Sikhs Across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs 9781441113870, 9781472548689, 9781441170873

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Sikhs Across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs
 9781441113870, 9781472548689, 9781441170873

Table of contents :
Cover
HalfTitle
Series
Title
Copyright
Contents
List of Tables
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Transnational European Sikhs Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold
Structure of the book
Part I Migration, Settlement, and Challenges in the Diaspora
1 Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On Shinder S. Thandi
Historical context: Empire, mobility andbeginnings of European Sikh diasporas
Cultural transmission and maintenance of religiousidentities in new adopted homes: Recent discoursesand major challenges for mainland European Sikhs
Changing environments and contexts:Implications for diasporic identities and identity politics
2 Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the First World War, 1914–18 David E. Omissi
The Indian Army in 1914
The Indian Corps in France, 1914–15
The Indian cavalry in France, 1916–18
Casualties, consequences, and commemoration
3 Mobility as a Transnational Strategy: Sikhs Moving to and from Belgium Quincy Cloet, Sara Cosemans, and Idesbald Goddeeris
Sikh migration to Belgium
The Belgian attitude toward Sikhs
Transnational mobility
Conclusions
4 Transnational Sikh Marriages in Italy: Facilitating Migration and Negotiating Traditions Barbara Bertolani
Migration, marriage, and family reunifi cation
Kin networks and family tradition reconsidered
Women’s empowerment?
Negotiating arranged marriages in the transnational social fi eld
Part II Constructing Identities, Representations, and Belongings
5 Narratives of “Return”? Travels to Punjab in the Contemporary Transnational Sikhscape Federica Ferraris
Punjab: Homeland or destination?
Travel narratives in the diasporic Sikhscape
Narratives of “return” and the confl icting contemporary Sikhscape
6 Tuning Identity in European “Houses of the Guru”: The Importance of Gurdwaras and Kirtan among Sikhs in Europe Knut A. Jacobsen
The academic study of gurdwaras
Constructing gurdwaras in Europe
Kirtan in gurdwaras
Conclusion
7 Attending the Cyber Sangat : The Use of Online Discussion Boards among European Sikhs Satnam Singh
Young Sikhs and discussion boards
Sikhsangat.com—“The voice of Sikhs”
Sikhawareness.com—“The eye-opening forum”
Sociopolitical issues arising from the discussion boards
Young Sikhs and their involvement in community affairs
Conclusion—The future of cyber sangats
8 “Sikhizing the Sikhs”: The Role of “New Media” in Historical and Contemporary Identity Construction within Global Sikhism Doris R. Jakobsh
The Sikhs and the WWW
Conclusions
Part III Learning, Teaching, and Contesting Religious Beliefs and Practices
9 Global Sikh-ers: Transnational Learning Practices of Young British Sikhs Jasjit Singh
Religious learning among young British Sikhs
Sikh camps
Sikhism online
Conclusion
10 Transnational Sikh Preachers: Local Training and Global Aspiration of Kathavacaks in Punjab Kristina Myrvold
Motives for becoming a kathavacak
Education and training in Punjab
Transnational aspirations and strategies
Challenges in the diaspora
Conclusion
11 The Journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italian Sikhs: Defi ning “National” Leadership in Transnational Mass Media Barbara Bertolani and Iqbal Singh
The issue of “respect” for Guru Granth Sahib
Being a Sikh in Italy: Different strategies in local contexts
The growth of the Italian Sikh community:Defining a shared religious identity?
The journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italy
12 Contesting and Confi rming Religious Authority in the Diaspora: Transnational Communication and the Dasam Granth Controversy in the Nordic Countries Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold, Ravinder Kaur, and Laura Hirvi
Overview of the Dasam Granth controversy
Finland: The change of the ardas and the transnational reaction
Sweden: Bringing Punjabi politics to diasporic congregations
Norway: Transnational Sikhism and local responses
Denmark: Ethnography of a conflict
Actions and reactions of the Nordic Sikh communities
Glossary
Index

Citation preview

Sikhs Across Borders

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Also Available From Bloomsbury Academic Media, Spiritualities and Social Change, Edited by Monica Emerich and Stewart M. Hoover Sikhism Today, Jagbir Jhutti-Johal

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Sikhs Across Borders Transnational Practices of European Sikhs Edited by Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold

L ON DON • N E W DE L H I • N E W Y OR K • SY DN EY

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Bloomsbury Academic An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square 175 Fifth Avenue London New York WC1B 3DP NY 10010 UK USA www.bloomsbury.com First published 2012 © Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold and Contributors, 2012 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers. Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold and Contributors have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work. No responsibility for loss caused to any individual or organization acting on or refraining from action as a result of the material in this publication can be accepted by Bloomsbury Academic or the author. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

EISBN: 978-1-4411-7087-3 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Sikhs across borders : transnational practices of European Sikhs / edited by Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold. – First [edition]. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4411-1387-0 (hardcover) – ISBN 978-1-4411-7087-3 (ebook (pdf)) 1. Sikhism–Europe. 2. Emigration and immigration–Religious aspects–Sikhism. 3. Sikhs–Europe. I. Jacobsen, Knut A., 1956- editor of compilation. II. Myrvold, Kristina, editor of compilation. BL2018.S4745 2012 294.6094—dc23 2012011037

Typeset by Newgen Imaging Systems Pvt Ltd, Chennai, India Printed and bound in Great Britain

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Contents List of Tables Notes on Contributors

vii viii

Introduction: Transnational European Sikhs Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold Part I Migration, Settlement, and Challenges in the Diaspora

1 9

1 Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On Shinder S. Thandi

11

2 Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the First World War, 1914–18 David E. Omissi

36

3

4

Mobility as a Transnational Strategy: Sikhs Moving to and from Belgium Quincy Cloet, Sara Cosemans, and Idesbald Goddeeris

51

Transnational Sikh Marriages in Italy: Facilitating Migration and Negotiating Traditions Barbara Bertolani

68

Part II Constructing Identities, Representations, and Belongings

85

5 Narratives of “Return”? Travels to Punjab in the Contemporary Transnational Sikhscape Federica Ferraris

87

6

Tuning Identity in European “Houses of the Guru”: The Importance of Gurdwaras and Kirtan among Sikhs in Europe Knut A. Jacobsen

105

7 Attending the Cyber Sangat: The Use of Online Discussion Boards among European Sikhs Satnam Singh

119

8 “Sikhizing the Sikhs”: The Role of “New Media” in Historical and Contemporary Identity Construction within Global Sikhism Doris R. Jakobsh

141

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vi

Contents

Part III Learning, Teaching, and Contesting Religious Beliefs and Practices 9 Global Sikh-ers: Transnational Learning Practices of Young British Sikhs Jasjit Singh 10

Transnational Sikh Preachers: Local Training and Global Aspiration of Kathavacaks in Punjab Kristina Myrvold

165

167

193

11 The Journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italian Sikhs: Defining “National” Leadership in Transnational Mass Media Barbara Bertolani and Iqbal Singh

211

12 Contesting and Confirming Religious Authority in the Diaspora: Transnational Communication and the Dasam Granth Controversy in the Nordic Countries Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold, Ravinder Kaur, and Laura Hirvi

232

Glossary Index

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List of Tables Table 1.1 Total estimated Sikhs across the major countries of Europe

16

Table 7.1 Overview of national Sikh discussion boards in Northern Europe as of September 2010

121

Table 7.2 Overview of the differences in content between the websites Sikhsangat.com and Sikhawareness.com

130

Table 7.3 Overview of the differences in content between Sikhsangat.com and Sikhawareness.com

136

Table 9.1 British Sikhs: Types of transnational religious engagement

170

Table 9.2 Chalda Vaheer Jatha 1987 European tour

172

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Notes on Contributors Barbara Bertolani has a PhD in Sociology. She is teaching Sociology, Social Politics, and Sociology of Economic processes at University of Molise (Italy). Bertolani has conducted research on intermarriages and interethnic couples in Italy. Her current research interests focus on the role of ethnic and kin-networks of first generation Punjabi migrants in the processes of migration and economic integration in Italy. She is also working on transnational networks of Indian and Pakistani rejoined women and on the Sikh second generation in Italy. In 2010 and 2011 she conducted research on the Sikhs for a project on religious pluralism at University of Padua. Her publications on the Sikhs are, among others, “Mirror Games: A Fresco of Sikh Settlements among Italian Local Societies” (with Federica Ferraris and Fabio Perocco) in Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations (Ashgate, 2011) and “Religious Belonging and New Ways of Being ‘Italian’ in the Self-perception of Second-generation Immigrants in Italy” (with Fabio Perocco), in The Best of All Gods. The Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe (Brill, forthcoming). Quincy Cloet has a MA in History from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium). He wrote a Master’s thesis about the Belgian Sikh community, with the title “Sikhs in Belgium. Self-Perception and Representation.” Cloet is currently following a Master in Business Economics at the College-University of Brussels. Sara Cosemans holds a MA degree of History at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven, Belgium) and did her Master’s thesis about the Sikh community in Hesbaye. She received the Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies Award for the best thesis about immigration, minorities, and intercultural dialogue at the university. Federica Ferraris holds a PhD in Anthropology, University of Milan-Bicocca, since 2004 and has been a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, between 2005 and 2012. She has done research among Sikhs in the UK and in Italy. Her publications revolve around the significance of tourist narratives and on Sikh migration and pilgrimage practices. On the Sikhs she has published “Going Rural and Urban at Once: Reflections from the Roman Sikh Context” (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2009), and (with B. Bertolani and F. Perocco) “Mirror Games: A Fresco of Sikh Settlements among Italian Local Societies” in Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations (Ashgate, 2011). Idesbald Goddeeris has an MA of Slavic Studies (1994), an MA of History (1997), and a PhD of History (2001). He is currently Associate Professor at the University of Leuven, where he teaches, inter alia, on history of European colonization and on the history of modern India. His research mainly focuses on the Cold War, migration, social movements, and the representation of the other. He has recently published

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articles in Vingtième Siècle (2011), Journal of Cold War Studies (2011), and Labour History Review (2010), and he co-authored a Dutch textbook on the history of India titled Een geschiedenis van India: ontmoetingen op wereldschaal (with W. Callewaert, Acco, 2010). Goddeeris is also a senior member of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, for which he coordinates the Leuven India Focus. Laura Hirvi is a Doctoral Student of Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Hirvi is working on her dissertation, in which she focuses on the question how Sikh immigrants in Finland and in California negotiate their identities. Her recent publications include the chapter “Sikhs in Finland: Migration Histories and Work in the Restaurant Sector” in Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations (Ashgate, 2011) and the article “The Sikh Gurdwara in Finland: Negotiating, Maintaining and Transmitting Immigrants’ Identities” (South Asian Diaspora, 2010). Knut A. Jacobsen is professor in the History of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway, and author and editor of numerous books and articles in journals and edited volumes on various aspects of religions in South Asia and in the South Asian diasporas. He is the author of Prakriti in Samkhya-Yoga: Material Principle: Religious Experience, Ethical Implications (Peter Lang, 1999; Indian edition Motilal Banarsidass, 2002), Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Vishnu (Munshiram Manoharlal, 2008) and Pilgrimage in the Hindu Tradition: Salvific Space (Routledge, 2013). Other recent publications include the edited volumes South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions (with P. Pratap Kumar, Brill, 2004); Theory and Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson (Brill, 2005); South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (Routledge, 2008); South Asian Christian Diaspora: Invisible Diaspora in Europe and North America (with Selva J. Raj, Ashgate, 2008); Modern Indian Culture and Society (Routledge, 2009), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representation (with Kristina Myrvold, Ashgate, 2011); and Yoga Powers: Extraordinary Capacities Attained Through Meditation and Concentration (Brill, 2012). He is the editor in chief of the five-volume Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2009–13). In 2006 he published the first book written in Norwegian about Sikhism, Sikhismen: Historie, tradisjon og kultur. Doris R. Jakobsh is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the current director of Women’s Studies at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada. She published Relocating Gender in Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity (OUP, 2003) and contributed a volume to the University of Hawaii’s Dimensions of Asian Spirituality Series, Sikhism, published in 2012. She has also edited Women in Sikhism: An Exploration (OUP, 2010) and a new two-volume textbook World Religions. Canadian Perspectives on Eastern and Western Traditions (Nelson, 2013) along with a number of journal articles. She is a founding Steering Committee member of the American Academy of Religion’s Sikh Studies Consultation. Ravinder Kaur is Associate Professor in Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen. Her research interests include postcolonial state formations, modern identity making, imagery, visual representations, and the histories of the event and the ordinary. She is currently working on the idea of “global” India

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and the new cultural histories of the nation. Kaur is the author of Since 1947: Partition Narratives among Punjabi Migrants of Delhi (OUP, 2007) and the editor of Religion, Violence and Political Mobilisation in Contemporary South Asia (Sage Publications, 2005). Kristina Myrvold is Assistant Professor of History and Anthropology of Religion at Lund University. Her doctoral dissertation of 2007 focused on ritual uses of texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi, India, where she has conducted extensive fieldwork. She is currently the principal investigator of the Nordcorp project “Sikh Identity Formation: Generational Transfer of Traditions in the Nordic Countries,” which is carried out in cooperation with researchers in Denmark, Finland, and Norway. Myrvold has published several articles and book chapters on Sikh practices in Sweden and in India, such as “Death and Sikhism” (ME Sharpe, 2006), “Personalizing the Sikh Scripture: Processions of the Guru Granth Sahib in India” (Routledge, 2008), “Engaging with the Guru: Sikh Beliefs and Practices of Guru Granth Sahib” (Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, 2010), and “Making Pilgrimage Places of the Gurus in Varanasi: Countering Hindu Narratives in Local Sikh Historiography” (South Asian History and Culture, 2012). She is the author of Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi (2007) and editor of the publications The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in the World Religions (Ashgate, 2010) and Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations (with Knut A. Jacobsen, Ashgate, 2011). David E. Omissi is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Hull. His research has focused on the history of the British Empire, and in particular on the military history of India. He is the author of The Sepoy and the Raj: The Indian Army, 1860–1940 (1994) and the editor of Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters, 1914–1918 (1999). His more recent publications include: “ ‘An Arduous but a Most Noble Duty’: Gladstone and the British Raj in India, 1868–1898,” in M. Daly and K. T. Hoppen (eds), Gladstone: Ireland and Beyond (2011); “Europe Through Indian Eyes: Indian Soldiers Encounter England and France, 1914–1918” (English Historical Review, 2007); and (as co-editor and contributor, with Andrew S. Thompson), The Impact of the South African War (2002). Iqbal Singh is a cultural mediation consultant and interpreter working for the Province of Reggio Emilia in Italy. After studies in Geography for a Bachelor degree at the University of Kurukshetra and studies in the Italian language from Università per Stranieri di Siena, he currently works as a cultural expert and consultant of Indian–Italian relations at governmental institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and in social services. He has published Indiani punjabi a scuola. Aspetti culturali, dinamiche relazionali in classe e introduzione alla lingua punjabi (with Barbara Bertolnai, Quaderni del Centro Studi, 2008). Jasjit Singh is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Leeds, studying the transmission of Sikhism among young British Sikhs (18–30). The focus of his research is on understanding how young British Sikhs learn about Sikhism and how new methods of learning (including camps, Sikh societies, and the internet) relate to the

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traditional learning which takes place inside religious institutions (gurdwaras). He has recently published the article “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban” (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2010) and a chapter on British Sikh Camps in Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations (Ashgate, 2011). Satnam Singh has a degree in Marketing and Communications from Copenhagen Business School and a Master’s degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from Copenhagen University. For many years he has worked and involved himself in the fields of human rights, integration, and prevention of religious and political radicalization programs in Denmark. He plans to commit himself further in the study of identity formation, nation building, and political issues regarding Sikh youth in Europe in the upcoming years. Shinder S. Thandi is Principal Lecturer in Economics in the Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting at Coventry University (UK) and has teaching interests in areas of development economics, international business in Asian Pacific, and global political economy. He has published widely on Indian and Punjabi migration and settlement in the United Kingdom and on different dimensions of Indian and Punjabi diaspora–homeland relations. He is founder editor of the Journal of Punjab Studies and has co-edited two books: Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (edited with Pritam Singh, OUP, 1999) and People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial and Post Colonial Migration (edited with Ian Talbot, OUP 2004). He is co-author (with Michael Fisher and Shompa Lahiri) of a recently published book entitled A South Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent (Greenwood Press, 2007).

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Introduction

Transnational European Sikhs Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold

The Sikhs constitute a growing and visible religious community in Europe. The global Sikh population is today estimated at between 23 and 25 million individuals and the European Sikhs comprise about half a million people, with the largest and oldest settlements in the United Kingdom and growing communities in almost all countries in continental Europe (Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011). Transnational practices are not new phenomena among the Sikhs, but can be found in the history of the early Sikh travelers, visitors, and migrants in Europe. Sikh soldiers who fought for the British during the First and Second World Wars, for example, traveled to Europe and wrote letters home to tell their families about the horrors of warfare and new cultural experiences. Thousands of soldiers fought for the British Indian Army in Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, and other countries, and this has been a major cause for commemoration (see Omissi, Chapter 2). As Sikhs have made Europe their home and searched for new historical roots, the sacrifices in the World Wars have become a significant part of their collective memory in Europe (Madra and Singh, 1999, 2004; Holland, 2005). The recruitment of large numbers of Sikhs to the army and police force during Britain’s colonial rule in India opened up possibilities for migration, primarily to serve the British in different parts of the world, and was followed by a large-scale movement of people during the twentieth century. Especially after the Second World War and India’s independence in 1947, the Sikhs developed “a culture of migration and mobility,” arriving and settling in various parts of Europe via different routes. The Sikh migration during the twentieth century has also been conditioned by changing political borders and immigration policies in the different European states (see Thandi, Chapter 1). The first collective Sikh place of worship (gurdwara) in Europe was opened in South London in 1911 (the religious organization was founded in 1908) and since then, the number of gurdwaras in Europe has been rapidly growing. In 2012, a century later, the United Kingdom alone hosts close to 300 gurdwaras, while around 100 public places for congregational worship have been established in continental Europe. These figures can illustrate the dramatic growth of European Sikhs and the increasing and institutionalized presence of the Sikh religion in contemporary Europe (see Jacobsen, Chapter 6).

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2

Sikhs Across Borders

Although the Sikhs have settled and established local communities in different parts of Europe and have become integrated into the host societies, they retain and nourish links to their places of origin and are interconnected through transnational networks encompassing a wide area of activities. Their incorporation into Europe and transnational practices occurs simultaneously, and their transnational networks do not merely link European Sikh families with a real or imagined homeland of Punjab but also create dynamic intradiasporic connections between Sikhs and Punjabis worldwide. As previously mentioned, transnational practices among the Sikhs are not new phenomena, but what perhaps constitute a novel occurrence in more recent years are the intensified modes of exchanges between Sikhs in different countries. Globalization processes and new means of communication and transportation have provided facilities for multiple practices across borders on a much larger scale than before (Portes et al., 1999; Portes, 2003). The contributions to this book document and analyze some main patterns of social and cultural developments among the Sikhs in Europe, with special focus on transnational practices and the links that they have established between European and other countries, the “homeland” of Punjab in India as well as within a global Sikh community. Transnationalism has been defined as “the process by which immigrants forge and sustain multi-stranded social relations that link together their societies of origin and settlement” (Basch et al., 1994, p. 7). It has been described as “the actual, ongoing exchanges of information, money, and resources—as well as regular travel and communication—that members of a diaspora may undertake with others in the homeland or elsewhere within the globalized ethnic community” (Vertovec, 2009, p. 137). The migrants and members of a diaspora, also called transnationals or transmigrants, “take actions, make decisions, and develop identities embedded in networks of relationships that connect them simultaneously to two or more nationstates” (Ebaugh and Chafetz, 2002, p. 1). Their transnational practices are of numerous kinds—political, economic, social, and cultural—and can be established “from below” by individuals or groups at the grass-roots level as well as “from above” by actors and institutions on the global level (Guarnizo, 1997; Portes, 2003; Smith and Guarnizo, 2006). The chapters in this book focus on various social and cultural practices, and particularly religious activities across borders that have been initiated by or through networks and exchanges with European Sikhs on the level of individuals and family members (micro), national institutions, gurdwaras, and seminaries (meso), and/or global religious actors and organizations (macro) (see Ebaugh and Chafetz, 2002, p. 167). Many of the individual and collective practices examined in the volume may also fit into a “narrow” definition of transnational practices, as they reflect a high degree of institutionalization, constant involvement of people, and regular movements within geographical transnational spaces (Itzigsohn et al., 1999, p. 323). Religious institutions like the Sikh gurdwaras, for example, have gained an important function by providing social spaces in which Sikh individuals at different places can build local social networks and simultaneously create and maintain links with the homeland and Sikhs in other countries. Similarly, their active partaking of religious media from Punjab and the Sikh diaspora, their hosting of various religious specialists who travel between different European congregations teaching Sikhism

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Transnational European Sikhs

3

(see Singh, Chapter 9; Myrvold, Chapter 10), their participation in discourses, debates, and representations of religion on the internet (Jakobsh, Chapter 8; Singh, Chapter 7), and their religious travels and tourism to the Punjab (Ferraris, Chapter 5) are a few examples that display a high intensity of transnational activities. Religion continues to play a significant role in the daily lives of many European Sikhs and is important for their incorporation into the host societies as well as their maintenance of links with the homeland and Sikhs in other parts of the world. Transnational practices from a Sikh perspective have also provided the means for negotiating traditional notions of home, identity, religion, and authority, and shaping new self-representations and identity constructions that reflect multiple belongings. The younger generation in particular has created new social spaces on the internet where they are able to discuss and create their own interpretations of religion and culture. Different political events and religious controversies within the Sikh community have also highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of these transnational networks. The Sikhs have proved their ability to quickly mobilize global support for causes that aim to preserve and protect their religious and cultural heritage on various levels. Simultaneously, these transnational activities have illustrated that Sikhs’ notions of home, identity, and religion have become shrouded with several complexities that ultimately makes it difficult to form generalizations about the European Sikhs (see Thandi, Chapter 1; Bertolani and Singh, Chapter 11; Jacobsen, Myrvold, Kaur and Hirvi, Chapter 12). Several chapters in the book address how the national context interacts and coexists with the transnational through various practices among European Sikhs. Against the theoretical presumption that transnationalism would diminish the role of the nation state, many cases of the Sikhs reveal that conditions within and policies of the European nations continue to exert a strong influence on the ways by which migrants develop and pattern their transnational networks and practices. Transnational families, for example, are dependent upon regulations by national migration policies when marrying their children with spouses from other countries and thereby extending their kinship networks and facilitating new migration (Bertolani, Chapter 4). Experiences of religious and cultural discrimination among European Sikhs with access to national citizenship may fuel their continued transnational aspirations and mobility (Cloet, Cosemans, and Goddeeris, Chapter 3).

Structure of the book In an attempt to illustrate the empirical variety and complexities of transnational practices among European Sikhs, the contributions to the book have been arranged into three parts which respectively treat different aspects of the Sikh migration and settlement in European diasporas and some of the challenges the Sikhs have encountered (Part I), how they are constructing and negotiating identities, representations, and a sense of belonging through religious travels and practices in gurdwaras and on the internet (Part II), as well as different transnational means by which they learn, teach, and contest religious beliefs and practices within the Sikh community and religion (Part III).

