The dwindling Sikh community of Afghanistan, numbering a mere 50 souls across the nation, continues to stand tall as protectors of their faith amidst persistent threats from terrorist groups. Despite the shadow of fear, their determination to safeguard their religious sites burns bright, fueled by a deep-rooted connection to their homeland.
While the Taliban-led government offers assurances of security and extends invitations for their return, the Sikhs remain cautious. Kabul resident Manmohan Singh, one of the estimated two dozen remaining Sikhs in the capital, describes their daily struggle to preserve their heritage. “Facing terror threats, we still hold fast to our beliefs,” he shares, highlighting their steadfastness in upholding daily religious services within gurdwaras and temples.
Beyond Kabul, a handful of Sikhs also reside in Jalalabad, Kandhar, and Ghazni. In a bid to bolster their confidence, the Taliban government has assigned watchmen to each of the nine gurdwaras and two temples in Kabul, even deploying security posts for additional protection.
But the scars of past attacks run deep. The Karte Parwan gurdwara, the primary place of worship in Kabul, now opens for a limited time each day, with additional security measures in place. Entry is granted only after thorough verification, a stark reminder of the ever-present danger.
Yet, a flicker of hope remains. “There is a parkash of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in gurdwara Karte Parwan,” shares Manmohan, signifying the continued presence of their holy scripture, a beacon of resilience in the face of adversity.
The Afghan Sikhs’ story is one of unwavering faith and indomitable spirit. They stand as testament to the power of religious conviction, even in the face of immense challenges. Whether the Taliban’s assurances will translate into long-term security for this dwindling community remains to be seen, but their dedication to their faith stands as an inspiration in the face of adversity.
In a subsequent article, we shall explore the historical context of the Sikh community in Afghanistan