Sikhism in India

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Indian Sikhs
ਭਾਰਤੀ ਸਿੱਖ
Amritsar Golden Temple 3.JPG
Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) or (Darbār Sahib), located in Amritsar, Punjab is one of the holiest shrine of Sikhism.
Total population
20.8 million [1] (1.7%) (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Majority in Punjab. Significant populations in Chandigarh · Haryana  · Himachal Pradesh · Delhi · Jammu & Kashmir · Rajasthan  · Uttarakhand
Languages
Punjabi • Sindhi • Kashmiri • Bengali • English • Gujarati • Hindi • Haryanvi • Assamese • Marathi • Rajasthani

Sikhism is the fourth largest religion in India contributing 1.7% of the population and has existed since late 15th century. The Sikhs are predominantly located in Punjab, but also in many other parts of India. It is also the fifth largest organised religion in the world after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism with more than 25-30 million followers worldwide who were also known as (Khalsa Sikhs).[2][3] But however according to rough estimates, there are around 120–150 million (12–15 crore) sehejdhari or non-khalsa sikhs across the world who also believe in 10 Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.[4]

History[edit]

Sikh organizations, including the Chief Khalsa Dewan and Shiromani Akali Dal led by Master Tara Singh, strongly opposed the partition of India, viewing the possibility of the creation of Pakistan as inviting persecution.[5]

Prominent Sikhs in India[edit]

Though Sikhs are a minority in India, the community occupies a significant place in the country. The former Chief Justice of India, Jagdish Singh Khehar, and the former Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh[6] are Sikh, as is former President of India Gyani Zail Singh. Almost every council of ministers in India has included Sikh representatives. Sikhs are also conspicuous in the Indian army, primarily because of their history as defenders of righteousness, they formed the sword arm of the British empire. The Late Indian officer with a 5 star rank, Arjan Singh, is a Sikh. Sikhs have also led the Indian army through JJ Singh and the Indian Air Force was led by Air Chief Marshal Dilbagh Singh. Sikhs have been prominent in Indian sports, with the only Indian individual gold medalist in Olympics, Abhinav Bindra, being a Sikh. Similarly they occupy important official positions, like Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia;[7] governor Surjit Singh Barnala. Sikhs are also known for entrepreneurial business in India. Milkha Singh, also known as The Flying Sikh, is a former Indian track and field sprinter who was introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army. One reason for visibility of Sikhs in the Indian spectrum is the disproportionate role played by the Sikh community during the Indian freedom struggle, with Bhagat Singh remaining a youth icon to Indian youth.[8]

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

A Sikh place of worship is called Gurdwara.[9] The Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar in Punjab is a prominent Sikh Gurdwara. The Golden Temple represents the highest spiritual seat of Sikh Authority.

Guru Granth Sahib[edit]

Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikhism and the first Sikh Guru. The last living Guru, Guru Gobind Singh passed the Guruship of the Sikhs to the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, the last Guru of Sikhism (the sacred text of Sikhism). It also includes the writings of the some Sikh Gurus and the writings of Hindu and Muslims saints because all of these Bhagats and Bhatts shared the view of one universal creator God, they have experienced unison with almighty. Every human being is equal in front of Waheguru.

A Sikh man wearing a turban

Sikhism among various ethnic communities of India[edit]

Although the Indo-Aryan Sikhs form the majority of the Sikh population, the Sikh community is varied and includes people who speak the Pashto language, the Brahui language, the Telugu language, Assamese language, Hindi language, Sindhi language, Bengali language and many more. The many communities following Sikhism is detailed below. All of these communities belong to one single world of khalsa which count all as one.

