Because the final batches of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus arrive in India from the Taliban-besieged nation – holding on to reminiscences of the nice days whereas making ready for a refugee’s life in a brand new nation — many have been asserting that ‘We’re Afghans’ and never ‘Indians’ or ‘Hindustanis’ as is being perceived.
The fact is that, like in case of most communities, historical past is interlinked. The roots of Sikhism in Afghanistan date again to the sixteenth Century, when Guru Nanak visited the nation to unfold the message of “peace, brotherhood and tolerance”.” As per his journey historical past recorded within the earliest Janamsakhis, throughout his fourth udaasi (journey) between 1519-1521, Guru Nanak visited present-day Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Sultanpur with Bhai Mardana.
Quickly, Guru Nanak’s followers grew in these components and plenty of Sikhs followers from Kabul started to go to Punjab to pay their respects to Sikh gurus. Later, the seventh Sikh Guru Har Rai additionally performed a pivotal position in sending Sikh missionaries to Kabul and a dharamsaal (gurdwara) was established within the metropolis.
“A number of paperwork report the thriving commerce of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghan society however at this time 99 per cent of them have left the nation. Afghanistan now refuses to acknowledge them as their natives however they’ve made contributions to their motherland regardless of a turbulent journey. Can an Afghan be a Hindu or a Sikh? Historical past says YES,” notes historian Inderjeet Singh in his e-book Afghan Sikhs and Hindus: A Historical past of A Thousand Years.
From an estimated one-two lakh within the Nineteen Seventies, the variety of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan has been dwindling since 1992, following the Soviet Struggle when the federal government fell and Mujahideen rebels took over Kabul. Between 1992 and 2001, the communities confronted persecution by the hands of each the Mujahideen after which the Taliban, and plenty of members took refuge in Canada, Austria, the US and UK.
A lot of these outdated fears had been revived lately when a suicide bomb assault killed a minimum of 18 Hindus and Sikhs in July 2018, together with Awtar Singh Khalsa who was then operating for parliamentary polls. He was father of present Afghan MP Narendra Singh Khalsa who arrived in India final week.
Final 12 months, on March 25, when a terror assault by an Islamic State gunman killed 25 Sikhs at Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul, the Sikh-Hindu inhabitants in Afghanistan stood at 650, with round 400 transferring to India quickly after. As Taliban forces took over, simply 280 of them had been left.
However whilst they discover new houses in new international locations — and are seen via the prism of their faith and ties to India — their garments, language, meals and tradition all bear a definite Afghan identification. The Sikhs from the area will be broadly divided into three classes: Pashtun Sikhs, who hail from provinces similar to Khost and Paktia and converse Pashto and Dari; Sikhs from Kabul, Nangarhar, Ghazni, Kundoz, Laghman and Logar, who converse the Hindko dialect of Punjabi; and the Siraiki-dialect talking Sikhs from Kandahar, Urugzan.
However with Dari (Persian) and Pashto being spoken throughout Afghanistan, most members of the neighborhood are proficient in a minimum of certainly one of these languages. Hindi entered their lives via Bollywood movies within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineteen Nineties, and plenty of perceive the language now, although not all of them can converse it as is believed. Some Afghan Sikhs can learn the Gurmukhi Punjabi script however have a robust Afghani lilt. The best way they wrap their turbans too is totally different from Indian Sikhs, and their meals, with delicacies similar to Ashak and Mantu, has extra in frequent with different Afghan communities than with the delicacies of Punjab. Attan Milli, an Afghani dance on Dari and Pashto songs, normally carried out at weddings and different celebrations, additionally varieties part of their tradition.
“Sure, we’re Sikhs, however not Hindustanis. We’re Afghans,” says Pritpal Singh, 43, a London resident who returned to Afghanistan in 2012 to movie a documentary in his father’s ancestral city Jalalabad. When his household moved to the UK within the early ’90s, his father introduced with him two issues: his ‘Taskara’ (Afghan nationwide ID card) and a certificates of his army service.
“My father’s medicines store was gutted in an assault in 1992. We needed to promote our home, depart our agricultural lands, and flee… I see the identical issues taking place once more. I worry now that my kids, who’ve grown up in London, won’t ever be capable to go to Afghanistan,” says Singh. “They are going to most likely by no means consider me when I’ll say that I’ve seen my mom and different girls transfer round fearlessly in Afghanistan with out carrying burqas.”
Pritpal remembers these wonderful days of his teen years in Kabul — plucking grapes from vines together with his cousins at his home in Karte Parwan, performing sewa and savoring langar at native gurdwara, travelling to Qargha Lake and Paghman Hills in his dad’s Datsun automobile each Friday and watching Bollywood flicks in native theatre ‘Bahaaristaan’.
“Nothing can take that Afghani out of us, wherever we transfer. Throughout my marriage ceremony reception in London in 2005, all of us had danced on Dari and Pashto songs,” he says.
Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are nonetheless hopeful of the solar rising as soon as once more, and a homecoming. “Khuda kunad dar Afghanistan aman biaya (Might God carry peace to Afghanistan)”.