Punjabi Hindus
Total population
c. 18,000,000
Regions with significant populations
Punjab, India10,678,138 (2011)[1]
Delhi4,029,106 - 5,875,779 (2011 est.)[2][3][a][4]: 54 [b][c]
Haryana2,028,117 (2011 est.) [5][d][6][e][f]
Himachal Pradesh222,413 (2011 est.)[7][8]
Punjab, Pakistan211,641 (2017)[9]
Chandigarh73,881 - 84,436 (2011 est.)[10]
Sacred language

Ethnic language

Other languages
Hindi, English
Related ethnic groups
Punjabi Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, Punjabi Christians

Punjabi Hindus are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group who are adherents of Hinduism and identify linguistically, culturally, and genealogically as Punjabis. While Punjabi Hindus are mostly found in the Indian state of Punjab today, many have ancestry from the greater Punjab region, an area that was partitioned between India and Pakistan.



Rig Veda is the oldest Hindu text that originated in the Punjab region.
Rig Veda is the oldest Hindu text that originated in the Punjab region.

The Punjabi people first practiced proto-Hinduism, the oldest recorded religion in the Punjab region.[11] The historical Vedic religion constituted the religious ideas and practices in the Punjab during the Vedic period (1500–500 BCE), centered primarily in the worship of Indra.[12][13][14][15][16][17][note 1] The bulk of the Rigveda was composed in the Punjab region between circa 1500 and 1200 BCE,[18] while later Vedic scriptures were composed more eastwards, between the Yamuna and Ganges rivers. An ancient Indian law book called the Manusmriti, developed by Brahmin Hindu priests, shaped Punjabi religious life from 200 BCE onward.[19]

British colonial era

Prominent Indian nationalists from Punjab, such as Lala Lajpat Rai, belonged to the Arya Samaj. The Arya Samaj, a Hindu reformist sect was active in propagating their message in Punjab.[20] In the early part of the 20th century, the Samaj and organisations inspired by it, such as Jat Pat Todak Mandal, were active in campaigning against caste discrimination.[21] Other activities in which the Samaj engaged included campaigning for the acceptance of widow remarriage and women's education.[22]

During the colonial era, the practice of religious syncretism among Punjabi Hindus and Punjabi Muslims was noted and documented by officials in census reports:

"Besides actual conversion, Islam has had a considerable influence on the Hindu religion. The sects of reformers based on a revolt from the orthodoxy of Varnashrama Dharma were obviously the outcome of the knowledge that a different religion could produce equally pious and right thinking men. Laxity in social restrictions also appeared simultaneously in various degrees and certain customs were assimilated to those of the Muhammadans. On the other hand the miraculous powers of Muhammadan saints were enough to attract the saint worshiping Hindus, to allegiance, if not to a total change of faith... The Shamsis are believers in Shah Shamas Tabrez of Multan, and follow the Imam, for the time being, of the Ismailia sect of Shias... they belong mostly to the Sunar caste and their connection with the sect is kept a secret, like Freemasonry. They pass as ordinary Hindus, but their devotion to the Imam is very strong."[23]: 130 

— Excerpt from the Census of India (Punjab Province), 1911 CE

1947 Partition

Approximately 3 million Punjabi Hindus migrated from West Punjab and North-West Frontier Province (present-day Pakistan) to East Punjab and Delhi (present-day India) during the Partition.[24][25][26]

This split the former British province of Punjab between the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan. The mostly Muslim western part of the province became Pakistan's Punjab province; the mostly Sikh and Hindu eastern part became India's East Punjab state (later divided into the new states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh). Many Hindus and Sikhs lived in the west, and many Muslims lived in the east, and the fears of all such minorities were so great that the Partition saw many people displaced and much intercommunal violence. Some have described the violence in Punjab as a retributive genocide.[27]

The newly formed governments had not anticipated, and were completely unequipped for, a two-way migration of such staggering magnitude, and massive violence and slaughter occurred on both sides of the new India-Pakistan border. Estimates of the number of deaths vary, with low estimates at 200,000 and high estimates at 2,000,000. The worst case of violence among all regions is concluded to have taken place in Punjab.[28][29][30][31]

Punjabi Suba and trifurcation of Punjab

Main article: Punjabi Suba movement

After Partition, Sikh leaders and political parties demanded a "Punjabi Suba" (Punjabi Province) where Punjabi language written in the Sikh Gurumukhi script would be the language of the state in North India.

At the instigation of the Arya Samaj, many Punjabi Hindus in present-day Ambala, Una, and Sirsa stated Hindi as their mother tongue in the censuses of 1951 and 1961. Some areas of the erstwhile East Punjab state where Hindi, Haryanvi and Western Pahari speaking Hindus formed the majority became part of the newly created states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh where Hindi was declared the state language. This was in contrast with the primarily Punjabi-speaking locals in some regions of the newly created states.[32] A direct result of the trifurcation of East Punjab into three states made Punjab a Sikh-majority state in India. Today, Punjabi Hindus make up approximately 38.5% population of present Punjab State of India.[33][34]



Devi Talab Mandir in Jalandar, Punjab, India.
Devi Talab Mandir in Jalandar, Punjab, India.

