In the Sikh faith, a bangle symbolizes the Kara, or the belief in eternity—that God, or the Guru, has no beginning or end. The Kara is one of the five “K’s,” or articles of faith, in the Sikh religion. In the novel, however, bangles come to be associated with a certain dissolution or undermining of religious faith. Malli and his fellow robbers take bangles from Lala Ram Lal’s home and throw them into Juggut Singh’s courtyard, where they break into pieces, to implicate Juggut in the dacoity. The broken bangles symbolize both the perceived loss of a connection with God, while also serving as a metaphor for India’s geographical rupture. Newly married women, such as Hukum Chand’s orderly, Sundari, also wear many bangles for good luck. However, when she and her husband, Mansa Ram, are pulled from a bus by a mob of Muslims, who then rape Sundari, the power of this symbolism is undermined. Through the narration of this anecdote, the author seems to suggest that such religious symbols mean nothing when the tenets of a faith are disregarded in favor of violence and political tyranny. The Sikhs in the novel are just as guilty of this behavior as the Muslims.
The author further implies that bangles are empty of true religious power and meaning when several characters, including Meet Singh and the subinspector, assume that Iqbal Singh is a Sikh because he wears the steel bangle that many Sikh men adorn to demonstrate their faith. The bangle, however, could merely be an adornment to help the religiously-ambiguous Iqbal pose as a Sikh. This, coupled with the fact that Iqbal is circumcised, a sign of being Muslim, makes it unclear what his true religious identity is. Personally, he identifies with none. This detail of ambiguous religious identity makes the violence between the religious groups seem all the more absurd. If Sikhism is merely defined by the wearing of bangles, which easily slip on and off, then the faith becomes a superficial thing, which anyone can wear for political convenience, or even a need to survive.
Bangles Quotes in Train to Pakistan
Iqbal realized that it was the company of Jugga and the constable, who were known Sikhs, that really saved him from being stopped and questioned. He wished he could get out of this place where he had to prove his Sikhism to save his life … He cursed his luck for having a name like Iqbal, and then for being a… Where on earth except in India would a man’s life depend on whether or not his foreskin had been removed? It would be laughable if it were not tragic … If only he could get out to Delhi and to civilization! He would report on his arrest; the party paper would frontpage the news with his photograph: ANGLO-AMERICAN CAPitalIST CONSPIRACY TO CREATE CHAOS (lovely alliteration). COMRADE IQBAL IMPRISONED ON BORDER. It would all go to make him a hero.
He felt a little feverish, the sort of feverishness one feels when one is about to make a declaration of love. It was time for a declaration of something. Only he was not sure what it should be. Should he go out, face the mob and tell them in clear ringing tones that this was wrong—immoral? Walk right up to them with his eyes fixing the armed crowd in a frame—without flinching, without turning, like the heroes on the screen who became bigger and bigger as they walk right into the camera. Then with dignity fall under a volley of blows, or preferably a volley of rifleshots. A cold thrill went down Iqbal’s spine. There would be no one to see this supreme act of sacrifice. They would kill him just as they would kill the others … They would strip him and see. Circumcised, therefore Muslim.
India is constipated with a lot of humbug. Take religion. For the Hindu, it means little besides caste and cow-protection. For the Muslim, circumcision and kosher meat. For the Sikh, long hair and hatred of the Muslim. For the Christian, Hinduism with a sola topee. For the Parsi, fire-worship and feeding vultures. Ethics, which should be the kernel of a religious code, has been carefully removed. Take philosophy, about which there is so much hoo-ha. It is just muddleheadedness masquerading as mysticism. And Yoga, particularly Yoga, that excellent earner of dollars! … And all the mumbo-jumbo of reincarnation … Proof? We do not go in for such pedestrian pastimes as proof! That is Western. We are of the mysterious East. No proof, just faith. No reason; just faith.