History of Bhatra Sikhs

The Bhat or Bhatra community refers to priest community. This term was originally given to learned North Indian Hindu Brahmins who eventually became Sikhs.

Around 1900 B.C. river Saraswat started vanishing and people inhabiting along its bank then started to migrate to South Asia and forming sub-communities. During the Islamic invasions in the areas of what is currently India and Pakistan, many Brahmins were forced to flee these areas leading an unsettled life. As a result of they have to give up practicing their profession as Hindu priests, teachers, technicians classes. They used their talent in these unsettled lives travelling as scribes, bards and astrologists.  Due to the word of Guru Nanak Deb ji and also due to missionaries like Baba changa Bhat Rai, these Brahmin Bhat converted themselves to Sikhism. 

As per the traditional Sikh literature Bhatra ancestors came from Punjab and were the original 16th century followers of Sri Guru Nanak Deb ji. Later on, during the 17th century, and inspired by Guru Sri Gobind ji’s Khalsa campaign, they went to fight as a warrior saints against the Mughal’s.

Most of the Bhat Sikhs now come from Punjab from areas like Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Bhatinda, Chandigarh, Nawashahar and also some of them settled themselves in Delhi. Some of the Bhatra sikhs can trace back ancestory to areas like Gurdaspur, Sialkot and Lahore.

When did Bhatra Sikhs arrive in UK?

Bhat Sikhs in UK 1938-40Bhatra Sikhs started to arrive in UK as early as mid 1920’s but majority of the influx was seen in 1940’s and also in 1950’s. Their occupations were mainly such that it did not required them to have settled life.

Bhatra sikhs who came in early part of the last centure to UK, started to work as door-to-door salesmen, having left their families in the Punjab mostly to begin with.

By mid 1940’s which marked the era of the Second World War there were a few hundred Sikhs in UK. They inhabited in British seaports like Cardiff, Bristol, and Southampton while some decided to return to India.

Establishment of Gurdwaras in UK

First Gurdwara was established in Manchester 1953.  Currently there are about 30+ Bhat Gurdwaras in UK.

Guru Nanak Sar Gurdwara in Portsmouth was established in 1963. 

Many Bhats took the role of Gyanis or preachers in the newly established Gurdwaras like in Luton and Leicester. There is a large majority on Bhats living in Edinburgh.

How did Bhat sikhs established themselves in USA?

Vilati Singh Rathour (originally Rathore) was the first Bhat Sikh to establish in USA. He hailed from Pakistan from the area Sialkot (part of India before partition). He decided to establish himself in USA while his brothers moved to UK. Majority of the Bhat Sikhs are currently living in the City of New York.

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Nagar Kirtan in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) in 1932, rediscovering lost Sikh heritage, while we create new paths for future generations.

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Photos are Copyright protected. Illegal to download or copy images without prior permission.
Photos are Copyright protected. Illegal to download or copy images without prior permission.
He came to Britain in 1936, founded the Changa Bhatra Naujwan Sabha UK in 1939. He was a friend Shaheed Udham Singh, help raise funds for his defence and after WW2 was a memebr of the Indian league, President of the Khalsa Jatha British Isles, and founder member of the Bristol's First Gurdwara.