The Struggle for Freedom

 

            Namdhari Movement.   Even after the Great Uprising of 1857, pockets of resistance remained throughout the country and found expression in local movements.  One of the most significant of such efforts to expel the British was the Namdhari Movement popularly known as Kuka Movement initiated by Bhai Ram Singh on 1 April 1857 at the village Bhaini Sahib in the Ludhiana District.  He was a simple peasant but had great personal qualities which attracted the loyalty and allegiance of large sections of people in the Punjab.  A man of the people, Bhai Ram Singh knew of the hardships and sufferings of the ordinary peasants and based his movement on a redress of their grievances.  He had served as a soldier in the Sikh Army and had been influenced by the idea of Sikh dominion over the Punjab.  With his deep insight into human character, he realized that neither political liberation nor social and economic uplift would be possible without an improvement in the quality of the individual.  He, therefore, placed great stress on moral qualities and sought to inculcate in his followers a spirit of religious devotion and service.  Within a few year, Bhai Ram Singh developed into Guru Ram Singh with a considerable following in Ludhiana and adjoining areas.1

 

1 Fauja Singh Bajwa, Kuka Movement (Delhi, 1965), (pages viii and ix of the Foreword)

 

            Within a short period, Namdhari Movement spread in the rest of Punjab including the area of present Bathinda District.  ‘Mastana Dal’ of this Movement included many revolutionaries from Bathinda District who took an active part in the freedom struggle.  In July 1871, Gurmukh Singh, Mangal Singh and Mastan Singh of Village Pitho, then part of Phul District of Nabha State (now in Rampura Phul Tahsil of Bathinda  District) attacked and killed the butchers of Raikot (Ludhiana District) who used to injure the feeling of the Hindus and the Sikhs by slaughtering the cows.  These persons were captured and hanged in Raikot.2  It was under the Movement that Ram Singh and Sham Singh of village Joga, Mansa Tahsil of Bathinda District, were among those who were shot dead at Malerkotla under orders of the British Rulers.  Besides these incidents, the Namdharis of Bathinda District took an active part in the freedom struggle of the country. However, the movement was ruthlessly suppressed by the British in 1872.

 

2      Punjabi Tribune, March 1985

 

            It is true that the Namdhari Movement did not succeed, but nevertheless it left a permanent impression on a large section of the people.  The insistence of Guru Ram Singh on self-reliance helped in developing among them their system of justice and communication.  This was a considerable achievement in view of the prevailing circumstances.  Even more remarkable was the Kuka insistence on growth of indigenous agriculture and trade.  In some respects, Guru Ram Singh had anticipated the non-cooperation movement of 1921 in his idea of boycott of British institutions in the country.  It is also claimed that the Kuka movement directly influenced the Ghadar  and other political movements in the Punjab in early twentieth century.3

 

3  Fauja Singh Bajwa, Kuka Movement (Delhi, 1865) (page x of the Foreword)

 

            The Ghadar Movement. – The Ghadar Movement was the first purely secular movement which aimed at to liberate India by force of arms.  The rebellion was planned in the United States and Canada.  Funds were raised from Indians living in foreign countries.  The headquarters of the movement was at San Francisco.  Sohan Singh Bhakna was the President and Lala Hardyal was the General Secretary of the Party.1 Pt. Kanshi Ram of Rupnagar District was the treasurer of the Ghadar Party.  A weekly paper called Ghadar (The rebellion) was started with Lala Hardyal as Chief Editor.  Because of the journal, the Organisation came to be known as the Ghadar Party.

 

1   The Tribune, dated 30 June 1982

 

            In the first issue of Ghadar published on 1 November 1913, the objective of the party was stated in the following words; “Today, there begins in foreign lands, but in our country’s language, a war against the British Raj…….. What  is our name? Ghadar. What is our work? Ghadar.  Where will Ghadar break out? In India.  The time will soon come when rifles and blood will take the place of pen and ink.2

 

2   Khushwant Singh and Satindra Singh, Ghadar, 1915 (New Delhi, 1966), p. 19

 

The harassment of the passengers of the ship ‘Kamagata Maru’, mostly Punjabis, instigated the people of Punjab living in foreign lands to participate actively in the Ghadar Movement. Unfortunately, the movement failed because of the leakage of information by Kirpal Singh who had been planted by the British among the Ghadarites.

 

            In this context, it is worthwhile to mention here that there were many freedom fighters belonging to Bahtinda District who took an active part in the Ghadar Movement.  An article ‘Malwa De Gadri’ by Sarwan  Singh Bir appearing in the ‘Punjabi Tribune’ dated 26 January 1984, gives names of persons of this district who participated in this movement as follows :

 

 

Name

Village

Tahsil

 

1.

Badan Singh S/o

Bhagel Singh

 

Delel Singh Wala

Mansa

2.

Kehar Singh S/o

Jhanda Singh

 

Khemuana

Bathinda

3.

Arjun Singh S/o

Gobind Singh

 

Khiala Kalan

Mansa

4.

Ram Singh S/o

Gurmukh Singh

 

Ablu

Bathinda

 

The Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal Movement. – The Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal Movement remained very forceful in Patiala State.  As much of the area of Bathinda District was under Patiala State; the movement had also its impact in the district.  To begin with, the Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal, as the new organization was called, focused its attention on political issues such as liberty of movement and speech and misuse of state finances by the rulers, particularly Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala.  To reinforce their struggle, the organizers affiliated their Praja Mandal to the All-India States’ People’s Conference which was brought into being about the same time and established close contacts with the Indian National Congress, the most powerful freedom fighting force in the country.  The All India States’ People’s Conference was born at Bombay in 1927, and under its inspiration, Praja Mandals were organized in a large number of states.