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4

Sikhs Across Borders

In the first chapter, Shinder S. Thandi notes that the Sikhs in Europe constitute a diaspora on the margins of European society, struggling for visibility and acceptance, and in many cases becoming victims of the unforeseen effects of increased racism and Islamophobia. Thandi gives an overview of the Sikh migration history to Europe, and different routes and patterns of migration and settlement, and then provides an analysis of recent discourses on the Sikhs’ integration and assimilation into mainstream societies. By comparing three recent critical events (the Behzti affair in the United Kingdom, the turban ban in France, and the aftermath of the 9/11 attack in the United States), the chapter illustrates the complexities surrounding experiences of home and belonging in the diaspora. As Thandi suggests, it is difficult to make generalizations about European Sikhs since there are many and divergent Sikh diasporas in Europe that are in different phases of development, have various accounts of the reasons for settlement, and are also exposed to quite dissimilar legal practices on the national level. The Sikhs who came to Europe under perhaps the worst of all circumstances in history—the horrors of war—were probably those who arrived as soldiers during the First World War. In Chapter 2, David E. Omissi presents the history and contribution of the Sikh soldiers who were dispatched to Europe during the war and, among other things, analyzes the letters that Sikh soldiers sent home to document and tell their families about their experiences and observations of the war and European culture. The Sikhs were defined as a “martial race” by the British rulers and were recruited to the British Indian Army. A substantial number of the Indian soldiers who fought in the First World War were, consequently, Sikhs. As Omissi observes, about 8,557 Indian soldiers died in Europe during the First World War and today there are several memorials to commemorate their bravery and sacrifices on European soil. In Chapter 3, Quincy Cloet, Sara Cosemans, and Idesbald Goddeeris examine mobility as a transnational strategy among the Sikhs in Belgium. The authors observe that Sikh migration has sometimes been associated with a high degree of stability with people moving from Punjab to settle in a new country, while the patterns of migration are, in reality, much more varied and complex, including several transits, returns, and circular movements between India and Europe, and also intradiasporic migration within Europe. From the perspective of Belgium, the authors pay attention to how the hostility toward migrants in Belgian society affects the interpersonal and intercommunal relations of the Sikhs. As Belgium has adopted a critical stance toward religion and multiculturalism in line with the French tradition, many of the Belgian Sikhs have communicated their plans to leave the country when opportunities arise or have already made arrangements for a continued migration. The transnational aspiration has also been fuelled by perceptions of English-speaking countries with a larger Sikh population (the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States) as being more multicultural and open to immigrants and economic profit-seekers. To exemplify different aspects of transnational mobility and aspiration, the chapter describes Sikhs moving from Southern Europe to Belgium, interdiasporic marriages, student mobility, and how certain individuals dream of returning to India or wish to capitalize on the transnational networks of which they are a part. In conclusion, the authors argue that national stability and transnational mobility do not exclude each other but rather interplay and should be seen as two important aspects of Sikh migration.

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Transnational European Sikhs

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In the fourth chapter, Barbara Bertolani investigates, from the perspective of Italian Sikhs, transnational marriages as an important means for the Sikhs to migrate legally to countries in Europe and sustain a continued migration. Migration, therefore, encourages transnational marriages. Many Italian Sikhs perceive assisting the immigration of relatives as a moral duty, even if some transnational marriages may have unintended consequences. Bertolani analyzes the significance of kinship networks for migration processes, and in which ways they are recreated and structured in the diaspora with internal rules and used and expanded by marriage practices. The chapter also shows how young Sikhs can perceive expectations from elder family members and sometimes use religion as a tool for negotiating positions and practices. Although transnational marriages are arranged according to tradition and are important devices for migratory continuity, they can also favor redefinitions of traditional gender roles and lead to examples of matrilocality, groom subordination, and “Western” expectations of privacy and individualism. The second part of the book titled “Constructing Identities, Representations, and Belongings” contains four chapters. The intersections of diaspora, tourism, and notions of homeland in religious tourism and vacation travels from Europe to India and Pakistan are explored by Federica Ferraris in Chapter 5. In particular, she looks at pilgrimage tourism to places of worship in Sikhism and ancestral tourism to places associated with family history, roots, and the “original homeland.” The material Ferraris analyzes derives from TV programs broadcast in the United Kingdom and videos made for home consumption. Ferraris shows how leisure becomes fused with religion and kinship to shape a new “Sikhscape,” and suggests that travel practices among diaspora Sikhs can become a way of expressing multiple affiliations. Family heritage, migration history, cultural and religious identity, a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood, and ideas of the holy congregation (sangat) are important topics in a tourism market which address and target diaspora Sikhs. In Chapter 6, Knut A. Jacobsen illustrates how the establishment of gurdwaras characterizes the Sikh diaspora in Europe, both in the “old” communities in the United Kingdom, and the “new” in continental Europe. The institutionalization of the Sikh religion in Europe has developed through the creation of a large number of gurdwaras. The author argues that for Sikhs in the diaspora religion functions to confirm a belonging to several societies and cultures at once. The gurdwaras are often constructed to function as a “mini-Punjab” for the purpose of preserving and transmitting a Punjabi culture across generations. The European gurdwaras become hubs of transnational networks and links with Punjab and Sikhs in other diasporas. One of the main functions of the gurdwaras is to maintain and transfer a religious and cultural identity, and the continuous presence and flow of religious semiprofessionals from Punjab to Europe serve as an important transnational practice for fulfilling this purpose. With examples from Norway and the United Kingdom, the chapter pays special attention to devotional Sikh music (kirtan), which is staged as a main ritual performance in the gurdwara and attracts large congregations on a regular basis. The beauty and the esthetic experiences generated by kirtan are main religious reasons people visit the gurdwaras in Europe, and are simultaneously important for the generational transfer of Sikh and Punjabi identities.

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Chapters 7 and 8 deal with the role of modern media and its impact on contemporary European Sikhs and the global Sikh community. Satnam Singh investigates the use of discussion boards on the internet among young Sikhs in Europe who are often in doubt about which interpretations of religion are the most legitimate and which code of conduct should be followed. As he argues, many young Sikhs are critical of the gurdwaras because of the many incidents of mismanagement and conflicts among the elder generation. Young Sikhs are instead often resorting to the new social arenas of the internet where they can create their own authority within the Sikh community. Discussions on the internet have become a key source for learning about Sikh identity and history, to understand religious traditions, and to exchange views on everyday matters. The chapter analyzes the dialogs taking place on two discussion boards which have strikingly different views, interpretations, and approaches to the Sikh religion and shows how diversity and multiple interpretations are characteristic features of discussions among European Sikh youth. Doris R. Jakobsh raises the question about the extent to which contemporary Sikh websites construct identity and which Sikh identity is presented as normative. Jakobsh compares the contemporary influence of the internet on Sikh identity with the role print media played in the Sikh reform movement Singh Sabha in nineteenth-century Punjab. The success of Singh Sabha in creating a Sikh renaissance was partly due to the new print culture brought to Punjab by the British colonizers. Scholars have argued that the reformers homogenized a Sikh identity and promoted the Khalsa identity as normative for all Sikhs. Jakobsh argues that the internet has acquired a similar function today: Computer-savvy Sikh technocrats are usurping traditional forms of religious authority to promote a homogenous Khalsa identity that dominates contemporary representations of Sikhism online, in written statements and visual images. The last part of the book is titled “Learning, Teaching, and Contesting Religious Beliefs and Practices” and covers four chapters. In Chapter 9, Jasjit Singh examines the transnational exchanges involved when young British Sikhs learn about their religion and identity. According to the author, young Sikhs in the United Kingdom are making a serious effort to learn religion and conscious decisions to interact and exchange information with co-devotees in other countries. The chapter focuses on significant transnational teachers, religious events, organizations, and particular camps that aim to teach young Sikhs. Attending religious events abroad especially appears to provide young British Sikhs with new perspectives on their religion. Singh also examines the importance of representations and interactions on the internet (websites, news groups, discussion groups, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) for the transmission of Sikhism in Europe. Young Sikhs may go online for a number of reasons, such as to discuss taboo subjects, search for answers to religious questions, explore various Sikh practices, examine English translations of Sikh scriptures, understand the legal position of Sikh articles of faith, and so on. Singh concludes that practices of transnational parchaar (propagation) in the Sikh diaspora are emerging and developing into a number of different forms and allow both young and old Sikhs to teach and learn about religion while interacting with co-devotees all over the world. In the tenth chapter, Kristina Myrvold examines the transnational aspiration and engagement of Sikh kathavacaks, preachers and expounders of the Sikh scripture,

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Transnational European Sikhs

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history, and teaching, who are locally trained in Punjab and operate transnationally, continuously adjusting their expositions to Sikh congregations at various locations. By means of their exegetical practices, the kathavacaks are responsible for creating and maintaining significant links and identifications between Sikhs in the “homeland” of Punjab and diasporic communities. The chapter explores how contemporary kathavacaks aspire to create a transnational career and use various strategies to achieve this goal. They have taken active use of the new means of communication, travel, and debate, and make audio or video recordings of their performances in order to reach out to a global Sikh community and demonstrate their knowledge and skills for possible engagements. Some of the educational institutes in Punjab that train kathavacaks have also begun adopting diasporic perspectives through which they seek to prepare their students for the transnational missions they may embark on after graduation. By using examples from the Swedish context, the chapter discusses some of the challenges that transnational preachers may face when visiting and adapting their religious expositions to Sikh congregations in Europe. In smaller congregations abroad, such as many of those in different parts of Europe, kathavacaks are perceived to be knowledgeable scholars and are attributed a substantial amount of status, power, and authority, and this provides them with significant roles in the diasporic and global development of Sikhism. In Chapter 11, Barbara Bertolani and Iqbal Singh describe the events surrounding the arrival of 450 printed copies of the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, to Italy in 2011. The decisions concerning the ritualized travel of scriptural copies from India to Italy have created controversies within the global Sikh community and have been reported by transnational mass media. The authors address the controversy from the perspective of Sikh perceptions of paying respect and disrespect to the Guru Granth Sahib, perceived as a living guru. The events and debates surrounding the scriptural travel are presented in terms of processes of “territorialization” that attempt to redefine a Sikh identity in Italy and reflect competition for national leadership of the Italian Sikhs. The authors argue that through the spread of transnational mass media about Sikhs in various national contexts, the Italian Sikhs are continuously redefining religious symbols and meanings in relation to representations and discourses on a global level. These communicative processes may support current redefinitions of a Sikh identity in Italy and possibly empower national Sikh leaders who wish to lay claims of recognition in relation to the Italian majority society and governmental bodies. The final chapter, by Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold, Ravinder Kaur, and Laura Hirvi, highlights recent responses of Sikhs in the Nordic countries to the internationally debated controversy surrounding the status and authority of the text Dasam Granth. The chapter presents four case studies from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark that describe how Sikhs in these countries have encountered the controversy through transnational media, preachers, and other sources. In each country, the Sikhs have responded differently depending upon various local circumstances and either searched for or referred to divergent religious authorities within the Sikh community at large. Although most of the Sikhs in the Nordic countries are not necessarily interested in the debate or feel they are scholarly qualified to express an opinion, the gurdwaras, as public institutions, and their representatives have nevertheless been forced to take a position

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Sikhs Across Borders

when transnational actors have highlighted the controversy. The dispute surrounding the Dasam Granth and the strong opinions expressed about the text among some global actors and the local responses among the Nordic Sikhs also illustrate the power that transnational actors and the media exercise on local Sikh communities in Europe. The book is in no way comprehensive with regard to the range of transnational practices that are to be found among European Sikhs and its topics of analysis are not exhaustive. Transnationalism is an increasingly important aspect of the Sikh religious and cultural life that is facilitated by the easy access to global communication and travel and the extensive social and cultural networks of the Sikhs. Based on empirical research conducted from a European perspective, the book offers new knowledge of how the Sikhs are interconnected through a wide range of transnational activities that provide them with a rich repertoire of social and cultural experiences and influences. As such, the book can make an empirically based contribution to the theoretical discussions on transnationalism and religion and encourage further academic explorations of how the Sikhs are bound together and cross various geographical, social, and cultural borders.

Bibliography Basch, L., Glick Schiller, N., and Szanton Blanc, C. (1994), Nations Unbound: Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments and Deterritorialized Nation-States. Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach. Ebaugh, H. R. and Chafetz, J. S. (2002), Religion across Borders: Transnational Immigrant Network. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press. Holland, B. S. (2005), How Europe Is Indebted to the Sikhs? Waremme, Belgium: Sikh University Press. Itzigsohn, J., Cabral, C. D., Medina, E. H., and Vazquez, O. (1999), “Mapping Dominican transnationalism: narrow and broad transnational practices.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(2), 316–39. Jacobsen, K. A. and Myrvold, K. (2011), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate. Guarnizo, L. E. (1997), “The emergence of a transnational social formation and the mirage of return migration among Dominican transmigrants.” Identities, 4(2), 281–322. Madra, A. S. and Singh, P. (1999), Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition. London: I.B. Tauris in association with the Sikh Foundation. — (2004), “Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves”: Eyewitness Accounts of the Sikhs (1606–1809). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Portes, A. (2003), “Conclusion: Theoretical convergencies and empirical evidence in the study of immigrant transnationalism.” International Migration Review, 37(3), 874–92. Portes, A., Guarnizo, L. E., and Landolt, P. (1999), “The study of transnationalism: pitfalls and promise of an emergent research field.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(2), 217–37. Smith, M. P. and Guarnizo, L. E. (2006), Transnationalism from Below. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. Vertovec, S. (2009), Transnationalism (Key Ideas). London: Routledge.

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Part One

Migration, Settlement, and Challenges in the Diaspora

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1

Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on issues of cultural transmission and identity 30 years on Shinder S. Thandi

At the time of writing, the newly launched UK-based Sikh Channel, which broadcasts across mainland Europe, is busy mobilizing support for a petition and demonstration outside Downing Street. It aims to put pressure on the British government to quash the death sentence imposed on 17 Sikh Punjabi youths by a sharia court in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for allegedly killing a Pakistani national. All the alleged assailants are Indian national migrant workers and those mobilizing and protesting are mainly British citizens living in Britain. It is not clear what this petition and planned protest is supposed to achieve, as the UAE and Britain are very close trade partners with strong mutual ties. United Sikhs, a self-styled global watchdog on Sikh human rights, has also not held back its comments and has issued strong press statements alleging torture of the Sikh prisoners and desecration of their religious symbols, although it is not clear what these are as none of the 17 youths appear to be Amritdhari Sikhs. This confused situation and the global self-image which some Sikh organizations want to portray are similar to the protests that followed the 2004 French ban on wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols in public schools, effectively banning a very small number of Sikh children from wearing a turban or patka. The mobilization against the French turban case failed and it can be questioned whether intervention and protests by Sikhs in London to free Punjabi youths on death row in the UAE will achieve anything tangible. No doubt new media has empowered the European Sikh community but what these two cases illustrate is the lack of cohesiveness and degree of maturity and leadership among Sikh organizations across Europe when representing their minority interests. Ultimately, of course, the fate of the youths will depend on action by the Indian government on behalf of the Punjab government and the Lok Bhalai Party, which represents the interests of the families.1 So however well intentioned, Sikh diaspora intervention is likely to have little impact and may actually make the situation worse. Although this may appear to be an unfair or harsh statement, no lessons appear to have been learned, despite the fact that the oldest Sikh community in Europe—the UK Sikhs—have been in the country in great numbers for over 65 years.

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Furthermore, while perusing some recent press reports on European Sikhs, one is struck by the fact that given the nature of the problems Sikhs face are so diverse, one wonders whether we are talking about the same Sikh diaspora or community. For example: UK Metropolitan Police’s decision not to allow Sikhs to join firearm teams while wearing turbans but allowing them to wear a patka underneath the helmet; Sikh students who arrived on student visas but because of dwindling employment opportunities became destitute and turned to gurdwaras for subsistence; problems associated with regularization of legal status and the right to settlement and citizenship; a report on 37 missing youths en route to Spain; the mysterious deaths of Sikh youths in Vienna, Austria, and Karema, Italy; detentions of illegal immigrants who are unable to access Indian consular services; issues relating to health and safety at work and liability; protection of religious rights and wearing of religious symbols in public spaces. According to a recent report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 20,000 Punjabis, mainly male, aged between 21 and 30, and largely semieducated, attempt to immigrate illegally every year to over 58 destinations. The report exposes a flourishing business in human trafficking in Punjab (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009).2 Needless to say many never make it to their chosen El Dorado, as was well illustrated by the Malta boat tragedy in 1996 when 170 Punjabis perished, feared drowned.3 All the above situations point to a community or diaspora which is largely at the margins of continental European society, still struggling for visibility and acceptance and in many cases becoming a victim of unintended effects resulting from the increase in racism and Islamophobia right across Europe. It seems the “diasporic condition” requires perpetual positioning and expression of attachment and loyalty in these newly adopted homes—not an easy task. This chapter is divided into three main sections. The first section begins by providing the historical context for overseas migration from Punjab to Europe. It provides an overview of the changing political and economic environment of the 1980s and then considers patterns of migratory flows and prevailing socioeconomic conditions of Sikh communities settled in Europe. The second section examines recent discourses on the global Sikh community’s degrees of assimilation into mainstream society, their levels of accommodation and economic and social integration, and the factors that contribute to this. Inferences are drawn from these multisited experiences and implications formulated for the prevailing and potential scenario in Europe. This section also considers some mobilization strategies used by Sikh communities themselves, with or without state patronage, to preserve their religious and cultural heritage and its transmission to younger generations and the challenges encountered in doing so. The third section uses three recent flashpoints or “critical events” to illustrate the complexities in examining contemporary Sikh diasporic identities and notions of “home” and “belonging” and highlights the dangers associated with generalization of experiences across different diaspora sites and contexts. The chapter concludes with a summary of the arguments and identifies some implications for mainland European Sikhs.

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Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe

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Historical context: Empire, mobility and beginnings of European Sikh diasporas Migration from the Indian subcontinent to mainland Europe has a long history and can be traced back to the great trading Portuguese, Dutch, and British empires. As these empires expanded so did the movement of subcontinental Indian people into the colonial territories under imperial influence. Apart from the movement of Indians from southern, eastern, and central states, largely associated with the indentured labor system, the Goans, Gujaratis, and Punjabis also moved to parts of Africa and Asia occupied by the three imperial powers. This led to the development of sizable Indian communities in many parts of Africa and the Caribbean basin. In the postcolonial period these “twice migrant” Indians entered Europe either from East Africa (to the United Kingdom) (Bhachu, 1985), from Mozambique (to Portugal), or from the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Suriname (to the Netherlands) Thus, the presence of Goan Christians, Gujarati Hindus, and Muslims on mainland Europe predates the arrival of Sikhs, the latter only arriving as transient settlers, mainly as soldiers during the First and Second World Wars and, of course, a large number never managed to return home.4 In this sense, the Sikhs are a distinct category of direct migrants from the larger body of other Indians (mostly comprising of persons of Indian Origin) and thus we would not expect to see many commonalities of interests between them or other Indians or South Asians in general. Given this broad historical perspective, the postcolonial migration of South Asians as well as the Sikh diaspora in Europe remains extremely heterogeneous both in terms of period of settlement and religious diversity (Perez, 2009, p. 24). Sikh migration in particular, predominantly from Punjab and estimated at around 1.5–2 million, to various overseas locations in Southeast and East Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe reflected the changing socioeconomic conditions in the Punjab “pushing” Sikhs to go abroad and the changing structure of employment and business opportunities overseas “pulling” them to those locations. This migration occurred in distinct waves as circumstances altered and as opportunities opened up and sometimes closed again.5 Apart from migrations associated with British imperial duties, much of it was voluntary and undertaken for economic motives, although during the 1980s political turmoil in Punjab did give rise to political migrants, those escaping from political or state persecution, and often claiming refugee or political asylum at their eventual destination. Thus, by the 1980s Punjab had a well-developed culture of migration and mobility. There are three further internal factors which “pushed” Sikhs to migrate to Europe in more recent times. First, the 1980s was a difficult period for rural areas of Punjab in general but for Punjab’s agriculture in particular. Changes associated with the green revolution created a number of tensions in agriculture. For instance, the influx of migrant labor to Punjab from eastern and central states, created a surplus of local rural youth who could look for employment opportunities outside agriculture. However, given that such employment opportunities were relatively closed to youth from traditional landowning agricultural castes, partly due to their lack of education and partly due to distortions created by the Indian caste-based

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reservation policy in public sector employment, many sought employment outside the country. Furthermore, agricultural real incomes had become stagnant in the 1980s and for many farming families opportunities to earn off-farm income became a necessity for survival. Secondly, and related to the previous point, employment opportunities in the Gulf States also diminished due to both increased political instability in some countries (e.g. in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon) and the changing nature of labor market requirements there, shifting from unskilled to more semiskilled or skilled or gendered types of work which was not readily available in Punjab. Thirdly, the 1980s also happened to be the decade when strict immigration laws were being implemented in all major European and non-European countries and these had the effect of constraining legal immigration except for elderly dependents or highly skilled professional workers. In terms of external factors, two significant changes in the European economic environment of the 1980s and 1990s created conditions leading to the recent wave of primary migration of Sikhs to Europe. The end of the Cold War in 1989 opened up new sea and land migration routes from West Asia into Eastern, Western, and Southern Europe. Occurring largely through illegal, irregular, or other clandestine means (human trafficking, forged documents, over stay on tourist or student visas, and so on) a growing number of Sikhs began to enter and settle in Eastern and Western Europe. Furthermore, the impending enlargement of the European Union also enabled potential migrants to target certain countries. This is certainly the case with Portugal and Poland. Thus, while the official tightening of controls curtailed primary migration, the opening up of new frontiers and routes created spaces for irregular migration. Much of the legal and irregular migration and settlement of Sikhs in continental Europe since the 1980s exhibits these two predominant features: economic migration, especially to Southern European countries such as Greece, Italy, and Spain and political migration to countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Scandinavian countries. The periodic offering of regularization opportunities or amnesty in Greece, Italy, and Spain made these countries even bigger magnets for potential migrants. More recently, North African countries have been used as platforms to cross over into Southern Europe and then beyond.

Post-Cold War routes of emigration and settlement As major countries around the world tightened rules on legal migration, the mushrooming human trafficking industry (known locally as kabootarbaazi) in Punjab found new routes enabling “phoren crazy” Sikh youths to fulfill their dreams of making it rich in foreign lands. Reports on Sikh/Punjabi migration identify three popular routes: A. The Baltic Route • Used mainly by people moving across Central Asia; it involves movement through the states of the former Soviet Union, reaching Scandinavian countries via a final sea lap from Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania. The route has become popular since the disintegration of the USSR.

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Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe • B.

Usual entry points: Finland and Sweden emerged as the main points of entry into Western Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Eastern Route •



C.

15

Controlled by Russian organized crime syndicates who specialize in trafficking Asians—mainly Indians, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Armenians, and Chinese. The journey starts from Moscow where migrants are put on a train to Belarus and are then transported by car to the Polish border with Lithuania or Ukraine, and then finally slipped into Europe. Usual entry points: Organized gangs enable Indians to enter Poland through the 105-km long Ukraine and Lithuanian borders. From there they make their way to several other countries, some taking the sea route to the long Greek coastline and some further down the Mediterranean.

North Africa–Italy–Spain Route • Controlled largely by international and African human trafficking gangs, this route has become very popular for Indians and Punjabis in particular during the past decade. Although transit countries can vary, the journey normally starts from Delhi or Kolkata to Bangkok and then to different countries in Africa—with North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia as possible platforms for boat rides across the Mediterranean to different parts of Greece, Italy, and Cyprus. •

Usual entry points: Two popular entry points to Europe are the enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Even detained migrants, who are able to make their way to this territory and are not repatriated within the 40 days maximum detention period, can be released into Spain and from there into Schengen Europe. It is not surprising, therefore, that despite the tight security these two cities have become popular on the list of key destinations for irregular migrants.

