Jhatka, or Chatka (jhàṭkā IPA: [tʃə̀ʈkɑ]), is the meat from an animal killed instantaneously, such as by a single strike of a sword or axe to sever the head. Jhatka is associated with this kind of animal slaughter in the Sikh traditions. The animal must not be scared or shaken in any way before the slaughter.
Although not all Sikhs maintain the practice of eating meat butchered in this style, it is understood by most orthopraxic Sikhs to have been mandated by the tenth Guru:
According to the ancient Aryan Sikh tradition, only such meat as is obtained from an animal which is killed with one stroke of the weapon causing instantaneous death is fit for human consumption. However, with the coming of Islam into India and the Muslim political hegemony, it became a state policy not to permit slaughter of animals for food, in any other manner, except as laid down in the Quran - the halal meat prepared by severing the main blood artery of the throat of the animal. Guru Gobind Singh took a rather serious view of this aspect of the whole matter. He, therefore, while permitting flesh to be taken as food repudiated the whole theory of this expiatory sacrifice and the right of ruling Muslims to impose it on the non-Muslims. Accordingly, he made jhatka meat obligatory for those Sikhs who may be interested in taking meat as a part of their food.— HS Singha, Sikhism, A Complete Introduction
jhatka karna or jhatkaund refers to the instantaneous severing of the head of an animal with a single stroke of any weapon, with the underlying intention of killing the animal whilst causing it minimal suffering. The Sikh Rahit Maryada forbids hair-cutting, adultery, the use of intoxicants, and the consumption of kutha meat (halal meat).
During the British Raj, jhatka meat was not allowed in jails, and Sikh detainees during the Akali movement and beyond had to resort to violence and agitations to secure this right. Among the terms in the settlement between the Akalis and the Muslim Unionist government in Punjab in 1942 was that jhatka meat be continued by Sikhs.
On religious Sikh festivals, including Hola Mohalla and Vaisakhi, at the Hazur Sahib Nanded, and many other Sikh Gurdwaras, jhatka meat is offered as "mahaprasad" to all visitors in a Gurdwara.[verification needed] Though, this practice is considered to be wrong and not acceptable by major sikhs as only lacto-vegetarian langar is supposed to be served inside gurudwaras.
Some Sikh Organizations, such as the Damdami Taksal and Akhand Kirtani Jatha, have their own codes of conduct. These organizations define kutha meat as any type of slaughtered meat, and eating meat of any type is forbidden.
All three methods use sharp knives. In the Shechita and Halal methods, the animal is slaughtered by one swift, uninterrupted cut severing the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins, and vagus nerves, followed by a period where the blood of the animal is drained out. In the Jhatka method, a swift uninterrupted cut severs the head and the spine. In the Halal method, a prayer to God (Allah) is required at the start or if there is any interruption during Shchita meat production, but before every slaughter in Halal meat production.
In India, there are many jhatka shops, with various bylaws requiring shops to display clearly that they sell jhatka meat.
In the past, there has been little availability of jhatka meat in the United Kingdom, so people have found themselves eating other types of meat, although jhatka has become more widely available in the United Kingdom.