 

            Sewa Singh Thikriwala, popularly, known as ‘Kirpan Bahadur’ was the real hero of the Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal to raise the voice of the people against despotic rule in the princely states.  The movement gained much momentum with the arrest of Sewa Singh Thikriwala.  Akalis were actively associated with this movement.  They started their campaign with a long tour of Patiala State by Baba Kharak Singh, who was known at that time as the ‘uncrowned king of the Panth’ and was at the zenith of his political conferences.  He addressed a big political conference at Mansa in Bathinda District where the birth of the Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal was announced.  He attacked the autocratic order in general and Maharaja Bhupinder Singh’s misrule in particular, preached the message of the Indian freedom movement and exhorted his audience to participate in the agitation launched by the Akalis.  The formation of the Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal was announced on 17 July 1928 at Mansa.  Sewa Singh Thikriwala was elected as its president and Bhagwan Singh Longowalia as its general secretary (both of whom were absent, the former being in jail and the latter outside the State because of a number of pending cases against him).  Only Jaswant Singh Danewalia out of the Praja Mandal leaders addressed the rally.  He was designated as the working president of the new organization. The rally was attended by thousands of peasants from neighbouring villages.  Akali jathas from Barnala, Bathinda, Mansa, Maur, Sardulgarh, Sunam and Bhawanigarh took part in the procession. 1

 

1  Ramesh Walia, Praja Mandal Movement in East Punjab States (Patiala, 1972), pp 51,52

            Baba Kharak Singh in his speech attacked the misdeeds of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala as under :-

 

Rajas and Nawabs are worse than animals because they oppose freedom.  We shall set them right.  Maharaja Ranjit Singh was punished by the Sangat because he had relation with a prostitute.  But it is shameful that Bhupinder Singh is procuring the daughters and sisters of his subjects for immoral purposes and people are not raising even a voice of protest.  He squanders away the hard-earned money of his people in England and Europe.  The Kapurthala Maharaja lives in his state only for four months in a year.  Such Rajas should not get even a pension.2

 

2    Ibid, pp 56-57

 

Jaswant Singh Danewalia, working president of the Punjab Riasti Praja Manal, demanded replacement of autocracy by democracy.  He termed the Chamber of Princes as “a Dacoits’ whose ring-leader was Bhupinder Singh.

 

The Mansa Conference provided the guidelines for the new movement.  The main objectives of the movement synchronized with the aims of the All India States People’s Conference.  A strong personal touch was provided by attacking the misdeeds of the Maharaja of Patiala who had imprisoned Sewa Singh.

 

            Due to various pressures, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh had to release Sewa Singh and about forty other Akali prisoners in August 1929.  Sewa Singh Thikriwala undertook an intensive tour of the Patiala state including the area of present Bathinda District.  The territories of Patiala, Nabha, Jind and Malerkotla were contiguous to one another and the message which Sewa Singh carried reached not only the Patiala people, but the rural-folk in the adjoining states also.  It was a silent message because he never delivered any speech.  He just thanked his audience with Wahiguru ji ka Khalsa Wahiguru ji ki Fateh and sat down, but his silence was more vocal than a speech1.  He also visited village Ubha of Mansa Tahsil.  Sewa Singh’s tour of the Patiala State culminated in the holding of the first regular session of the Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal in the Bradlaugh Hall, Lahore, on 27 December 1929.  Hundreds of Praja Mandal workers from different East Punjab States attended the session which was addressed by leaders of the All India States People’s Conference and of the Punjab Provincial Congress committee.  Many of these workers had come to Lahore all the way on food.  They took out a procession through the streets and bazaars of the town drawing the attention of the people towards the excesses of the princes in general and  the Maharaja of Patiala in particular.

 

1  Ibid, p. 77

 

            Among the resolutions passed by the Conference, there was one demanding action against the Maharaja of Patiala for his misrule and loose morals.  Another notable feature of the conference was the emergence of Bhagwan Singh Longowalia as the second most effective leader of the states people’s movement in Punjab.  He was elected General Secretary of Punjab Ryasti Praja Mandal along with Sewa Singh Thirkriwala who was re-elected President.  Like Sewa Singh, the Longowalia too, was the product of the Gurudwara Reform Movement.

 

On their  return from Lahore, the Praja Mandal workers started making preparations for observance of the first Independence day.  On 26 January 1930, Sewa Singh Thikriwala led a procession of Kisans from his village to Barnala, the district headquarters, carrying the Congress flag in front.  Processions and public meetings were also organized at Mansa and many other places in the district.  Importance of the day was explained and a pledge was taken to liberate people living in the states from the double slavery of the British and the princes.  Throughout the year 1930-31, the Praja Mandal leadership remained busy in extending their work to the smaller states of the East Punjab.

 

Workers of the Praja Mandal were now openly going round the villages and telling people that the removal of the Maharaja was only a matter of days.  Some Praja Mandal workers were arrested from the Baisakhi gathering at the Damdama Sahib in Bathinda District in the Patiala State and were charged with demanding the sack of the Maharaja.

 

Throughout 1931, the agitation for the sack of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh continued unabated.  Dozens of small and big dewans were organized inside the State.  Such gatherings were also organized at village Ubha (Mansa Tahsil) and Mansa, in Bathinda District which were attended by Sewa Singh Thikriwala.

 

Budhlada was another important center of Praja Movement in the present Bathinda District.  Public meetings were held there quite frequently.  As in those days, Budhlada was part of British territory (Hisar District), it was convenient for the Praja Mandalists to hold meetings and conferences there.  The death of Sewa Singh  Thikriwala in 1934 gave a serious set back to this movement.

