(Redirected from Sindhi people)

Sindhis (Sindhi: سنڌي Perso-Arabic: सिन्धी Devanagari; /ˈsɪndis/[12]) are an Indo-Aryan[12] ethnic group who speak the Sindhi language and are native to the province of Sindh in Pakistan. After the partition of British Indian empire in 1947, many Sindhi Hindus and Sindhi Sikhs migrated to the newly independent Dominion of India and other parts of the world. Pakistani Sindhis are predominantly Muslim with a smaller Sikh and Hindu minority, whereas Indian Sindhis are predominantly Hindu with a Sikh and Muslim minority.

Sindhi khudabadi.svg, सिन्धी, سنڌي
Sindhi Culture7.png
Sindhi women in traditional Sindhi dress in Sindh, Pakistan
Total population
c. 47 million[1] (est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Saudi Arabia180,980[4]
 United Arab Emirates94,620[5]
 United Kingdom51,015[6]
 United States38,760[7]
 Afghanistan (Sindhis in Afghanistan)25,000 (2017)[8]
English, Hindi–Urdu (Sanskrit/Arabic as liturgical languages) and numerous other languages widely spoken within the Sindhi diaspora
Allah-green.svg Islam: 80 %
Related ethnic groups
Other Indo-Aryan peoples

The Sindhi diaspora is growing around the world, especially in the Middle East, owing to better employment opportunities.[13]


The Greeks who conquered Sindh in 325 BC under the command of Alexander the Great referred to the Indus River as Indós, hence the modern Indus. The ancient Iranians referred to everything east of the river Indus as hind.[14][15] The word Sindh is a Persian derivative of the Sanskrit term Sindhu, meaning "river" - a reference to Indus River.[16] Southworth suggests that the name Sindhu is in turn derived from Cintu, a Dravidian word for date palm, a tree commonly found in Sindh.[17][18]

The previous spelling "Sind" (from the Perso-Arabic سند) was discontinued in 1988 by an amendment passed in Sindh Assembly,[19] and is now spelt "Sindh."


Vintage group photo of Indian Sindhi people

Pre-historic periodEdit

"The Priest King Wearing Sindhi Ajruk", c. 2500 BC, in the National Museum of Pakistan

The Indus River, also known as "Sindhu Darya" natively, has been the lifeline of the Sindhi people for millennia; since prehistory this river enabled farming and other aspects of their livelihood.[20]

It is believed that the Indus Valley civilization went into decline around the year 1700 BC for reasons that are not entirely known, though its downfall was probably precipitated by an earthquake or natural event that dried the climate.

Historical periodEdit

For several centuries in the first millennium B.C. and in the first five centuries of the first millennium A.D., western portions of Sindh, the regions on the western flank of the Indus river, were intermittently under Persian, Greek and Kushan rule,[21] first during the Achaemenid dynasty (500–300 BC) during which it made up part of the easternmost satrapies, then, by Alexander the Great, followed by the Indo-Greeks[22] and still later under the Indo-Sassanids, as well as Kushans,[23] before the Islamic conquest between the 7th–10th century AD. Alexander the Great marched through Punjab and Sindh, down the Indus river, after his conquest of the Persian Empire.

The Ror dynasty was a power from the Indian subcontinent that ruled modern-day Sindh and Northwest India from 450 BC – 489 AD.[24]

Medieval periodEdit

Sindh was one of the earliest regions to be conquered by the Arabs and influenced by Islam[25] after 720 AD. Before this period, it was heavily Hindu and Buddhist. After 632 AD, it was part of the Islamic empires of the Abbasids and Umayyids. Habbari, Soomra, Samma, Kalhora dynasties ruled Sindh.

Baloch migrations in the region between 14th–18th centuries and many Baloch dynasties saw a high Iranic mixture into Sindhis.[13][26]

Modern periodEdit

British RuleEdit

The British conquered Sindh in 1843. General Charles Napier is said to have reported victory to the Governor General with a one-word telegram, namely "Peccavi" – or "I have sinned" (Latin),[27] which was later turned into a pun known as "Forgive me for i have Sindh".

