KHĀLSĀ DĪWĀN MĀJHĀ, an association of reformist Sikhs representing the districts of Lahore, Amritsar and Gurdāspur, was set up in 1904. The Siṅgh Sabhā movement had created among the Sikhs a new consciousness for the need to reform their religious and social practices. Early in 1904, Risāldar Basant Siṅgh of Naushahrā Pannūāṅ, in Tarn Tāran sub-division of Amritsar district, celebrated the marriage of his daughter. Although the actual marriage ceremony was performed in accordance with the Sikh rites of Anand sanctioned and popularized by the Siṅgh Sabhā, it was marked by much extravagance and ostentation. This was disliked by his reformist friend, Zaildār Shām Siṅgh of Kairoṅ. Their mutual discussions led to a representative meeting being called in February of 1904 in the precincts of Srī Darbār Sāhib, Tarn Tāran. The meeting decided to establish a society by the name of Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā. Basant Siṅgh prepared the draft of a constitution which he circulated to different Siṅgh Sabhās. A specially designated religious sub-committee was charged with scrutinizing it. Risāldār Basant Siṅgh was elected president and Zaildār Shām Siṅgh secretary. Kairoṅ served as the headquarters, but monthly meetings were to be held by rotation in neighbouring villages so as to maximize local participation .

         In its earlier years, the Dīwān focussed attention primarily on two-fold activity. First, a group of preachers and singers toured villages urging Sikh farmers to simplify marriages, to avoid large dowries, and to give up drugs and alcohol. Secondly, the Dīwān attempted to reform the style of religious fairs at Srī Darbār Sāhib, Tarn Tāran. While supposedly religious in nature, the monthly Amāvas fair at Tarn Tāran had become notorious for immorality and general misconduct. The Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā made a transformation of the fair a primary goal. Monthly gatherings and day-long preaching sessions, appealed to visitors to worship rather than indulge in frivolity, a campaign that soon led to a marked improvement in the tone of the fair. Similarly, the Dīwān led a campaign to remove idols from Srī Darbār Sāhib, Tarn Tāran, and generally to reform the management. Pressure on the priests almost precipitated armed clashes and bloodshed on several occasions, but because of mediation by prominent Sikhs, notably Bhāī Mohan Siṅgh Vaid, the atmosphere surrounding the shrine improved.

         The first annual conference of the Dīwān was held on 1719 February 1905, at Tarn Tāran. In addition to preaching, the gathering passed resolutions on a wide range of social issues. Twelve of the fifteen resolutions adopted dealt with details of marriage ceremonial. Large dowries were to be shunned, simplified ceremonies adopted and expenses minimized. Another resolution called on the government to introduce Punjabi as a medium of instruction in schools. Yet another resolution contained an appeal for Sikhs to replace the fun and levity surrounding the Holī festival with a day of worship and manly sports as introduced by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh in the form of Holā Mahallā. A final resolution emphasized the need for abstinence from alcohol and drugs in general.

         During 1905, the Dīwān held meetings and implemented the resolutions. The second annual conference, in April 1906, focussed primarily on fratricidal cleavage between two clans of Jaṭṭs, Ḍhilloṅ and Bal. Through misunderstandings, the two clans had no dealings or relationships since the fifteenth century. Joint deliberations and prayer helped alleviate the tension, with the result that the clans gave up their traditional antipathy and rescinded the ban on mutual relationships, and resolved to be brothers of the Khālsā fraternity. The conference also decided to set up missionary centres, each covering villages within a radius of 8 km, to provide a sustained and institutionalized form of prachār that would reach the largest number of Sikhs. But dearth of suitable preachers was a handicap. A special committee studied the problem and a training institution, the Khālsā Prachārak Vidyālā of Tarn Tāran, was established on 6 November 1906. With this the headquarters of the Dīwān were also shifted from Kairoṅ to Tarn Tāran. The secretary, Nihāl Siṅgh of Kāiroṅ, and Bhāī Mohan Siṅgh Vaid of Tarn Tāran, worked strenuously for the success of the enterprise.

         The third annual session of the Dīwān was held on 910 April 1907, during a period of political unrest in the Punjab. The conference adopted strong resolutions calling upon the government to reduce enhanced land revenue and water rates and to modify the new colonization measure that adversely affected agriculture mainly in the hands of the Sikhs in central Punjab. The conference also discussed the deteriorating management of Srī Darbār Sāhib, Amritsar, and urged government intervention to improve the administration. Another resolution urged the government to transfer the landed property of Gurdwārā at Nankāṇā Sāhib from the name of the mahant to the Gurdwārā itself.

         At this time, deliberate attempts were being made by vested interests to create a rift and mistrust among the Sikhs of different regions such as Mājhā, Mālvā and Doābā, leading to misunderstandings among the respective Khālsā Dīwāns. The Chief Khālsā Dīwān finally made an effort to resolve such difficulties by suggesting that all organizations associate themselves more completely with the central body. Sardār Harbaṅs Siṅgh of Aṭārī and Professor Jodh Siṅgh specifically called on the Mājhā Dīwān to merge with the Chief Khālsā Dīwān in order to set a precedent and heal split within the community. Members of the Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā debated the issue for almost a year and eventually decided in early 1908 to sink mutual differences for the common good of the Panth. On 8 February 1908, the executive committee of the Chief Khālsā Dīwān approved merging of the groups together and redesignating the Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā as the Mājhā Prachār Sub-committee, Chief Khālsā Dīwān. Sardār Sant Siṅgh of Rasūlpur was appointed its chairman. The new body met for the first time at Kairoṅ in March 1908 to plan and to prepare for a fourth conference at Rājā Jaṅg in Lahore district, a site chosen primarily because of the prevalence of sharp divisions among local Sikhs into high and low castes. The following year, a new school was opened at Kairoṅ that helped spread women's education, but the transfer of authority for the Khālsā Prachārak Vidyālā to the Chief Khālsā Dīwān undermined the unity as well as the importance of the Mājhā Prachār Sub-committee, and by 1910 it became inoperative.

         During its short existence, the Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā contributed to reform programmes and prepared the ground for future work by the Chief Khālsā Dīwān in both urban and rural areas. The organization was one of the first to draw the attention of Sikhs to conditions within holy shrines and thereby contributed to an awareness that ultimately led to the gurdwārā reforms of the 1920's. Like many of its sister associations, the Dīwān responded to regional problems and then in a spirit of magnanimity ended its own separate activities for the larger good of the community.


  1. Jagjīt Siṅgh, Siṅgh Sabhā Lahir. Ludhiana, 1974
  2. Reports of the Khalsa Diwan Majha, especially "Khālsā Dīwān Mājhā de Niyam Upniyam."

Jagjīt Siṅgh