 

In a public meeting held at Budhlada, resolutions were adopted condemning enhancement of land revenue and abiana and demanding relief in taxes.  A demand was raised that peasants should be permitted to sell their produce in the mandis (market towns) of the Punjab as the prices there were higher.  It was pointed out that the price of cotton was rupees four and annas six per maund at Bareta (Patiala State), while it was rupees five and annas four at Budhlada (Punjab), distance between the two mandis being hardly six miles. 1

           

1   Ibid, pp 129-30

           

Akali religious-cum-political conferences were also held at Mansa and Talwandi Sabo in 1940.

 

Most of the Praja Mandal leaders being behind bars and Akali Dal pursuing a totally anti-Congress policy, the East Punjab States did not witness any resistance in 1942-43.  There were not much disturbances in the wake of the Quit India Resolution passed by the Bombay Session of the Indian National Congress in August 1942.

 

During the war years, the Communists and Congress-men remained in jail or were interned in their villages.  The Praja Mandal Movements remained a leaderless movement functioning in a vacuum.  The only exception can be made in the case of the tenant movement in the Patiala State which continued unabated throughout the war years.  In early 1939, a Kisan-Muzara Committee had been formed.  Tenants had long been nursing grievances against the Akalis and the Congress leadership that their case was not being adequately pleaded for.  The committee gave a new direction to their movement at a largely attended tenant conference at Jethuke in Rampura Tahsil of Bathinda District.  A call was given for total stoppage of payment of baai (landlord’s share of the produce).  Tenants removed total crops to their homes.  The State Government taking it as a challenge to its authority let loose policy repression, but the movement remained spreading from one village to another.  About four hundred tenant villages were affected by the new movement.  Clashes took place between the landlords and their men and the police on one hand and tenant-men and women on the other.  To protest against the wave of repression, a deputation of 101 persons was taken to Shimla, “The repression subsided to some extent but the game of hid and seek continued throughout the years.”  In 1945, a new twenty-one Member Muzara War Council was set up.  It was more or less a Communist organization and under its leadership armed guards were mobilized to defend gains of the movement.1

 

1   Ibid, p. 163

 

            The people of Bathinda District took an active part in overall freedom movement of the country.  A big political conference was held at Phul on 25 and 26 April 1946 which was addressed by prominent Congress leaders from Punjab.

 

Independence and its Aftermath

 

            At the time of Independence in 1947, Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was ruling over the most of the present Bathinda District, with headquarters at Patiala.  As in the rest of the country, people celebrated achievement of Independence with great enthusiasm.  Among the states, Maharaja Yadvindra Singh of Patiala played a significant role in the history of India by his sympathetic alliance and co-operation with the nationalist forces of the country and took a leading part in the negotiations with British Cabinet Mission in 1946.  He so moulded the opinions of the ruling Princes as to bring them in line with the progressive leaders of the country and helped them achieve independence particularly in the crisis of 1947 when it was feared that some of them might play an obstructive role.

 

            Under the Independence Act of 1947, India was declared a free nation with dominion status with effect from 15 August 1947.  As a result of this epoch-making change, Punjab was partitioned.  Apart from the administrative divisions of personnel and assets, the most disturbing factor in the process, which had not been clearly foreseen or provided for was the mass migration of the members of different communities from the West Punjab to the East Punjab and vie versa.  There was a lot of bloodshed during the partition period in the entire district.  Even though the wholesale transfer of communities had not been envisaged in the constitutional provisions, the force of circumstances compelled the people to be uprooted enmasse and leave their hearths and homes to seek security across the borders.  The number of people moving with whatever they could collect, exceeded the wildest calculations of the respective Governments who were found utterly unprepared for the greatest exodus in history.  The exodus of non-Muslims from all parts of West Pakistan into the East Punjab disrupted the whole economy and created a situation without parallel.  Immediate measures had to be adopted for the relief and resettlement of the vast uprooted population suddenly reduced to a stage of utter misery.  Large number of refugees were completely demoralized on account of want and destitution.  The partition found the entire Government machinery in a state of paralysis. In the face of the colossal problem prompt action was taken by the State and Central Governments to arrange for the speedy relief and resettlement of the refugees and restore order. Simultaneously, a programme for their effective rehabilitation was launched and was completed in phases over several years.

 

            India’s Independence in August 1947 brought about a little change in the attitude of the princes, at least in the East Punjab.  The much awaited reforms were to wait for about a year more. The Praja Mandal and the Akalis continued with their demands and remained quarrelling over the details of future set up.  But after a very short interval, they patched  up their differences, forged a united from and started demanding a responsible government.  The Akalis issued an ultimatum to the East Punjab States to introduce responsible Government of face a morcha.  The Praja Mandal had already been threatening a struggle. So the reforms could no longer be postponed.  It was no longer possible for the States to continue in their old ways.  The Praja Mandal was on the warpath.  Administration was crisis-ridden and the Central Government at Delhi was not too sympathetic.  In such a situation, the movement for merger of these states gained ground.

 

Formation of PEPSU and its merger with Punjab

 

            The Patiala and the East Punjab States Union, or the PEPSU as it was popularly called, had come into existence on 20 August 1948, with the integration of the princely States of  Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Faridkot, Kapurthala, Nalagarh and Malerkotla.  This union came into being under the active guidance of Sardar Valabh Bhai Patel who was then the Home Minister and in charge of Indian States Department.  Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala was appointed as the Rajparmukh (Head of State).

 

            With the formation of the PEPSU in 1948, the Praja Mandal also changed its name to the PEPSU Pradesh Congress.  All the princes in the East Punjab States except the Maharaja of Patiala were eliminated.  Even the Patiala ruler was no more than the constitutional head of the State and the real power passed into the hands of the representative of the people.  On 1 November 1956, with the reorganization of the States, PEPSU was merged with the Punjab.  With this even the constitutional position of the Maharaja of Patiala ended.  The end of that status was in fact the end of one era and the beginning of another. The Praja Mandalist now claimed that they had achieved consummation of the great struggle which they had launched nearly thirty years earlier.