Afghan Sikhs[edit]

The Sikhs of Afghanistan are primarily Punjabi merchants and immigrants.[10][11] They speak the Punjabi language within themselves but are usually fluent in Dari and occasionally Pashto as well.[12]

Bengali Sikhs[edit]

Sikhism in Bengal region dates back to 1504 but has declined after the partition.[13] Sikhism first emerged in Bengal when Guru Nanak visited Bengal in 1504 and established a number of Gurdwaras.[14] Gurdwara Nanak Shahi is the principal Sikh Gurdwara (prayer hall) in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is located at the campus of the University of Dhaka and considered to be the biggest of the 7 Gurdwaras in the country. After the Partition of India, the Sikh community left for India.[14] After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War, Indian Sikh soldiers helped renovate the Gudwaras left in Bangladesh.[citation needed] Tegh Bahadur visited Dhaka. There is another Sikh temple known as the Gurudwara Sangat Tola. Many Sikhs also used to visit a well at the ruins of Jafarabad which they believed has waters with curative powers.[15]

There was a presence of Sikhism in Sylhet Division after Guru Nanak's visit in 1508. Kahn Singh Nabha has stated that in memory of Nanak's visit, Gurdwara Sahib Sylhet was established.[citation needed] This Gurdwara was visited twice by Tegh Bahadur and many hukamnamas were issued to this temple by Guru Gobind Singh. In 1897, the gurdwara fell down after the earthquake. Nearly all the Sikhs of Sylhet in the early 18th century were found in North Cachar where they used to work for the Assam Bengal Railway.[16] There are around 1 lakh Bengali people who follow Sikhism as their religion in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.[17]

Assamese Sikhs[edit]

The presence of Sikhism has been existing in Assam[18] for over 200 years. The community traces its origins to the times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who took his army to Assam and put some influence of the religion towards the locals. According to the 2001 census, there were 22,519 Sikhs in Assam,[19] out of which 4,000 are Assamese Sikhs.[17]

Assamese Sikhs follow the Sikh religion and celebrate Sikh festivals as they also celebrate cultural festivals such as Magh Bihu and wear traditional Assamese dress. Their language is the Assamese language.[17][20]

Agrahari Sikhs[edit]

Agrahari Sikh is a Sikh community found in eastern India including state West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand. Agrahari Sikhs, also known as Bihari Sikhs, have existed for centuries in Bihar and Jharkhand.[21]

Bihari Sikhs share their culture with the local Bihari community. The men generally wear the local dhoti and women wear the Sari. They also celebrate cultural festivals such as the Chath festival.[22]

Dakhni Sikhs[edit]

Dakhni Sikhs are from the Deccan Plateau in India located within the states of Telegana and Andhra Pradesh.[23] The traditional dress of women is the sari. The native language of Dakhni Sikhs is the Telugu language.[24]

Kashmiri Sikhs[edit]

Ethnic Kashmiri Sikhs speak the Kashmiri language and observe Kashmiri culture. They trace their religious heritage to the influence of Sikh soldiers who settled in Kashmir under the Maharaja Ranjit Singh rule in 1819. However, the soldiers permanently settled in Kashmir.[25]

Punjabi Sikhs[edit]

Punjabi Sikhs follow the Punjabi culture. Their traditional dress includes the Punjabi Salwar Suit, Punjabi Tamba and Kurta, Punjabi juti and Patiala salwar.

In addition to the Sikh festivals using the Nanakshahi calendar, Punjabi Sikhs observe traditional Punjabi festivals using the Punjabi calendar.

Sindhi Sikhs[edit]

In addition to celebrating Sikh festivals, Sindhi Sikhs celebrate cultural festivals such as Cheti Chand, the Sindhi new year. Sindhi Sikhs speak the Sindhi language. Most of the Sindhi Hindus are Nanak Panthis who believe in 10 Sikh Gurus and regularly go to guru dwara and most of the Marriage also takes place in Gurudwara.[26]

South Indian Sikhs[edit]

There are Sikh communities in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra who converted to Sikhism centuries ago.

The Sikhs comprise Banjara and Satnami. The process of blending the religion into southern India for the Sikligars began at the time of 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, who came to the Deccan and died in 1708 at Nanded (Maharashtra).

It all came by the Sikligars as they cane to southern India as expert arms-making camp followers of the tenth Guru. Sikligar is a compound of the Persian words `saiqal` and `gar` meaning a polisher of metal.[23] The traditional occupation of the Sikligars is crafting kitchen implements.

