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Sindhi khudabadi.svg
, सिन्धी, سنڌي
Total population
c. 40 million[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
 United Arab Emirates341,000[citation needed]
 Malaysia30,500[citation needed]
 United Kingdom30,000
[citation needed]
 Algeria154,000[citation needed]
 Afghanistan25,000 (2017)[3]
 United States14,700[citation needed]
 Hong Kong25,000[citation needed]
 Oman700[citation needed]
English, Hindi, Urdu (Sanskrit/Arabic as liturgical languages) and numerous other languages widely spoken within the Sindhi diaspora
Islam: 80 %
Related ethnic groups
Other Indo-Aryan peoples
This article contains Sindhi text, written from right to left with some letters joined. Without proper rendering support, you may see unjoined letters or other symbols instead of Sindhi script.

Sindhis (Sindhi: سنڌي (Perso-Arabic), सिन्धी (Devanagari)) are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group who speak the Sindhi language and are native to the Sindh region, in modern-day Pakistan. After the partition of India 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 very small Sikh and Hindu minority, whereas Indian Sindhis are predominantly Hindu with a considerable Sikh, Jain and Muslim population.


Vintage group photo of Indian Sindhi people
Vintage group photo of Indian Sindhi people

Pre-historic period

The Indus Valley Civilisation 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 up the Ghaggar River. The Indo-Aryans are believed to have founded the Vedic civilisation that existed between the Sarasvati River and Ganges river around 1500 BC. This civilisation helped shape subsequent cultures in South Asia.

Historical period

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,[citation needed] 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 and still later under the Indo-Sassanids, as well as Kushans, before the Islamic invasions 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.[6]

Sindh was one of the earliest regions to be conquered by the Arabs and influenced by Islam[7] 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.

Ethnicity and religion

Main article: Demographics of Sindh

"The Priest King Wearing Sindhi Ajruk", c. 2500 BC, in the National Museum of Pakistan.
"The Priest King Wearing Sindhi Ajruk", c. 2500 BC, in the National Museum of Pakistan.
Sindhi-inhabited areas of Pakistan (yellow) in the early 1980s
Sindhi-inhabited areas of Pakistan (yellow) in the early 1980s

The two main tribes of Sindh are the Soomro — descendants of the Soomro Dynasty, who ruled Sindh during 970–1351 A.D. — and the Samma — descendants of the Samma Dynasty, who ruled Sindh during 1351–1521 A.D. These tribes belong to the same bloodline. Among other Sindhi Rajputs are the Bhuttos, Kambohs, Bhattis, Bhanbhros, Mahendros, Buriros, Bhachos, Chohans, Lakha, Sahetas, Lohanas, Mohano, Dahars, Indhar, Chhachhar/Chachar, Dhareja, Rathores, Dakhan, Langah, Junejo, Mahars etc. 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 as compared to in Punjab and Balochistan. Identity in Sindh is mostly based on a common ethnicity.[8]

Sindhi Hindus

Main articles: Sindhi Hindus, Hinduism in Sindh Province, and Sindhis in India

Hinduism along with Buddhism was the predominant religion in Sindh before the Arab Islamic conquest.[9] 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.[10] 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.[9]

According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, Hindus constituted about 8% of the total population of Sindh province.[11] 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.[11] The ratio of Hindus was higher before the independence of Pakistan in 1947.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] By the 1951 census, all of these cities had virtually been emptied of their Hindu population as a result of the partition.[15]

The Cities and towns of Sindh were dominated by the Hindus. In 1941, for example, Hindus were 64% of the total urban population.[16]

Hindus were also spread over the rural areas of Sindh province. Thari (a dialect of Sindhi) is spoken in Sindh in Pakistan and Rajasthan in India.

Sindhi Muslims

Abida Parveen is a Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and an exponent of Sufi music.
Abida Parveen is a Pakistani singer of Sindhi descent and an exponent of Sufi music.

The connection between the Indus Valley 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.[17] He was also a poet and few couplets of his poem in praise of Ali ibn Abu Talib have survived, as reported in Chachnama:[18]


ليس الرزيه بالدينار نفقدة

ان الرزيه فقد العلم والحكم

وأن أشرف من اودي الزمان به

أهل العفاف و أهل الجود والكريم [19]

"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".[20]

During the reign of Ali, many Jats came under the influence of Islam.[21] 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.[22] Sayfi was one of the seven partisans of Ali who were beheaded alongside Hujr ibn Adi al-Kindi[23] 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,[24] 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.[25]

The majority of Muslim Sindhis follow the Sunni Hanafi fiqh with a minority being Shia Ithna 'ashariyah. Sufism has left a deep impact on Sindhi Muslims and this is visible through the numerous Sufi shrines which dot the landscape of Sindh.

Sindhi Muslim culture is highly influenced by Sufi doctrines and principles.[26] Some of the popular cultural icons are Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Jhulelal and Sachal Sarmast.


Main article: List of Sindhi tribes


Main article: Sindhi diaspora

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.