 

            The State Reorganization Commission, which had been appointed by the Government of India on 29 December 9153 submitted its report in 1955 and recommended the merger of the PEPSU with Punjab.  The government accepted the Commission’s recommendation and implemented it with effect from 1 November 1956.  At present, the district has four tahsils/subdivisions, viz. Bathinda, Mansa, Talwandi Sabo and Rampura Phul.

 

            After merger with Punjab, the district has made rapid strides in the fields of agriculture and industry.  Once arid lands are now yielding bumper crops.  The establishment of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant, the National Fertilizer, Ltd. at Bathinda are the monuments of modern history of the district.

 

CHAPTER III

PEOPLE

(a)

Population

(b)

Languages

©

Religions and Castes

(d)

Social life

(e)

Rehabilitation

 

(a)    Population

 

(i)        Total Population

 

            According to the 1981 Census, the population of the Bathinda District was 13,04,666, of whom 6,99,815 were males forming 53.65 per cent and  6,04,791 were females forming 46.35 per cent.  Out of the total population of the district, 10,08,729 persons (77.32 per cent) lived in the rural areas, while 2,95,877 persons (22.68 per cent) lived in the urban areas.  Out of the people living in the urban areas 1,59,481 were males and 1,36,396 were females and in the rural areas 5,40,334 were males and 4,68,395 were females.

 

            Growth of Population. – The population of the Bathinda District increased from 6,19,689 in 1951 to 13,04,606 in 1981.  The variation in the population during these thirty years is shown in the following table :-

 

Year

Persons

Decade

Variation

Percentage

  decade

  variation

Males

Females

1951

6,19,689

--

--

3,38,037

2,81,652

1961

8,28,420

+ 208,731

+ 33.68

4,52,046

3,76,374

1971

10,25,271

+ 196,851

+ 23.76

5,53,798

4,71,473

1981

13,04,606

+ 279,335

+ 27.24

6,99,815

6,04,791

 

(Census of India, 1981, Series – 17 Punjab, Part II-A and Part II-B, General Population Tables and Primary Census Abstract, p. 65)

 

            Emigration and Immigration. – According to the 1961 Census, out of 10,55,177* persons enumerated in the district, as many as 6,43,492 or 60.98 per cent were born at the place of enumeration.  Among the rural population, this percentage worked out to 65.49 and in urban areas to 44.20 denoting a higher degree of mobility in the towns.

 

* Includes population of the Faridkot Tahsil also.

 

            Another 17.42 per cent of the population was born at another place within the district.  This percentage was 9.78 in the case of males and 26.55 in the case of females, the higher percentage for females being owning to the factor of marriage.

 

            Persons born in Punjab districts other than Bathinda numbered 1,54,045 or 14.60 per cent of the population.  Even in this group, the percentage of females (20.89) was higher than that of males (9.34).

 

            The Punjab born persons formed 93 per cent of the district population.  The remaining 7 per cent hailed from areas shown below :

 

Place of birth

Number

Percentage to total

Population

 

Other States of India

20,074

1.9

Pakistan

51,715

4.9

Other Countries

  1,245

0.1

Information not available

    804

0.1

 

            Persons born in other Indian States were mostly from Rajasthan (11,355), Uttar Pradesh (5,831), Delhi (1,147) and Jammu and Kashmir (451).  The majority of persons  hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir were counted in the rural areas and of those hailing from Delhi in the urban areas.

 

            The Pakistan-born persons were those who migrated in the wake of partition.  The persons reported to have been born in countries other than Pakistan were mostly the children of the Punjabis who went abroad.

 

            Density of  Population.  – As per 1981 Census, the density of population of the Bathinda District  was 235 persons per sq. km.  It is the second lowest amongst the districts of the State and significantly lower than the State density of 333 persons per sq. km.  But is has recorded a substantial increase of 47 persons per sq. km. from 188 persons per sq. km in 1971 to 235 persons per sq. km. in 1981.

 

            There is a wide gap in the density of population in rural and urban areas of the district.  It is 186 for rural areas and 2,112 for urban areas.

 

            The tahsil-wise density of population of the Bathinda District, according to the 1981 Census, is given below :

 

 

Tahsil/District

Density/Population

per sq. km.

Total

Rural

Urban

 

Bathinda

270

181

1,690

Mansa Tahsil

224

195

2,356

Rampura Phul Tahsil

241

206

5,536

Talwandi Sabo Tahsil

202

159

2,824

Bathinda District

235

186

2,112

 

(Census of India, 1981, Series – 17 Punjab, Part II-A and Part II-B, General Population Tables and Primary Census Abstract, p. 32)

 

            Sex Ratio. – According to the 1981 Census, out of the total population of the district, 6,99,815 were males and 6,04,791 were females, i.e. showing a ratio of about 53.6 : 46.4.  There were 864 females for 1,000 males in the district as against the corresponding figure of the Punjab State which stood at 879.  The highest sex ratio of 869 has been observed from Mansa Subdivision and lowest 857 for Bathinda Subdivision.  The other two subdivisions, viz. Talwandi Sabo and Rampura Phul had a sex ratio of 867 and 864, respectively.  During the last three decades, there has been a slight improvement in favour of females which is shown in the following table :-

 

 

Year

Females per 1,000 males

Bathinda District

Total

Rural

Urban

 

1951

833

835

823

1961

833

834

827

1971

851

849

862

1981

864

867

855

 

(Census of India, 1981, Series – 17 Punjab, Part II-A and Part II-B, General Population Tables and Primary Census Abstract, p. 69)

 

 

(ii)       Distribution of Population between Rural and Urban Areas

 

            The following table shows the tahsil-wise distribution of population between rural and urban areas in the district, according to the 1981 Census1 :-