In the Indian state of Punjab, Punjabi Hindus make up approximately 38.5% of the state's population and are a majority in the Doaba region. Punjabi Hindus forms majority in five districts of Punjab, namely, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Fazilka and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar districts.[35]

During the 1947 partition, many Hindus from West Punjab and North-West Frontier Province settled in Delhi. Determined from 1991 and 2015 estimates, Punjabi Hindus form approximately 24 to 35 per cent of Delhi's population;[g][h] based on 2011 official census counts, this amounts to between 4,029,106 and 5,875,779 people.[2]


Main article: Hinduism in Punjab, Pakistan

Following the large scale exodus that took place during the 1947 partition, there remains a small Punjabi Hindu community in Pakistan today. According to the 2017 Census, there are about 200,000 Hindus in Punjab province, forming approximately 0.2% of the total population.[9] Much of the community resides in the primarily rural South Punjab districts of Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur where they form 3.12% and 1.12% of the population respectively,[36][37] while the rest are concentrated in urban centres such as Lahore.[38][39]


Large diaspora communities exist in many countries including in Canada, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Culture and religion

Durgiana Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.
Durgiana Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India.

Hinduism in Punjab, as in many other parts of India, has adapted over time and has become a synthesis of culture and history. It centres on using Dharma to purify the soul (Atman) and to connect with a greater "eternal energy" (Paramātmā).[citation needed]

As Hindus believe that Dharma is universal and evolves with time, many Hindus also value other spiritual paths and religious traditions. They believe that any traditions that are equally able to nurture one's Atman should be accepted and taught. Hinduism itself encourages any being to reach their own self-realization in their own unique way either through Bhagavan or through other means of devotion and meditation.[40]

The Punjabi Hindus continue heterogeneous religious practices in spiritual kinship with Sikhism. This not only includes veneration of the Sikh Gurus in private practice, but also visits to Sikh Gurdwaras in addition to Hindu temples.[41]


Udasi is a religious sect of ascetic sadhus centered in Punjab Region. The Udasis were key interpreters of the Sikh philosophy and the custodians of important Sikh shrines until the Akali movement. They brought many converts into the Sikh fold during the 18th and the early 19th centuries.[42] However, their religious practices border on a syncretism of Sikhism and Hinduism. When the Singh Sabha, dominated by Tat Khalsa Sikhs, redefined the Sikh identity in the early 20th century, the Udasi mahants were expelled from the Sikh shrines. Since then, the Udasis have increasingly regarded themselves as Hindus rather than Sikhs.[43]

See also


  1. ^ “The most important section among settlers is the Punjabis who are estimated to constitute around 35 percent of the population."[3]
  2. ^ “Though Punjabis constitute a mere twenty-four per cent of so of the capital city's population, on average they hold fifty-three per cent of the available managerial positions."[4]
  3. ^ Punjabi Hindus represent between 24 and 35 per cent of Delhi's population, determined from 1991 and 2015 estimates. Based on the 2011 official census counts, this amounts to between 4,029,106 and 5,875,779.
  4. ^ “Punjabis constitute about eight per cent of the state’s population, they are a can’t-be-ignored political constituency."[5]
  5. ^ “Political experts attribute the rise of the BJP in the region to sustained consolidation among certain communities, especially the Punjabis who account for 8% of the state’s estimated population of around 28 million."[6]
  6. ^ Punjabi Hindus represent approximately eight per cent of Haryana's population, determined from 2014 and 2019 estimates. Based on the 2011 official census counts, this amounts to 2,028,117.
  7. ^ “The most important section among settlers is the Punjabis who are estimated to constitute around 35 percent of the population."[3]
  8. ^ “Though Punjabis constitute a mere twenty-four per cent of so of the capital city's population, on average they hold fifty-three per cent of the available managerial positions."[4]