Which route is taken depends on the ease of obtaining a legitimate visa to a foreign country, ease of forging documents in transit or destination countries, and closeness of networks of Indian and European agents with their international human trafficking partners. The fee charged by subagents based in Punjab varies from Rs. 4 to 12 lakhs6 depending on the route and destination of intended travel. Often a part-payment is taken and the remainder paid on delivery in Punjab or by friends or relatives in the diaspora, although subagents are increasingly demanding full payment in advance. It is only in cases of nondelivery of persons that parents of the migrating youth (or sometimes the returning youth) file a report with the police with allegations of fraud against the subagents (see Kumar, 2009; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). In addition and in parallel to the above, a separate category of migrant workers from Punjab—not insignificant in number and still growing—are the highly skilled or other professionals, such as IT or health sector workers and some businessmen and traders, who have arrived in the last decade or so as a response to proactive recruitment to meet skill shortages in various EU countries. These “highly skilled workers” tend to be

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Table 1.1 Total estimated Sikhs across the major countries of Europe Country

Number of Sikhs

United Kingdom

336,000 (2001 census data)

Germany

30,000

France

10,000 ( possibly 15,000 if including illegal)

Austria/Switzerland

5,000

Poland

3,000

Belgium

5,000

Holland

4,500

Denmark

4,000

Norway

6,000

Sweden

6,000

Portugal

3,000

Spain

15,000

Italy

25,000

Greece

20,000

Grand Total (Sikhs)

472,500

GT (including all Punjabis)

500,000

Source: Author’s own estimates drawn from press reports.

scattered across Europe and are usually based in large urban areas and often remain disconnected from the larger body of Sikh migrants. Table 1.1 gives some guesstimates of Sikhs in major countries of Europe.7 These figures do not include the 20,000–30,000 Punjabis who are thought to be stranded or under detention across various European countries. In assessing the overall experiences of Sikh migration to mainland Europe several distinguishing features clearly stand out. First, the geographical spread and emergence of the current Sikh European transnational community was not accidental—it very much reflected the changing agrarian and political conditions in Punjab from the 1980s onwards, changes in the external environment of the post-Cold War Europe which opened up new migration routes, both facilitating an increase in human trafficking. Secondly, unlike the earlier migration pattern to the United Kingdom, mainland Sikh population is scattered thinly across a large number of countries, although small communities are beginning to emerge in large urban areas such as Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and Rome. This embryonic community development has been aided by the increase in family reunions which usually occurs after the migrant’s residency status has been regularized, especially through granting of amnesty or after meeting the residency criteria. The majority of the migrants, especially in Greece and Italy, two countries witnessing the largest expansion in Sikh population, tend to be concentrated in small rural townships or in rural areas in general. This geographical spread has created space for new media—Zee Punjabi, Sikh Channel, Punjab Radio,

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and so on—to mobilize and unite Sikhs across a range of issues and create a virtual European Sikh community. In a way, European Sikhs have an advantage compared with pioneering communities such as those of the United Kingdom as they are able to tap into the existing media and internet resources pertaining to Sikh history, culture, music, religious traditions, language and language dictionaries, and literature, both secular and religious. This should make the transmission of cultural heritage easier for these new communities compared with earlier pioneering Sikh communities, including maintaining links with the homeland. For example, the pioneer UK Sikhs relied on written letters for communication whereas mobile phones or even Skype have become the new forms of communication. Thirdly, Sikhs’ relationships with other Indian communities and especially with Indian government consulates remain problematic, not least because the latter do not appear to be helpful in supporting cases relating to regularization of documents, vulnerability to human trafficking, health and safety infringements sometimes resulting in death, abuse of human rights, and denigration of religious symbols of Sikh Indian nationals. Fourthly, although there is considerable diversity in the occupational structure of European Sikhs, three major types of employment activities predominate. First, agricultural work or dairying, especially in Greece and Italy where providing farm labor (e.g. for olive harvesting) or being employed in agro-processing, for example, Parmesan cheese production in Italy, remain important forms of employment. Secondly, self-employment in a variety of ventures including grocery shops, repair or maintenance services, restaurants, multicuisine fast-food outlets often offering home delivery service, and cash and carry stores. Given the small size of the South Asian population many of these activities have to go beyond just reaching this clientele. An extension of this is streethawking—of toys, gifts, tourist accessories—undertaken by many newly arrived male migrants in larger cities such as Paris, Frankfurt, Athens, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome. These activities are in a way similar to those undertaken by Sikh peddlers in Britain in the 1940s and 1950s. Thirdly, there are miscellaneous types of occupations, such as unskilled work in the construction industry, in run-down factories (e.g. producing garments or leather goods) and small backwater industrial workshops which tend to be invisible and are part of the shadow or black economy in these countries. Much of this work may be seasonal or offered on short-term contracts paying minimum wages. Overall, however, despite their vulnerability, Sikh Punjabis everywhere appear to have developed an excellent reputation regarding their reliability, industriousness, and active citizenship and, where possible, have begun to develop close alliances with local civic bodies, especially in countries where they have been allowed to vote.

Cultural transmission and maintenance of religious identities in new adopted homes: Recent discourses and major challenges for mainland European Sikhs In assessing global Sikh diaspora experiences three types of interrelated issues have dominated academic discourses: maintenance and transmission of cultural heritage in new adopted homes, nature and forms of diasporic identities and notions of

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“home,” and issues relating to religious diversity and identity, especially the tolerance of religious symbols in the public sphere. Given the newness of the Sikh diaspora in mainland Europe all these three interrelated dimensions are expected to remain dominant concerns both among Sikh communities themselves and in academic studies of Sikhs for the foreseeable future, albeit in an increasingly hostile environment for religious minorities. Given the longer period of settlement and higher level of maturity of the UK Sikh diaspora community there is considerable potential for some Sikh organizations to play a leadership role but for this to be effective, there is a need for considerable groundwork on their part, especially in understanding local contexts and predicaments. In reality of course, given the heterogeneity and plurality within the UK Sikh community and political differences among organizations, there are severe limitations to the type of role that can be played by any single organization. I have often argued that it is problematic to think of Sikhs as constituting a homogeneous diaspora and rather that Sikhs in fact have many diasporas—each with their own pattern of settlement and level of community development, each negotiating their own space within mainstream “host” community and in managing internal differentiation. Where Sikhs have been settled for a long time, such as in Southeast Asia, the community may be now into its fifth generation. The community’s visibility within the country is expected to be well established, community institution-building more advanced with gurdwaras, cultural or community centers and other social networks playing an important role in transmission of religious tradition, preserving cultural heritage, and in promoting community cohesion. The community is also expected to have well-established formal and informal institutions through which they access state resources and seek representation on state bodies either through the democratic process or via nomination. While this may be the expected or ideal pattern, especially from the point of view of the host mainstream society, how Sikhs are in reality structurally embedded into those countries may be very different. To outsiders, for example, the experiences of Malaysian, Singaporean, British, and Canadian Sikhs would appear to correspond to most of the above tendencies, especially given the long history of institution-building in these countries, but this may not necessarily be how the community positions itself as it continuously struggles with issues relating to community cohesion and cultural transmission of tradition toward its younger generation. For instance, Kernail Singh Sandhu, writing in 1993 after more than a century of Sikh migration to Malaysia, painted a largely pessimistic scenario for the community, which academics could equally apply to some sections of the European Sikh community today. He describes the Malaysian Sikhs as: a fragmented Sikh society, in which fissiparous and centrifugal tendencies are, if anything, on the increase in the wake of petty personal feuds and parochial rivalries, and in the absence of any obvious cohesive or centripetal force. And this at a time when the Sikhs need at least a modicum of unity to attain and safeguard their legitimate cultural, social, economic, and political requirements to ensure their long-term survival and progress as a community. (Sandhu, 1969, emphasis in original)

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However, if we approach the issue of cultural transmission at the level of the family, we would expect Sikh parents to inculcate in their children a sense of belonging, an identity based on their religious and cultural heritage, despite the tension between the home and work or school/university culture. Over time, although children may publicly express a hybrid or hyphenated identity, they nevertheless would be very clear as to their primal or ethnic origins and some may celebrate this explicitly at school or university. The wider socioeconomic environment, including structural inequalities or multicultural policies of the state, may reinforce these either through negative experiences (e.g. racism or xenophobia of the wider society, such as after 9/11 and 7/7) or through positive ones (e.g. policies which promote cultural difference and ethnic pride). This is certainly the case among the second/third generation young Sikhs in many diaspora locations such as United States, United Kingdom, and Southeast Asia, where community/Sikh pride is publicly celebrated through sport, music or dance festivals, or by participation in religious parades such as nagar kirtans at Vaisakhi. Inevitably, some youths are lost through acculturation, assimilation, intermarriage or religious conversion but a majority still continue to mediate and successfully navigate several overlapping and multiple identities. In the British case, for instance, much of the earlier research on second generation Sikh youth, which characterized them as “between cultures” or “confused” or always “on edge” because of intergenerational conflict, has not been borne out by subsequent experience. More generally, the UK experience has clearly shown a fracturing of South Asian identities into Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim, clearly signaling the construction of religion-based boundaries and identities.8 Recent scholarship, however, appears to offer different perspectives on some of the issues discussed above and on other matters relating to self-identification. Some writers, such as Kamala Nayar tend to overplay intergenerational tensions (in the case of greater Vancouver third generation Sikhs) and argue that first and second generations may actually hold back the economic and social progress of their offspring because of their cultural baggage (Nayar, 2004), while others, such as Kathleen Hall see successful mediation of multiple and multilayered identities as a major asset enabling second generation youth to lead successful lives (in the case of second generation Sikhs in Leeds, UK) (Hall, 2002). What may account for these different conclusions regarding construction of Sikh youth identities and what implications do they have for transmission of cultural tradition among the new Sikh diaspora in mainland Europe? The following sections examine these differing perspectives with specific focus on cultural adaptation and youth identity.

Diaspora identities: Case of Canadian Sikhs Canada is home to around 280,000 Sikhs—the second largest diaspora after the United Kingdom—and the history of Canadian Sikh migration exceeds a century and overlaps that of many Southeast Asian countries, especially Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore. Kamala Nayar’s ambitious study, although based on a small sample of 98 semistructured interviews, attempted to capture histories of three generations of Vancouver Sikhs as they adapted from agricultural villagers to life in an industrialized and metropolitan

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Vancouver, a change described as adapting from a tradition-based value system to one situated in modernity. In Nayar’s theoretical framework the three generations occupy three different worlds, each with their own corresponding mindset: The first generation is based on an oral tradition (largely static and retelling), the second generation on a literacy tradition (transitional with some ability to translate and interpret), and the third generation is based on an analytical tradition (critical thinking, reflexivity, and self-orientation). Her major focus turns toward the third generation and how their adaptation of Canadian liberal values and their full integration into mainstream Canadian society is constrained by their parental heritage and how this results in intergenerational tension and conflict.9 Nayar identifies four main communication channels which specifically cause tension: First, preoccupation of elders with notions of izzat and how the ethical code required to maintain family or community izzat enables them to use it as a cloak to avoid discussing difficult issues, which causes even further estrangement; secondly, parental lack of respect for their “individuality” or their distinctive “emotional needs”; thirdly, parental inability to communicate to them the “substance” rather than just the “form” of their religious beliefs; and fourthly, parental lack of engagement or interaction with mainstream Canadians because of the strong pull of the “Punjabi bubble” which merely reenforces ethnic insularity. The Punjabi bubble—a concept that incidentally can be equally applied to many UK Sikh diaspora localities—is three-dimensional: Physical segregation of the community from the mainstream; internal divisions within the Sikh community itself due to “clannish” mentality—interestingly Nayar does not emphasize caste—relating to different subdivisions in Punjab (as in Doaba, Malwa, and Manjha) and absence of a dialogue with other ethnic or religious communities. These dimensions act as powerful forces in encouraging and reinforcing racism and stereotyping on the part of the Sikh community as well as by the mainstream Canadian community toward the Sikhs (Nayar, 2004, p. 208). Nayar further argues that the preoccupation with the “Punjabi bubble” and the resulting lack of interaction largely explains the troubled relationship that Sikhs have with the Canadian media which is often accused of portraying Sikhs in a negative light, as a violent community and often conflating Amritdhari Sikhs with fundamentalists or terrorists.10 Not surprisingly, therefore, young Sikhs want to “break out” or move beyond the bubble. According to Nayar, for some third generation Sikhs even the hyphenated Indo-Canadian or Sikh Canadian identity is problematic and not acceptable because it labels them as the “Other” and therefore separate from the mainstream, despite the fact that they are born and bred in Canada and would prefer to be identified as Canadian citizens. Undoubtedly, Nayar’s work provides a critical and provocative commentary on the Canadian brand of multiculturalism which she perceives as a major hindrance to successful assimilation of Sikhs into the Canadian mainstream. She argues that Canada’s multicultural policy with its emphasis on cultural preservation not only contributes to the Sikh community’s lack of socialization and integration into mainstream society but actually further accentuates polarization and isolation since “it now seems to be encouraging ethnic groups like the Sikhs to turn in on themselves” (Nayar, 2004, p. 221). She concludes that “in the inevitable clash between modernity and tradition, multiculturalism tends to obstruct—or at least prolong—the adjustment

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to modernity” (ibid., p. 223). Similar sentiments on the impact of multicultural policies have also been echoed in the United Kingdom with Trevor Philips, the ex-Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, describing them as “sleepwalking to separation.” It is true that Canadian or British multicultural policies have their legitimate critics, given their negative perceptions relating to “misuse” of political patronage in local funding allocations and for transplanting a subcontinental style of politics at the local level in order to sustain community votes. However, one could argue that these criticisms of multiculturalism can be seen as misplaced distractions because they avoid answering difficult questions relating to underlying causes of structural, social, and economic inequalities which force people to segregate in certain neighborhoods or reenforce isolation or exclusion. Is ethnic segregation a code for lack of assimilation—both being different sides of the same coin? Let us explore some further reasons that may explain Sikh ethnic segregation in either Canada or the United Kingdom and what implications this may have for the future evolution of the Sikh community in continental Europe. It is now well established in the literature that certain ethnic groups (as well as ethnic businesses) are “pulled” to poorer neighborhoods, creating “ethnic enclaves.”11 Their segregation or lack of assimilation has an important negative influence on their ability to become upwardly mobile, break out, and benefit from more professional and managerial occupations that pay more, and provide access to a higher standard of living. Such communities or ethnic groups are de facto living parallel lives in relatively homogeneous neighborhoods—in “little Punjabs” as in the case of Sikhs.12 A community’s lack of assimilation or integration into the majority community and the resulting structural inequalities they encounter probably reflects their lack of “social capital,” a concept popularized by Richard Putnam (Putnam, 2000). In its original context, social capital attempts to measure the connectedness of individuals to their local communities and is usually divided into two components: bridging and bonding. “Bridging social capital” consists of formal and informal networks that link members of a given community or ethnic group with the wider society, whereas “bonding social capital” connects members of that community or group with each other. Therefore, lack of bridging social capital would be far more important in understanding deprivation, employment, and other experiences and outcomes. Thus, a nonassimilated, unconnected community (as Nayar claims Sikhs are in greater Vancouver and Sikhs in Frankfurt, Paris, Athens, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Coventry could similarly be characterized), which lacks bridging social capital, is not likely to benefit from growth in skilled or professional employment opportunities, reinforcing vulnerability and marginality. If we accept Putnam’s view, geographically concentrated communities such as the Sikhs would develop high levels of bonding social capital. This can provide the basis for a successful local economy (as reflected in the rise of Sikh-owned businesses and a thriving “cultural economy” in Vancouver, Birmingham, and Southall) and will contribute to the group’s upward social mobility. Bonding social capital, however, only partly compensates for the lack of bridging social capital—and the community over time may become more inward looking rather than outward reaching. The social capital argument appears, on the surface at least, to be a more interesting and compelling argument and may be better at capturing the experiences of Sikhs in particular diaspora locations rather than

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placing the blame entirely on multicultural policies, as Nayar appears to do. However, in cases where there is no spatial concentration, as for instance is the case with many mainland European Sikhs, both bridging and bonding social capital will be low and lack of integration and isolation from the mainstream community means that economic and social marginalization will continue to persist for some time. Furthermore, the feeling of cultural marginalization will also make issues surrounding language maintenance and transmission of religious and cultural heritage become more apparent and acute, perhaps forcing the community to take a more proactive stance. This process seems to have already started in some mainland European countries such as Italy, which has a relatively large Sikh settlement, with community mobilization based around gurdwaras playing a leading role. In many ways the situation is not very different to that of 1960s and 1970s Britain or Canada where institution building—with gurdwara-based activities at the forefront—played a pivotal role in promoting community interests. Thus, bonding social capital is definitely strengthening among Sikhs in mainland Europe and with Sikh communities across the channel in the United Kingdom. How would we explain the lack of bridging social capital among mainland European Sikhs? Is this condition voluntarily chosen or involuntarily imposed? Is it due to the relatively short period of settlement or is it due to “tradition” or prevalence of a powerful “Punjabi bubble,” as appears to be the case with Nayar’s Vancouver Sikhs? Perhaps it is neither and we should focus our attention on situations which are actually somewhere “in-between,” for example, “accommodation and acculturation without assimilation,” as argued by Margaret Gibson for Sikhs in California in the 1980s (Gibson, 1988, p. 4), “segmented assimilation,” as argued for immigrant children in the United States,13 or “strategic assimilation,” as argued by Verne Dusenbery for Singaporean Sikhs (Dusenbery, 1997, pp. 738–62), with the community’s options dependent on the contextual environment. In any case, assimilation into what? Are we expecting Sikhs to assimilate into and fully accept values held dear by the host society (e.g. Anglo-Saxon or liberal values in Europe) or values of national culture as enshrined in the country’s nationalist ideology and dominant religion (e.g. the Catholic Church in Italy or Spain) which may conflict with the migrant’s own values and religious belief system, or values which are perceived as universal and secular? If the host environment is multiethnic, multifaith, and multilingual, but yet a specific religion is overtly or covertly promoted in public life, which value system should take precedence? What are the prospects of such a country promoting a composite culture, especially in an era where religious differences have become even more emphasized? These are all complex and multifaceted questions which confront all Sikhs irrespective of their diasporic location and it would be impossible to provide generalized explanations of experiences across all Sikh diaspora locations. As a result, among mainland European Sikhs different phases and reasons for settlement and differences in local contexts and legal practices make it difficult for us to generalize across countries.

Diaspora identities: The case of British Sikhs The United Kingdom is home to the largest Sikh diaspora outside India and has been studied for at least the last four decades. Kathleen Hall’s recent work

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focusing on the lives of young Sikhs in Leeds in Northern Britain offers an alternative perspective to the approach taken by Nayar. Based on extensive ethnographic research and embodying the postmodern anthropological and cultural theory, she gives primacy to issues of cultural displacement, fragmentation, pluralization, responses, and resistance to different forms of power and inequalities. In this framework, identity formation is seen as a complex and dynamic process, which is continually produced and reproduced in everyday lived experiences, always in flux and in the making, a production that is never finished but in the ongoing process of development. Because Sikh youths experience different forms of power and sources of inequality at multiple sites and through daily discourses on difference—at home, in school, among peers, among castes, on virtual Sikh forums, in mainstream media, and political debates—this shapes their understanding of themselves as well as of each other in fundamental ways and enables them to create new cultural orientations, navigations, and identifications—the “third space” or “interstitial future”—which challenge the boundaries of nation and belonging, developing a basis for their specific form of Britishness which cannot be traced to either of the “originary cultures.”14 Reflecting on Sikh youth experiences Hall concludes: Sikh youth speak of wanting the “best of both worlds,” of deciding when to act “English” or “Indian,” while they perform identities and practice cultural possibilities that blur the boundaries of both. After high school their lives continue in directions that defy easy classification and refuse to fit into conventional trajectories of immigrant assimilation or marginalization. . . . Their lifestyles weave together diverse cultural orientations, celebrating the aesthetic sensibilities of the urban cosmopolitan as well as the sentiments of Sikh religious or Punjabi cultural “tradition” . . . Some have remained part of their local communities, while others have moved on to alternative lifestyles . . . Through acts of translation, they have found new ways to act English, to act Indian, and more often, to enact the “best of both.” (Hall, 2002, p. 204)

Within the context of other recent research on Sikh or Indian youth diasporic identities in general, Hall’s study is a logical development from the earlier work of Avtar Brah (1996), Marie Gillespie (1995), Gerd Baumann (1996), Verne Dusenbery (2007), Sunaina Maira (2002), and recently extended by Jasjit Singh (2010). According to this framework, although the process of continual displacement serves to situate Sikh migration under the rubric of diaspora, the starting point does not begin with a search for diasporic “origins.” Furthermore, being diasporic does not imply a “frozen” or unchanging monolithic identity and nor does it imply an unchanging and essentialized past that is waiting to be discovered. Given that we live in an increasingly transnationalized and globalized world, it is important to understand both the internal and external economic, social, and cultural forces which allow both agency and impose constraints on daily practices. The process of migration sets in motion continual reproduction of new conditions and identifications—so cultural identities are constantly in flux, reproduced in altered forms but incorporating both continuity (with homeland culture) as well as discontinuity with it. Successive generations of

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“immigrant” children, since they are simultaneously rooted in different cultural traditions—sometimes as “twice” or “thrice” migrants—have developed agency to select old or new elements and to choose their ethnic identity and roots in a self-conscious way. However, there is always pressure on them to be pulled in one direction or the other. If religion becomes a primary marker of their ethnic identity, then “wearing their religion” through the display of overt religious symbols becomes an important form of self-identification and for defining boundaries between them and others. For example, Sikh youth responses in the aftermath of 9/11 and after the French government ban on wearing religious symbols in state schools brought to the fore cultural traditions and identities which they inherited both from their parents and the larger ethnic community to whom they may previously have shown only “partial” affiliation. While Hall’s perspective provides important insights into diasporic identity formation and for characterizing the “diasporic condition” generally as being “in-between” the boundaries of several cultures both spatially and temporally, one could argue that this perspective may have less relevance in societies and environments where the immigrant population experience overt (or covert) racism and feel only partially included in their adopted country which they call their “home.” Such an environment brings out the tensions and anxieties that underlie the notions of home. Home may be where the heart is but daily lived experiences may be a constant reminder of their “Otherness,” inculcating in them a nostalgic “homing desire” for their real or imagined home. So what may apply in Britain with its long history of Sikh migration and successful struggles over wearing religious symbols (turbans, beards, kirpans) may not necessarily apply to mainland Europe. Looking at it from this aspect, Hall’s perspective would therefore fail to capture the diasporic condition of the post-1980s Sikh migrants in mainland Europe and, if anything, the feeling of “Otherness” may have grown due to the increase in xenophobia and Islamophobia which has swept Europe since 9/11. The French ban on wearing conspicuous religious symbols in 2004 (including the turban) and the recent attempts by several European countries to ban the wearing of the burqa or niqab in public places are clear examples of this trend.15 However, as we know, contexts and environments can and do change rapidly, even in countries where minorities may perceive themselves to be relatively well assimilated and integrated. We now turn to examine such changing contexts and analyze how these may impinge on diasporic identities, questioning notions of home and belonging.

Changing environments and contexts: Implications for diasporic identities and identity politics In this section I analyze three environmental changes or “critical events” to illustrate disjuncture and marginality across the Sikh diasporas despite the long migration experience and increased global visibility. These three cases clearly illustrate new challenges facing overseas Sikhs due to (a) emergence of contexts where diaspora identities have become more closely defined in religious terms (and therefore could be seen to pose a threat to secular society), (b) rapid changes in the political environment, for example, the acceptance of the “clash of civilizations” thesis, and (c) the “war on

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terror.” These changing contexts have exposed Sikh identities, making Sikhs vulnerable to attacks, often on the basis of a mistaken identity and generating responses with both local and global dimensions. These changing contexts also have an important impact on the representation and construction of Sikh identities, both at community and individual levels, especially among the youth across all diaspora sites. The three cases chosen are: the Behzti Affair in the United Kingdom (a reflection on second generation Sikh identity and liberal values underpinning multiculturalism), the French Turban case (a reflection on secular law versus religious freedom), and the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and their aftermath (exposing marginality and inwardorientation and issues around “mistaken” religious identities after the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi).