 

District/Tahsil

Persons

Males

Females

Bathinda District

1,304,506

699,815

604,791

Rural

1,008,729

540,334

468,395

Urban

2,95,877

159,581

136,396

Bathinda Tahsil

409,881

220,723

189,158

Rural

258,270

137,692

120,578

Urban

151,611

83,031

68,580

Mansa Tahsil

491,608

262,975

228,633

Rural

422,857

226,757

196,100

Urban

68,751

36,218

32,533

Rampura Phul Tahsil

210,854

113,108

97,746

Rural

178,964

96,134

82,830

Urban

31,890

16,974

14,916

Talwandi Sabo Tahsil

192,263

103,009

89,254

Rural

148,638

79,751

69,887

Urban

43,625

23,358

20,367

 

Census of India, 1981, Series – 17 Punjab District Census Part XIII-A & B Bathinda District,  p. 16

 

(iii) Displaced Persons

 

            On account of the partition of the country in1947, the migration of the minority communities from either side of the border was unprecedented.  Muslims settled in this district opted to migrate to Pakistan and the Hindus and Sikhs settled across the border crossed over to India.  The then Bathinda District accommodated 48,382 persons giving a percentage of 7.2 over the total population of the district.  The tahsil-wise distribution is given below :

 

                       Bathinda                                 16,235  Persons

                       Mansa                                    11,820  Persons

                       Faridkot                                  20,237  Persons  (Now in  Faridkot District)

 

            The table given in Appendix on pages 91-92 shows the details of the refugees, who settled in the Bathinda District according to the district of origin in Pakistan.

 

(b) Language *

 

            Linguistically, Bathinda District is surrounded by Bangru and Rajasthani, spoken in Haryana and Rajasthan states, and Malwai, an important dialect of Panjabi, spoken in Sangrur, Ludhiana, Faridkot districts of Panjab.  The impct of Bangru and Rajasthani on the language of Bathinda is not of much significance.  The language of Bathinda  spoken in the villages is almost the core of the Malwai dialect.  The urban speech is a Hindi influenced Punjabi variety of this dialect, but there is complete mutual intelligibility between the urban and rural language.  The variety of language spoken in the rural areas is the dominating one.  Mostly, gurmukhi script is used for writing this dialect.

 

* Material supplied by the department of Anthropological Linguistics, Punjab University, Patiala

 

The position of glottalic /h/ is very interesting in this area.  In the word initial position its pronunciation is that of a consonant.  Word finally as in the words           ,        ,   etc.  it is pronounced as a high tone as  / sa/and/ra/.  This change of /h/ into tone, word finally is uniform in all the dialects of Punjabi especially in Indian Panjab.  The status of /h/ in the word medial position is not clear in this dialect.  In some of the words, it is pronounced as a consonant, e.g.     ,        ,        ,          /sehar/, jehar/, /lehar/, /kahal/, but in the words like             __,      ,        ,         , it has changed into tone, which we can transcribe as /sero/, /jeri/, /kali/, /leri/.  The process of conversion of /h/ into tone, word medially is so powerful, that both /h/ and tone are pronounced as in the words 

 

/kahani/                                   /aheli/                                                 /sahara/

/bahana/                                  /gahai/

 

            The prolongation of contact of the articulator at the point of articulation is a significant feature of this dialect.  In the linguistic terminology, it is called gemination.  In this dialect, gemination is phonemic and it is marked by writing the gurmukhi symbol adak           on the preceding letter of the geminated consonant.  All consonants, except, /r/, /  /   ,/I/   ,/n/   ,/h/ can occur geminated or ungeminated.  Gemination is possible only intervocalically and that too after any one of the vowels, /I, a, U/.  The preceding vowel of the geminated consonant has to be one of the above noted vowels, but the following vowel can be any one out of the ten vowels of this dialect.  Examples of gemination are :-

 

/matti/                                                                       /mati/                         

/satti/                                                                         /sati/                                      

/dassi/                                                                       /dasi/                          

/rassa/                                                                       /rasa/

 

            While geminating aspirated stops such as /kh/  ,/ch/   ,/th/   ,/ph/     , only  top letter is written double but the letter h indicating aspiration is not be repeated e.g.

 

            /matthi/

            /japphi/

            /makkhi/

 

            An other phonologic feature worth mentioning here is that initial and medial consonant clusters are not pronounced in this area.  In the gurmukhi spellings, clusters are indicated by writing a letter of smaller size and shape under the other letter, e.g.       ,       ,     , but while pronouncing, a vowel is inserted between the two sounds written together.  Consonant  clusters  do  occur  word  finally  and  that  too  after  any  one of  the  vowels /I, a, U/.

 

            Nasality is a significant feature of this dialect. All the ten vowels may occur oral (with velum raised) or nasalised  (with velum lowered).  This nasality being phonetic is also phonemic e.g.   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,   ,  ,   ,  /ja/ja,      ga/ga,        so/so,          po/po, Nasality is so dominant inthis dialect that the vowels are effected by the nasality.

 

            Like vowels and consonants, different pitch levels are also significant in the speech of this area.  Pitch is called tone, when it is distinctive.  There are three significant pitch levels in this area, technically termed as low tone, mid tone and high tone.  Each word in this area has one of the three tones.  Only one tone is possible in one word.  The examples of tones are :-

                      

            /pa/                                         /pa/                             /pa/                 

            /kari/                                       /kari/                           /kari/                                                  /kadi/                                       /kadi/                           /kadi/

 

            The gurmukhi letters,   ,  ,  ,  ,  ,  , are not pronounced as voiced aspirates; Word initially their corresponding voiceless unaspirated is pronounced with low tone on the first or second syllable.   When in medial or final position, these letters are pronounced as corresponding voiced unaspirates plus high tone on the receding vowel or low tone on the following vowel.  Tone as also disturbed the consonantal status of glottalic /h/.

