MELI, lit. attached or companion, appears in the Sikh Scripture in different connotations usually as a verb form, past indefinite of melana (to attach, join, bring together), in the feminine form (GG, 54, 63, 90, 243, 379, 389, 584 et al.); as an adjective meaning loving, attached (GG, 4243); and as a noun meaning associate, friend (GG, 392). In Zulfiqar ArdistanT, Dabistdni Mazdhib, the term meli has been used as a title for a class of preachers among the seventeenthcentury Sikhs. Preaching districts or manjis had been set up during the time of Guru Amar Das (1552-74).
The chiefs, designated masands, functioned as the Gurus` local representatives. They preached the Gurus` word in sangats or fellowships of the holy, performed the rites of initiation, collected tithes and offerings meant for the Guru and ran the langar (community kitchen). In some of the larger districts, the masands, the Gurus` representatives, appointed their own assistants. These assistants were known as metis. According to Zulfiqar Ardistani, as the masands formed a link between the Guru and the laity, the meKs formed a link between the masands and the Sikhs living in their respective districts.
1. Shea, David, and Anthony Troyer, tr., Dabistan-i-Mnzahib. London, 1843
2. Randhir Singh, Bhai, ed., Prem Sumarag Granth. Jalandhar, 1965