The Behzti affair (2004) The British brand of multiculturalism undoubtedly encouraged celebration of cultural difference and ethnic separatism and this has led to some sections of second generation Sikhs (along with Hindus and Muslims) developing a more militant and agitational stance on cultural practices they see as detrimental to Sikh religion and their religious sentiments. One such issue has been the alleged disrespect shown to Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh’s holiest scripture and living guru, when some members of the community perform weddings or religious functions in clubs, hotels, and community centers where alcohol may be served or smoking allowed. In a number of cases, self-styled leaders of the Respect for Guru Granth Sahib group intervened and halted ceremonies or functions by force rather than reason. This growing intolerance by some British-born Sikhs was well illustrated by the premature closure of the play Behzti (“Dishonor”) in Birmingham, a play written by a British-born Sikh woman, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. The Behzti affair is in some ways the Sikh version of the earlier Rushdie affair which involved the Muslim community. Set within the precincts of a gurdwara, the play centered on exposing hypocrisy and pretence among the Sikh community and human failing in general. Billed as a black comedy and focusing principally on one male and two female characters, the play, rather ambitiously, tried to explore taboo subjects such as homosexuality, corruption, izzat, suppression, drugs, domestic violence, rape, murder, mixed race relationships, and pedophilia by using the Sikh community as its backdrop. Aware of the controversial nature of the play, the Birmingham Repertory Theater held consultations with the local Sikh community before staging the play. However, negotiations between the Birmingham Rep and community representatives broke down with the latter insisting that the play be moved from its setting inside a gurdwara to a community center. It is important to note that the community objected to the setting, not to the content of the play, as the setting violated “Sikh sacred space.” The Birmingham Rep viewed the attempt to move the setting as censorship but compromised by inviting the Sikh community to write a statement expressing their misgivings. The play opened on December 9, 2004, and was due to run till December 30. Members of the Sikh community held peaceful protests daily until December 19 when the protest became violent as 400 Sikhs attempted to storm the theater, attacking

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security guards, destroying a foyer door, and breaking the windows of a restaurant. At the height of the fracas, 85 police officers—30 in riot gear—were involved. Two people were arrested and five police officers were slightly injured during the incident. The Birmingham Rep was quick to emphasize that the play was canceled indefinitely not because the Sikh community found it offensive but because it had “duty of care of its audiences, staff, and performers” (The Guardian, 2004). As with the Rushdie affair, the dispute became a classic conflict between the artist’s right to freedom of expression in a secular society and a community’s wish to have their faith treated with respect and dignity. The incident made headlines in the global media, leading to expressions of sympathy for the Sikh community by Sikh organizations around the world. The artistic community, both Asian and non-Asian, offered unconditional support to the Birmingham Rep and Bhatti’s right to stage the play through an active media campaign, while the Sikhs felt betrayed by them and by a lack of a law protecting the sensibilities of religious communities. In fact, leading figures from the art world were among the 700 plus signatories who wrote an open letter to The Guardian supporting the freedom of expression of the Sikh playwright (Branigan, 2004). Bhatti also made an impassioned defense of her play in a letter to The Guardian ending defiantly with “[y]ou can all rest assured—this warrior will not stop fighting.”16 But, like Rushdie, Bhatti was forced to leave her family home and go into hiding because of hate mail and death threats. The play has never been performed on British soil although a small step toward this direction was taken in April 2010 when an unpublicized reading of the play by some of the original actors took place at the Soho Theater in the West End of London (Sharp, 2010). Bhatti has also since written another controversial play Behud (“Beyond Belief ”), which recreated the events leading up to the cancellation of Behzti, although it failed to capture the attention of the Sikh community and media in the same way (Hundal, 2010). The Behzti affair once again threw the British Sikh community into the media limelight as it had done in the 1970s with the turbans, beards, and kirpan campaigns and some Sikh commentators were concerned that the community’s image had been tarnished by “third-rate talent” and may have “catastrophic” effects if it evoked memories of the 1980s Khalistan years when sections of the media tried to equate the turban with terrorism or portray Sikhs in the same negative light as British Muslims. However, there is no evidence to suggest that this violent protest by Sikhs left any permanent negative image problems. If anything, the UK Sikh community’s recent predicaments are related more to probabilities of mistaken identity between Muslims and Sikhs in the post-9/11 and 7/7 periods and responses to the problems created by an influx of East European migrants and African asylum seekers into their economically deprived neighborhoods, raising fears of unemployment and community tensions. The examples used above illustrate the growing assertiveness and use of identity politics in Britain by British Sikhs aided by their global networks and the emergent conflict between “traditional” British secular values and growing public promotion of religions under the guise of multiculturalism. It remains unclear as to what lasting impact they will have on Sikh youth identities and on wider interethnic and intraAsian relations. As regards the latter, the Indian community, both Hindus and Sikhs, have increasingly tried to distance themselves from ethnic-specific problems

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(e.g. honor killings, forced marriages, dowry harassment, and so on) by blaming the Muslims for giving all Asians a bad name. There is also some evidence of growing hostility among Sikh-Muslim youths, often spearheaded by extremist elements within both communities.17 Sikh-Hindu Punjabi tensions also surface sometimes, leading to further fracturing of Punjabi identity.18 For example, although this may seem a minor point even if perhaps not symbolically, many diaspora Sikh organizations do celebrate Diwali, but the festival is reconstructed as Bandi Chor Divas rather than being associated with the classic Hindu epic Ramayana.19

French turban ban (2004) In March 2004, the French government, following the Stasi Commission report of 2003, passed a law supporting the long established principle of laïcité (strict secularism with total separation of the Church from the State) which forbids the wearing of “ostentatious” religious symbols in state-funded (public) schools among all communities. The timing of the legislation was important and can be seen as a way of encouraging conformity and integration given the rapid increase in the number of Muslim migrants in France, estimated at around 6 million, recent riots in run-down suburbs of Paris, and keeping in line with the general increase in Islamophobia across Europe. This caused outrage, both among the relatively small Sikh community of France (estimated at around 10,000–15,000 and largely concentrated in the Paris suburb of Bobigny) but more so among the Sikhs globally. After the ban, prominent Sikh politicians, religious leaders, and major Sikh organizations protested to the French government, seeing it as breach of a fundamental right to religious freedom. Representations outside France were also made at the highest level, including the United Nations, European Union, and the Pope and a challenge was taken to the European Court of Human Rights (Rorive, 2009). However, the French authorities have stuck to their decision, although offering to accommodate Sikh concerns through informal and less public ways. This case—perhaps only second in importance to the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian army in June 1984—aroused global anger among the Sikh community and provides an interesting insight into Sikh transnational practices and their emergence as a deterritorialized global community. However, although this incident clearly demonstrated the ability of Sikhs to mobilize globally, it also exposed their internal differentiation, the growing gulf in intergenerational expectations and Sikhs’ inability to act as a cohesive voice especially on issues which may be far removed from them. Although well intentioned, such responses actually proved to be counterproductive toward the intended beneficiaries. In this case, although around 200 Sikh children may have been affected, only 20 or so actually wore keskis or turbans. Some Sikhs had a dubious immigration status and wanted their children to keep a low profile anyway and resented the hijacking of their concerns.20 Since Sikhs were the “unintended victims” and generally had a good image among the French, the authorities were willing to work with the local community to come to an amicable solution—including offering the affected children places in private schools or making other alternative arrangements. But the constant protests—in France, India, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere—only blurred the issues and increased the

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French resolve not to be accommodating, at least publicly. The Sikh case remained confused and, depending on who was constructing the argument, shifted from “turban as a religious symbol,” “a cultural symbol”21 or “a matter of honor” to “infringement on religious freedom” and “turbaned Sikhs” role in preserving freedom in the First World War,” and so on. Clearly there are lessons which the Sikhs in France, as well those in other European countries or elsewhere, need to learn when engaging with sensitive issues across different cultural environments. One important lesson is the need to find alternative modes of ethnic engagement and management and for relieving tensions between the ideals of a nation state (in this case France but this can happen in any diaspora Sikh location) and the religious sensibilities of Sikhs. The Canadian Sikhs, for example, appeared to have succeeded in finding a successful mode of engagement relating to the carrying of kirpans by Sikh students in a landmark judgment by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006.22 After all, in the French case the ban only applies to a very small subgroup of Sikhs—the young and male Sikh children—as the legislation does not ban the turban outside this domain and Sikhs are free to pursue higher education and employment opportunities along with other French citizens while wearing their religion.

9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and its aftermath (2001) Soon after the four hijacked planes caused unprecedented death and destruction in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the US visual media constantly replayed images of Osama bin Laden and his fellow extremists, all clad in turbans and wearing long beards. To the average American, unaware or uncaring of the religious background of various ethnic groups living in their neighborhoods, anyone who showed similar appearance could be a potential terrorist, giving rise to a feeling of unease and high anxiety. A small section of Americans seeking revenge vented their anger on South Asians—especially Muslims and Sikhs who had physical appearances which may mistakenly link their ethnicity to Osama bin Laden’s. There was a sharp increase in hate-crimes, arrests, harassment, violence, and also the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi, just four days after 9/11 and ironically carried out by an immigrant Latino man. As fear and a heightened state of anxiety engulfed the Sikh community for several months following the attack, they felt exposed, isolated, and fragmented and powerless in taking collective action. The aftermath brought to the fore a number of home truths which the Sikh community had to confront and find ways to respond proactively. It was a “wake up call” that had enduring effects on the community’s introspection and mobilization strategies in subsequent years. In a number of initiatives, with gurdwaras acting as the focal point, the community went on the offensive to win over the American public by showing that they were not terrorists, were law-abiding and hard-working, patriotic Americans and equally hurt by the tragedy. These messages were conveyed through mass distribution of posters and flag stickers for use outside houses, on cars, books, briefcases, and clothes and through adverts in the local print media, including a

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full-page advert in the Washington Post. Many Sikh families joined in the vigils to show solidarity with the victims and their families. Other responses included further empowering lobbying and media monitoring groups such as SCORE (Sikh Council on Religion and Education) and SMART (Sikh Media Watch and Taskforce) led by both established Sikh leaders as well as younger ones, to both develop solidarity within the community and educate non-Sikhs about Sikhs and Sikhism. What does this barbaric terrorist incident and its aftermath, especially as it affected the Sikh community, tell us about the construction of diasporic identities? First, it reveals the tension around the concepts of “home,” “nation,” and “belonging” discussed earlier. Despite many Sikhs (including American-born generations) perceiving themselves to be American citizens and seeing America as their adopted home, this incident reminded them in a very exaggerated and dramatic way that America was not their only home or even the primary home and that self-identifications are less permanent and solid than they wish them to be. Secondly, the event illustrates the need for diaspora Sikh communities, wherever they are located, to continually construct and reconstruct their identities, that identities are very much performative, constructed through complex processes of mediation and dialogue with the Other—in this case non-Sikh Americans, especially white Americans who hold enormous economic and political power, particularly in print and visual media. Thirdly, labels constructed for them by the powerful white Americans—in this case perhaps Sikhs uncritically buying into the larger Indian community stereotype of a “model minority”—need to be treated with caution.23 These constructions of the self work fine when everything is going well and when the powerful and privileged American elites are not threatened, but once the status quo is challenged, their positioning in society is exposed and they also become victims of American racism and its perpetrators. The changed socioeconomic positioning of Sikhs in East Africa after British decolonization is an earlier example. Fourthly and finally, the community’s preoccupation with internal differentiation—with focus on political, subregional, class or caste differences—can obscure the immense advantages of focusing on commonalities and building solidarity and, as a minority immigrant community, a balance needs to be struck between inward orientation and outward reach through continuous dialogue. Kernial Singh Sandhu was right to expose this concern in the case of Malaysian and Singaporean Sikhs and to ask the Sikhs to heed the warning of fissiparous tendencies because subsequent events there have demonstrated that Sikh aspirations have not been fully realized, forcing many professionals to migrate out (Sandhu, 1969). One could equally warn against similar tendencies and predicaments among European Sikhs where less focus on internal differentiation and more on common interests may be required. For example, commentary on the Vienna incident focused entirely on exposing internal differentiation and scholars also need to share some blame for this.24 In situations where Indian communities are already in a significant minority and marginalized—as in large parts of mainland Europe—and leadership in these communities pursues policies which encourage differentiation rather than search for commonalities and cooperation, the possibilities for effective engagement with host European states will remain problematic.

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Conclusion: Which way for mainland European Sikhs? The future of diasporic Sikh identities In this chapter I have attempted to provide an overview of the emergence of the mainland European Sikh diaspora and offered possible future scenarios based on comparative experiences of other older Sikh diasporas. The main message in the first section was that despite a relatively later starting point in mobility and settlement— the 1980s—Sikhs in mainland Europe are largely first generation male migrants, although recent years have seen the beginnings of family reunions when allowed by legal conditions and family circumstances. Where the migration history predates the 1980s, such as in Germany and France, a small second generation is emerging. In many ways the majority of the mainland Sikh community is at the same point of settlement and development as Sikhs were in United Kingdom in the 1960s and 1970s and they also face similar problems in terms of regularization of immigration status, concentration in low-paying occupations, maintenance of cultural and religious traditions and identities. The host country’s acceptance of religious symbols is likely to remain a major challenge and a particular disadvantage given the increasingly hostile political environment for migrants and also because mainland European Sikhs lack the advantage of the special Anglo–Sikh relationship which has been used strategically and successfully by British Sikhs. The second and third sections provide an insight into experiences and incidents taken from other Sikh diaspora locations to raise issues and challenges which Sikhs in mainland Europe may face as the community grows and matures over time. There are two purposes in doing this. First, these experiences draw attention to the dangers of generalization from diaspora experiences. Local contexts and situations, including legal practices, shape these experiences and therefore what is possible in one context (e.g. turban-wearing Sikhs in United Kingdom exempted from wearing motorcycle helmets) may be impossible in another (e.g. wearing of the turban in state schools in France). Thus, it is inevitable that what may appear to be largely settled issues in the United Kingdom—acceptance of the turban, beards, kirpans, and karhas—will appear as a challenge again and again for mainland European Sikhs as the community evolves. These hard-won rights in the United Kingdom are unlikely to be extended to mainland European Sikhs as the recent failed attempt to extend exemption on hard hats for turban wearing Sikhs to all European construction sites clearly demonstrated. The second reason relates to looking at possible scenarios on issues relating to assimilation and integration. It was argued that both the assimilationist thesis and the postmodern framework for understanding diasporic identities have their own deficiencies; the first unable to explain the salience of powerful ethnic/religious based identities among youths born in the diaspora and the second unable to fully explain the persistence of a strong collective memory and emotional attachment of Sikhs to their real or imagined homeland. For instance, Operation Bluestar in 1984 acted as a powerful spur for many Sikh youths in the diaspora to reflect on their own identities, their sense of home, and belonging. No doubt powerful forces in adopted homes pull Sikhs toward assimilation and integration and it becomes increasingly difficult to resist these over several generations, for example, mixed relationships, a more secularist outlook, value systems based on respect for individualism,

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and rule of law and so on. However, in a globalized world there are also counterpressures, helped by globalization which has compressed time and space, which are pulling Sikhs toward maintaining their homeland identity, be it in a diasporic “in-between” sense. I used three cases to demonstrate that changing environments can lead Sikhs, especially the young, to reflect on and interrogate their identity and to underline that identities are very much performative and need to be continually constructed and reconstructed through complex processes of mediation and dialogue with host societies. As a consequence, given their multiplicity and hybridity, identities will continue to transform and to produce new diasporic spaces, successfully incorporating new cultural orientations and lived experiences. One could argue that second/third/fourth/fifth generation diaspora Sikhs, wherever they live, may feel “at home away from home” but yet they are unlikely to be fully a part of the society in which they have chosen to live.

Notes 1 The Lok Bhalai Party, led by ex-Member of Parliament and Union Minister, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, has been instrumental in spearheading a number of social movements in Punjab over the last decade. He has actively campaigned for justice for victims of the Malta Boat tragedy, for brides who were abandoned or mistreated by their newly wed nonresident Indian husbands, and against human trafficking, and more. 2 This is the first report on Punjab which provides the most comprehensive details in different dimensions on the issue of irregular migration from Punjab and also provides many harrowing personal narratives on migration journeys. 3 For an extensive discussion of different actors involved in human trafficking in Punjab, see Kumar (2009, pp. 89–111). 4 According to accepted sources around 83,000 turban-wearing Sikhs were killed in the two world wars, although it is not clear how many were actually killed on European soil. Bhupinder Singh Holland has tried to trace the various cemeteries and war memorials located in different parts of mainland Europe, although the finer details regarding numbers and locations require further research. For details, see Holland (2007); Omissi, Chapter 2 in this volume. 5 There is now vast literature tracing the history of Sikh overseas migration and settlement. The two most researched countries are the United Kingdom and Canada, understandably as they both constitute the largest number of overseas Sikh communities. For a historical introduction, see Tatla (1999). 6 1 lakh is equal to 100,000 rupees. 7 It would be impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy the total number of Sikhs settled across Europe. The figures given in the table are taken from news reports in both European and Indian newspapers. The author’s own view is that these figures tend to be underestimates by about 10–15 percent. 8 For a more elaborate discussion on this trend, see Fisher et al. (2007, pp. 204–14). 9 One infamous case, among many, which illustrates this tension between tradition and modernity and which shocked the Canadian Punjabi community was the alleged murder (by her biological family) of 25-year-old Canadian Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu (Jassi) who fell in love with an impoverished rickshaw driver while on holiday in Punjab. Since he came from Jassi’s mother’s village and had the same surname, her family disapproved of the marriage.

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10 For details of the Air India trial and posttrial analysis, see Bolan (2006). 11 There is considerable literature that explains the rise of ethnic business and entrepreneurship and emergence of ethnic enclaves. As an introduction to this literature, see Portes (1995). 12 Of course, in reality there would not be pure segregation by one religious community. Even in Southall or Handsworth or Smethwick of yesteryear, the locality was and still is home to all different Punjabi communities, to other minority ethnic groups as well as to members of the mainstream community. 13 Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbaut and Portes and Min Zhou have discussed this concept in more detail (see Portes and Zhou, 1993; Portes and Rumbaut, 2001). Although these writers have focused on the case of immigrant children in the United States, the concept can be generalized to the community to a large extent without losing the main message. Thus, immigrant children may follow any one of the three paths over time: “one of these replicates the time-honored portrayal of growing acculturation and parallel integration into the white middle class; a second leads straight into the opposite direction to permanent poverty and assimilation into the underclass; still a third associates rapid economic advancement with deliberate preservation of the community’s values and tight solidarity” (Portes and Zhou, 1993, p. 82). 14 It is not possible to discuss the intellectual origin of the postmodernist tradition here but in the context of this chapter, particularly relevant to diasporic experiences, it is appropriate to mention the significant contributions by Michael Foucault, Stuart Hall, Homa Bhabha, and Arjun Appadurai. The following quote taken from Bhabha neatly summarizes the notions of “third space” and “cultural translation” which are central to this framework: “Hybrid hyphenations emphasize the incommensurable elements—the stubborn chunks—as the basis of cultural identification. What is at issue is the performative nature of identities: the regulation and negotiation of those spaces that are continually, contingently, ‘opening out,’ remaking the boundaries, exposing the limits of any claim to be a singular or autonomous sign of difference—be it class, gender, or race. Such assignment of social differences—where difference is neither One nor the Other but something else besides, in-between—find their agency in the form of the ‘future’ where the past is not originary, where the present is simply not transitory. It is . . . an interstitial future that emerges in-between the claims of the past and the needs of the present” (Bhabha, 1994, p. 219, emphasis added). 15 Recently, a number of European countries, with France leading the pack, have made a number of policy statements to ban the burqa. For details, see The Economist (2010). 16 In a direct challenge to her opponents, Bhatti stated “The Sikh heritage is one of valour and victory over adversity. Our ancestors were warriors with the finest minds who championed principles of equality and selflessness. I am proud to come from this remarkable people and do not fear the disdain of some, because I know my work is rooted in honesty and passion. I hope bridges can be built, but whether this prodigal daughter can ever return home remains to be seen” (The Guardian, 2004). 17 This is an interesting report which traces the causes of tensions among second generation Sikh and Muslim youth to historical memory, with partition violence playing an important role. Explanations of communal violence in the Indian subcontinent are transplanted uncritically to the British diasporic context and ironically the promotion of a common Punjabi identity is offered as a solution to decreasing tensions. For details, see Singh, G. (2010). 18 For a discussion of the fracturing of Punjabi identity during the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial periods, see Singh and Thandi (1999).

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19 Many Sikh organizations now differentiate the reasons why they celebrate the Punjabi festival of Diwali, shared with the Hindus. The focus is on highlighting its significance in the Sikh tradition—the release of Guru Hargobind from imprisonment in Gwalior Fort along with 52 long-imprisoned rajas—and, apparently, although the festival of Diwali was being celebrated, on their arrival in Amritsar the whole city was lit up, including the Darbar Sahib. 20 These sentiments are clearly expressed by a young Sikh in France, Manprit Singh, in the following post on one of Sikh discussion group websites: “We are young Sikhs in France. Some of us go to school and some have started higher education. We wear patkas or small dastaar. This has been allowed by the schools that we go to. We are very grateful for the support many of you have given us, including the petitions. We do not feel alone anymore. But it is our humble appeal that please ask us what form of letter and petition should be posted. There is a danger some of the well intentioned petitions and letters and statements will in fact harm us and may even deprive us of the privileges we enjoy at the moment. Our intention and our desire is to be able to wear the turban like any other Sikh around the world. We in France understand very well what the problem and the issues are, both here and in the terminologies being used by Sikhs around the world. In these last few weeks, we as a community had to grow up very fast and learn to engage with the government in a way that we can protect our right to wear the turban. We have had advice from well-wishing French people, journalists, and sympathetic politicians. We again humbly appeal to you. Please treat us as your children, your younger brothers, your coming generations. But please do not make things difficult for us. We have kept our belief in the Gurus against many odds here. We are a small community. Everyday we see young Sikhs coming from Punjab who have cut their hair. We have not been influenced by them. We have stood up to many pressures and challenges in this country. But we cannot stand up to difficulties created by our own community around the world. Please do not make it difficult for the government to find an exclusion for us. Please ask us and consult us. We are quite helpless at the moment, caught between two forces. There is this draconian law coming in. And there are all these Sikh groups from around the world who are making declarations and legal threats at the government which may make things difficult for us. Surely, we, the potential victims have to be taken into account? Surely we should have some input into the issue, statements, and petitions? We remain at the mercy of your understanding and common sense. May the Guru guide us through this with wisdom” (Singh, 2004). 21 This argument was put forward by Dr. Jasdev Rai to convince the French that the turban was not an “ostensible” religious symbol as many of these children had not taken amrit—for them it was a matter of cultural attire and the law therefore did not apply to the Sikh turbaned children. For details, see Walia (2004). 22 For some recent analysis on the role of religious symbols in schools in Canada and France, see (Stoker, 2007; Koussens, 2009). 23 Vijay Prashad has been a leading exponent and critic of the myth of “model minority” and shows that Indians, including Sikhs, are actually structurally subordinated to white Americans but are happy to accept the role of a buffer between “disadvantaged” peoples of color (Hispanics, African Americans, indigenous Americans) and “successful” peoples of color (South Asians, East Asians). For further details, see Prashad (2000).

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24 The killing of a visiting religious leader belonging to the Ravidasia community in a Vienna Sikh Temple was reported in the media and commented on by some scholars as indicating a “caste war” within Sikhism, largely pitting the Jat Sikh against the Chamar Sikh, with the former described as upper caste and the latter as lower caste in some imagined Hindu-type caste varna or hierarchy. The fact that mainstream Sikhs do not accept the concept of a “living” guru as the Guru Granth Sahib is their only living guru or that that the murdered religious leader was the head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan which has its own distinctive tradition that has little to do with the mainstream Sikh tradition, was lost on the commentators. For details on distinct differences between the followers of Dera Sachkhand Ballan and the Sikh tradition, see Ram (2009).

