Many nonsikhs use the 12 o’clock joke to make fun of the Sikhs without quite knowing what it’s about. In turn, the Sikh get infuriated without quite knowing why. The origins of the joke, now lost in the mists of time, were in dead earnest.
If the Sikhs knew the real story, they would be proud to be alluded to as the `12 o’clock people’, and the Hindus would regard them with respect.
History behind it:
In 1739 Nadir Shah, King of Persia, crossed the frontier and swept down towards New Delhi, India. He was the first invader who was here only to plunder and kill, with no intention of staying. His troops reached Delhi, where they killed 150,000 people, both Hindus and Sikhs. He looted India and was carrying lot of Indian treasures and nearly 2200 Hindu women along with him. The news spread like fire and was heard by Sardar Jassa Singh who was the Commander of the Sikh army at that time. Sikhs were very few in numbers while the army of Mughals was in hundreds of thousands. Sardar Jassa Singh decided to attack Nadir Shah’s army at midnight.
He did so and rescued all the Hindu women and they were safely sent back to their homes. It didn’t happen only once but thereafter whenever any army from Afghanistan or Iran attacked and looted an Indian city and were trying to carry the treasures and women in order to sell them in Arab markets, the Sikh army although fewer in numbers but brave hearted attacked them at midnight, 12 O’clock, and rescued the women along with the treasure.
Whenever there was a similar incident, people started to contact the Sikh army for their help and Sikhs used to attack the raiders at midnight, 12 O’clock. Sikhs did so because they were fewer in number and could use the darkness to their advantage. It continued and became a known fact that at midnight, nearly at 12 O’clock, it is very difficult to fight against Sikhs as the Sikhs mastered the art of fighting at night.
Thus the 12 o’clock joke was born. Initially, instead of being grateful for their heroism, some Hindus would say that the Sikhs are in their senses only at night. It was apparently futile to expect help from them at other times.
The Sikhs were naturally annoyed. They were trying to help the Hindus and were getting only ridiculed in return. When some Hindus crack this joke, they are oblivious to the fact that if Sikhs had not intervened, Indian people would have to keep facing the oppression my Muslim extremists and Indian women would have been dishonored and taken into exile. The Sikhs should be proud of the 12 o’clock incident, because of them, the dignity of India was restored after Nadir Shah’s invasion; one of the most terrible act of war ever to be perpetrated in India.