About Sindhi

The Sindhi, named after the Indus (Sindhu in Arabic) River, are said to be one of the oldest people groups in the region. They inhabit both sides of the Indus River, which divides Pakistan and India. Until Pakistan became an independent Muslim country in 1947, the Hindu and Muslim Sindhi lived together in the same region. Today, however, most of the Muslims live in Pakistan and most of the Hindus live in India.

As a result of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, a majority of the Hindu Sindhi migrated to metropolitan areas of India, such as Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta, and Madras. Some went to re-settlement camps in Rajasthan and on the outskirts of Bombay.

Although the Sindhi Congress attempted to set up the Sind region as a new state in India, they did not succeed. This was mainly due to the scattering of many Sindhi, as well as a lack of unified effort by the Indian government.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Before the partition of Pakistan and India, the Hindu Sindhi owned most of the land. They also monopolized the areas of trade, industry, and education. The Muslim Sindhi were primarily unskilled laborers and tenants. However, when the Hindu Sindhi moved to India in 1947, the Sindhi culture was greatly affected.

Prior to the move, the Sindhi language was used as the language of law, administration, and education. After the move a greater emphasis was placed on being Indian or Hindu rather than being Sindhi. Therefore, many of the Sindhi in India have not passed their native language on to their children. Instead, they quickly learned the local languages. Those who moved to Gujarat learned Gujarati and those who moved to Madras learned Tamil. In addition, many of the well-educated Sindhi have also learned Hindi or English.

Hindu Sindhi are known as skilled merchants. Successful Sindhi shopkeepers can not only be found in many cities in India, but also in urban areas of Malaysia, Kenya, and the Philippines. Others have become doctors, lawyers, or teachers.

As with all Hindus, Sindhi life is based on and limited by belonging to a particular social class, or caste. Even the Sindhi Muslims tend to organize in social classes based along hereditary and occupational lines.

The Sindhi traditionally do not marry outside of their own social classes. While Hindu Sindhi marriages are monogamous, Muslim Sindhi are allowed to have up to four wives—if they are able to provide adequately for each of them.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Ninety-three percent of the Sindhi of India are Hindus, worshipping three main gods: Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer), along with a multitude of other gods and goddesses. Some scholars say that the number of individual gods actually exceeds 35 million! Most of the deities are believed to be both good and evil in nature.

One important aspect of Hinduism is the belief that the soul never dies, but is continually reborn after death. This continuous process is known as reincarnation. Hinduism has no single book, but has many sacred writings. The most important of these are the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Only a small minority (4%) of the Sindhi in India are Muslims. In areas where Hindus and Muslims have had close contact, there has been a considerable blending of rites and traditions. For instance, it was not uncommon for both Hindus and Muslims to honor the same saint. The practice of saint worship is still observed in rural areas.

Prayer Points

  • Pray to God to complete the work begun in the hearts of the Sindhi believers through adequate discipleship.
  • Pray that God will use these young believers to share the love with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Sindhi bound.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Sindhi temple for the glory of His name!

Statistics

  • People name: Sindhi
  • Country: India
  • Their language: Sindhi (Lari)
  • Population:
    • (1990) 1,732,300
    • (1995) 1,905,600
    • (2000) 2,081,300
  • Largest religion:
    • Hindu 93%
    • Muslim 3.8%
    • Sikh 2.1%

Sindhi Language

Sindhi is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by approximately 17 million people in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Sindhi is also a recognised official language of India, where it is spoken by approximately 1.2 Million members of an ethnic group which migrated from the province of Sindh, Pakistan during the partition of British India in 1947. The language can be written using Devanagari or the Arabic scripts.

Indo-Aryan language

The majority of Indo-Aryan languages derive from Sanskrit, the language of ancient India. The earliest form of Sanskrit recorded is Vedic Sanskrit: the language used in the oldest scriptures of India, notably the Rigveda. Its character is demonstrably old, with many links to the Indo-European parent language.

