In the short story "Sorrow's Reward" by Premchand (originally published in Urdu as "Sila-e Maatam"), the protagonist abandons all thought of his promised wife Kumudini and mourns his lost love Lilawati, before meeting a young man named Mehar Singh and beginning to spend time with him. He notes of Mehar Singh that:

By the end of the second year, he surpassed all the other students in his school. His teachers spoke highly of his intelligence. He was so simple and good-natured that no one ever had a bad word for him. He was the life and soul of the entire school and everyone had high hopes from him. Even though he was a Sikh, he had no liking for sports. I never saw him in the cricket field. He would head straight for home in the evening and be absorbed in his studies.

At the end of the story,

if I'm reading it correctly, we discover that Mehar Singh is actually the girl Kumudini, which may explain "his" dislike of sports,

but what is the supposed connection between being a Sikh and having no liking for sports? Are Sikh people stereotypically athletic and sporty?

  • 3
    I don't have enough references for an answer, but it appears that the conception of Sikhs being athletic is connected to their designation as one of India's martial races. If you search Google for "martial race athletic" you can find some evidence of this.
    – Juhasz
    Nov 1, 2021 at 22:09

1 Answer 1


The Punjab plains, largely populated by Sikhs, were suitable for building hockey fields and cricket grounds. Most pictures of cricket teams around Premchand's time do show more than a couple of Sikhs:

the Maharaja with native cricket teams

Indian Test Cricket Team, 1932

The same goes for the hockey teams too.

Perhaps if the story is set in some part of India where Sikhs were not very common, their only references for Sikhs would be the ones they saw in the sports teams - which would explain the stereotype in question.

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