Jaikara Defined: The Popular Cheers of Sikhism

Ovation, Slogan, Resounding Cheer

Bole So Nihaal
Bole So Nihaal. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Definition:

Jaikara (jakara) is a compound of jai meaning to proclaim success and kar meaning to do or act. The word jaikara means to make an ovation or utterance, to call out, or shout while rejoicing in triumph, to proclaim victory, to vocally raise and rally spirits.

In Sikhism, jaikara is a kind of victorious slogan often having two parts, call, and response. The first part may be called out aloud by an individual, and responded to en-mass with the rousing enthusiasm of a cheer, by the sangat who calls aloud the second part.

The term jaikara appears in Sikh scripture from the time of Fifth Guru Arjun Dev and refers to triumphant praise. The modern day jaikara may be a uttered as part of the Sikh worship service such as in the prayer of ardas, or proclaimed during a spirit rally. Historically, the jakara would have been shouted by Sikh warriors proclaiming a stance against injustice, and heard as a war cry on the battle field. Many popular modern day jaikara are the legacy of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh.

Pronunciation: Jaikara - spelled phonetically jiakaaraa: ai has a sound of a in jack, while aa has the sound of a in car.
Jakara - spelled phonetically jaikaaraa: the first a is short with the sound of u as in just, while aa has the sound of a in car.

Alternate Spellings: Jakara

Examples:

Commonly proclaimed jaikara from ardas uttered as call and response:

  • Bolo ji (utter) - Waheguru (wondrous enlightener).
  • Jo Bole so Nihaal (come forth proclaim and be blessed) - Sat Siri Akal (supreme truth is undying).
  • Deg Teg Fateh (the kettle and the sword are un-conquerable) - Panth ki jit (the entire Sikh society is victorious).
  • Nanak naam charhdi kalaa (Nanaak may Thy name be exalted,) - Tere bhaanae sarbatt daa bhalaa  (and all people prosper by Thy grace).
  • Waheguru ji ka Khalsa (the brotherhood of pure ones belongs to the wondrous enlightener) - Waheguru ji ki Fateh (victory belongs to the wondrous enlightener).

    Inspirational jaikara uttered in exultation:

    • Khalistan Zindabad - (The spirit of Khalistan lives, Long Live Khalistan)
    • Raj Karega Khalsa - (Khalsa rules).
    • Gaj ke jaikara gajaave fateh paave nihaal ho jaavae, Sat Sri Skaal gurbaar akaal hee akaal|| (excerpt from ardas of Buddha Dal prayerbook gutka praising the blessing of uttering jaikara proclaiming supreme truth).

    Jaikara in Gurbani scripture:

    • "Gur keeno mukat duaaraa ||
      The Guru opens the doorway to liberation.
      Sabh srisatt karai jaikaaraa ||
      All the world applauds Him with resounding cheers proclaiming victory." SGGS 621
    • "Bhagat sohan har kae gun gaaveh sadaa kareh jaikaaraa raam ||
      The devotees are adorned when praising the Lord in song, they proclaim His everlasting triumphant victory." SGGS 784
    • "Turak dund sabh outh gaiou rachiou jaikaaraa ||
      The Turk contention eliminated, triumphant cries of ovation resounded." Amrit Kirtan hymnal 284.

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