Main article: Sindhi culture

See also: Sindhi clothing, Sindhi poetry, Sindhi music, Sindhi literature, and Sindhi cuisine


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.[27]

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.[28]

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

Culture Day

Bughti cap, one of the symbols of Sindhi culture
Bughti cap, one of the symbols of Sindhi culture

Sindhi Cultural Day (Sindhi: سنڌي ثقافتي ڏھاڙو, Urdu: سندھی ثقافتی دن), is a popular Sindhi cultural festival, also known as 'Aekta Jo Dihaarro (the day of unity)'. It is widely celebrated with traditional enthusiasm to highlight the centuries-old rich culture of Sindh. The day is celebrated all over Sindh, and amongst the Sindhi diaspora population around the world. Sindhis celebrate this day to demonstrate the peaceful identity of Sindhi culture and acquire the attention of the world towards their rich heritage.[29]

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.[30]

Sindhi cultural day is celebrated worldwide on the first Sunday of December.[31] 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. Sindhi culture, history and heritage are highlighted at the events.

See also


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


  1. ^ CCI to consider releasing census results without 5pc audit Dawn News.
  2. ^ "Scheduled Languages in descending order of speaker's strength – 2011" (PDF). Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India. 29 June 2018.
  3. ^ "Opinion: Sindhi beyond the borders". Afghanistan Times. Retrieved 28 July 2021.
  4. ^ Kesavapany, K.; Mani, A.; Ramasamy, P. (1 January 2008). Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 9789812307996 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Kashmiri: A language of India". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2 June 2007.
  6. ^ Kessler, P L. "Kingdoms of South Asia – Kingdoms of the Indus / Sindh". Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  7. ^ Nicholas F. Gier, FROM MONGOLS TO MUGHALS: RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN INDIA 9TH-18TH CENTURIES, presented at the Pacific Northwest Regional Meeting American Academy of Religion, Gonzaga University, May 2006 [1]
  8. ^ "The People and The Land of Sindh | PDF | Sindh | Isma'ilism". Scribd. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011.
  9. ^ a b MacLean, Derryl L. (1989). Religion and Society in Arab Sind. BRILL. pp. 12–14, 77–78. ISBN 978-90-040-8551-0.
  10. ^ Shu Hikosaka, G. John Samuel, Can̲ārttanam Pārttacārati (ed.), Buddhist themes in modern Indian literature, Inst. of Asian Studies, 1992, p. 268
  11. ^ a b "Pakistan Census Data" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Partition and the 'other' Sindhi".
  13. ^ The foreign policy of Pakistan: ethnic impacts on diplomacy, 1971–1994, by Mehtab Ali Shah, published in 1997 by I B Tauris and Co Ltd, London PAGE 46
  14. ^ "INDIA - Part I - Tables" (PDF). Census of India 1941. p. 90.
  15. ^ "Population According to Religion" (PDF). Census of Pakistan, 1951. p. 8,22.
  16. ^ Proceedings of the First Congress of Pakistan History & Culture held at the University of Islamabad, April 1973, Volume 1, University of Islamabad Press, 1975
  17. ^ M. Ishaq, "Hakim Bin Jabala - An Heroic Personality of Early Islam", Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, pp. 145-50, (April 1955).
  18. ^ Derryl N. Maclean," Religion and Society in Arab Sind", p. 126, BRILL, (1989) ISBN 90-04-08551-3.
  19. ^ چچ نامہ، سندھی ادبی بورڈ، صفحہ 102، جامشورو، (2018)
  20. ^ Mirza Kalichbeg Fredunbeg, "The Chachnama", p. 43, The Commissioner's Press, Karachi (1900).
  21. ^ Ibn Athir, Vol. 3, pp. 45–46, 381, as cited in: S. A. N. Rezavi, "The Shia Muslims", in History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, Vol. 2, Part. 2: "Religious Movements and Institutions in Medieval India", Chapter 13, Oxford University Press (2006).
  22. ^ Ibn Sa'd, 8:346. The raid is noted by Baâdhurî, "fatooh al-Baldan" p. 432, and Ibn Khayyât, Ta'rîkh, 1:173, 183–84, as cited in: Derryl N. Maclean," Religion and Society in Arab Sind", p. 126, BRILL, (1989) ISBN 90-04-08551-3.
  23. ^ Tabarî, 2:129, 143, 147, as cited in: Derryl N. Maclean," Religion and Society in Arab Sind", p. 126, Brill, (1989) ISBN 90-04-08551-3.
  24. ^ Mazheruddin Siddiqui, "Muslim culture in Pakistan and India" in Kenneth W. Morgan, Islam, the Straight Path: Islam Interpreted by Muslims, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1987, p. 299
  25. ^ Ahmed Abdulla, The historical background of Pakistan and its people, Tanzeem Publishers, 1973, p. 109
  26. ^ Ansari, Sarah FD. Sufi saints and state power: the pirs of Sind, 1843–1947. No. 50. Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  27. ^ Subedy, Pragya (9 July 2021). "Bhee Ji Tikki: This Sindhi Snack". NDTV. Retrieved 27 April 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ Yadagiri, Shyam (28 August 2019). "The resilient lionhearts". The Indian Express. Retrieved 27 April 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "Cultural Activity Archives - World Sindhi Congress World Sindhi Congress". World Sindhi Congress. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  30. ^ APP (4 December 2016). "Sindhi Culture Day celebrated in Sindh". The News International. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  31. ^ "Sindhi Culture Day completes first decade of celebrations with great gusto". Retrieved 6 December 2020.