Banjaras are a nomadic tribe who traditionally travelled with merchandise and are found across a large swathe of northern India, as well as in the south. Sikh Banjaras too travelled with armies of the past supplying them with provisions.[23]

Sikh population in India[edit]

Historical Sikh Population
YearPop.±%
1881 1,853,426—    
1891 1,907,883+2.9%
1901 2,195,339+15.1%
1911 3,014,466+37.3%
1921 3,238,803+7.4%
1931 4,306,442+33.0%
1941 5,691,447+32.2%
1951 6,862,283+20.6%
1961 7,862,303+14.6%
1971 10,360,218+31.8%
1981 13,119,919+26.6%
1991 16,420,685+25.2%
2001 19,237,391+17.2%
2011 20,815,730+8.2%
Source: census of India[27][28]
Sikhs as percentage of total population in different districts of India (data from the 2011 Census).
Sikh people at Golden Temple.

India's Sikh population stands at 20.8 million, which is only 1.72% of the country's total population. Out of approximately 25-30 million Sikhs in the world, the majority of them, 20.8-22 million, live in India that is about (83.2%-84.1%) of the world's Sikh population.[29][30] Half a million Sikhs have made Canada their home, and even though they constitute just 1.4% of the total population, they have succeeded in punching above their weight in Canadian National politics.[31] Out of the total Sikhs in India, 77% are concentrated in state of Punjab. Sikhism is the dominant religion in Punjab, India, where it is followed by 16 million constituting 57.7% of the population, the only Indian state where Sikhism is the majority faith. By 2050, according to Pew research center based on growth rate of current Sikh population between (2001-2011), India will have 27,129,086 Sikhs by half-century which will more than that of any country including the west.[32]

Sikh population by states[edit]

Sikh Population across Indian states 2011
States Percentage (%) (Khanda.svg) Population
Punjab 57.7% 16,004,754
New Delhi 3.4% 570,581
Chandigarh 13.11% 138,329
Haryana 4.91% 1,243,752
Uttrakhand 2.34% 236,340
Rajasthan 1.27% 872,930
Jammu and Kashmir 1.87% 234,848
Himachal Pradesh 1.16% 79,896

Other states then Punjab, where Sikh population has some impact are U.T. of Chandigarh (13.11%), New Delhi (3.4%), Haryana (4.91%), Uttarakhand (2.34%), Rajasthan (1.27%), Jammu & Kashmir (1.87%) and Himachal Pradesh (1.16%).[33]

Nanakpanthi Sikhs[edit]

Guru Nanak dev ji along with his devotees

Nanakpanthi are considered to be as anyone who follow Guru Nanak's teaching and regularly visit Gurudwara to pay devotion to guru Nanak Dev ji and Sri Guru granth sahib.[34] The actual number of Sikhs in the official census of India is about 20.8 million or say 1.7% of country's population as per 2011 census.[35] However, Nanakpanthis are believed to be in crores in India, as there are no specific data for Nanakpanthi in offcial recorded census in India. It is said that there are about 14 crore Nanakpanthis who reside in the various parts of India and came from various ethnic, caste, cultural, racial background.[36][37] Karnail Singh Panjoli, member, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, says that there are several communities within the term ‘Nanakpanthis’ too. “There are groups like Punjabi Hindus, Sindhi Hindus, Sikligar, Banjara, Nirmala (sect), Lubana sikh, Johri, Ghasidas , Udasi etc who call themselves Nanakpanthis. They follow Nanak and Sri Guru Granth Sahib. According to rough estimates, there are 12-15 crore Nanak Naam Lewas across the world.[38]

Various number of Tribes/sects in India follows the teaching of Guru Nanak and visit Gurudwara in a week, along with they also workship Hindu God and Goddess. Indian government considered them as hindus officially in census.[39][40]

Population of Indian Tribes that follow both Sikhism and Hinduism[41][42][43][44][45]
Tribes Population Location/residence
Sikligar[46][47][48] 7 crores (70 million) Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan
Banjara[49][50][51] 5 crores (50 million) Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh
Satnami[52][53] 1 crore (10 million) Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh
Nirankari[54][55], Namdhari[56][57][58], Radha Soami[59][60][61] 1.5 million (15 lakhs) All over the Indian union
Sindhi Hindus[62][63][64][65][66][67] 3 million (30 lakhs) Specially in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra
Total population 13.4 crore (134.5 million)[68] India as a whole

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Fauja, S., & Talib, Gurbachan Singh (1996). Guru Tegh Bahadur: Martyr and teacher. Patiala: Punjabi University.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]