Bibliography Baumann, G. (1996), Contesting Culture: Discourses of Identity in Multi-Ethnic London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Bhabha, H. (1994), The Location of Culture. London and New York: Routledge. Bhachu, P. (1985), Twice Migrants: East African Settlers in Britain. London: Tavistock. Bolan, K. (2006), Loss of Faith: How Air India Bombers Got Away with Murder. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. Brah, A. (1996), Cartographies of Diaspora: Contesting Identities. London: Routledge. Branigan, T. (2004), “Stars sign letter in support of playwright in hiding.” The Guardian, December 23. Dusenbery, V. (1997), “The poetics and politics of recognition: Diasporan Sikhs in pluralist polities.” American Ethnologist, 24(4), 738–62. Dusenbery, A. V. (2007), Sikhs at Large: Religion, Culture, and Politics in Global Perspective (Oxford Collected Essays). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Fisher, M., Lahiri, S., and Thandi, S. (2007), A South Asian History of Britain. London: Greenwood Press. Gibson, A. M. (1988), Accommodation without Assimilation: Sikh Immigrants in an American High School. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Gillespie, M. (1995), Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change. London: Routledge. Hall, K. D. (2002), Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Holland, B. S. (2007), How Europe is Indebted to the Sikhs, Vol. 11 on Second World War. Waremme, Belgium: Sikh University Press. Hundal, S. (2010), “Sikhs struggling with free speech.” The Guardian, April 8. Koussens, D. (2009) “Neutrality of the state and regulation of religious symbols in schools in Quebec and France.” Social Compass, 56(2), 202–13. Kumar, S. (2009), “Human trafficking in Punjab.” Journal of Punjab Studies, 16(1), 89–111. Maira, S. M. (2002), Desis in the House: Indian American Youth Culture in New York City. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Nayar, K. E. (2004), The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations amid Tradition, Modernity and Multiculturalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Perez, R. M. (2009), Mapping India’s Diaspora in Europe: Culture, Society and Policy. European Network of Contemporary Academic Research on India (ENCARI), Briefing paper, No. 1, 24 pp.

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Portes, A. (ed.) (1995), The Economic Sociology of Immigration: Essays on Networks, Ethnicity and Entrepreneurship. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Portes, A. and Rumbaut, R. (2001), Legacies: The Story of the Immigrant Second Generation. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Portes, A. and Zhou, M. (1993), “The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants.” The Annals of the American Academy, 530, 74–96. Prashad, V. (2000), The Karma of Brown Folk. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Putnam, R. D. (2000), Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon Schuster. Ram, R. (2009), “Ravidass, Dera Sachkhand Ballan and the question of Dalit identity.” Journal of Punjab Studies, 16(1), 1–33. Rorive, I. (2009), “Religious symbols in the public space: In search of a European answer.” Cardozo Law Review, 30(6), 2669–98. Sandhu, K. S. (1969), Indians in Malaya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sharp, R. (2010), “Behzti is no longer taboo.” The Guardian, May 5. Singh, G. (2010), The Adab – ‘Respect’ Programme: A Perspective on Muslim Sikh Relations in the United Kingdom and Causes of Tensions and Mistrust between the two Communities. London: Faith Matters. Singh, J. (2010), “Head first: Young British Sikhs, hair, and the turban.” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25(2), 203–20. Singh, M. (2004), “The French ban: Through the eyes and hearts of Sikh youth in France” [Online]. SikhNet, posted February 20. Available at: http://fateh.sikhnet.com/s/ Frenchyouthletter [Accessed January 18, 2012]. Singh, P. and Thandi, S. (1999), Punjabi Identity in a Global Context. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Stoker, V. (2007), “Zero tolerance? Sikh swords, school safety, and secularism in Quebec.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 75(4), 814–39. Tatla, D. S. (1999), The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood. Seattle: University of Washington Press. The Economist (2010), “Women and veils: Running for cover.” May 13. The Guardian (2004), “Playing with fire.” Leader, December 21. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2009), Smuggling of Migrants from India to Europe and in particular to UK: A Study on Punjab and Haryana. New Delhi: UNODC, Regional Office for South Asia. Walia, V. (2004), “Sikh leadership complicated issue: Dr Rai.” The Tribune, Chandigarh, November 8.

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Sikh Soldiers in Europe During the First World War, 1914–18 David E. Omissi

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. For Bakhshish Singh, a Sikh soldier serving with the Indian cavalry on the Western Front in 1916, France was “like heaven.” In a letter home he explained why: Here, no one drinks water. When they desire to drink . . . they drink the juice of apples. So many apples are produced that the people press the juice and store it in barrels [from] which they drink throughout the year. . . . Barrels upon barrels are full of it. Moreover, there are barns full of apples. If I return alive I will tell you all about this country. You shall be staggered at all I shall tell you. It is a real heaven . . . . The people are very honest: there is no sign of theft. Goods to the value of lakhs of rupees lie in glass houses. No one pays any regard to them. Grain, potatoes and such like things lie in the fields unguarded. In short, the cat plays with pigeons and chickens; and the dog plays with the cat, and tends the sheep, churns the butter, and draws a cart and guards it too. . . . It is the golden age. (Bakshish Singh, Sialkot Cavalry Brigade, France, to Sher Singh, Ferozepur District, Punjab, February 27, 1916, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 255)1

The experience of Sant Singh, another Sikh soldier in France, could hardly have been more different. He wrote home to his wife: Our life is a living death. For what great sin are we being punished? Kill us, Oh God, but free us from our pain! We move in agony, but never rest. . . . The bullets fall on us like rain. . . . So we have spent a full year. . . . Many sons of mothers lie dead. No one takes any heed. It is God’s will that this is so, and what is written is true. God the Omnipotent plays a game, and men die. Death here is dreadful, but of life there is not the briefest hope. (Sant Singh to his wife, September 18, 1915, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 146)

These two quotations suggest how difficult it is to generalize about the experience of Sikh soldiers in Europe during the First World War (VanKoski, 1995, pp. 44–5).

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Indian soldiers (including many Sikhs) served on the Western Front throughout the Great War, from late 1914 to early 1918. Until recently, this simple historical fact has been largely forgotten.2 One aim of this chapter is to recover something of the Sikh soldiers’ experiences in Europe, in all its diversity. How did Indian soldiers react to the experience of serving in Europe during the war? What, if anything, was distinctive about the Sikh soldier’s experience? What were the implications of Indian soldiers’ service in Europe for postwar India?

The Indian Army in 1914 To understand how Sikhs from the Punjab ended up on the Western Front we need to consider the organization, strategy, and recruiting doctrine of the pre-1914 Indian Army. In 1914, the Indian Army consisted of 39 cavalry regiments, 118 battalions of Indian infantry, and 20 battalions of Gurkha Rifles. The army contained 159,134 Indian soldiers, and 2,333 British officers (plus reserves) (Hardinge of Penshurst, 1948, p. 102; Perry, 1988, pp. 85–6). Together with the 70,000 troops of the British garrison of India these forces made up the “Army in India.” This army had three principal functions: first, the maintenance of internal security; second, the defence of the Indian empire’s frontiers; and third (if necessary) the provision of a force for imperial purposes outside India (Perry, 1988, pp. 82–3; Tan, 2000, p. 375; VanKoski, 1995, p. 58, fns 1–2). By 1914, the Indian Army had been recruited for several decades according to the theory of the “martial races.” This theory contended that only some Indian communities were naturally “warlike,” and hence suitable for military recruitment, and that the majority of the Indian population was “unwarlike.” The idea of the “martial races” had emerged in the context of the Russian threat to India in the 1870s and 1880s (Streets, 2004, pp. 90–3), and it had been vigorously promoted by the influential soldier Lord Roberts, the Commander-in-Chief in India from 1885 to 1893 (ibid., p. 98; Talbot, 1988, p. 43). Roberts wanted to “get rid of every sepoy, not required for local purposes,” from the Madras Army, and to replace them with soldiers of “the most warlike races” (Robson, 1993, p. 352; see also Streets, 2004, pp. 98–100). These “races,” he believed, could principally be found among the rural communities of northern and northwestern India, especially the North-West Frontier Province, the United Provinces, Rajputana and Punjab (Heathcote, 1974, p. 94; Streets, 2004, p. 97). Roberts also favored the famous Gurkhas from Nepal. From the 1880s onward, soldiers from Bombay and Madras were disparaged, and regiments raised in southern India were gradually disbanded, or were “reconstituted” (mainly with Punjabis) (Mason, 1974, p. 361; Streets, 2004, pp. 93–5). By 1914, Indian Army recruiting had decisively shifted toward the “martial races.” About half of the Indian Army was then recruited in Punjab; and the Punjab would remain the principal recruiting ground for the Indian Army during the war (Talbot, 1988, p. 45; VanKoski, 1995, p. 59; Omissi, 1999, p. 366; Tan, 2000, p. 374; Streets, 2004, p. 100). In this period, and subsequently, Sikhs were considered one of the most important “martial races”: partly because of the long-standing warrior traditions of Sikhism, and partly because Sikhs were thought (like many Punjabis) to be descended from

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“Aryans” (see Streets, 2004, pp. 94–5). Sikhs had served in the forces of the East India Company since the demise of Kingdom of Lahore in the 1840s (Grewal, 1990, p. 136). Sikh soldiers then rallied to the British cause during the 1857 “Mutiny”; their loyalty was valued and rewarded; and Sikhs became an “essential girder in the new structure” of the Indian Army after 1857 (Mason, 1974, p. 234). On January 1, 1904, according to the “caste returns” of the Indian Army, the army’s strength of 152,846 included 30,975 Sikhs (see Omissi, 1994, p. 20, table 1.4).3 Sikhs therefore made up about 20 percent of the Indian Army—a far higher proportion than that of the Sikhs in the Indian population as a whole. Sikhs, like other Indian military communities, typically served in highly segregated subunits. In the Indian Army, each company (of about 90 men) was normally from the same “class” of recruits, as defined by a combination of religion, language, caste, clan, and regional origin. Such segregation made practical sense: it was obviously easier if all the men in the company spoke the same language, ate the same food, and observed the same religious ceremonies. Many infantry regiments had “class-company” battalions in which each company or pair of companies was from a different “class.” In the later nineteenth century, “class-company” battalions were increasingly replaced by “class regiments” in which all eight companies were from the same class (Streets, 2004, p. 100).4 Class regiments were often the preserve of specially favored martial communities such as Sikhs and Gurkhas. The Sikhs in Europe served in three all-Sikh class regiments, and in many individual companies or squadrons in other regiments. The decision to send Indian troops to France was a controversial one, not least because before 1914 Indian troops “had not been used against a white enemy” (Visram, 1989, p. 17). Many Anglo-Indians did not want to see Indian troops fighting against Europeans, and they felt that white prestige in India might suffer if Indian troops had intimate contact with white women. On the other hand, the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, wanted to send Indian troops, as he was keen to appease “advanced” Indian political opinion (Hardinge of Penshurst, 1948, p. 99). The King-Emperor, George V, was also in favor of sending an Indian expeditionary force. The King took great pride in his role as Emperor of India, and had been the first reigning monarch to visit India, during the winter of 1911–12, for his coronation durbar in Delhi (Rose, 1983, pp. 132, 348). Two Indian infantry divisions were accordingly diverted from Egypt to France in August 1914. The Commander-in-Chief in India, Sir Beauchamp Duff, was asked to select his best units for service overseas (Greenhut, 1983, p. 54). He chose the 3rd (Lahore) and 7th (Meerut) infantry divisions, formations which contained a significant proportion of Sikhs and Gurkhas. Some British officers considered the Gurkha battalions to be the Indian Army’s elite units, and some saw the Sikhs as “the most important class” among the Indian soldiers (Merewether and Smith, 1917, p. 483). The commander of the Indian Corps, Sir James Willcocks, shared these (mainly) positive stereotypes about the Sikhs. In his memoirs he wrote that: The Sikhs are a fighting race; the Khalsa or chosen people as they style themselves. Of all Indian soldiers I know the Sikh the best and have served with him in every imaginable condition. He does not so readily imbibe discipline as many of the other classes in the [Indian] Army. He has grievances born of his own imagination,

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and can be troublesome when it is inconvenient for him to be so, but he is a fine manly soldier, will share your trials with genuine good humour, and can always save something in cash out of nothing. . . . My own motto with Sikhs is to give them all they deserve, and we owe them much, but not to spoil and pamper them. (Willcocks, 1920, p. 56)

The British public also seemed to have a positive, if ill-informed, image of Sikh soldiers. Tall, turbaned, and bearded, the Sikh soldier was not only imposing, but instantly recognizable. According to Willcocks, Sikhs were “the best known to Englishmen of all the fighting men of India, with the possible exception of the Gurkhas” (Merewether and Smith, 1917, p. 483). Indeed, many of the British public appeared to think that the Indian Army was composed entirely of Sikhs and Gurkhas.5 These popular perceptions were reflected in a Punch cartoon of September 1914—“India for the King”—in which Sikh and Gurkha soldiers were prominent. The three all-Sikh battalions in France included the 47th Sikhs, and the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs (raised in 1846), which “had always been considered a crack corps in the Indian Army” (Willcocks, 1920, p. 63). These two battalions each had eight companies of Jat Sikhs. Mazbi and Ramdasia Sikhs served separately in the 34th Sikh Pioneers. The 47th Sikhs, in particular, would be committed to several key actions in 1914–15, suffering very heavy losses in the process.

The Indian Corps in France, 1914–15 The two Indian divisions arrived and disembarked at Marseilles—Lahore in late September 1914, and Meerut in early October (War Office Records, 1914; Willcocks, 1920, p. 20; VanKoski, 1995, p. 44). The first Indian troops to arrive were rushed to the front near the Belgian city of Ypres to head off German outflanking moves during the so-called race to the sea (Beckett, 2004). The troops arrived just in time to help fill the gaps in the Allied line (Hardinge of Penshurst, 1948, p. 99). The Lahore Division was broken up and its poorly equipped units were fed piecemeal into the trenches, often attached to British formations (Willcocks, 1920, p. 32; Greenhut, 1983, p. 56). In the last week of October, two Sikh companies of the 57th Rifles were among the very first Indian troops engaged in Europe; the all-Sikh battalions of the 15th and 47th Sikhs were not far behind. So desperate was the situation that Indian cavalry were sent dismounted into the trenches to fight as infantry (Willcocks, 1920, pp. 33, 61–5). Despite severe weather and unfamiliar surroundings, the Indian troops fought bravely (Hardinge of Penshurst, 1948, p. 100). The heavy losses, however, came as a great shock to soldiers more used to colonial campaigning. By the end of December, the Indian Corps had already suffered 9,579 casualties (Merewether and Smith, 1917, p. 199). The Indian battalions had each mustered on average 764 officers and men on their arrival in France; by early November the 47th Sikhs were down to 385 present for duty (Greenhut, 1983, pp. 54, 56). In late December, the Indian divisions were taken out of the line, and they rested in billets for the first two weeks of January (European Manuscripts, 1915a, photo 473/1; Greenhut, 1983, p. 62).

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Lieutenant “Roly” Grimshaw, a British officer serving with an Indian cavalry regiment, was shocked by the state of the Indian and British wounded. In a diary entry for December 20, 1914, he recorded how he had seen: Little Gurkhas slopping through the freezing mud barefooted; Tommies [British soldiers] with no caps, and plastered in blood and mud from head to foot; Sikhs with their hair all down, and looking more wild and weird than I have ever seen them; Pathans more dirty and untidy than usual—all limping or reeling along like drunken men, some helping an almost-foundering comrade, in most cases misery depicted on their faces. (Wakefield and Weippert, 1986, p. 54; see also Collins, 1997, p. 15)

From December 1914 the Indian wounded were sent to hospitals set up for them in towns on the South coast of England. In Brighton, several buildings, including the Royal Pavilion, were converted to Indian hospitals (Collins, 1997, pp. 6–9; Omissi, 2007a, pp. 376–7). It soon became clear that the poor weather and heavy casualties were badly affecting the morale of the Indian Army in Europe. Letters written from military hospitals during the winter of 1914–15 showed clear evidence of depression. Indian soldiers also suffered a large number of wounds to the left hand. Many of these wounds were probably self-inflicted (Greenhut, 1983, p. 57). The policy of returning lightly wounded men to the trenches once they had recovered proved particularly unpopular, because it meant that only a wound which caused permanent disability would offer the certain prospect of a ticket home. As sepoy Gurdit Singh wrote to his father: “So long as the war goes on, no sound man can return to India—only those who have lost a limb can return” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 48). The policy of returning the wounded to the front probably affected recruiting in India. Isar Singh, a Sikh sepoy lying wounded in hospital in Brighton, told a friend in India that the battle was “being carried on very bitterly . . . Thousands of men die daily.” He advised his friend, also a soldier, “so far as it is in your power do not come here” (ibid., doc. 63). The welfare of Indian soldiers in Europe soon became the object of charitable concern in Britain. On October 1, 1914, the Order of St. John of Jerusalem inaugurated the Indian Soldiers’ Fund—a charity set up to provide comforts for Indian troops. The organizers of the Fund included many prominent people with Indian connections; for example, the former Viceroy Lord Curzon lent his London home (1 Carlton House Terrace) as its headquarters. The Fund supplied warm clothing for the Indian troops during the winter of 1914–15, and all sorts of comforts such as tea and cigarettes to the Indian wounded. The Fund also ran a hospital (named after the late Lady Hardinge) at Brockenhurst in Hampshire (Merewether and Smith, 1917, pp. 500–4). By November 20, 1915, the Fund had raised the enormous sum of £151,762. Many members of the British public made small donations; and the principle contributors included British and Indian royalty, and British firms with Indian connections. There was a strong Scottish element to the donations: collections from Dundee, for example, reflected that city’s close relationship with India’s jute industry (The Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England, n.d.).

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The Fund also provided religious artifacts to Indian soldiers of all faiths. For Sikhs, these items included copies of the Sikh scripture (granths) and the five Ks. Steel daggers, bracelets, and combs were made to an approved pattern by a firm of cutlers in Sheffield. Evidence from soldiers’ letters suggests that these gifts were appreciated. Sowar Mohan Singh considered the gift of a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib from an Indian prince to be “a great favour, since we can have worship celebrated during our sojourn in a foreign land” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 254). The religious beliefs of Indian soldiers could inspire a wide range of wartime political behavior. Almost 100 million of the world’s 270 million Muslims were British subjects, and some of the allies’ Muslim soldiers experienced divided loyalties once Ottoman Turkey (the world’s leading Muslim power) joined the war on the side of the Central Powers. The Germans tried to exploit the religious sentiment of India’s Muslims by sponsoring subversion in the Indian Empire in an attempt to turn India from an asset into a liability for the allies (French, 1987, p. 51; Strachan, 2003, pp. 97–9). Although these efforts caused much anxiety to the Government of India, most of them came to very little. Nevertheless, there were some significant acts of desertion or mutiny by Indian Muslim troops. On the night of March 3–4, 1915, for example, one Indian officer and about two dozen men from a regiment in France went over to the Germans (War Office Records, 1915; Greenhut, 1983, p. 62). The most important mutiny by Indian Muslim troops came at Singapore in February 1915 when four companies of the 5th Light Infantry turned their weapons on their British officers and on any Europeans that they could find, before being rounded up. Sikhs did not normally experience anything like the same divided loyalties. Despite their loyalty to the empire, however, Sikh migrants (many of them ex-soldiers) were caught up in the hostility to Asian immigrants in Western Canada (Fraser, 1978, pp. 38–40, 42–3). In response to racial prejudice, from 1913 the revolutionary Ghadr or “mutiny” movement was organized among Sikh migrants to Canada and California (ibid., pp. 45–6; Rumbold, 1979, p. 32). In May 1914, the Japanese ship Komagata Maru docked in Vancouver with 376 migrant laborers aboard (Fox, 1985, p. 46). The authorities refused to allow the migrants to land, and the ship turned back, arriving in India in September 1914. Some of these frustrated would-be migrants were among the Ghadr revolutionaries who then tried to subvert the loyalty of a number of Indian Army units, including Sikhs. They planned to spark a widespread rebellion in Punjab (Fox, 1985, pp. 116–18; Tan, 2000, p. 387). British intelligence penetrated the conspiracy before the rising’s due date; and 42 conspirators were sentenced to death, 114 to transportation for life, and 93 to various terms of imprisonment (Grewal, 1990, pp. 154–6). In March 1915, the Indian divisions were involved in the allied attack on the German positions around Neuve Chapelle. The attack was successful, and several lines of German trenches were overrun in a three-day battle (Greenhut, 1983, p. 65). The losses, however, were heavy: of the 12,811 British and Commonwealth casualties, 4,233 occurred in the Indian Corps (Merewether and Smith, 1917, p. 268). The 47th Sikhs lost 80 percent of their strength in two days (Greenhut, 1983, p. 65). A few weeks later, the Lahore Division was in action again. On April 22, 1915 the Germans attacked using chlorine gas for the first time on the Western Front, breaking a gap in the Allied line north of Ypres. The Lahore division and one British division were

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marched North to fill the breach. Lahore counterattacked the German positions on 26 and 27 April. Indian soldiers (who at first had no gas masks) discovered that the wetted end of a turban wrapped across the mouth offered scant protection against chlorine gas. The Lahore division, 15,980 strong on April 23, had suffered 3,888 casualties by early May.6 The 47th Sikhs endured terrible losses once more. On April 26 they had sent into action 11 British and 10 Indian officers, and 423 other ranks. The next morning, only 4 officers and 92 men answered a roll call. The losses—again nearly 80 percent—were the highest of any British or Indian battalion that day (Merewether and Smith, 1917, pp. 304–5). One wounded Sikh soldier lamented that “the result of the fighting is that corpses grow as thick as straw in watered wheat. If I wrote all day I could not tell you what I have seen” (India Office Records, 1915). The verdict of another wounded Sikh was more succinct: “the Lahore Division . . . is finished” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 63; see also Tan, 2000, p. 377). By the spring of 1915, some of the Indian soldiers came to suspect that they were being deliberately sacrificed to spare British lives, particularly after the heavy Indian casualties at Second Ypres. The soldiers had to be careful what they said in their letters home (which they knew were subject to military censorship), so they used simple codes to suggest that Indian troops were being used as “cannon fodder.” For example, several men suggested that “black pepper” was being used to save “red pepper,” implying that Indian lives were being expended to save those of British soldiers (Visram, 1989, pp. 23–4). British officials were well aware of these rumors, and were very concerned about their possible political impact in India. Austen Chamberlain, the Secretary of State for India, wrote to the Viceroy: I do not for a moment wish to minimise the strain which was put upon the Indian regiments, or the very heavy losses which they have suffered, but it is very important to combat the idea that they have been sacrificed to save white men. This is not the case, and many a British battalion would show heavier losses than theirs. (European Manuscripts, 1915b, photo 473/1)

Indeed, there seems to be no evidence that Indian troops were in fact being deliberately sacrificed. Certainly within the Indian divisions, British, Gurkha, and Indian battalions were used interchangeably, and suffered approximately equal losses. The military authorities established a postal service, enabling Indian soldiers to send letters home free of charge. Indian soldiers eagerly took up letter-writing, and wrote home frequently. Many of the soldiers must, however, have been illiterate. In 1911, only 10.6 percent of Indian Sikhs were literate (Grewal, 1990, p. 138). Soldiers must therefore have often employed scribes, such as the company clerk, to write letters for them, while their families back in India must have relied on professional letter-writers or local intellectuals such as schoolteachers. Sikh soldiers found the postal service very useful, although not always in ways in which the authorities had intended. Bir Singh, a Sikh cavalryman serving in France, wrote home asking his correspondent to “send off the opium,” but to write “sweets” on the outside of the parcel. “Have no fear,” he added. “Parcels are not opened on the way and cannot be

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lost. Keep on sending the drugs” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 229; see also VanKoski, 1995, pp. 49–50). The soldiers’ letters were subject to military censorship, although this was primarily intended as information-gathering exercise, rather than as way of suppressing the correspondence. The soldiers’ letters were rich in rural and agricultural imagery. They also made frequent reference to the warrior traditions of the Sikh religion, and often evoked the guru in times of trial. It is, of course, difficult to disentangle conscious evocations of religion from the language embedded in the everyday life of the faithful (VanKoski, 1995, p. 46). It does, however, seem likely that religious identity and community status were crucial elements in Sikh combat motivation. As one historian has argued, “the call to arms and to regimental loyalty echoed the requirements of Khalsa identity” (ibid., p. 57). A letter home from Kartar Singh is representative: It was my very good fortune to be engaged in this war. We shall never get such another chance to exalt the name of race, country, ancestors, parents, village and brothers, and to prove our loyalty to the Government. I hope we shall renew our Sikh chronicles. Do not be distressed. . . . Such hardships come upon brave men. What is fated must be endured. I pray to God to give us a chance to meet the foe face to face. . . . To die in battle is a noble fate. (Signaller Kartar Singh to Kunar Khan, Ludhiana District, Punjab, January 22, 1916, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 226)

