Jump to content

Sikhism in India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Indian Sikhs
ਭਾਰਤੀ ਸਿੱਖ
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, or the Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab.
Total population
20,833,116 Increase
1.72% of the total Indian population Decrease (2011)
Regions with significant populations
Punjab16,004,754 (57.69%)
Haryana1,243,752 (4.91%)
Rajasthan872,930 (1.27%)
Uttar Pradesh643,500 (0.32%)
Delhi570,581 (3.40%)
PunjabiHindiIndian English
KashmiriMarathiBengali • Urdu
Historical Sikh Population
1881 1,853,426+146.4%
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 20,833,116+8.3%
Source: census of India[1][2][3]

Indian Sikhs number approximately 21 million people and account for 1.7% of India's population as of 2011, forming the country's fourth-largest religious group. The majority of the nation's Sikhs live in the northern state of Punjab, which is the only Sikh-majority administrative division in the world.

India is home to the majority of the global Sikh population.





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.[4]


The Gurdwara Bangla Sahib



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.[5][6] Sikhs have a fertility rate of 1.6 in India, which is the lowest in the nation as per as according to year 2019-21 estimation.[7]

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 30,012,386 Sikhs by half-century which will be more than that of any country including the west.[8]

National and ethnic origins


Although Punjabi 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, Marathi language, Assamese language, Hindi language, Sindhi language, Bengali language and many more. The many communities following Sikhism is detailed below.

Afghan Sikhs


The Sikhs of Afghanistan are primarily Punjabi merchants and immigrants.[9][10] They speak the Punjabi language within themselves but are usually fluent in Dari and occasionally Pashto as well.[11]

Bengali Sikhs


Sikhism in the Bengal region dates back to 1504 but has declined after the partition.[12] Sikhism first emerged in Bengal when Guru Nanak visited Bengal in 1504 and established a number of Gurdwaras.[13]

By the early 18th century, there were a few Sikhs living in the region of Bengal.[14] One famous Sikh who lived during this time period was Omichand, a local Khatri Sikh banker and landlord who participate in the conspiracy against Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah with the East India Company.[14][15] The Flemish artist Frans Baltazard Solvyns arrived in Calcutta in 1791 and observed many Sikhs, whom one could differentiate from the rest of the land's inhabitants by their garbs and traditions.[14] He etched depictions of a Khalsa Sikh and a Nanakpanthi, which was published in 1799.[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.[13]

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and Bangladesh Liberation War, Indian Sikh soldiers helped renovate the Gurdwaras left in Bangladesh.[citation needed] Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur ji 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.[16]

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.[17] There are around 1 lakh Bengali people who follow Sikhism as their religion in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.[18]

Assamese Sikhs


The presence of Sikhism has been existing in Assam[19] 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,[20] out of which 4,000 are Assamese Sikhs.[18]

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.[18][21]

Agrahari Sikhs


Agrahari Sikh is a Sikh community found in Bihar and Jharkhand. Agrahari Sikhs, also known as Bihari Sikhs, have existed for centuries in Bihar and Jharkhand.[22]

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 Hindu festivals such as the Chath festival.[23]

Dakhni Sikhs


Dakhni Sikhs are from the Deccan Plateau in India located within the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.[24] The traditional dress of women is the sari. The native language of Dakhni Sikhs is the Telugu language.[25]

Kashmiri Sikhs


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.[26]

Pahari Sikhs


Pahari Sikhs, also known as the Sikhs of Poonch, are a distinctive Sikh community hailing from the Poonch region of Pakistan, originally part of the historic region of Jammu and Kashmir. They predominantly speak Pahari Punjabi, a dialect that has evolved in the hilly terrain of their native land. Historically, many Pahari Sikhs resided in the Poonch region but due to various historical and geopolitical factors, a significant number have migrated and settled in the Jammu district of the present-day Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.[27]

Punjabi Sikhs


Punjabi Sikhs are the native Sikhs of undivided Punjab region who speaks the Punjabi language as their mother tongue and practice 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


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.[28]

South Indian Sikhs


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 came 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.[24] 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.[24]

Geographical distribution

Sikhs as percentage of total population in different districts of India, 2011 Census
Indian Sikhs by state and union territory
State/U.T. 2001[29] 2011[30] 2022[31][32][33]
Pop. % Pop. % Pop. %
Punjab 14,592,387
Haryana 1,170,662
Rajasthan 818,420
Uttar Pradesh 678,059
Delhi 555,602
Uttarakhand 212,025
Jammu and Kashmir 232,585
Maharashtra 215,337
Madhya Pradesh 150,772
Chandigarh 145,175
Himachal Pradesh 72,355
Jharkhand 83,358
Chhattisgarh 69,621
West Bengal 66,391
Gujarat 45,587
Telangana 30,340
Karnataka 15,326
Bihar 20,780
Odisha 17,492
Assam 22,519
Tamil Nadu 9,545
Andhra Pradesh 9,904
Kerala 2,762
Arunachal Pradesh 1,865
Meghalaya 3,110
Ladakh 2,263
Nagaland 1,152
Sikkim 1,176
Manipur 1,653
Goa 970
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1,587
Tripura 1,182
Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu 268
Puducherry 108
Mizoram 326
Lakshadweep 6
India 19,215,730

Notable Indian Sikhs


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[34] 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 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;[35] 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.[36]