            The nouns in this area inflect for number and case.  There are six cases, i.e. direct, oblique, vocative, ablative, locative and instrumental. There are two numbers, i.e. singular and plural.  Every noun is either singular or plural, which is determined by the environment.

 

            There are two genders : masculine; and feminine.  Every noun animate or inanimate is assigned to either of the two genders.  The gender of the noun is always inherent in it and there no choice left for the speaker.  Most of the /-a/ ending nouns are masculine and /-i/ ending are feminine, but there are exceptions to this also.

 

            Pronouns in this area inflect for the categories of number, gender and case.  The first person, singular and plural inflect for direct, dative and ablative cases.  Second person singular and plural inflect for direct, dative, ablative and vocative cases.  Vocative forms also mark the gender.

 

            In this dialect, there are two sets of third person pronouns, i.e. /e/   “nearer to the speaker” and /o/ “farther from the speaker”.  These two forms do not inflect for gender or number.  In the genitive form, the third person pronouns / e/  and  / o/ inflect for number, gender and case by suffixing /-da/.  The suffix /-da/ looses its tone and is treated as part of the word.

 

            Under the Punjab Official Language act 1967, Punjab in the gurmukhi script became the official language of the State on the occasion of Baisakhi (13 April 1968).  Accordingly, the official work at the district level and below is done largely in Punjabi than in English.  Since Punjabi has been given the place of official language, people of the area show a greater enthusiasm for the study of this language.  It is widely read, spoken and written in the district.  Virtually Punjabi is the mother-tongue of the people of the district.  Moreover, daily newspapers in Punjabi which are now published in large-scale and read by a large number of people, have also contributed a lot to the development of Punjabi language in the district.  The extensive study and reading of the written Punjabi language in the district.  The extensive study and reading of the written Punjabi language have also moulded the dialect of the people to some extent.

 

(c)               Religion and Caste

 

Principal Communities

 

            The total population of the district, according to the 1981 Census, was 13,04,606.  The Sikhs form the majority and the Hindus come the next.  In the urban areas, however, the Hindus form the majority and the Sikhs come next.  The Sikhs accounted for 76.26 per cent and Hindus 23 per cent of the total population of the district.  The religion-wise population of the district alongwith number of households, according to the 1981 Census, is given in the following statement :-

 

Religion-wise Population of the Bathinda District, according to 1981 Census

 

Religion

No of Households

Persons

Males

Females

Percentage

to the

total population

 

Total

Rural

Urban

Total

Rural

Urban

Rural

Urban

Rural

Urban

Sikhs

1,55,053

1,35,675

19,378

9,94,865

8,84,594

1,10,271

4,73,805

59,960

4,10,789

50,311

76.26

Hindus

52,660

19,616

33,044

3,00,040

1,17,322

1,82,718

62,838

97,950

54,484

84,768

23.00

Muslim

1,111

898

213

6,521

5,527

994

3,010

601

2,517

393

0.50

Christians

169

38

131

834

216

618

114

314

102

304

0.06

Jains

246

88

158

1,735

614

1,221

320

578

294

543

0.13

Buddhists

14

11

3

83

74

9

44

7

30

2

0.01

Other Religions and

Persuations

 

80

56

24

487

349

138

184

67

165

71

0.04

 

 

 

Religion not

stated

 

8

6

2

41

33

8

19

4

14

4

N

 

 

Total

2,09,341

1,56,388

52,953

13,04,606

10,08,729

2,95,877

5,40,334

1,59,481

4,68,395

1,36,395

100

 

 

 

(Census of India 1981, Series 17, Punjab, Paper-I of 1984, Household Population by Religion of Head of Household, pp 5 and 40-42)

 

Caste plays an important role in the socio-economic life of the people of the district.  For a detailed description of each caste, caste-wise population figures are essential, but is not possible because census enumeration with regard to different castes was not made in the census after 1951.  In the absence of such data, much of the valuable information pertaining to the life and economy of the people cannot be included here. However, the general description of the traditional socio structure, customs and religious beliefs of some of the castes is given in the following paragraphs :

 

1981-82 Sikhs

 

            According to the 1981 Census, the Sikhs numbered 9,94,865 (5,33,765 males and 4,61,100 females), forming 76.26 per cent of the total population of the district.

 

            Founded by Guru Nanak Dev (A.D. 1469-1539), Sikhism is a thoroughly modern and progressive religion. Its main principal is the worship of one invisible God.

 

            Sikhs believe in the karma and the transmigration of the soul.  Sikhism attaches great importance to the institution of langar or free kitchen, according to which the high and low have to sit side by side and dine together, thereby annihilating all distinctions of caste and creed.  Every Sikh to become a “Singh” (lion)  has to receive amrit, the baptism of the sword (khanda).  After baptism, he is essentially to wear the five K’s viz.  The keshas (unshorn hair), the kachha (short drawers), the kanga (comb), the kara (iron bangle) and the kirpan (sword).  The Sikhs venerate ten Gurus and their holy book, the Granth Sahib.

           

            The peasants of the Punjab State in Majha, Doaba and Malwa are mostly Sikhs and are known as Jats.  A special mention is to be made of the Jats inhabiting the district.  After partition, the non-muslim cultivators, mostly Sikhs form Pakistan, settled here.  They belong to different gots (sub-castes) which are described in detail in the account that follows :

 

            Jats. – Jats, who are muscular, stout, tall (those attaining height of six feet among them are not uncommon), handsome with reddish brown complexion and generally long lived.  Besides, being good husband-men, they make excellent soldiers, as they still possess the military spirits infused by Guru Gobind Singh.  The important Jat gots in the district are :  Sidhu, Gill, Mann, Dhaliwal, Sindhu, Dhillong, Chahal, Sandhu, Sekhon, etc. 