Death in battle would end the cycle of death and rebirth, and the fallen soldier would go directly to Paradise. Later on in the war a Sikh officer expressed similar sentiments in a letter intended to console a parent whose son had been killed by shell fire: The Guru has forcibly taken Kartar Singh from me. . . . Your son is a hero who has given his life for his King. He is not dead; he lives forever. He has gone straight to Paradise, because that is the reward of death in the field of battle in the service of the King. He has in fact achieved in an instant that which saints can only hope to secure after many years of trial. Earthly love is a small thing compared with the joys of Paradise. (Ressaidar Jowan Singh, 2nd Lancers, France, to [illegible] Singh, Gurdaspur District, Punjab, December 10, 1917, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 624)

Most British officers were aware of these beliefs, and would play on them to motivate their troops. A wounded Sikh of the 47th conveyed this relationship in a letter home. Describing the death of Chur Singh, a Sikh officer, he wrote: The 47th Sikhs were charging. [The] Sahib [British Officer] said “Chur Singh, you are not a Sikh of Guru Govind Singh, [you] who sit in fear inside the trench!” Chur Singh was very angry. Chur Singh gave [the] order to his company to charge. He drew his sword and went forward. A bullet [then] came from the enemy and hit him in the mouth. So did our brother Chur Singh become a martyr. (A sepoy of the 47th Sikhs, a hospital, Brighton, to a friend in India, December 14, 1915, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 199; see also VanKoski, 1995, p. 45)

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In July 1915 Austen Chamberlain visited the Brighton hospitals. He recorded that he was “pleased and astonished to see what excellent accommodation and equipment had been provided for the treatment of our Indian soldiers.” The pavilion’s “Oriental character,” he added, seemed to make it “specially adapted as a home for the Indians, and I am told that they are gratified by the thought that they are in a royal palace” (European Manuscripts, 1915c). There is, in fact, no evidence to support the rather improbable claim that the “oriental” style of building particularly appealed to Indians. But the Pavilion’s royal connections were, it seems, highly valued. A Sikh soldier, Isar Singh, wrote home in May 1915: Do not be anxious about me. We are very well looked after. . . . Our hospital is in the place where the King used to have his throne. . . . The King has given a strict order that no trouble be given to any black man in hospital. Men in hospital are tended like flowers, and the King and Queen sometimes come to visit them. (Isar Singh, Indian General Hospital, Brighton, to a friend, 59th Punjabis, India, May 1, 1915, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 63; see also Omissi, 2007a, p. 381)

The British authorities in the hospitals took great care over the religious feelings of the men. Religious provision for Sikhs included the construction of a gurdwara in the hospital grounds. These efforts were evidently appreciated. Bir Singh wrote home that “the arrangements for our food are very good, because men have been selected from the regiments to look after it, and every man is served by his caste-fellows” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 98). The King-Emperor took a particular interest in the welfare of the Indian troops in Europe (Rose, 1983, p. 180). He visited the Indian lines in France, and in August 1915 attended the Indian wounded in the Pavilion hospital, where he presented decorations for bravery. His concern seems to have been reciprocated. A Sikh officer who travelled to London on another occasion to receive a medal from the King recorded his delight at the meeting: The Emperor gave me two medals. He decorated me with his own hands in his palace in London. . . . The occasion did me very great honour. They treat me with very great respect in London. I am always given a motor car in which I go to see the famous palaces. . . . And I was only a poor Jat! (Subedar-Major Sundar Singh Bahadur, 89th Punjabis, Brighton, to Havildar Basant Singh, 1st Sappers and Miners, France, October 19, 1915, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 164)

The booklet issued to all Indian soldiers when the Brighton hospitals were closed down at the end of 1915 emphasized the Pavilion’s royal connections. The cover of the booklet featured a Sikh soldier, with the Royal Pavilion in the background. In the summer of 1915, some notes of war weariness were detectable in the letters of Indian soldiers. “As tired bullocks and bull buffaloes lie down in the month of Bhadon so lies the weary world,” remarked Santa Singh in a letter home from a

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Brighton hospital. “Our hearts are breaking, for a year has passed while we have stood to arms without a rest” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 123). For the most part, however, the soldiers welcomed the warm weather, and morale seems to have improved during the summer months. In late September 1915, the Meerut Division took part in one more major attack on the Germans at the Battle of Loos. Shortly afterwards, the two Indian divisions of the Indian Corps were transferred from France to the Middle East. They left the front line in November 1915, and departed from Marseilles in December (Merewether and Smith, 1917, pp. 458–9, 462). The story of the Indian Corps in France in 1914–15 has been described as a “history of failure” (Greenhut, 1983, p. 68). The implication of this view is that the Indians were moved from France because of failing morale. Certainly, during the summer, there had been discussions about moving the troops, as the authorities did not want them to remain for another cold winter in northwest Europe. There were, however, also sound strategic reasons to move the Indian divisions. The British New Armies were arriving in France, and there was a pressing need to gain a prestigious victory against the Turks, such as the capture of Baghdad. Without a success in Mesopotamia, it was feared that the impending Allied defeat at Gallipoli would have an adverse effect on the whole Muslim world (French, 1987, pp. 54–5; Strachan, 2003, pp. 113, 121). By November 19, 1915, the Indian Corps (including its British units) had suffered 34,252 casualties (Merewether and Smith, 1917, pp. 458–9).7 This figure was slightly more than the average entire front-line strength of the Corps in 1914–15. Casualties to the 47th Sikhs had been particularly heavy: only 28 men of their original contingent had not been killed, or been absent through wounds or sickness for more than ten days.

The Indian cavalry in France, 1916–18 After the two Indian infantry divisions had left Europe for the Middle East, two Indian cavalry divisions remained on Western Front. According to Beauchamp Duff it was politically important to “allow India to feel she [still] had a stake in the main theatre,” although he felt that “cavalry in Flanders in winter have no real possibility of usefulness” (European Manuscripts, 1915d). None of the Indian cavalry regiments in France was entirely composed of Sikhs: each cavalry regiment had four squadrons; some regiments had two squadrons of Sikhs but most had only one (Omissi, 1999, pp. 364–5). The Indian cavalry would serve in France until March 1918, when they were transferred to Allenby’s command in the Middle East—for some Indian troops the encounter with Europe would therefore last for more than three years. The cavalry, as it turned out, were not quite as useless as Beauchamp Duff had expected, and they did in fact see some limited action. The Secunderabad brigade made a successful charge on horseback at Battle of the Somme in July 1916; the Indian cavalry advanced over ground abandoned by Germans during the retreat to the Hindenburg line in early 1917; and toward the end of November 1917 Indian cavalry joined in the British attack on German positions at the Battle of Cambrai.

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For the most part, however, the Indian cavalry settled into a fairly comfortable life behind the lines. In February 1916 Hazura Singh described his daily life in a letter home: People tell me that last year the cold here was intense, but now it is no worse than the Punjab. We had a few days’ snow, but it ceased. . . . We have at present nothing to do. We are better off than in cantonments. Matches are fixed to take place between the regiments, at tug-of-war, wrestling, football and running. We are the winners at football in our division. In the second division the 9th [Hodson’s Horse] have won. We are to play them. I will let you know who wins. (Hazura Singh to Sirdar Harnam Singh, 11th Lancers, Delhi, India, February 7, 1916, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 240)

Sikh sowar Natha Singh, serving away from his squadron, wrote in the same vein. France, he thought, was “exceedingly pleasant. In it India is forgotten. I do not wish the war to end soon. I should like to die in this country, and I have no intention of returning to India. . . . May the Holy Guru save me from India” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 209; see also VanKoski, 1995, p. 56). Sikh soldiers’ experience of Europe had much in common with Indian soldiers of other faiths (although the Sikhs may not have perceived it this way at the time). One main concern of all Indian soldiers was to preserve their religion in a foreign land; and soldiers of all faiths wrote home asking for spiritual advice about how best to do this. For Sikhs, concerns about their religion focused principally on artifacts, dress, food, and drink. One Sikh wrote home that the Sikh religion was being “destroyed” in France, because of a shortage of religious artifacts, and because some soldiers were drinking from the same source as sweepers (Omissi, 2007a, p. 386).8 The introduction of protective steel helmets in 1916 posed a particular dilemma for Sikhs, most of whom initially declined to abandon the turbans sanctioned by their religion (Omissi, 1999, doc. 339; see also Heathcote, 1974, p. 103). Helmets eventually found limited acceptance among Sikhs; and by the 1930s, as the Indian Army slowly began to modernize, those Sikhs who had decided to shave off their beards, cut their hair, and wear helmets had become known in army parlance as “mechanized Sikhs” (Heathcote, 1974, p. 103). In general, Sikh soldiers admired France and the French people, although they lamented the cold of the European winter (Omissi, 2007a, pp. 383–94). They were struck by the wealth and beauty of the countryside, the ingenuity of French agriculture, and the robustness of French brick-built houses. For the most part, Indian soldiers attributed Europe’s greater wealth (and, as they often saw it, greater happiness) to education. Everyone in France, it seemed, could read and write, at a time when 94 percent of the Indian population was illiterate (Government of India, 1913, p. 292). A Sikh cavalry officer expressed these views in a letter home: It is impossible to praise this country sufficiently, because the people are so highminded and truthful. . . . They are very kind and helpful towards each other. And what is the root of it all? Knowledge and learning. And why are our people defective? Because of our ignorance. My friends, exert yourselves. Learning and

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knowledge are essential things. (Ressaidar [Jemadar?] Harnam Singh, 6th Cavalry, France, to Gurdial Singh, Ludhiana District, Punjab, July 21, 1916, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 358)

Soldiers commented in particular on the fact that French women were educated, unlike almost all rural Indian women. Some illiterate Indian men attempted to learn to read and write, and some tried to learn to speak French (with success, for those who remained in France for several years). Relations between French men and women elicited a more mixed response. The soldiers admired the bravery and hard work of French women, and their stoicism in the face of wartime loss (VanKoski, 1995, p. 52). They were struck by the easy familiarity between the sexes, and the apparent happiness of French marriages. “The very best custom in this country is that a man chooses his own wife, and a woman her own husband, and there are no disagreements and troubles after marriage,” remarked Teja Singh, a Sikh sowar with the 2nd Lancers. “The same custom used to obtain in our country formerly,” he added, “but later it was set aside by the intrigues of the Brahmins” (Omissi, 1999, doc. 656). Others, however, thought women “shameless” because they mixed so freely with men. To travel is to see home in a different light; and perhaps to reflect critically on home (Omissi, 2007a, p. 389). Indian soldiers in France began to reconsider everyday customs that they might have previously accepted without reflection. In particular, India’s relative poverty was brought into stark relief by the affluence of France. “If you were to see the general conditions of life here, you would be astounded,” wrote one Sikh soldier. “The man whom God wishes to punish is born in India” (ibid., p. 390). Soldiers advised their families at home not to spend so much on wedding ceremonies, especially if they were from a relatively poor caste such as Jats. Several men urged their families to emulate the French and send their children to school. Indian soldiers’ letters also contained much negative comment about the “tyrant” and “savage” Germans. For example, after the Germans had scorched the earth during their retreat to the Hindenburg Line in early 1917, one Sikh officer commented: The evil deeds of the Germans have excited universal indignation. He utterly destroyed all the towns and villages, and blew up the roads, and cut down the fruit trees, and has burnt everything. He has seized and taken away the civilian inhabitants. This is not a royal way of waging war. Our Government’s behaviour is of a very different kind. It is that of a real King. (Risaldar Dayal Singh to Chuni [?] Lal, Campbellpur, Attock District, Punjab, July 14, 1917, in Omissi, 1999, doc. 545)

Casualties, consequences, and commemoration All statistics about the war effort of the British Commonwealth (and particularly that of India) are difficult to interpret—it is not always clear, for example, exactly which categories of soldiers have been included in published figures given as totals. It seems probable, however, that the provinces of British India supplied 683,149 combatant

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recruits between August 1914 and November 1918. During the same period, 88,925 Sikhs were recruited to the Indian Army (Omissi, 1999, pp. 366–7). Official figures suggest that India’s war dead numbered 64,449 with another 69,214 wounded (Holland, 1999, p. 117). About 8,557 Indian soldiers died in Europe, most of whom have no known grave (The Times, 1927).9 What was the impact of service in France on Indian ex-soldiers? There was considerable Sikh involvement in the 1919 Punjab disturbances, and in the 1920s the strongly anti-British Akali movement emerged (Fraser, 1978, p. 36). These developments have sometimes been partly attributed to the impact of wartime service in Europe. This view seems implausible, if only because most Indian soldiers who served outside India did so only in the Middle East. Furthermore, letters home from Europe suggest that the soldiers greatly admired many aspects of European life.10 The Sikhs certainly made some political gains from their wartime service. A Sikh deputation met the Viceroy in November 1917 to plead for separate electorates for Sikhs. Their claim rested on their “unique position”: meaning their status in pre-annexation Punjab, and their services to the British empire (Grewal, 1990, p. 152). The 1918 Montagu-Chelmsford Report recommended separate electorates for Sikhs (Rumbold, 1979, p. 112; Grewal, 1990, p. 152; Omissi, 1994, p. 97). Sikhs had hoped, however, to gain 30 percent of seats in the provincial council of the Punjab; in the event they obtained only 10 out of 58 seats. Indian soldiers were commemorated according to the same principle as other Commonwealth soldiers: they were remembered where they fell and in their country of origin. The main memorial to Indian soldiers is accordingly in India, where the massive arch of India Gate anchors one of main avenues of New Delhi. The memorials in Europe include the Chattri on the Downs near Brighton, which marks the place where the Hindu and Sikh dead had been cremated. In Belgium, there are of course many Indian names inscribed on the memorial to the missing at the Menin Gate at Ypres. The main memorial to the Indian Army in Europe is at Neuve Chapelle—the site of the Indian Army’s most famous battle in France. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker in the Indo-saracenic style, this graceful structure commemorates the Indian missing. In the foreground is a column 15 m high, surmounted by a Lotus capital, the Star of India and the Imperial Crown, and flanked by two stone tigers. On the memorial’s circular walls are carved the names of some 5,000 dead from Indian units (including their British officers). The memorial was inaugurated on October 7, 1927, by Lord Birkenhead, the former recording officer of the Indian Corps. Sikh veterans formed part of the honor guard at the ceremony (The Times, 1927; Corrigan, 1999, p. 252; Bridger, 2000, pp. 125–6).

Notes 1 At the editors’ request, I have normally cited soldiers’ letters that have already been published. 2 For accounts of the Indian Corps in France, see Willcocks (1920) and Merewether and Smith (1917); for recent general accounts of the Indian Army on the Western Front, see Greenhut (1983) and Corrigan (1999); for Indian soldiers’ letters, see VanKoski (1995) and Omissi (1999); for soldiers’ experiences of Europe more generally, see Omissi (2007a) and Visram (2002); and for broader histories of India and the Great War, see Omissi (2007b) and Ellinwood and Pradhan (1978).

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3 On that date, the Sikh component of the army consisted of 23,108 Jats and 7,867 “other Sikhs.” 4 There was much debate in Indian Army circles about which system of organization was best. 5 In fact Punjabi Muslims were the most widely recruited “class” in the Indian Army during both World Wars. 6 Merewether and Smith (1917, p. 332) (strength), WO 95/3913, Appendix Y (casualties). 7 The total figure does not appear to include the Indian cavalry. 8 The military censor destroyed his letter because of his concern about its possible impact in India. 9 Sikh and Hindu corpses are usually cremated. 10 For further discussion of this issue, see Omissi (2007a, pp. 394–6).

Bibliography Beckett, I. F. W. (2004), Ypres: The First Battle, 1914. Harlow: Pearson. Bridger, G. (2000), The Battle of Neuve Chapelle. Barnsley: Leo Cooper. Collins, J. (1997), Dr Brighton’s Indian Patients: December 1914–January 1916. Brighton: Brighton Books. Corrigan, G. (1999), Sepoys in the Trenches: The Indian Corps on the Western Front, 1914–1915. Staplehurst: Spellmount. Ellinwood, C. D. and Pradhan, S. D. (1978), India and World War I. New Delhi: Manohar. European Manuscripts (1915a), Holderness to Hardinge, January 8, Photo, 473/1. British Library, African and Asian Collections. — (1915b), Chamberlain to Hardinge, July 8, Photo, 473/1. British Library, African and Asian Collections. — (1915c), Chamberlain to Hardinge, July 9, Photo, 143/1. British Library, African and Asian Collections. — (1915d), The Military Situation in India. Memo by Beauchamp Duff quoted in Hardinge to Chamberlain, September 10, paper circulated to War Cabinet as Enclosure to Chamberlain to Hardinge, October 24, Photo, 143/1. British Library, African and Asian Collections. Fox, R. G. (1985), Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Fraser, T. G. (1978), “The Sikh problem in Canada and its political consequences, 1905–1921.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 7(1), 35–55. French, D. (1987), “The Dardanelles, Mecca and Kut: prestige as a factor in British Eastern strategy, 1914–1916.” War and Society, 5(1), 45–61. Government of India (1913), Census of India, 1911, Vol. I. Calcutta: Government of India. Greenhut, J. (1983), “The imperial reserve: the Indian corps on the western front, 1914–15.” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 12(1), 54–73. Grewal, J. S. (1990), The Sikhs of the Punjab. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hardinge of Penshurst (1948), My Indian Years, 1910–1916. London: John Murray. Heathcote, T. A. (1974), The Indian Army: The Garrison of British Imperial India, 1822–1922. Newton Abbot: David and Charles. Holland, R. (1999), “The British empire and the great war,” in J. M. Brown and W. R. Louis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. IV. The Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 114–37.

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India Office Records (1915), Jagat Singh, 47th Sikhs, Brighton [Hospital] to a Friend in India (Gurmukhi), May 16, L/MIL/825/3/376. British Library, Military Department. Mason, P. (1974), A Matter of Honour: An Account of the Indian Army, its Officers and Men. London: Jonathan Cape. Merewether, J. W. B. and Smith, F. (1917), The Indian Corps in France. London: John Murray. O’Dwyer, M. (1925), India as I Knew it, 1885–1925. London: Constable. Omissi, D. E. (1994), The Sepoy and the Raj: The Indian Army, 1860–1940. Basingstoke: Macmillan. — (1999), Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldiers’ Letters, 1914–1918. Basingstoke: Macmillan. — (2007a), “Europe through Indian eyes: Indian soldiers encounter England and France, 1914–1918.” English Historical Review, 122(496), 371–96. — (2007b), “The Indian army in the first world war, 1914–1918,” in D. P. Marston and C. S. Sundaram (eds), A Military History of India and South Asia: From the East India Company to the Nuclear Era. Westport: Praeger, pp. 74–87. Perry, F. W. (1988), The Commonwealth Armies: Manpower and Organisation in Two World Wars. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Robson, B. (1993), Roberts in India: The Military Papers of Field Marshal Lord Roberts, 1876–1893. Stroud: Alan Sutton. Rose, K. (1983), King George V. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Rumbold, A. (1979), Watershed in India, 1914–1922. London: Athlone Press. Strachan, H. (2003), The First World War. London: Simon and Schuster. Streets, H. (2004), Martial Races: The Military, Race and Masculinity in British Imperial Culture, 1857–1914. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Talbot, I. (1988), Punjab and the Raj, 1849–1947. New Delhi: Manohar. Tan, T.-Y. (2000), “An imperial home front: Punjab and the first world war.” Journal of Military History, 64(2), 371–410. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England (n.d., c. 1916), Second Report of the Indian Soldiers’ Fund: For the Period 1st April, 1915 to 20th November, 1915. The Times (1927), “The Indians in France,” October 8. VanKoski, S. (1995), “Letters home, 1915–16: Punjabi soldiers reflect on war and life in Europe and their meanings for home and self.” International Journal of Punjab Studies, 2(1), 43–63. Visram, R. (1989), “The first world war and the Indian soldiers.” Indo-British Review, 16(2), 17–26. — (2002), Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History. London: Pluto Press. Wakefield, J. H. and Weippert, C. J. M. (1986), Indian Cavalry Officer, 1914–15: Captain Roly Grimshaw. Tunbridge Wells: Costello. War Office Records (1914), Kitchener to France. September 29, WO 33/713. The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office). — (1915). French to WO, March 6 and April 11, WO 33/739. The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office). Willcocks, J. (1920), With the Indians in France. London: Constable.

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Mobility as a Transnational Strategy: Sikhs Moving to and from Belgium Quincy Cloet, Sara Cosemans, and Idesbald Goddeeris

On Belgian Independence Day on July 21, 1982, A. Singh arrived at Brussels Airport with a seven-day tourist visa. He applied for asylum but was refused a year later. In August 1983, Singh moved to Germany and found a job in an Italian restaurant. After two years, he returned to Belgium where his former employer’s son assisted him with legalizing his stay. In 1990, Singh became a Belgian citizen (Cosemans et al., 2011, pp. 99, 101, 103). Singh was not the first Sikh to migrate to Belgium, but he was among the pioneers. The country and particularly the fruit-farming sector in Hesbaye in the south of the northeastern province of Limburg (around Sint-Truiden) attracted thousands of Sikhs in the 1980s. The case of Singh illustrates the phenomenon of transnational mobility. He did not settle in Belgium straightaway, but also lived in other countries, in particular Germany. Transnational mobility is a key feature of Sikh migration, and from the perspective of the Belgian context there are many other recent examples. For instance, a young woman, A. Kaur, who finished her Masters degree at a Belgian university in 2010, recently became engaged to a Canadian Sikh—a dream comes true for her. Her sister got engaged to a French Sikh in 2011 and is also ready to leave Belgium (mail correspondence, October 22, 2011, November 1, 2011). This transnational mobility somehow contrasts with the general view of Sikh migration, which has sometimes been associated with success and stability. A. Kaur and her sister’s “successful economic integration . . . is a characteristic feature of many Sikh communities in Europe, perhaps because work and honorable living is considered by many Sikhs to be a religious duty” (Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011, p. 10). Family reunification and residency—typical signs of stability—are significant trends among Sikhs. However, this stability depicts only one side of the picture and coincides with transnational mobility. Sikh migration does not only consist of immigration to a particular country, but shows a much more varied pattern, including transit migration, return migration to India, circular migration between India and Europe, intradiasporic migration within Europe and/ or the Atlantic World, and so on. Sikh migration is also increasingly stretching across several generations. The “in-between” generation of Sikhs who were born in India but immigrated to Europe at a young age is now entering into adulthood. They behave

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differently than their parents and are much more mobile or, at least, have much more transnational ambition. The analysis of this mobility is extremely complicated since it is nearly impossible to map all of the movements in a quantitative way. However, this should not prevent attempts to make analyses of that mobility. This chapter illuminates the Sikh mobility from a Belgian perspective, inquiring into the transnational relocation of Sikhs in Belgium and the reasons for this mobility and why Sikhs, after having settled in Belgium for years or even decades, are still willing to leave the country and settle elsewhere. First, we give an overview of the Sikh presence in Belgium and then elaborate on the Belgian attitudes toward the Sikhs. Finally, the chapter discusses the transnational mobility of some Sikh groups in Belgium. The study results from two Masters theses that were based on extensive participant observation and communication via new media. Two of the authors attended celebrations in several gurdwaras, particularly the ones of Halmaal and Vilvoorde, and talked to dozens of Sikhs in Belgium. They also registered on Sikh social networking platforms, including Facebook, and continued their conversations by means of the internet. Finally, an extensive study of Flemish media was carried out via digital databases.1

Sikh migration to Belgium Sikh migration to Belgium has only recently gained the interest of academic research. This is patently late as the country is one of the major hubs of Sikh migration in continental Europe. Their precise number remains unknown since national statistics do not differentiate between religious or ethnic groups and do not include illegal immigrants. According to most estimates, there are about 10,000 Sikhs living in Belgium. This roughly equates to the Netherlands and France, where about 15,000 Sikhs live respectively. Relatively speaking, Belgium is more important though because its population amounts to only 11 million compared to nearly 17 million Dutch, 65 million French, and almost 82 million Germans (Cosemans et al., 2011). As a matter of fact, the Sikhs in Belgium constitute one of the most numerous communities, after Germany (25,000), Italy (between 25,000 and 70,000), and Great Britain (more than 300,000) (Bertolani et al., 2011, p. 134; Moliner, 2011, p. 167). Moreover, the Sikh presence in Belgium is quite old. Owen W. Cole’s statement from the early 1990s that “Europe’s Sikh community outside Britain scarcely exists” is not correct regarding Belgium (quoted in Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011, p. 1). Actually, the first Sikhs in Belgium did not settle: they were soldiers of the British Army and fought in Flanders during the First World War (Holland, 1999). However, the first Sikh immigrants in Belgium arrived in the early 1970s, coming from Uganda. They were not numerous, but were important because they triggered the so-called drop-in migration. In the early 1980s, more numerous groups of Sikhs moved to Belgium. This was to a large extent due to the presence of fellow Sikhs, who informed and assisted them about their relocation. Legal immigration was difficult after the new migration law of 1974, but there were loopholes that residing Sikhs knew about.