See also


Further reading

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


  1. ^ Barwiński, Marek; Musiaka, Łukasz (2019). "The Sikhs – religion and nation. Chosen political and social determinants of functioning". Studia Z Geografii Politycznej I Historycznej. 8: 167–182. doi:10.18778/2300-0562.08.09. hdl:11089/38783. S2CID 226730777 – via ResearchGate.
  2. ^ "Sikh-population-as-per-census".
  3. ^ Puri, Harish K. (June–July 2003). "Scheduled Castes in Sikh Community: A Historical Perspective". Economic and Political Weekly. 38 (26). Economic and Political Weekly: 2693–2701. JSTOR 4413731.
  4. ^ Kudaisya, Gyanesh; Yong, Tan Tai (2004). The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia. Routledge. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-134-44048-1. No sooner was it made public than the Sikhs launched a virulent campaign against the Lahore Resolution. Pakistan was portrayed as a possible return to an unhappy past when Sikhs were persecuted and Muslims the persecutor. Public speeches by various Sikh political leaders on the subject of Pakistan invariably raised images of atrocities committed by Muslims on Sikhs and of the martyrdom of their gurus and heroes. Reactions to the Lahore Resolution were uniformly negative and Sikh leaders of all political persuasions made it clear that Pakistan would be 'wholeheartedly resisted'. The Shiromani Akali Dal, the party with a substantial following amongst the rural Sikhs, organized several well-attended conferences in Lahore to condemn the Muslim League. Master Tara Singh, leader of the Akali Dal, declared that his party would fight Pakistan 'tooth and nail'. Not be outdone, other Sikh political organizations, rival to the Akali Dal, namely the Central Khalsa Young Men Union and the moderate and loyalist Chief Khalsa Dewan, declared in equally strong language their unequivocal opposition to the Pakistan scheme.
  5. ^ "Why Sikhism as registered religion in Austria matters - Times of India". The Times of India.
  6. ^ "Sikhs and Hindus at the crossroads". The Times of India. 23 November 2019.
  7. ^ "Total fertility rate down across all communities | India News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  8. ^ Singh, Rupinder Mohan (January 28, 2016). "There could be more Sikhs in the future — maybe".
  9. ^ Kahlon, Swarn Singh (2020-11-25). Sikhs in Continental Europe: From Norway to Greece and Russia to Portugal. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-000-29473-6. The Afghan Sikh population grew in 1947 as Sikhs [...] of the newly created Pakistan arrived
  10. ^ Dupree, Louis (2014-07-14). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-5891-0. Sikhs: Same as Hindu, mainly Punjabi or Lahnda
  11. ^ Dupree, Louis (2014-07-14). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-5891-0.
  12. ^ "Prayers from Punjab". The Daily Star. Archived from the original on 2019-02-01. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  13. ^ a b Nasrin Akhter (2012). "Sikhs, The". In Islam, Sirajul; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 24 July 2024.
  14. ^ a b c d Hardgrave, R. L. (1996). An Early Portrayal of the Sikhs: Two 18th Century Etchings by Baltazard Solvyns. International Journal of Punjab Studies, 3(2), 213-27. Accessed via: https://www.laits.utexas.edu/solvyns-project/sikhs.html
  15. ^ Mandair, Arvind-pal Singh; Singh, Sunit (2017). "Orientalism (Sikhism)". Sikhism: with 64 figures. Encyclopedia of Indian Religions. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 290–91. ISBN 978-94-024-0845-4.
  16. ^ Allen, Basil Copleston (1912). Eastern Bengal District Gazetteers: Dacca. Allahabad: The Pioneer Press.
  17. ^ B C Allen (1905). Assam District Gazetteers. Vol. 1: Cachar. Calcutta: Government of Assam.
  18. ^ a b c "The Sunday Tribune - Spectrum - Literature". www.tribuneindia.com.
  19. ^ "Institute of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh". sikhinstitute.org. Archived from the original on 2014-08-09. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  20. ^ Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner (2001). "Census of India 2001: Population by religious communities". Government of India. Retrieved 3 January 2010.
  21. ^ "Though nearly 200 years in Assam, Sikhs say they are neglected". Deccan Herald. April 23, 2012.
  22. ^ "Sikhs and Sikhism in Eastern and North-Eastern India". Institute of Sikh Studies. Archived from the original on 2014-08-09. Retrieved 2021-01-03.
  23. ^ Calcutta Mosaic: Essays and Interviews on the Minority Communities of Calcutta : edited by Nilanjana Gupta, Himadri Banerjee, Sipra Mukherjee [1]
  24. ^ a b c "Away from Punjab - the south Indian Sikhs". Zee News. October 18, 2011.
  25. ^ The Tribune 28 10 2014 Birinder Pal Singh
  26. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (October 28, 2013). Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 9781490701653 – via Google Books.
  27. ^ "The Sikhs in Jammu and Kashmir by Jasbir Singh Sarna". SikhNet. 2023-01-27. Retrieved 2023-09-24.
  28. ^ Singh, Inderjeet (2017). "Sindhi Hindus & Nanakpanthis in Pakistan". Abstracts of Sikh Studies. XIX (4): 35–43 – via ResearchGate.
  29. ^ "Total population by religious communities". Censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  30. ^ "Census of India – Religious Composition". Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. Archived from the original on 13 September 2015. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  31. ^ Joy, Shemin. "Caste survey in Bihar: OBCs, EBCs make up 63.13% of population; Gen Category 15.52%". Deccan Herald.
  32. ^ "Bihar Caste Census Population, Religion-wise Population & more". RajNeetPG. 3 October 2023.
  33. ^ "Bihar caste census results out, OBCs form 63% of population, General 16%". India Today.
  34. ^ "India Swears In 13th Prime Minister and First Sikh in Job". The New York Times. 23 May 2004.
  35. ^ "India's Most Influential". 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008 – via www.time.com.
  36. ^ IndiaToday.in (23 March 2015). "Bhagat Singh, a Sandhu Jat, was born in September 1907 to a Sikh family in Banga village, Jaranwala Tehsil in the Lyallpur district of the Punjab Province of British India (now in Pakistan)". IndiaToday.in. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 September 2015.