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(Photo courtesy of 1469workshop.com) Punjabi culture is one of the oldest in India; the region has a rich legacy of poetry, music, food and art – in addition to being the birthplace of Sikhism.
The Punjab was unified under the Sikh Empire in the nineteenth century, until the British annexed the region in 1849 after the Anglo-Sikh wars, administering the region as a province of its Indian empire until Partition in 1947, when the independent states of India and Pakistan were established.
Standing in their 1469 shop in Delhi, the couple talk about the idea behind their business.
“People in Delhi feel that if I speak Punjabi, I am backwards and not modern enough,” says Kaur, dressed in a light green sari, gold bracelets dangling off her arms.
He describes Singh’s passion for the culture as inspiring.
Singh’s clothing didn’t always center on Punjabi culture.
He describes being born into a Sikh family as a blessing.
“Our religion is so beautiful, so transparent, so clear,” he says.
In 2002, after over a decade with the company, grueling hours and time spent away from his wife and three children, Singh decided to leave to pursue other endeavors.“Me and my wife started talking about our first guru, the revolution, our faith, we touched on Punjabi music and they knew Punjabi music so we got a lead there,” Singh says with a laugh. We decided we should do something about our identity since there’s no awareness.” Immediately after their visit, on the seven-and-a-half hour flight from Italy to India, Singh began the initial sketches for what he describes as the first Indian clothing brand dedicated solely to Sikhism and Punjabi culture.Fifteen years later, that concept – called 1469, in honor of the birth year of the first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev – has expanded into a million-dollar company with international reach.They have five stores in New Delhi and in Punjab, an Indian state bordering on Pakistan that is the heart of the Sikh community.Almost 58 percent of the population of Punjab is made up of Sikhs, but in Delhi, Sikhs constitute less than four percent of the total population.
Punjab was divided, with Hindus and Sikhs fleeing to India while Muslims moved to Pakistan.