The British had two objectives in their rule of Sindh: the consolidation of British rule and the use of Sindh as a market for British products and a source of revenue and raw materials. With the appropriate infrastructure in place, the British hoped to utilise Sindh for its economic potential.[28]

The British incorporated Sindh, some years later after annexing it, into the Bombay Presidency. The distance from the provincial capital, Bombay, led to grievances that Sindh was neglected in contrast to other parts of the Presidency. The merger of Sindh into Punjab province was considered from time to time but was turned down because of British disagreement and Sindhi opposition, both from Muslims and Hindus, to being annexed to Punjab.[28]

Post-colonial eraEdit

In 1947, violence did not constitute a major part of the Sindhi partition experience, unlike in Punjab. There were very few incidents of violence on Sindh, in part due to the Sufi-influenced culture of religious tolerance and in part that Sindh was not divided and was instead made part of Pakistan in its entirety. Sindhi Hindus who left generally did so out of a fear of persecution,[29] rather than persecution itself, because of the arrival of Muslim refugees from India. Sindhi Hindus differentiated between the local Sindhi Muslims and the migrant Muslims from India. A large number of Sindhi Hindus travelled to India by sea, to the ports of Bombay, Porbandar, Veraval and Okha.[30][31]


Castes and tribesEdit

Sindhi-inhabited areas of Pakistan (yellow) in the early 1980s

The two main tribes of Sindh are the Soomro, descendants of the Soomro Dynasty which ruled Sindh during 970–1351 A.D.,[32] and the Samma, descendants of the Samma Dynasty, which ruled Sindh during 1351–1521 A.D.[33] One of the oldest Sindhi tribe is the Charan.[34] The Sindhi-Sipahi of Rajasthan and the Sandhai Muslims of Gujarat are communities of Sindhi Rajputs settled in India. Closely related to the Sindhi Rajputs are the Jats of Sindh, who are found mainly in the Indus delta region. However, tribes are of little importance in Sindh and identity is mostly based on a common ethnicity.[35]


Hinduism along with Buddhism was the predominant religion in Sindh before the Arab Islamic conquest.[36] The Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang, who visited the region in the years 630–644, said that Buddhism dominated, but also noted that it was declining.[37] While Buddhism declined and ultimately disappeared after Arab conquest mainly due to conversion of almost entire Buddhist population to Islam, Hinduism managed to survive through the Muslim rule until before the partition of India as a significant minority. Derryl Maclean explains what he calls "the persistence of Hinduism" on the basis of "the radical dissimilarity between the socio-economic bases of Hinduism and Buddhism in Sind" : Buddhism in this region was mainly urban and mercantile while Hinduism was rural and non-mercantile, thus the Arabs, themselves urban and mercantile, attracted and converted the Buddhist classes, but for the rural and non-mercantile parts, only interested by the taxes, they promoted a more decentralized authority and appointed Brahmins for the task, who often just continued the roles they had in the previous Hindu rule.[36]

The connection between the Sindh and Islam was established by the initial Muslim missions. According to Derryl N. Maclean, a link between Sindh and Muslims during the Caliphate of Ali can be traced to Hakim ibn Jabalah al-Abdi, a companion of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, who traveled across Sind to Makran in the year 649AD and presented a report on the area to the Caliph. He supported Ali, and died in the Battle of the Camel alongside Sindhi Jats.[38] He was also a poet and few couplets of his poem in praise of Ali ibn Abu Talib have survived, as reported in Chachnama:[39]


ليس الرزيه بالدينار نفقدة

ان الرزيه فقد العلم والحكم

وأن أشرف من اودي الزمان به

أهل العفاف و أهل الجود والكريم [40]

"Oh Ali, owing to your alliance (with the prophet) you are true of high birth, and your example is great, and you are wise and excellent, and your advent has made your age an age of generosity and kindness and brotherly love".[41]

During the reign of Ali, many Jats came under the influence of Islam.[42] Harith ibn Murrah Al-abdi and Sayfi ibn Fil' al-Shaybani, both officers of Ali's army, attacked Sindhi bandits and chased them to Al-Qiqan (present-day Quetta) in the year 658.[43] Sayfi was one of the seven partisans of Ali who were beheaded alongside Hujr ibn Adi al-Kindi[44] in 660AD, near Damascus. In 712 A.D., Sindh was incorporated into the Caliphate, the Islamic Empire, and became the "Arabian gateway" into India (later to become known as Bab-ul-Islam, the gate of Islam).