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Most of these Sikhs were employed in the fruit-farming sector in Hesbaye in the east of the country (particularly around the city of Sint-Truiden). In the harvest season especially, from June to November, there was a huge demand for cheap and flexible labor. Typically, local housewives or students would pick fruit because of their flexible hours. However, due to social changes, such as more women acquiring permanent jobs and more appealing student jobs, there were not enough people to work on the farms. Sikhs were considered appropriate candidates for the job, given their experience in Punjabi agriculture and because the seasonal work was more accessible than regular employment. Immigrants with ongoing applications received a permit to work in the fruit-farming sector and illegal immigrants were tacitly tolerated due to the urgent need to pick fruit. In the first half of the 1980s, when asked about their motives for leaving India, the bulk of the new Sikh immigrants referred to the deteriorating economic circumstances in their home country. Only from 1987 onwards did newly arrived Sikh immigrants mostly identify themselves as political refugees. They were recognized as such by the authorities, who became aware of the violent conflict between radical Sikhs and the Indian authorities. The new immigrants transformed the outlook of the community and this led to new concentrations of Sikhs, first and foremost in the French-speaking part of Hesbaye (the province of Liège). Moreover, the new immigrants were more conservative with regard to religious identity. While the first Sikhs had cut their hair in order to adapt to the host society, the new migrants kept their beards and wore turbans. They banned alcohol and did not tolerate relationships with Belgian women. This was also due to the growing presence of Sikh women in Belgium. On the one hand, there was a significant number of women among the refugees, since the position of earlier refugees’ wives, as well as of whole families, had become more precarious. On the other hand, many Sikhs who had migrated earlier had now obtained residence permits and were allowed to travel to India to find a wife and afterwards return to Belgium. The increasing female presence had an impact on the Sikh community in Belgium, in the sense that traditions from the home country became more important and developed in a more orthodox way. This is also illustrated with the establishment of the first public gurdwara in Halmaal (near Sint-Truiden) in 1993. In the early 1990s, the number of Sikhs continued to grow. There was still a constant influx from India and there were more refugees from the Netherlands and Germany, where some measures had been taken to discourage asylum seekers. This led to clashes with the local population (e.g. a house inhabited by Sikhs in Sint-Truiden was fire bombed on August 15, 1993) and a more repressive policy on a national as well as local level. In the second half of the 1990s, the controls against illegal labor grew into actual raids in which helicopters were deployed. This eventually led to a drop in Sikh newcomers and to the dispersion of the Sikh community. In 1999, a second gurdwara was established in Vilvoorde near Brussels and attracted a predominantly male, semior unskilled, and less orthodox group of Sikhs. The Sikhs were only a tiny part of the large groups of immigrants who entered Belgium in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the democratization process in the Congo, and the wars in Chechnya and Yugoslavia. Due to the large number of applicants, the government launched a regularization program of immigrants in

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1999. Irregulars were given residence permits under particular conditions, for instance when they had been applying for asylum for at least four years. Moreover, the Belgian government eased the way for foreigners seeking Belgian citizenship (the so-called Snel-Belgwet or Quick Belgian Law). The number of Sikh regularizations was limited: In the province of Limburg, where the Sikhs were the most numerous, only 153 applications were filed (Het Belang van Limburg, 2000; Het Laatste Nieuws, 2000; Het Nieuwsblad, 2000a). However, the regulation led to new Sikh immigrants, who were attracted to Belgium by the allegedly “liberal” alien policy. During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Belgium continued to attract many Sikhs, despite the fact that other European countries had also been added to the list of possible destinations. The Sikhs have continued to spread to other cities. Liège became the seat of a third Belgian gurdwara, established in 2005, and had a population of almost 1,500 Sikhs in 2011. This was also due to a significant development in the fruit-farming sector in the vicinities of Sint-Truiden. After the accession of ten new countries to the European Union in 2004, the number of Eastern European—chiefly Polish—applicants for seasonal labor grew dramatically. They were popular among the employers because of their enthusiastic readiness to work for long hours and their high level of flexibility due to the fact they were typically living without their families, contrary to the Sikhs. Consequently, the Sikhs increasingly disappeared from Belgian fruit farms. Some Sikhs were able to purchase a strip of land and set up their own agricultural businesses. Many others found jobs in a factory or concentrated on business, especially in market stalls and night shops where they continue to be overrepresented. These developments have generated new tensions within the Sikh communities. For instance, there has been more friction between generations, given the fact that the first Sikh children born in Belgium are reaching adulthood. Most of them relate to issues of gender, religion, and culture. These tensions have led to a case of honor killing in the summer of 2010, which was widely covered in Flemish newspapers (Het Belang van Limburg, 2010; De Standaard, 2010a; see also Punjab Newsline, 2010a,b). On top of that, there are also internal religious clashes, based on doctrinal disputes (the acceptance of sants versus the single worshipping of the Guru Granth Sahib), caste differences (Jat vs Labana), and personal ambitions. A second gurdwara in South-Limburg was founded in 2006 and frequented by Labana Sikhs. However, these tensions should not be overestimated. Most Sikhs simply went to the nearest gurdwara. Moreover, the relationship with the “original” gurdwara in Halmaal has been improving once again since 2010.

The Belgian attitude toward Sikhs The growing presence of Sikhs in Belgium was combined with an increasing hostility of Belgian society toward immigrants. Of course, this should not be generalized: there are many nuances between regions (Flanders-Wallonia) and political parties (Left vs Right) and many cordial contacts on the local level. Still, an in-depth analysis of newspapers demonstrates that all media—Right wing as well as other—were suspicious of immigrants and/or talked about Sikhs in a biased way, which in turn has led to a feeling

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of uneasiness among the Sikhs. This section focuses on Belgian perceptions of the Sikhs as expressed by political parties, the media, and through individual experiences of Sikhs, and attempts to explain the roots of the hostility in Belgian society and the extent to which this has convinced a number of Sikhs to leave the country. In the 1990s and 2000s, important matters such as asylum, illegal labor, religious tolerance, and multiculturalism have dominated the discussions in the political spectrum, the media, and the lives of ordinary citizens. During the last ten years in particular, the public has become aware that phenomena such as migration and intercultural exchange are integral parts of society in the twenty-first century. Some people perceive migration as a necessary and inevitable development that is part of a globalized world, while others consider it a grave problem that disrupts local traditions. Many people in Flanders especially seem to be suspicious of immigrants. The Rightwing conservative party Vlaams Blok became popular from the early 1990s onwards and won almost a quarter of the votes in the elections for the Flemish Parliament in 2004. This was partly due to their revival of the historical Flemish movement and the rise of populism, but Vlaams Blok, which was renamed Vlaams Belang in 2004, also won many votes because of its belligerent stance toward migration. Minorities and immigrants, with their specific cultural origins, became the target of xenophobic reactions, instead of being treated with openness. Vlaams Belang has expressed feelings of anger and malcontent toward demographic and cultural shifts that have occurred in Flanders. Its general aim to tighten control over the influx of immigrants and asylum seekers is based on alleged threats of cultural dominance and economic advantage of the host society. For example, in the summer of 2011 Vlaams Belang started a campaign to ask foreigners to return to their home country. It was labeled “Return Home Satisfied” and intended to push immigrants who had “trouble with” adjusting to the country to their region of origin (Het Nieuwsblad, 2011a). The campaign was primarily targeted at minority groups in general; however, some Right-wing campaigns addressed specific religious or ethnic groups. In cities with a high concentration of Sikhs, local representatives of Vlaams Belang have more than once argued that Sikhs are a threat to the community. They have taken a tough stance toward the Sikh community, particularly in the case of the kirpan (the ceremonial dagger, the wearing of which is one of the five religious prescriptions of orthodox Sikhs) and the asylum of refugees in the gurdwaras (Het Laatste Nieuws, 2004). Although there is no national regulation in Belgium regarding the right to wear the kirpan, individual Sikhs have occasionally been charged for illegally carrying weapons. They were later cleared of the charges; only in one case did two Sikhs have to appeal to be acquitted (Het Belang van Limburg, 2007, 2009b; De Standaard, 2008, 2009a). This discourse is not limited to the Vlaams Belang, but has increasingly dominated the debate about migration and asylum. The view that immigrants, especially religious minorities, are a threat to Flemish society and Christian values is slowly gaining ground in the larger strata of the general public. Even though it is mostly based on a xenophobic sentiment or even irrational behavior, it has influenced many of the ideas in the current debate on migration and asylum. Dissident voices or moderate parties

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are either unable to stress the positive effects of migration and multiculturalism, or have become more critical of immigration themselves, hoping they can steal some votes from the Right.2 As a result, some individuals within the Sikh community have felt they are unrepresented by the current political parties because of this hostile political climate. In an interview, a 35-year-old man stated that the national politicians have shown no interest in issues that matter to the Sikhs, even though they always ask for their votes (Interview, Turnhout, March 11, 2011). The municipal elections of October 2012 will be the first where there may be Sikh candidates. One of them, Palwinder Kaur, has already announced that she will run for the social democratic party SP-A. Next to political parties, the media are an important means for studying the Belgian or Flemish attitude towards the Sikh community. An analysis of the written and audio-visual media from the last decades clearly shows that the Belgian media have a tendency toward highlighting and targeting the religious preference or ethnic origin of migrants. Sikhs are always labeled as Sikhs, even in those cases where there is no clear link between the topics discussed and the religious identity of the individuals concerned. The usage of this label can have stigmatizing effects, especially in the case of negative news reporting. Criminal offenders are thus always seen as an explicit part of the Sikh community, and their individual mistakes are projected onto every Sikh. There are many examples of this negative projection; for instance, when newspapers report about a Sikh getting fined for being drunk behind the wheel of a vehicle or a “massive brawl” among Sikhs (about a social conflict, not a religion one, as suggested in the headlines), and a murder in the Sikh community (because of a payment) (Het Nieuwsblad, 2000b; Het Laatste Nieuws, 2003, 2005). Conversely, Sikhs are also explicitly labeled as victims. In an article from 2004, a victim of a housing conflict was described as “a Sikh” in the title and in the text, while the offender was just described as a “75-year-old man.” The conflict did not involve any religious matters, but the journalist still used a religious label to describe the foreign “other” (Het Belang van Limburg, 2004b). Only recently has the negative writing changed to a more positive and nuanced discourse (Het Nieuwsblad, 2010, 2011b; De Standaard 2010b; Het Belang van Limburg, 2011a,b). This is undoubtedly due to the involvement of Harjinder Singh Heule, a Dutchman who converted to Sikhism and has been hired by the Halmaal gurdwara committee as a spokesman of the Sikhs. As an ethnic Dutch, he has gained the function of bridging the gap between the Sikh community and the wider society. Despite these attempts to create intercultural dialogues in Belgium, many Sikhs still feel isolated from the mainstream society. They keep experiencing difficulties with integration into the local community, partly due to language problems. A large part of their contacts and acquaintances are within their own religious community and many struggle to meet new people outside their social and religious inner circle. This phenomenon expands to the labor market where immigrants or people with foreign roots strive to acquire a job (Corluy et al., 2011a,b). In a recent questionnaire published in November 2011, a quarter of the Belgian population still tended to agree with the statement that Belgians should be given priority in the labor market in order to prevent immigrants from taking all the jobs (De Morgen, 2011). Even when Sikhs participate in the active workforce, they have difficulties coping with regulations, interpersonal relations, and xenophobic hostility. This is

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especially true of those who still wear a turban or other religious symbols and as a result can experience unpleasant consequences. Some Belgian corporations forbid their employees to wear any form of headscarf, sometimes due to safety reasons or by claiming the importance of religious neutrality. As a consequence, the Sikhs, just like other immigrants, tend to be concentrated at workplaces that have an open attitude toward ethnicity and religion (Interview, Leuven, December 3, 2010; Interview, Alken, March 11, 2011; Interview, Sint-Truiden, April 7, 2011). Interviews with Sikh entrepreneurs running night shops have also complained about racism and vandalism in their stores while others are more positive to their Belgian customers (Interview, Turnhout, March 11, 2011; Interview, Gingelom, November 20, 2011). A 17-year-old Sikh man in Brussels expressed his desire to study medicine along with his fear that a general practitioner with a turban would struggle to find patients (Interview, Brussels, December 10, 2010). The hostility toward migrants in Belgian society seems to be widespread and affects the interpersonal and intercommunal relations of the Sikhs. This general stance was certainly reflected in a political campaign in 2009, which discouraged Indians, and especially the Sikhs, from migrating from India to Belgium (just as other groups, such as Kosovars, were also discouraged from moving to the country). The then Minister of Domestic Affairs, Annemie Turtelboom, cooperated with the Immigration Service to produce and spread a video message that highlighted the dangers of immigration and asylum seeking. The film portrayed an Indian person behind prison bars and also a Sikh stopped at passport control. Besides that, images were used of Sikhs working in the fruit-farming sector and of policemen searching houses where illegal immigrants resided. The aim of the federal government was to avoid a further influx of Indian immigrants, but the video clearly targeted the Sikh community in an offensive way (Het Nieuwsblad, 2009; TV Limburg, 2009; Het Belang van Limburg, 2009a), especially by stressing the criminal nature of migration and pointing to the number of immigrants. It only highlighted the negative side of migration and refused to acknowledge various advantages of human mobility, such as increasing the labor force, enforcing cultural exchange, and growing prosperity. An important question to pose is from where does this feeling of hostility originate. Belgian society has almost never had any negative experiences with relation to the Sikhs, except for a few local problems. Also, the size of the religious community is hardly a threat to the community at large. A possible reason can perhaps be found in the turn of events after 9/11. The actions of a few fundamentalist individuals gave rise to a high aversion to Islam and Muslims in Europe. Even though xenophobic feelings in relation to non-European immigrants and cultures was not a new phenomenon in Belgium, the events of 9/11 culminated into a more general feeling of unease about (fanatic) religiosity, multiculturalism, and immigration. Sikhs have also suffered from this suspicion of Muslims, as they have been mistakenly associated with the Taliban. This confusion was an obvious problem shortly after the events in 2001 when three Sikhs in the United States were murdered because the attackers had mistaken them for Muslims (De Morgen, 2001; Het Volk, 2001). Also, in Belgium there were some press reports stating that local Sikhs were being harassed for their appearance (Het Laatste Nieuws, 2001). Even in 2011, two Sikhs were regarded

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as Muslims on the national Flemish television news and interviewed by a journalist reporting on the reaction of the Muslim community to the death of Osama bin Laden (VRT Nieuws, 2011). The Sikh community was also an indirect victim of different policies aimed to affect the Muslim minority after 9/11. This happened, for instance, when a number of public schools decided to prohibit the headscarf in 2004 and 2009. Teenagers were no longer allowed to wear any religious headgear, as this was considered to be a sign that a religious preference was forced upon them at an age when they are still vulnerable to external influences. These measures took place within the larger debate between advocates of a clear separation between state and religion and their opponents, who consisted of a varied group including progressives, Christian Democrats, and migrants. The debate did not lead to a general ban on headscarves, such as in the case of France, since it was overruled by the Constitutional Court. However, individual public schools were allowed to forbid the wearing of religious signs and this is expected to happen from 2012 or 2013 onwards. Although the policy is mostly aimed at the Muslim community, it also affects young Sikh boys who will be banned from wearing turbans and keski. Because legislators and school boards are unable to make a distinction between the different religions, the Sikhs are unable to receive an exemption from the rule (De Standard, 2009b; Het Laatste Nieuws, 2009a,b; De Belgische Sikhgemeenschap, 2011). Nevertheless, mistaking the identity of Sikhs with Muslims cannot be seen as the sole reason why parts of Belgian society took a critical stance toward the former group. In fact, some of the hostility toward the Sikhs occurred before the events of 9/11. Even in the early 1990s, newspaper reports illustrated a heightened sensitivity toward the presence of Sikhs in Belgium, especially in the region of Hesbaye (Het Belang van Limburg, 1993a,b, 1994). As noted before, these difficulties involved local conflicts and were not embedded in a general uneasiness with immigrants. A feeling of hostility, as expressed by political parties and the media, affects the relationship between the Sikh community and the host society and the integration and mobility of individual Sikhs. In multiple interviews, we have noticed that some Sikhs in Belgium experience hostility and difficulties in integrating. Many of them stated that they are planning to leave the country as soon as the right time presents itself and some had already made certain arrangements to leave in the near future (Interview, Leuven, February 22, 2011). The transnational aspiration is also fuelled by the attraction to other regions in the world, especially to the Anglo-Saxon countries (United Kingdom, Canada, United States), which remain an important destination for many Sikhs who wish to leave Belgium in search for more opportunities. Aside from the advantage of being English-speaking nations, many Sikhs have the impression that these countries are more multicultural and open to immigrants and economic profit-seekers. Belgium, by contrast, is more in line with the French tradition and has adopted a critical stance toward religion and multiculturalism (De Morgen, 2004). Several Sikh boys expressed their desire to study in the United Kingdom because of harassment from Belgians regarding the turban and, not surprisingly, were fully supported by their parents. Although many ideas about the attitudes in Belgian society do not always correspond to the reality,3 they play an important role in the creation of transnational dreams

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(Interview, Sint-Truiden, November 12, 2010; Interview, Borgworm, February 16 and 29, 2011; Interview, Liège, September 1, 2011).

Transnational mobility For many immigrants, dreams about migrating to English-speaking countries remain idle. However, this does not mean that there is no transnational mobility. In the final section we focus on two groups of Sikhs who have recently immigrated to Belgium: one group moved from Southern Europe to Belgium, and the other recently left their home country and now dreams of returning to India. The recent movements and current dreams within both of these groups can illustrate how transnational mobility is a key aspect of the Sikh diaspora. Subsequently, we will expand on transnational emigration. Indeed, some Sikhs in Belgium, and particularly the younger generation, are determined to leave the country and settle across the Channel or the Atlantic.

Transnational mobility to Belgium In spite of its societal suspicion, Belgium (like other Western European countries) remains a desired host country for Sikhs. This is due to the relatively easy access to Belgian citizenship (the earlier mentioned Snel-Belgwet) and the employment prospects (at least before the recession of 2011). As a result, the country appeals to Sikhs who had initially immigrated to Southern Europe, but later decided to try their luck abroad and to escape hardship caused by the economic crisis that initially hit hard in Greece and Portugal, and later also in Spain and Italy. Already from 2008 onwards, the gurdwara boards in Hesbaye noticed an increase of Sikh migrants coming from Southern Europe.4 Some of them held the appropriate documents, but many left India undocumented and hoped to improve their life in Southern Europe. Their further migration was due to the regularization policy in Southern European countries, which is characterized by large-scale, frequent, and temporary legalization programs (Levinson, 2005). When migrants’ legal documents expire, many stay in Europe and search for a new destination. Since circular migration within the Schengen zone is not restricted, illegal migrants find their way to Western Europe where regularization occurs less frequently but has a more permanent character. Local gurdwaras play an important role in receiving migrants and providing them with initial advice and accommodation. However, these local communities faced huge problems when asylum seekers from Southern Europe started moving in larger groups to Belgium and created tension between the moral imperative of hospitality and the Belgian law. As a result, the gurdwaras’ policy became more restrictive by avoiding hosting more than one family and advising people entering the country to follow the regular path of the asylum procedure. Another group that can be included in a discussion of transnational mobility is the Sikhs who have recently left India. The earlier mentioned regularization campaign in 2000 did not only bring an end to the precarious living circumstances of many Sikhs

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who arrived in Belgium during the 1980s and 1990s, but also attracted new immigrants. They entered the country as students or tourists, but did not return home when their visas expired and ended up having irregular status. Studies in the United States and Europe indeed show that programs of regularization encourage further irregular immigration (Levinson, 2005). According to Marco Martiniello and Andrea Rea, . . . the precarious nature of their [undocumented immigrants] lives, a consequence of the lack of legal residence status, forces them to replace whatever initial plans they might have had with basic plans for survival, which include clinging more tenaciously to the desire to stay in Belgium. At the same time, ironically, the first thing that many undocumented aliens want to do if they achieve legal status is return home, while having the assurance of being able to come back to Belgium. (Martiniello and Rea, 2004)

This would make the newly arrived Indians subject to transnational mobility between India and Europe. However, the question remains to what extent is the wish to return really complied with after obtaining legal status (see also Nijs, 2011, pp. 87–92). Most recent immigrants we talked to expressed feelings of loneliness and disorientation after migration. Many of them have ended up without any job or—if they are able to find one—are working illegally and without labor rights. They rely heavily on the solidarity systems of their social network, in which the gurdwaras once again play a crucial role. However, apart from their participation in the gurdwara, the new Sikh immigrants do not have deep personal contacts with their fellow believers in Belgium. Solidarity is more a matter of religious duty, but does not integrate newcomers within the established community (Moliner, 2011, pp. 174–6). Contact with the host society remains even more limited. Some recently immigrated Sikhs mention connections with people at work. Others are in search of female companionship and approach women with the intention of establishing a relationship, which would also solve their current illegal status. However, this strategy does not seem to be successful and has also become complicated by a stricter regulation on “mariage blanc” or marriages of convenience.5 As a consequence, recently arrived migrants find themselves in the paradoxical situation of belonging neither to the host society nor to the community of the already established migrants in the diaspora. This paradox is also marked by their appearance. Many of them are clean-shaven, believing they would better assimilate into the host society and find jobs more easily, even if the host society still considers them to be “foreign.” Conversely, many of the Sikhs who are upholding the normative Khalsa ideals and an Amrithdari identity do not consider the new arrivals to be wholly Sikh. This means that the connection between recently arrived migrants and the established community is often less cordial than has generally been assumed. Despite the assistance newcomers receive from the gurdwaras, they fail to become part of the established community. The “in-between” position they end up in forces them to rely on their own group and to preserve strong ties with their country of origin. This does not mean that they eventually go back to India, although the proportion of people who actually return is hard to define (Portes, 2001, p. 188). There are no

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accurate statistical data due to the illegal and recent character of this migration; however, many of them seem to lack the means to travel home. This became clear after the latest regularization campaign in 2009 when Indians were able to turn their undocumented status into Belgian citizenship—or at least permanent residence (Daemen et al., 2010, p. 24)—but many did not return to India. In other words, the recently arrived Sikhs choose to remain in Belgium even if they end up in an “in-between” position.

