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Hawan Oven

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Jul 28, 2010.

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    Hawan-oven By D K Havanoor
    The jawans from different backgrounds, had their own ways of expressions.
    Jawans have their own way of expressing themselves with the pronunciation of certain words and terms used in the army. They are influenced by their mother tongue and in some cases by their understanding of the term or by formulating their own terms to their understanding of certain function or object.

    I worked with Sikh Light Infantry. The regiment was composed of mainly dalit Sikhs of Punjab. During my time, the jawans of my regiment were of elementary education; hence, their understanding of English was elementary too. They spoke in Punjabi and wrote in the Gurumukhi script. After a few years of service they would pick up a little bit of Hindi. At the time of commissioning when I came to know that I was being commissioned in a Sikh battalian, I inquired with a Sikh instructor as to where the battalion was located. He said “Saabji, paltan Jambu mein hai.” (Battalion is located in Jammu).

    On commissioning, we were required to go to the regimental centre for precourse training prior to the young officer’s course including the commando course. At the railway station where the regimental centre was located, a havildar had come along with some young trainees to receive me. On alighting from the train I was welcomed by the havildar and he called out to a trainee, “Oy Ragroot saabjida saman gaddiwich rakho” (Hey recruit, keep sir’s, luggage in the vehicle.” On reaching the regimental centre, like all infantry youngsters, I had to confront a funny way of reception, by subulten and junior captains. I was told that since I had come for pre Yo’s course training, I was to stay in a tent in the training ground. The havildar took me to the tent away from officers’ mess and a jawan was posted near the tent to work as my batman (orderly).

    The jawan said “saabji, main samaan setment karke, kambot lagawanga tado tak captain saab ne akhya tusi ikk meel daud kare aao.( I will lay out your luggage and dry conservancy-type kamod and till then you have to take one mile run as ordered by the captain). Later after the bath, the batman handed over a plate and an utensil and asked me to go have lunch at the men’s lungar.

    In the afternoon I was called by the captain to the officer's mess. He showed me around the antigue furniture, stuffed tiger and age old trophies since 18th century kept at the mess, where I was to be dined in traditionally on the next day, for which we were to have a dinner night (a formal dinner with many rules of mess etiquette to be followed.)
    The captain happened to be the food member of the mess committee. As such he was ordering the menu for the dinner. He ordered the officers’ mess cook to prepare Russian salad, shrimp mayonnaise, cutlets, baked vegetable meat chops, vegetable rolls garlic bread and for the pudding islands of snow. The cook retorted, “saabji, garlic bread lai hawan chahieda” (sir, for making galic bread hawan is required.) I was wondering what is ‘hawan’ and how hawan or homa is linked with the English menu. I hesitantly asked the captain about it. The captain smiled and told me that hawan is an oven in the cook’s language!

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