Sindh produced many Muslim scholars early on, "men whose influence extended to Iraq where the people thought highly of their learning", in particular in hadith,[45] with the likes of poet Abu al- 'Ata Sindhi (d. 159) or hadith and fiqh scholar Abu Mashar Sindhi (d. 160), among many others, and they're also those who translated scientific texts from Sanskrit into Arabic, for instance, the Zij al-Sindhind in astronomy.[46]

Modern EraEdit

The ratio of Sindhi Muslims and Hindus was high before the independence of Pakistan in 1947.[47]

Before 1947 however, other than a few Gujarati speaking Parsees (Zorastrians) living in Karachi, virtually all the inhabitants were Sindhis, whether Muslim or Hindu at the time of Pakistan's independence, 75% of the population were Muslims and almost all the remaining 25% were Hindus.[48]

Hindus in Sindh were concentrated in the urban areas before the Partition of India in 1947, during which most migrated to modern-day India according to Ahmad Hassan Dani. In the urban centres of Sindh, Hindus formed the majority of the population before the partition. According to the 1941 Census of India, Hindus formed around 74% of the population of Hyderabad, 70% of Sukkur, 65% of Shikarpur and about half of Karachi.[49] By the 1951 census, all of these cities had virtually been emptied of their Hindu population as a result of the partition.[50]

The Cities and towns of Sindh were dominated by the Hindus. In 1941, for example, Hindus were 64% of the total urban population.[51]

Sindhi MuslimsEdit

The Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is one of most important Sufi shrine in Sindh

The majority of Muslim Sindhis are Sunni, with a minority being Shia.[52] Sufism has left a deep impact on Sindhi Muslims and this is visible through the numerous Sufi shrines which dot the landscape of Sindh.[53] Some of the popular cultural icons are Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal and Sachal Sarmast. One popular legend which highlights the strong Sufi presence in Sindh is that 125,000 Sufi saints and mystics are buried on Makli Hill near Thatta.[54] In the 16th century two Sufi tareeqat (orders) – Qadria and Naqshbandia – were introduced in Sindh.[55] Sufism continues to play an important role in the daily lives of Sindhis.[56]

Sindhi HindusEdit

According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, Hindus constituted about 8% of the total population of Sindh province.[57] Most of them live in urban areas such as Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur and Mirpur Khas. Hyderabad is the largest centre of Sindhi Hindus in Pakistan, with 100,000–150,000 living there.[57]


The Sindhi diaspora is significant. Emigration from the Sindh began before and after the 19th century, with many Sindhis settling in Europe as well as Middle Eastern states such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.



Sindhi cuisines involves a lot of foods such as the "Bhee ji bhaji" (Lotus Root) which is famous among Sindhi people and they usually eat it on various celebrations.[58]

Along with that the Sindhi people also eat a traditional cuisine called "Seero" which is enjoyed by people in both mainland Sindh and the diaspora which reminds them of their native origins.[59]

A Sindhi Ajrak which is a traditional and ancient shawl of Sindh

Culture DayEdit

Bughti cap, one of the symbols of Sindhi culture

Sindhi Cultural Day (Sindhi: سنڌي ثقافتي ڏھاڙو) is a popular Sindhi cultural festival. It is celebrated with traditional enthusiasm to highlight the centuries-old rich culture of Sindh. The day is celebrated each year in the first week of December on the Sunday[60][61][62]. It's widely celebrated all over Sindh, and amongst the Sindhi diaspora population around the world[63][64]. Sindhis celebrate this day to demonstrate the peaceful identity of Sindhi culture and acquire the attention of the world towards their rich heritage.[65]

On this jubilation people gather in all major cities of Sindh at press clubs, and other places to arrange various activities. Literary (poetic) gatherings, mach katchehri (gathering in a place and sitting round in a circle and the fire on sticks in the center), musical concerts, seminars, lecture programs and rallies.[66]

Sindhi cultural day is celebrated worldwide on the first Sunday of December.[67] On the occasion people wearing Ajrak and Sindhi Topi, traditional block printed shawl the musical programs and rallies are held in many cities to mark the day with zeal. Major hallmarks of cities and towns are decorated with Sindhi Ajrak. People across Sindh exchange gifts of Ajrak and Topi at various ceremonies. Even the children and women dress up in Ajrak, assembling at the grand gathering, where famous Sindhi singers sing Sindhi songs, which depicts peace and love message of Sindh. The musical performances of the artists compel the participants to dance on Sindhi tunes and national song ‘Jeay Sindh Jeay-Sindh Wara Jean’.

All political, social and religious organizations of Sindh, besides the Sindh Culture Department and administrations of various schools, colleges and universities, organize variety of events including seminars, debates, folk music programs, drama and theatric performances, tableaus and literary sittings to mark this annual festivity.[68] Sindhi culture, history and heritage are highlighted at the events[69].

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Includes people who speak the Sindhi and Kutchi languages. Ethnic Sindhis who no longer speak the language are not included in this number.


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  • Bherumal Mahirchand Advani, "Amilan-jo-Ahwal" – published in Sindhi, 1919
  • Amilan-jo-Ahwal (1919) – translated into English in 2016 ("A History of the Amils") at sindhis

External linksEdit