As we move closer to 2019 – the 550th year of the advent of Guru Nanak, we see business heads, politicians, students, writers and sportsmen – all holding the Sikh head high, standing up for the turban and the Sikh identity, making the Sikh community proud worldwide.
Estimates state that Sikhism has some 25 million followers across the globe and is the youngest and the 5th largest organized religion in the world. Approximately 19 billion live in India alone, out of which 75% live in the religion founding state of Punjab. However, Sikhs only comprise of about 2% of the overall Indian population.
As Sikhs migrated out of the country, they set up their homes and communities in Canada and in western parts of America 1904 onwards. Migration to the UK happened 1950 onwards.
Today, the Sikhs have prominent communities and Gurudwaras in these countries and Sikh festivals such as Vaisakhi and Bandi Chhor are celebrated with much gaiety.
Sikhs hold great political clout as well.Unquestionably, the rise of young, debonair and determined Jagmeet Singh to become the leader of the National Democratic Party in Canada and lead the party to the next parliamentary elections as a Prime Ministerial candidate is a giant stride for Sikh Canadians! There are remarkable achievements from other Sikh politicians, parliamentarians, ministers, judges and sportspersons as well.
Punjabi is a recognized language in Canada and there is a request for a separate ethnic checkbox for the Sikhs in the 2021 elections in the UK. The Canadian air space has also become more Sikh-friendly by allowing Sikhs to carry small kirpans on air flights.
Sikhs also migrated to East Africa, West Africa and the Middle East. Smaller pockets can be found within many countries in Western Europe, Mauritius, Fiji, Nepal, China, Afghanistan, Iraq, Singapore etc.
Though Sikhism was founded in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent in what is now Pakistan, after the Partition only about 30,000 Sikhs remain in Pakistan and their population is dwindling (0.01% of its estimated 200 million population).