KHALSA BAHADUR, by Chuhar Singh, is a 55 page long poetic composition in the Malvai dialect of the Punjabi language, describing the unique chivalry and sacrifice of the twenty-one Sikh soldiers of the 36th Sikh Regiment at Saragarhi in AD 1897. Written in the baint verseform, the poem was completed on 13 November 1915 at the village, Ballial, near Bhavanigarh in Patiala district. The author based his text on the information he gathered from the Sikh soldiers on leave. The poem begins with a supplication to God Almighty followed by one to the Gurus, the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth.

The narrative opens with the raising of the 36th Sikh Regiment, followed by an account of the Pathan tribes of the North-West Frontier Province and of the fierce battle between the Indian army and the Pathans. The strong resistance put up by a handful of twenty-one Sikli soldiers, who died to a man defending the Saragarhi post (12 September 1897) against a horde of thousands of Afridi Pathans, has since become a legend. It has been rendered in the poem in most glowing terms. The poem also refers to the memorial monuments raised at Saragarhi, Amritsar and Firozpur in honour of the martyrs. Although the purpose of the poet was to celebrate the gallantry of the Sikh soldier, historical fact is not disregarded. Gr.S.

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