 

            Sainis.  A large number of Sainis are found in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Rupnagar districts of the State, but they are found in small number in the Bathinda District as well.  They also rank among the best agriculturists.  They own small holdings of land.  Further, they are experts in cultivation of vegetables and gardens.  Saini are found both among Hindus and Sikhs.

 

            Sansis. – The ancestors of Sansis were once stated to be called “Sursenas” and the Yadu Rajputs of Mathura.  From the Yadus descended the Bhatti Rajputs.  The Bhatti Rajputs flourished in Rajasthan for some centuries before Muslim invasions and particularly before the invasion of Ala-ud-Din Khilji, who ransacked Chittor, and drove away some recalcitrant Rajputs.  Of them the Bhatti Rajputs wandered toward the Punjab.  Of this stock, among others, there was a Sansi tribe name after is leader “Raja Sansmal or Sensi”.  This tribe kept wandering about for five centuries.  Some of them settled in Firozpur and Bathinda districts and other parts of the  Punjab.  Kirty Sansi and Raja Sans of the Sansi tribe were very prominent and powerful.

 

            Sansis are both Hindus and Sikhs.  They speak their own dialect and  have their own customs, though they are now adopting the Hindu  and Sikh customs.  In Bathinda District, they are mostly Sikhs though they intermarry with Hindu Sansis.  The notable castes of the Sansis inhabiting the district are Chohan and Nirmals.

 

Hindus

 

            The number of Hindus in the district, according to the 1981 Census, was 3,00,040 (1,60,788 males and 1,39,252 females), who formed 23 per cent of the total population.

 

            There are many temples of Hindus in the district.  The  Hindus are often seen going to the temples of Lord Shiva, Lakshmi Narain, Devi, etc. in the mornings and in the evenings.  They worship their gods and goddesses with flowers and sandal, singing bhajans or hymns, ringing bells, and holding a lighted lamp with four wicks in their hands.  This ceremony is called arti utarna.  The worshippers receive charnamrit or holy water, leaves of the tulsi plants and some patashas, called Devi ka bhog or parshad.  The worship of the pipal tree and of Muhammadan saints are also common among Hindus.

 

            Brahmans. – Earlier the Brahmans used to perform mainly priestly duties, but now only a small number of them are engaged in this profession. The Brahmans in the district are mostly from the Saraswat stock.  The Saraswats derive this name from the river Sarswati.  They are divided into Athbans or Chhebans.  The distinction among these groups has disappeared and they now intermarry.

 

            Khatris. – Khatris trace their origin from the Kshatriyas.  They intermarry within the group or outside the group, but, like other Hindus, within their sub-caste.  They are of good indisposition and generally literate.  Avocations are no bar to them but rather a matter if convenience.  They are engaged in trade, commerce, industry, private and government services, and also join the army.

 

            Banians.  – The word ‘Banian’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘banijya’ or trade.  As the name implies, Banians are primarily a trading class. They are traders par excellence, as they have been engaged in business since generations.  Their main sub-castes are Aggarwals, Oswals, and Maheswri.  They trace their origin from Agroha in the Hisar District (Haryana) and claim to be the descendants of Raja Ugrasen.  The most prevalent sub-castes of Banians in the district are Garg, Goyal, Jindal, Bansal, Singla and Mittal.

 

Jains

 

            According to the 1981 Census, the Jains numbered 1,735 (898 males and 837 females), forming only 0.13 per cent of the total population of the district, Jainism is essentially a faith of Indian origin and is still popular in the country.

 

            There is a Jain Sweitamber Tara Panthi Sabha at Bathinda.  It was formed about 80 years back for religious preaching, especially the teachings of ‘Lord Mahavir’.  Morning prayers are held everyday at the Sabha building.  In every Chaturmas (four month period), from the end of July to the end of November every year, saints or nuns stay here for religious preachings.

 

Christians

 

            According to the 1981 Census, the number of Christians in the district was 834 (428 males and 406 females), who formed only 0.06 per cent of the total population.

 

            Christian missionaries have hardly made any significant impact in Bathinda District and as such their contribution in the social sphere is not worth of particular mention.

 

Muslims

 

            According to 1981 Census, the number of Muslims in the Bathinda District was 6,521 (3,611 males and 2,910 females), forming only 0.50 per cent of the total population of the district.

 

            Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes. – The number of persons belonging to Scheduled Castes in the district, according to 1981 Census, was 3,52,489 (1,89,659 males and 1,62,830 females), which formed 27 per cent of the total population.  They are divided in groups, sub-groups, castes and sub-castes.  Previously, like others they did not marry in other groups, but this rigidity is on the wane these days. Formerly, their avocations were restricted and they could not change them.  Things have, however, changed after Independence.  The Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes are not at liberty to adopt any profession they like.  They are engaged in trade, commerce, industry, private and government services including police and even in the armed forces.  Since 25 per cent of the civil posts are reserved for them, the literate Scheduled Castes find it more lucrative to join civil services, where they are also entitled to reservation in appointments and promotions. Illiterate Scheduled Castes, however, are generally engaged in agriculture.  Before Independence, they were not allowed to own land but all restrictions in this regard have been dispensed with under the Constitution of India.  They can now purchase land or any other immovable or movable property just as other members of the society can acquire property anywhere in the country.  According to government policies, the surplus land with the government is being allotted to them at a nominal price.

 

(d)       Social Life

 

            Joint Family System. – The joint family system which has been a distinguished feature of Hindu society since times immemorial is showing signs of breaking up on account of the stress of changed economic and social conditions in the recent times.  However, it cannot be concluded that this institution has totally disappeared because the younger generations still keep their families with their parents especially in the rural areas when the beard earner has to move out of the village due to increasing pressure of population on land.

