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What is Kachehra


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Writer: Serjinder Singh

Waheguru ji ka khalsa

Waheguru ji ki fateh

Kachehra is a word derived from the word "Kachh". This derivation is similar to the word "Sunehra" derived from the word "Sona". Sona means gold and Sunehra means that looks like gold or is golden. Similaraly, ik means one or lone, and word "Ikehra" derived from ik means single or lone.Thus, Kachhehra means a garment that looks like Kachh.

In order to understand the significance of Kachhehra as a Sikh garment one has to understand Kachh. I might be wrong but in my opinion the five Kakkaars per se do not mean anything but Guru ji ordained Sikhs to adopt these as a socio-political statement. To understand this one must go back in time to the seventeenth century and try to seek explanations of these symbols.

Guru ji in Asa Di Vaar says,

Mathe Tikka Terr Dhoti Kakhaee

On the forehead is daubed the sacred (saffron) mark and the Dhoti of the Kakhaee style is donned.

Hath Shuree Jagat Kasaaee

With knife in hand (you look like) a world renown butcher

Guru ji refers to the high caste Hindus who distinguish their high caste through the forehead mark and the Kakhaee dhoti.

It must be remembered that during those centuries and indeed even today in some parts of India persons who are not Brahaman or Rajput are not allowed to wear Kachh or Kakhaee dhoti.

A Kachh or Kakhaee dhoti is a large piece of cloth worn as lower garment that is tied around the waste using three parts tucked around the waste.

The two parts are the corners of the cloth at the level of the waste tied together while the third part is the pair of corners hanging near the feet. When this pair of corners held together is taken to the backside between the legs and tucked at the back the garment is called the Kachh.

In Hindu religion, the Atraye Smiriti specifies that Kakhaee dhoti or Kachh is appropriate to identify the high caste of Brahamans or Kashatryias that has three parts tucked around the waste (see Mahan Kosh by Kahan Singh Nabha under Kakhaee)

A Kachhehra is a sewn-up version of Kakhaee dhoti where the lower parts behind the knees form the same V-shape (known as Reb garment) as does a Kakhaee dhoti or Kachh. In fact, the word Kachhehra is a later introduction. In earlier Rehatnamas we find the mention of Kachh only, that is, the Kachh in a sewn-up version or may be the unsewn version as well

.

When on the Vaisakhi of 1699 Guruji asked Sikhs to adopt certain symbols and rituals or five kakaars most of these are not just to defy caste divisions but to arrogantly adopt something which was the preserve of only Rajputs. The Kachh doti or Kakhaee dhoti is still in Rajsthan only allowed to be worn by Rajputs. The non-Rajputs can tie the cloth around their waste using two corners only. The corners hanging near the feet were not allowed to be tucked at the back to turn it into a Kachh. Similarly, the second name Singh was and still is the hallmark of Rajputs only except Sikhs. When we read the lists of Sikhs of the previous nine Gurus we rarely find Singh as the second name of Sikhs. Similar is the importance of hair, beard and especially the moustaches which a non-Rajput cannot keep upturned in a Rajput dominated village. Wearing a sword or kirpan was another privilege allowed to Rajputs of Mughal officials as was riding a horse.

Most aspects of Amrit taking are broadly a high-pitched statement to say:

I am the property (Wahegur ji ka Khalsa) of Waheguru only and I recognise or hail Waheguru as sovereign only (Waheguru ji ki Fateh - analogous to Jai Hind the Indian National salutation which means in Urdu Hind ki Fateh). Naming ourselves Singh we declare that we are as upper caste as any other Rajput. By wearing the Kachh, Kesh, and Kirpan we display the symbols of ruling classes and consider ourselves uplifted from toiling low castes in one go to uppermost rulers the Rajputs.

It was this declaration that we recognise only Waheguru as sovereign and consider our mind, body, and possesions to be the property of Waheguru and stubbornly highjacking the social cultural symbols of ruling class Hindu Rajputs which overnight converted the timid, vulnerable, low caste persons into formidable warriors.

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