  1. ^ "Population by religion community – 2011". The Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Delhi (India): Union Territory, Major Agglomerations & Towns – Population Statistics in Maps and Charts". City Population. Archived from the original on 2 March 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Singh, Raj (6 February 2015). "Delhi Assembly elections 2015: Important facts and major stakeholders". India TV. Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Sanjay Yadav (2008). The Invasion of Delhi. Worldwide Books. ISBN 978-81-88054-00-8.
  5. ^ a b Kumar, Virender (28 October 2014). "The 'vulnerable Punjabi' in an unthinkable post in Haryana". Indian Express. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  6. ^ a b Naqshbandi, Aurangzeb (23 October 2019). "The 'vulnerable Punjabi' in an unthinkable post in Haryana". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  7. ^ "Una, amalgam of Punjabi and Pahari cultures".
  8. ^ "Himachal Pradesh Youth status report: Sex ratio up but total fertility rate declining". The Indian Express. Shimla. Express News Service. 5 January 2018. Archived from the original on 18 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  9. ^ a b "SALIENT FEATURES OF FINAL RESULTS CENSUS-2017" (PDF). Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  10. ^ "Language – India, States and Union Territories" (PDF). Census of India 2011. Office of the Registrar General. pp. 13–14. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  11. ^ Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth (2012). The Punjabis in British Columbia: Location, Labour, First Nations, and Multiculturalism. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. ISBN 978-0-7735-4070-5.
  12. ^ Wheeler, James Talboys (1874). The History of India from the Earliest Ages: Hindu Buddhist Brahmanical revival. N. Trübner. p. 330. The Punjab, to say the least, was less Brahmanical. It was an ancient centre of the worship of Indra, who was always regarded as an enemy by the Bráhmans; and it was also a stronghold of Buddhism.
  13. ^ Hunter, W. W. (5 November 2013). The Indian Empire: Its People, History and Products. Routledge. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-136-38301-4. In the settlements of the Punjab, Indra thus advanced to the first place among the Vedic divinities.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Bruce M. (2001). The A to Z of Hinduism. Bruce M. Sullivan. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-8108-4070-7. OCLC 46732488.
  15. ^ Michaels, Axel (2004). Hinduism. Past and present. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 38.
  16. ^ Encyclopedia of religion. Lindsay Jones, Mircea Eliade, Charles J. Adams (2nd ed.). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. 2005. pp. 9552–9553. ISBN 0-02-865733-0. OCLC 56057973.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Samuel, Geoffrey (2010). The origins of yoga and tantra : Indic religions to the thirteenth century. Cambridge University Press. pp. 97–99, 113–118. ISBN 978-0-521-69534-3. OCLC 781947262.
  18. ^ Flood, Gavin (13 July 1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-43878-0.
  19. ^ Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth (2012). The Punjabis in British Columbia: Location, Labour, First Nations, and Multiculturalism. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 7–8. ISBN 978-0-7735-4070-5.
  20. ^ Raj Kumar (2004). Essays on Social Reform Movements. Discovery Publishing House. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-81-7141-792-6.
  21. ^ Rajivlochan, M. (2014). Coping with Exclusions the Non-Political Way. Mapping Social Exclusion in India: Caste, Religion and Borderlands. pp. 82–83.
  22. ^ Kishwar, Madhu (26 April 1986). "Arya Samaj and Women's Education: Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Jalandhar". Economic and Political Weekly. 21 (17): WS9–WS24. JSTOR 4375593.
  23. ^ "Census of India 1911. Vol. 14, Punjab. Pt. 1, Report". Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  24. ^ Salamat, Zarina (1997). The Punjab in 1920's: a case study of Muslims. Karachi: Royal Book Company. p. 145. ISBN 978-969-407-230-2. OCLC 40480171.
  25. ^ Banerjee-Dube, Ishita; Dube, Saurabh (2009). Ancient to modern: religion, power, and community in India. New Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-569662-2. OCLC 302183130.
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  27. ^ Brass 1974, p. 326.
  28. ^ Talbot, Ian (2009). "Partition of India: The Human Dimension". Cultural and Social History. 6 (4): 403–410. doi:10.2752/147800409X466254. S2CID 147110854. The number of casualties remains a matter of dispute, with figures being claimed that range from 200,000 to 2 million victims.
  29. ^ D'Costa, Bina (2011). Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 9780415565660.
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  1. ^ Michaels (2004, p. 38): "The legacy of the Vedic religion in Hinduism is generally overestimated. The influence of the mythology is indeed great, but the religious terminology changed considerably: all the key terms of Hinduism either do not exist in Vedic or have a completely different meaning. The religion of the Veda does not know the ethicised migration of the soul with retribution for acts (karma), the cyclical destruction of the world, or the idea of salvation during one's lifetime (jivanmukti; moksa; nirvana); the idea of the world as illusion (maya) must have gone against the grain of ancient India, and an omnipotent creator god emerges only in the late hymns of the rgveda. Nor did the Vedic religion know a caste system, the burning of widows, the ban on remarriage, images of gods and temples, Puja worship, Yoga, pilgrimages, vegetarianism, the holiness of cows, the doctrine of stages of life (asrama), or knew them only at their inception. Thus, it is justified to see a turning point between the Vedic religion and Hindu religions."
    Jamison, Stephanie; Witzel, Michael (1992). "Vedic Hinduism" (PDF). Harvard University. p. 3.: "... to call this period Vedic Hinduism is a contradictio in terminis since Vedic religion is very different from what we generally call Hindu religion – at least as much as Old Hebrew religion is from medieval and modern Christian religion. However, Vedic religion is treatable as a predecessor of Hinduism."
    See also Halbfass 1991, pp. 1–2

Further reading