 

            Dowry System. – The dowry system is a social evil from which the people of the district are not immune.  But people in general are not inclined to accept reform in this mater.  Even the dowry legislation of 1961 has not fully succeeded in achieving its object.  Their ideas not having been reformed, people find ways and means of by-passing the law.

 

            Marital Age. – Early marriages were a usual feature in the district in the past.  But the position seems to have changed considerably during the last two to three decades. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, popularly known as the Sharda Act, enforced from 1 April 1930, provided penalties for the celebration of marriages of male children under 18 and female children under 14 years of age.  Consequently, there has been a tendency for postponing marriages beyond the age specified in the Act.

 

(i)        Property and Inheritance

 

            The property and inheritance were governed by the customary laws in the district.  With the passing of Hindu Succession Act, 1956, things have, however, changed.  Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists inherit property under this Act.  The property of the deceased is distributed equally among his sons, daughters, widow, mother, etc.  However, during his life time, a person may dispose of  by will or other testamentary disposition, any property, which he is capable of so disposing in accordance with the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925, or under any other law in force at that time and applicable to a Hindu.  In case a person dies interstate, his sons, daughters , widow and mother inherit the property in equal shares.  The adoption of children and the maintenance allowance to the wife are governed by the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956. Among the Muslims, the property of the deceased is inherited in equal shares by his sons, daughters and wife under the Shariat Act, 1937.  The wife is the sole owner of the mehr given to her at the time of marriage.  Inheritance, among the Christians is governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925.

 

(ii)       Marriage and Morals

 

            Marriage. – Marriages amongst the Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jains and Christians are performed according to their respective customary and traditional ceremonies.  Civil marriages are performed to avoid social taboos and ostensibly to save the heavy costs involved in traditional marriages.

 

            Prior to 1909, marriages amongst the Sikhs were performed according to Hindu rites.  But with the passage of the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, the marriages are now performed by Anand Karaj.  Lawan (Four couplets) from the Adi Granth are recited and the couple simultaneously moves around the Adi Granth.  Thereafter the Anand Sahibis recited and the marriage is solemnized.  It is now generally done in the mornings.

 

            Marriage rites under Anand Karaj are cheap  and simple.  Unlike the Hindus, the services of Brahmans are no required; but instead the granthi (religious preacher) performs the duties.  Dowry system as amongst the Sikhs, is also prevalent.

 

            Among the Hindus, marriage is enjoined as a religious obligation, because a father is believed to achieve salvation only through a son.

 

            Usually the marriage is arranged by the parents.  However, the boy and the girl are now generally allowed to a glance at each other.  The parents of the girl approach the parents of the boy either directly or through a mediator.  In urban areas, amongst educated classes, matrimonial alliances are contracted through advertisements as well.  The use of the services of Nai (barbar), as mediator has become obsolete.  After preliminary inquiries about the required particulars, the parties agree to effect matrimonial alliance.  After consulting the priest, the date is fixed for engagement.  The father of the girl offers money and sweets to the boy, who is also given seven dry dates chhuaras out of which he is to eat one.  After this ceremony, the horoscopes of the boy and the girl are studied and the date of marriage is fixed by the priest.  Before the actual ceremony of marriage, a number of ceremonies are performed both at the house of the boy and the girl.

           

            On the appointed day, an hour or so before the marriage starts in the evening, the sehra bandi ceremony is performed.  The barat (marriage party) proceeds to the bride’s house singing and dancing.  At the bride’s house, the relatives and friends gather to receive the barat where milni (reception) is held.  After that, the jaimal (bride’s garlanding the bride-groom) ceremony is performed.  Recently, day marriages are becoming popular.

 

            At the time of lagan fixed by the priest, phere (circumambulating the holy fire by the bridegroom and the bride) ceremony is performed in the presence of relatives and friends and the marriage is solemnised. After the marriage, the bridegroom returns to his house alongwith the bride.

 

            The marriage among the Muhammadana is a natural contract and is called nikah.  It is also generally an arranged marriage.  After the betrothal takes place, the date of marriage.  After the betrothal takes place, the date of marriage is fixed.  The bridegroom gives mehr, which is explicitly the property of the bride.

 

            Marriage among Christians is solemnised in the Church and the priest performs the marriage ceremonies.

 

            The Jains have the same system of marriage as the Hindus.  The notable difference is that marriage ceremonies are performed by their own priest instead of a Brahman.

 

Widow Remarriage

 

            Widow remarriage among the Hindus is not common. Despite best efforts made by the Arya Samaj in this field, there has hardly been any progress.  Among the Scheduled Castes, widow-remarriage is performed not according to customs but as an economic necessity.  Amon the Jat Sikhs, widow is remarried to the dever or jeth (younger or elder brother of the deceased).  However, widow remarriage among Jains is not popular.  Christians and Muslims, however, remarry widows.

 

Divorce

 

Though not unknown in the past, cases of divorce were rare. Instead of having recourse to court of law, the usual practice was to leave the girl with her parents and never recall her.  However, with the passing of Hindus Marriage Act on 18 May 1955, the parties have started filing the cases of divorce in the courts of law.  During 1981-82, 106 cases were instituted in the courts  in the Bathinda District under the Act.

 

            Morals. – Morals do not differ in the district in any way from those in other districts of the State.  The age-old institution of prostitution ended with the migration of Muslim population. No new licences were issued in the Punjab State.  The institution was subsequently banned in the whole of India.  The other moral offences of enticing away girls or women for immoral purposes are governed under the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls act, 1956.  Since the district is industrially backward, the number of persons employed in industry and of those who leave their families back is negligible, no problem involving immoral traffic is actually felt.

 

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