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Latest Australian Census Shows Savaa Lakh Sikhs:
Sikh Aussie Double Their Numbers In Just Five Years

DYA SINGH

 

 

 






The latest Australian Census (2016), shows officially that Sikhs in Australia now number ‘Savaa Lakh’ – one hundred and twenty-five thousand. Specifically 125.9 thousand. Official figures were released last week and analyses have started flowing in and being talked about in the mainstream media.

I must admit to a sense of pride that Sikhs are flourishing here down under. 

Hence ‘sava lakh se aik larraoon …’ takes on a new meaning for us in Australia because we now outnumber the Jews, who number 91,000. This means that whenever major ‘religious groups’ are mentioned in Australia, for the first time ‘we’ shall not fall into the ‘Other’ category. We finally count.

For those interested, we are now officially at number 5 on the ‘religious groups in Australia’ ladder, having almost doubled our numbers in the last five years alone.  Christians are 52.1%. Muslims 2.6%. Buddhists 2.4%. Hindus 1.9%. Sikhs 0.5%. Jews 0.4%. Other – 0.4%. (Over 33% claimed they do not belong to any particular religion).

Those amongst us who mounted a strong campaign to encourage Sikhs to state that they are ‘Sikh’ wherever possible, even in the ‘Ethnicity’ column must be warmly congratulated. Generally, Sikhs, especially in their first generation here, do have a tendency of demeaning themselves by declaring themselves ‘Indian’ by default, over the fact that they are Sikhs and Sikh-Aussies. It appears that the campaign for accuracy did work!

This paves the way for Sikhs to be considered in any form of ‘ethnic monitoring’ or when ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ groups are being considered. For those of us who are conscious of this, this means a great deal! I remember a saying from UK which my older brother, Sardar Gurmukh Singh, used, “if we are not counted, then we do not count”.

We are now being counted and we are ‘savaa lakh’ – we have come of age.

Savaa Lakh optimistically means ‘One’ in our ‘Gurgajj Bola’– language of thunder -- traditionally used by the Nihang Sikhs. To us Sikh-Aussies, this means that we are now ‘One’, a unit, statistically. We count. We matter. We do not fall into the ‘Other’ category any longer, nor under the Indian label, nor - God forbid - even the Hindu label.

Towards a distinct global Sikh identity, this is a step forward.


July 5, 2017
 

Conversation about this article

1: Avatar Singh (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), July 05, 2017, 5:57 PM.

I remember Dya Singh ji in a Sikh Youth Camp in Toronto, making a historical observation about being Sikh before and above being a Punjabi or of Indian origin. It was both amusing and apt. He said, "Remember, the Indians, especially the Hindu Punjabis and Indians, used to allow their womenfolk to be taken as slaves by the marauding Afghans. The Sikhs used to rescue them and bring them back. So you decide whether you are Punjabi, or Indian or Sikh!" We are now a universal quom and need to raise our profile, a positive profile globally. Congratulations to Sikh-Aussies. I believe that there is a growing consciousness amongst Sikhs everywhere that they owe their loyalties to the country that they call home, even if that is Punjab, or Canada or USA or UK or, as in Dya Singh Ji's case, proudly Australian. We are all not Indians or even Punjabis any more. We are Sikhs.

2: Tony Singh (Canada), July 05, 2017, 6:31 PM.

Great to hear of the growing Sikh community in Australia. Hopefully, we get to the stage where Sikhs are well organized in each major western country where we have critical mass and then work cooperatively through our organizations to push for the rights of Sikhs back in Punjab and on the subcontinent.

3: Parvinder Bir Singh  (India), October 01, 2017, 12:16 AM.

Great to hear about the Sikh community doing so well outside India. Follow the teachings of our Gurus and prosper by serving humanity. At this age (65 years), after spending all my life in India, I wish I could also migrate and live my remaining life in Canada or Australia where these are values unlike here in India where there is no humanity left any more.

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