Wadda GhallungharaResponding to a plea for help by Aqil Das of Jandiala, Ahmad Shah Abdali rushed down south with an intention to exterminate the Sikhs. Realizing the danger, the Sikhs led by Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and Charat Singh Sukharchakia proceeded towards Malwa after crossing the Satluj with the objective of sending their families to the safety of the wastelands of Malwa before confronting the invader. Ahmed Shah instructed Zain Khan, the faujdar of Sirhind, and Bhikhan Khan, chief of Malerkotla, to keep the Sikhs engaged till his arrival. Taking a light cavalry force Abdali set out at once and covering a distance of 200 km including Iwo river crossings in less than forty eight hours, caught the Sikhs by surprise between the villages of Kup Kalan and Rohira, 12 km north of Malerkotla, at dawn on the 5th of February 1762
Having to protect the slow moving vaheer or baggage train including women, children, old men and other non-combatants, the Sikhs could not resort to their usual hit-and-Fun tactics, and a stationary battle against such superior numbers was inadvisable. Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia decided that all misls combining to form a single force should make a cordon around the vaheer and start moving towards Barnala. Thus fighting while moving and moving while fighting. says Ratan Singh Bhangu, they kept the vaheer marching, covering it as a hen covers its chickens under its wings. On several occasions, the Shafts troops broke the cordon and butchered the helpless non-combatants, but every time the Sikh warriors rallied and pushed back the attackers. Almost 25,000 Sikhs lost their lives in this day-long battle.
This carnage is referred to as Wadda Ghallughara or major holocaust. Chardi kala of this vibrant faith is apparent in the aftermath. According to Sikh tradition, a Sikh who had survived, but lost one leg in the melee, was passing through the heaps of dead bodies the evening after the massacre. As he was surrounded by his slain comrades, he paused for a moment and offered a prayer to Akal Purakh. It began with these famous words: Now all the fruit that is unfit to eat has been shaken from the tree, in other words, this was a prayer of thanks to Akal Purakh, through whose grace the Khalsa was now purified of those who were unable to persevere in the midst of harsh Oppression.