Native of Punjab, the richest state in India, the Sikhs, have become under the persecution of Mughal emperors an astonishing martial community: they are all named Singh (lion), vow never to cut their hair and beard, carry at their side a ritual dagger and are baptized with a sword dipped in sugar water.
Once a year, during the Hola Mohalla, at the beginning of the spring equinox, they flock towards Anandpur mausoleum where the Khalsa, “the community of the pure”.was founded in the 18th century. Hundreds of devotees make the pilgrimage to the temple where the swords used in the first baptismal ceremonies are exhibited and they are summoned to “langars”, community meals offered by a host of volunteers.
In the frontline of all the battles against Muslims emperors and English invaders, the Nihangs (literally ” those without ego’”) converge from all over the country under the banner of their religious leaders. Armed to the teeth, decked with spears and daggers, they make up a rather baroque procession and give displays of martial arts, riding prowess and muscular jousting.