In the fifth century BC, Sanskrit had evolved somewhat, and the grammarian Panini codified and standardized it; this led (in about 200 BC) to what is now known as 'Classical' Sanskrit. However, although this preserved the integrity of written language for a long time, the spoken language continues to evolve, and by the sixth century AD, Sanskrit as a spoken language was rare, being by and large replaced by its descendants, the Prakrits. All the Prakrits share a common ancestry, but they are not necessarily mutually intelligible.

Apabhransha was the next modification in the spoken language, in a period broadly lasting from the fifth to the tenth century AD. Increasing numbers of literary texts begin to appear in Apabhransha languages, and the Sravakachar of Devasena (dated to the 930s AD) is now considered to be the first Hindi book.

The next major change occurred with the Muslim invasions of India in the 13-16th centuries AD. Under the Mughal empire flourishing, Persian was adopted as the language of Indian government. However, many people felt this to be artificial, and soon Persian, with all its Arabic influences was absorbed into the indigenous Indo-Aryan language, the late Apabhransha or early stabilizing Hindi.

While the Hindi-formant Apabhransha may have been the most widespread perhaps, other languages also began to develop from the Apabhransha -- Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and many others.

In the Hindi-speaking areas, the main form was Braj-bhasha, which is still spoken today, but was replaced in the 19th Century by the Khari Boli dialect. However, a large proportion of Late Apabhransha and Hindi vocabulary is derived from Perso-Arabic. Urdu is the name given to the language that ultimately comes out of the Mughal period.

This state of affairs continued until the Partition of India in 1947. Urdu was replaced by 'Hindi' as the official language of India, and soon Perso-Arabic words began to be excised from the Hindi corpus, in a bid to make the language more 'Indian'. They were replaced by Sanskrit words, sometimes borrowed wholesale, or in new compounds. As of 2002, there is a continuum of Urdu-Hindi, with heavily-Persianized Urdu at one end, and Sanskritized Hindi at the other, although the basic grammar remains identical. The language used by most speakers of the language lies in the middle.

Sindhi language has gone through transitions with the history of Sindh. Original script was descendant of Prakrit, and Sanskrit. Devnagri Script was used before Britishers took over the rule of Sindh in 1843. Perso- Arabic Script was developed by Britishers for Sindhis and imposed as official script in 1853.

To day the Sindhi population living in minority status in various parts of India and else where in the world, lacks the availability of Sindhi language education in the main stream curriculum of the local schools and colleges. Naturally the new Sindhi generation has neither the opportunity nor the incentive to learn their own language. Currently even in Pakistan the official language in Sindh is not Sindhi but Urdu.

This alone could be the single biggest blow to the survival of Sindhi community. Devnagri script has received success in small number of schools located in the pockets where Sindhis started their new life as refugees. Sindhis have since scattered all over India and other continents of the world where Sindhi is not taught in either Perso-Arabic or Devnagri script.

The question therefore arises, will Sindhi language survive as a viable language in Arabic or Devnagri script excepting Sindh and some parts of India? What will happen to Sindhis who are spread all over the world? Is there an easy solution? Can Sindhi be saved from extinction by introducing once again a new script. For a change could we consider adopting Roman Script. Our new generation learns Roman Script all over the world. The computer knowledge is fast becoming inseparable part of future education and daily life. This field too is dominated by English Language.

Should we not therefore adopt Roman Script to teach Sindhi to our youth? Transcription in Roman script using Sindhi phonics could be a matter of research and development by expert educationalists. The Britishers devised present Perso-Arabic script for us in 1853. Why should we not evolve a Roman Script for our dear Sindhi ? It may be the only logical and practical solution for a Border less Sindhi Nation of tomorrow.

Survival of language is fundamental requirement for identity and success of a community. Parents must cultivate the habit of speaking with each other in Sindhi so as to create a healthy example for younger generations. Sindhi families should proudly speak and greet each other in Sindhi at parties and all social functions. In the global society of 21st century, Sindhi should not become a naturalized second class citizen without language, culture and identity of his own.