Ground Report | New Delhi: Sikhs converting to Christianity in Punjab; There are approximately 25 million followers of Sikhism around the world. If we look at the global level, Sikhism is a minor religion; However, they form a majority in Punjab where about 76% of the population is Sikh.
Christianity entered Punjab in 1834. John Lowry and William Reid were the first missionaries to spread the word of Jesus Christ in the region. Its early followers were largely urban, literate, and socially diverse, but so few in number that they were insignificant in the entire social mix of Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims, of whom the Sikhs were the largest group. It remained so for the last few decades.
In recent times, the state of Punjab has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of Christians. Being a relatively new phenomenon, which is not yet 200 years old, the Christian community in Punjab consists mainly of converts. Most of the early converts were from the Hindu community, but now, most of the converts are from Sikhs. A new wave of mass conversions is underway in Punjab, where thousands have reportedly professed the faith.
Christians constitute 10 percent of the population in Punjab and the rate of conversion is increasing rapidly. There are several reasons for this conjecture. According to the 2011 census, the total population of Christians in Punjab is about 3.5 lakhs. The total population of Punjab in 2011 was 2.8 crores. The decadal growth rate was around 14 percent, so the current population should be around 32 million.
The grand ‘Jatt’ Gurdwara on top of a dilapidated ‘Dalit’ Gurdwara is a common sight in the villages of Punjab. Often there are two or three gurdwaras of different castes, which is a sign of the deep roots of the caste in the region. (Sikhs converting to Christianity in Punjab)
The biggest reason for conversion is superstition. People really think that clergy can cure cancer and disability. They are then brainwashed into thinking that following any other religion will lead them to hell. Pretentiousness and fake miracles are enough to convince many uneducated people.
According to this HuffPost report, Ankur Narula’s church was distributing sacks of grain to poor people. Interestingly, the ration was supplied in sacks printed with the logo “Ata Dal Yojana” – a food security scheme of the Punjab government for Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. This points to the collision with the government for Christian conversion and diversion of government resources for the same.
Consider the “inspired” Ankur Narula. He started in 2008 with 3 followers. As of 2018, he had 1.2 lakh followers and by his own admission, his followers were doubling every year. By 2020 they will have around 3-4 lakh members. This doubles the number of Christians in Punjab. He is only one of the many “apostles” and “priests” in Punjab who have spread like cancer in Punjab. They all have Hindu-Sikh names like Kanchan Mittal, Bajinder Singh, and Raman Hans. They convert thousands of people every week!
The alarming rate of Sikh conversions in Punjab can be attributed to two main reasons.
The first is a marked decline in the standard and prestige of Sikh religious institutions. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is considered the highest provisional authority for religion, has taken on a political sheen by forming an alliance with a political party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
The emphasis on providing spiritual nourishment to the Sikh community and using adequate funds for the progress and prosperity of the community is clearly missing.