and kamīz (shirt) like Punjabi women or lahiṅgā (skirt) and cholī (bodice) like Rājasthānī women, but the use of dhotī and sāṛī is rare. The newly born child is on the fourth day administered amrit by five Sikhs; relatives and friends assemble in saṅgat where kaṛāh prasād is distributed. A special share of kaṛāh prasād is sent to any member who keeps the Gurū Granth Sāhib or any breviary of gurbāṇī at home. Siklīgar Sikhs of Central and South India have great faith in Takht Sachkhaṇḍ Srī Hazūr Sāhib at Nāndeḍ, which they visit regularly. On the annual Takht ishnān (lit. bath ceremony) at the Takht Sāhib, it is the special privilege of Siklīgar Sikhs to clean and oil the old weapons preserved there as sacred relics.
Nirvair Siṅgh Arshī