Transnational mobility from Belgium: The case of young Sikh adults Similar to the newly arrived Sikhs, young adults who have grown up in Belgium are mobile and nurture transnational dreams. Interviews with six young adults who were born outside of Europe between 1988 and 1990 but grew up in Belgium revealed that they were eager to leave the country. Some of them had already migrated and others had the intention to do so in the very near future. They considered themselves to be integrated into Belgian society, but they were on the threshold of building their own lives and left many options open. Being part of transnational networks, they wanted to capitalize on these contacts. Indeed, the local sangats (religious congregations) and, on a smaller scale, kinship and friendship networks often function as a social safety net and facilitate their second migration. The respondents had pursued higher education and gave the impression of a strong self-consciousness. They considered their religious and ethnic background to be important and, at the same time, had developed close ties with the host society, expressed through friendships formed at school and university. As the so-called 1.5 generation, they hold another “in-between” position. They are not entirely comparable with the first generation—their parents—because they have been molded by European cultures and education systems, but they are also not part of the second generation born in Europe. Surprisingly, the second generation appears to be more isolated from the host society than the 1.5 generation, since many of the children grew up in regions with high concentrations of Sikhs and attended schools with many Sikh children. In comparison with the first and second generation, the “in-between” 1.5 generation has a more complex position in society, finding themselves at the crossroads of different worldviews. They distinguish between a Sikh and a Punjabi identity, considering Sikhism more liberal and Punjabi culture more suppressive (Taylor et al., 2007, p. 332; Mooney, 2010, p. 180). Meanwhile, they also borrow cultural influences from Indian and European traditions and, in addition to that, identify themselves with the country they grew up in and the country they want to migrate to. Instead of a “double consciousness” causing hybrid identities, this generation is defined by a “multiple consciousness” and a contextual identity (Sandset, n.d.). Although they constitute a highly self-conscious group, they also express a certain feeling of belonging “anywhere but nowhere.” However, they try to turn this condition into an advantage by crossing borders in search of better opportunities, whether of economic, social, intellectual, or cultural character. For instance, youngsters travel and move by means of their university studies, applying for internships or by entering into interdiasporic marriages. Several examples of young Sikhs arriving in Belgium show that student mobility is popular and widespread. For example, A. P. Singh was preparing a dissertation on

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biological information technology at Columbia University when he found his way to Belgium for a short-term internship at the University of Leuven. He wished to relocate to Western Europe after completing his PhD and to reunite with his mother who was still living in India. After the internship, Belgium became a very likely option. The story of R. Singh, a young French Sikh who recently came to Liège to gain work experience in his brother-in-law’s night shop business, is different but also relates to education. The ban on headscarves in French public life halted his university ambitions and consequently he left school with a bachelor degree in information technology. He worked for a short time on a construction site, but cherished the dream of opening his own supermarket. He perceived his stay in Belgium as an opportunity to accomplish this dream in the near future and hoped that the work experience would enable him to set up a store in France, the country where his father had built up his fortune. However, he was not sure whether his choice to wear the turban would allow him to do so (Interview, Leuven, August 12, 2011; Interview, Liège, September 1, 2011). The case of transnational marriages in the Belgian Sikh community deserves more attention as the “in-between” generation is reaching marriageable age. Strikingly, this generation, which grew up under similar circumstances and knew each other from childhood, does not marry each other. This can be explained by the strict rules inherent to arranged Punjabi marriages that are not only caste endogamous but kingroup exogamous (Mooney, 2006, p. 400). Although the kin-group is mostly limited to one’s own got (parents’ natal clans), some youngsters explained that exogamy is also required in the local sangat (Interview, Borgworm, February 28, 2011). Therefore, it is still a common practice to import partners—brides as well as grooms—from India (Kapur and Misra, 2010, pp. 187–95; Cosemans, 2011, p. 99). However, women of marriageable age who grew up in Belgium outnumber the men, since the early refugees apparently had more daughters than sons. Moreover, the women are highly educated and more successful in finding prestigious jobs. Which type of partner is considered desirable is largely dependent on gender. Belgian Sikh men in their twenties tend to be rather hesitant to marry a Belgian Sikh woman who is highly educated and well emancipated and therefore prefer an Indian bride. Women, by contrast, are not satisfied with a conservative spouse from the Sikh community in Belgium or from India. They therefore prefer marrying a Sikh from another European country, also because they see this as a way of freeing themselves from their father’s conservative and patriarchal authority (Nayar, 2010, pp. 264–5). A 22-year-old woman explained how she negotiated her arranged marriage with the parents: I know that my future husband will be Sikh and Punjabi, but he can be Sikh and from another culture. . . . And so I said to my parents that they could begin their search of the “happy-to-be.” Since I initially wanted to travel to Canada after graduation, I said: “Look for a Canadian Sikh.” At first they agreed, but then they realized that Canada is far away and that they would miss me. . . . So he [her father] said, “Why not UK?” and I said, “UK is fine.” Now, what they are going to do is find someone there and then basically what I’m going to do—I didn’t say that to them now—but you know afterwards when I’m settled or something like that in the UK, I can go by myself to Canada. . . . I’ve never been there. Actually, I fell in love

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with the country but I can’t explain why . . . but we have a Sikh community, a big Sikh community there. I was like, “Okay, so why not?” but my parents said, “It is really far away. We won’t see you for years whereas here in the UK, if you stay there, we can see you several times in a year because it is not far away—geographically speaking.” . . . And then my father talked about an Indian husband. I said to him, “Okay, he can be nice but it won’t be the same” because whenever we go back to India we have our friends and we have our family there and I see that there’s a clash, you know. I want someone with a kind of a same mind. . . . University education matters but not that much if you know he was brought up in an environment like this one [referring to Belgium]. (Interview, Borgworm, February 16, 2011)

The interviewee clearly shows how Sikh women in Belgium look for more independence, want to have a say in the choice of their partner, and therefore are ready to immigrate to other countries. Further research should investigate if and to what extent this phenomenon is widespread among European Sikhs and if such an interdiasporic marriage really implies more freedom for Sikh women or is just a utopian wish for emancipation. Besides, these developments are so recent that the extent of transnational movements remains unclear. Of all the young people interviewed, only a few have ventured to take the leap and migrate. Many expressed transnational dreams, but since they still need to leave Belgium, they have not yet accomplished their ambitions.

Conclusions This chapter has provided examples of transnational dreams and mobility among Sikhs in Belgium. The Sikh migration began in the 1970s and 1980s and today about 10,000 Sikhs reside in the country. Old communities are concentrated in particular regions, such as the fruit region of Hesbaye around Sint-Truiden, and the more newly arrived migrants have settled in other cities as well. As a visible community, the Sikhs have been stereotyped in Belgian media and, especially after September 11, 2001, have been exposed to increasing hostility, often being associated or confused with Muslims. As a result, many Sikhs do not feel integrated into the Belgian host society and, in spite of having lived there for decades, are eager to settle elsewhere, preferably in the United Kingdom, Canada, or the United States. Young adults who have pursued higher education especially dream of settling in other countries and make use of their extensive transnational networks that allow for student exchanges and interdiasporic marriages. Conversely, Belgium appeals to many Sikhs who had initially settled in Southern Europe but then faced hardship because of the economic recession. All of these examples show that Sikh migration is not as stable as it sometimes appears to be, but can involve several movements, detours, and transits along the way.6 According to the social scientist Aspasia Papadopoulou-Kourkoula, “transit migration’ is characterized by ‘indefinite migrant stay, legal or illegal, and may or may not develop into further migration depending on a series of structural and individual factors’ (PapadopoulouKourkoula, 2008, p. 4). However, this concept is not always appropriate for the Sikh

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migration as it implies an itinerary that is drawn up in advance and a calculated waiting time prior to reaching the final destination, while many movements appear to be more spontaneous, being triggered by concrete circumstances. As a consequence, “transnational mobility” seems to be a more suitable term that captures a more fluid pattern of migration with several to and from movements. It is very hard to estimate the proportion of migrants who are involved in different practices of transnational mobility as they constitute a very heterogeneous group including families, youths, and elderly who are often highly flexible, make several relocations, and sometimes combine regular and irregular strategies. Simultaneously, it should be emphasized that transnational mobility goes together with, and is even increased by, stability within a particular nation state. It is, for example, fuelled by permanent residency and citizenship, since European passports open up new opportunities to travel, and is enhanced by other features of stability such as economic wealth and social success. In conclusion, one could argue that national stability and transnational mobility do not exclude but rather complement one another and should be seen as two sides of the same coin.

Notes 1 Quincy Cloet (2011) contrasted a perception analysis of Flemish media with participant observation, particularly in the Sikh community of Vilvoorde, near Brussels. Sara Cosemans (2011) elaborated on gender issues among the Sikhs of Hesbaye. Idesbald Goddeeris, their thesis supervisor, wrote this chapter’s introduction and overview of Sikh migration in Belgium. Cosemans compiled the subsequent paragraphs on mobility, and Cloet composed the paragraphs on the Belgian attitude. 2 This was certainly the case with the prohibition of the kirpan, where more moderate parties like the Christian Democrats and Liberal Party tried to take a tough stance on the subject in response to the political pressure of the extreme right party Vlaams Belang (Het Belang van Limburg, 2004a). 3 The Belgian division between religion and state is still less outspoken than in France, where the generalized ban on the headscarf caused a lot of social unrest. Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States also feel political pressure to keep their borders closed and to restrict immigrants. 4 Information obtained from Harjinder Singh Heule, spokesman for the gurdwara of Halmaal (Limburg), which is the oldest and largest temple in Belgium. We also encountered a family that had recently arrived from Italy in the gurdwara of Hoepertingen (Limburg) but the language barrier made an in-depth interview impossible. 5 In 1994, the first act concerning marriages of convenience was integrated in the Belgian Code (article 146 bis B.W.), restricting marriages that did not aim to constitute a sustainable relationship but instead legalization of the status of at least one of the partners. The enactment increased the powers of civil servants and granted them the right to deny the marriage between two partners when a presumption of fraud occurred. Simultaneously, the law provided the possibility of annulment of the marriage, as well as fines and imprisonment for offenders. 6 The phenomenon of reaching the desired destination of migration through a detour is sometimes described as ‘secondary migration’ (see, e.g. UNHCR, 2011).

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— (2003), “Massale vechtpartij met Sikhs in Orsmaal.” May 14. — (2004), “Dragen van kirpan-dolk is onwettig.” January 16. — (2005), “Boete voor Sikh.” February 2. — (2009a), “Het is maar een lapje stof.” September 10. — (2009b) “Ook sikhs moeten tulband afdoen.” September 16. Het Nieuwsblad (2000a), “De Sikhs zijn er weer,” January 29–30. — (2000b), “Moord in milieu van Sikhs.” August 11. — (2009), “Infocampagne wijst Indiërs op risico’s illegale migratie.” May 15. — (2010), “Leerlingen proeven van Sikh-cultuur,” April 7. — (2011a), “Vlaams Belang lanceert campagne in Borgerhout.” June 22. — (2011b), “2.000 Sikh verzamelen aan sporthal.” July 4. Het Volk (2001), “Al twee haatmoorden in VS.” September 19. Holland, R. (1999), “The British Empire and the Great War,” in J. M. Brown and W. R. Louis (eds), The Oxford History of the British Empire, Vol. IV. The Twentieth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 114–37. Jacobsen, K. A. and Myrvold, K. (2011), “Introduction: Sikhs in Europe,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe. Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 1–15. Kapur, P. and Misra, G. (2010), “Changing identities and fixed roles: the experience of Sikh women,” in D. R. Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women. History, Texts, and Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 187–204. Levinson, A. (2005), “Migration fundamentals: Why countries continue to consider regularization,” Migration Information Source [Online]. Available at: www. migrationinformation.org/Feature/display.cfm?ID=330 [Accessed October 6, 2011]. Martiniello, M. and Rea, A. (2004), “Belgium’s undocumented hold lessons for EU,” Migration Information Source [Online]. Available at: www.migrationinformation.org/ Feature/display.cfm?ID=195. [Accessed December 20, 2011]. Moliner, C. (2011), “ ‘Did you get papers?’ Sikh migrants in France,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe. Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 163–77. Mooney, N. (2006), “Aspiration, reunification and gender transformation in Jat Sikh marriages from India to Canada.” Global Networks, 6, pp. 389–403. — (2010), “Lowly shoes on lowly feet: some Jat Sikhs women’s views on gender and equality, in D. R. Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 157–86. Nayar, K. E. (2010), “Sikh women in Vancouver: an analysis of their psychosocial issues,” in D. R. Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women. History, Texts, and Experience. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 252–75. Nijs, R. (2011), “Van lijn tot cirkel: de menselijke kosten van circulaire migratie,” in M. Morel and C. Ryngaert (eds), Migratie. Winnaars en Verliezers. Leuven: Acco, pp. 83–95. Papadopoulou-Kourkoula, A. (2008), Transit Migration: The Missing Link Between Emigration and Settlement (Migration, Minorities and Citizenship). New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Portes, A. (2001), “Introduction: the debates and significance of immigrant transnationalism.” Global Networks, 1, 181–94. Punjab Newsline (2010a), “Honour killing in Punjab: victim’s friend from Belgium alerts police, stepfather arrested,” July 1.

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— (2010b), “Punjab honour killings: relatives demand CBI enquiry into murder of NRI girl,” July 2. Rutten, M. (2011), “Living like a common man. An anthropological documentary on Indian youngsters in London,” The Transfer of Indian Diversity. South Asian Migration in Belgium and Beyond. Conference at the University of Leuven, 9 July. Sandset, T. (n.d.), “Some thoughts on hybrid identity. Hybrid identity: dictionaries, identities and ‘Are we all hybrids?’.” New Narratives. Multicultural Literature at the University of Oslo [Online]. Available at: http://newnarratives.wordpress.com/issue-1hybrid-identity/some-thoughts-on-hybrid-identity/ [Accessed December 22, 2011]. Taylor, S., Singh, M., and Booth, D. (2007), “Migration, development and inequality: Eastern Punjabi transnationalism.” Global Networks, 7, 328–47. TV Limburg (2009), “Ontradingsfilm Sikhs” [Video report]. May 8. UNHCR (2011), “Refworld—Migrants/secondary movement” [Online]. Available at: www.unhcr.org/refworld/topic/4565c22541/465576392.html [Accessed December 22, 2011]. VRT Nieuws (2011), May 2, 7 p.m.

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Transnational Sikh Marriages in Italy: Facilitating Migration and Negotiating Traditions Barbara Bertolani

Sociological literature on migration from the Indian subcontinent to Great Britain emphasizes the link between first comers and their families still living in the country of origin. Since the 1950s, Indians who migrated to the United Kingdom to look for work are generally described as protagonists of a wider family project aimed to improve economic and social conditions for the whole kin network. Therefore, the migration of a single migrant is interpreted as a collective investment, which is later repaid by remittances, and the individual is represented as the first ring of a migratory chain developing through time, as a sort of facilitating device for someone else’s future migration (Saifullah Khan, 1977; Ballard, 1982, 1990; Werbner, 1990; Shaw, 1994, 2000). The fact that Punjabi migrants continue to perceive themselves as a part of a wider family or a kin network while living alone far away from home has consequences for personal migratory patterns and integration processes. In other words, migration processes from Punjab seem to have been transnational from the beginning and continue to be so. Indian immigration to Italy is a far more recent phenomenon, which has grown slowly but constantly since the middle of the1980s. A different social and economic situation in Italy and the more recent historical period during which it began have influenced various features of this immigration, such as the main ways through which social and economic processes of integration occur, the time scale, and the types of settlement. Nevertheless, Sikh immigration appears to be transnational in its main characteristics, and is growing because of kin networks. As soon as these networks are reestablished in Italy, they function as sponsors for immigration of other individuals and families by enabling and controlling the integration of newcomers into the Italian labor market and society (Bertolani, 2003, 2005, 2011). Therefore, it is particularly interesting to understand how these networks work from the inside, and how they are rebuilt in Italy. This chapter starts from a strict or “feeble” definition of transnationalism (Ambrosini, 2008), which concentrates mainly on the study of concrete actions and the social and relational networks of individuals. This definition implies the idea of “transnationalism from below” (Smith and Guarnizo, 1999) instead of insisting on the

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effects of top–down globalization processes. As a consequence, the concept of migrants’ “transnational living” (Guarnizo, 2003) involves the study of tangible activities and ego-centered social networks1 that develop and change themselves through time and across the borders of nation states (Portes et al., 1999; Portes, 1999). Referring to Levitt and Glick Schiller’s theoretical contribution (Levitt and Glick Schiller, 2004), I will start from the idea that migrants are part of a unique “transnational social field,” in which they can simultaneously take upon themselves roles and obligations that have consequences for people of the family network of origin and for the groups of reference in the society of immigration and in other countries abroad. Immigrants can draw on material, affective, symbolic, and relational resources which are available to them within all the boundaries of the transnational social field, and at the same time contribute to its modification. Based on data obtained through sociological and ethnographic fieldwork, the chapter shows how transnational kin networks are recreated and how their internal rules work, such as who reunites with whom, how and when, and the ways in which members of kin networks create prestige and relationships with others.2 As I will explain later, marriage can be of crucial importance in these processes, not only as a means of family reproduction, but mainly as a device of migratory continuity. Therefore, the chapter pays attention to the main ways in which marriage tradition is reinterpreted: What happens to the people involved in terms of prestige (izzat) and personal power in the transnational field? How are family roles within the newly born transnational family redefined and what are the possible consequences for female gender identity? Finally, the chapter provides examples of how young Sikh boys and girls perceive expectations from their family members and particularly the elders in the family and how they use religion as a tool for negotiating marriage traditions.

Migration, marriage, and family reunification The laws that define entrance and permanence criteria in each state of the European Union (including Italy) shape a regime of “civic stratification” (Morris, 2001, 2003) for immigrants, that is, a system of diversified access to a set of rights such as, for instance, the right to international mobility, free access to the labor market of the nation states, economic improvement, and citizenship. Not everyone can migrate and consistently stay in Italy. Whoever has the right to do so must meet specific requirements. These requirements define his or her status as immigrant and determine the different possibilities of being integrated (at an economic, social, and political level). The immigrant’s stated reason of stay, such as a job or family reunification, is more precisely one of the elements that produce diversified access to rights of citizenship because it determines someone’s right to enter the labor market and restricts the temporal limits of his or her stay in the new country. This, in turn, influences the patterns of settlement (Rinaldini, 2011). Although the officially stated reason for a stay can be of different typologies, the most common is employment, which can be divided into three different types in

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Italy: The first regards nominative calls for skilled labor, even if only a few fall into this group. The second type concerns workers in show business whose work permits cannot be converted into jobs in other sectors of the labor market. Finally, the third type regards unskilled workers. The majority of immigrants entering Italy, especially Sikh Indians, belongs to the two last categories and thus is engaged in show business or unskilled labor. Every two or three years the government legally determines (through the so-called “flows law”) the quota of immigrant workers who are admitted to the country, assigning this quota by region and province. This system has made it possible for employers to sponsor workers who are officially still abroad but often already residing in Italy illegally. For this reason the “flows law” has become a sort of periodic regularization system. Through an online request, employers state the name of the employees that they want to sponsor for jobs and the type and conditions of employment. The applications are selected by the government in the order of arrival. Among the Sikhs in Italy, the “flows law” is a device to legalize illegally residing family members or to reunite relatives who cannot be brought together otherwise. Indeed, Sikhs themselves often sponsor their relatives, offering them job opportunities as maids, cleaners, and babysitters in their own homes. Nevertheless, the system works slowly and is complicated. Normally, it takes years before all requests are evaluated and the granted number of admitted workers is always very minimal in comparison to applications. It is, in other words, extremely difficult to get one’s application for this type of work permit accepted. Furthermore, there are additional rules and conditions regulating a sponsorship which are difficult to fulfill. For instance, anyone inviting someone for a job needs to have a certain income and must guarantee lodgings for the worker, which must meet specific criteria defined by law.3 Because of the difficulties to obtain a work permit, marriages and the subsequent reunifications are important means for Sikhs to immigrate legally to Italy and to other countries in Europe (Ballard, 1982, 1990; Charsley and Shaw, 2006; Sai, 2008). In this sense, migration encourages transnational marriages which, in turn, sustain a migratory continuity in a process that reproduces itself over time (Mand, 2002). Among Sikhs in Italy, marriages are generally arranged or “facilitated” by the family4 and according to Punjabi social customs of caste endogamy, and lineage exogamy.5 These matches are “conventional” in their form, but “modern” in their substance since they often permit the circumvention of restrictions and limits to human migration and to political and social integration in the new country. In other words, “apparently traditional practices of arranged marriage are fully modern means of negotiating the boundaries of citizenship imposed by states” (Mooney, 2006, pp. 389–90). As we will see, the transnational character of these families is not without consequences for the brides and grooms involved; for instance, migratory contingencies may impose redefinitions of marriage and family traditions and rules. Moreover, the system of civic stratification itself determines that the rights of the person who reunites and the rights of the person who is reunited are not the same, at least not in the beginning of the immigration process. This has major consequences in terms of power and mutual dependence between the spouses.6

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Kin networks and family tradition reconsidered The present immigration from Punjab to Northern Italy is primarily structured on widened kin networks, which over time are rebuilt by first comers thanks to continuous sponsorship of siblings, parents and, above all, brides, grooms, and children. The reunification of the nuclear family is common among Sikh families and is normally carried out as quickly as possible. This is particularly true among young male Sikh immigrants who have recently arrived in Italy sponsored by their kin networks. Many of them choose to defer the arrangement of their wedding until they have acquired all the necessary requirements determined by law (such as a stable income and suitable lodgings) to reunite with their wives immediately. In addition to family reunification, promoting the immigration of relatives is considered important among many Italian Sikhs, almost a moral duty. However, this project can be economically demanding for the person who sustains it, as the sponsor normally provides for the relatives’ needs, hosting them at home or helping them until they have an independent income. Moreover, getting relatives to the new country may give rise to family conflicts, as it may cause a redefinition of power and authority within the family organization, when traditional power structures between children and parents and between younger and older siblings are transposed. Indeed, the reunification of parents may involve an inversion of the power within the family. Although the parents maintain a symbolic authority, the migrating young people come to govern the widened household. Beyond affective motivations and the desire of children to assist their elderly parents in a proper way, the immigrating parents are seen by many young couples as an economic asset and a necessity to their own nuclear family. The arrival of parents may, for instance, relieve the woman from household and childcare duties, allowing her to look for a job outside the house. The migration of one’s parents, in laws, and sometimes siblings, is considered to be an investment that will increase the income of the sponsors (Walton-Roberts, 2003). The history of Kamaljit is an example. He lives in an apartment, which he owns in the province of Reggio Emilia, together with his wife, children, and elderly parents as well as his older brother Surinder and his wife. Kamaljit came to Italy in 1994, got married four years later, and reunited with his wife in 2002. In 2000, he sponsored the immigration of Surinder, who married and reunited with his wife after five years in the country. In 2006, Kamaljit also arranged for the immigration of his parents. As this case exemplifies, the younger child patronized the migration of his own nuclear family and of some members of the family residing in India. This new position, determined by his migrant status, grants him symbolic and material power as he supports a good part of the family economically, and causes an overthrow of traditional hierarchies of authority that are based on generations and seniority within the same generation (Ballard, 1982). Kamaljit is the head of the family, even if he is the youngest member. Only he and Surinder work and their salaries are pooled to support eight people and the payment for the mortgage of the small apartment they live in, which is, however, registered only in Kamaljit’s name. Moreover, the hospitality he offered to Surinder’s family is defined by them as temporary. The rearrangement of power hierarchies is translated in

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clear division of spaces in the house and everyone’s role in the family life. The young couples and children have their own rooms, while their parents sleep in a corner of the living room, which is shared by all and is used to socialize and watch Punjabi films on television and as a play room for the children. Although Surinder’s wife is older than Kamaljit’s spouse, she spends more time in the kitchen in charge of household duties, such as cleaning and cooking, and thereby subjects herself to the authority of the mother-in-law and her younger sister-in-law. The grandparents babysit Kamaljit’s children in order to provide his wife with an opportunity to search for a job. Surinder’s wife does not have children yet and she wants to work as well, but the two women appear to be in competition and do not assist one another in the search for employment outside the household. In a comparison between the brothers and their respective nuclear families, Kamaljit has certainly obtained more economic success. For Surinder and his wife the migration to Italy has implied a loss of a good position and of status in India since both were educated and worked as secondary school teachers. Surinder is an Amritdhari Sikh and complains about being discriminated against by employers, describing the difficulties he met while looking for a job. His wife feels underestimated because her professional competence is not valued in Italy, and humiliated because the migration has lowered her social status and forced her to compete with other Indians for unskilled and low paid jobs. The couple is considering the possibility of returning to India if they do not reach their economical goals soon.

Women’s empowerment? Speaking of Jat Sikh women who immigrated to Canada, Nicola Mooney (2006) states they embody the notions of tradition and collective identity, and that family reputation depends on their behavior and conformity to a moral code based on honor and shame (izzat and sharam).7 The respect of traditions guarantees the family honor in the transnational social field, but at the same time implies that women themselves reproduce a system of relationships in which they are in a subordinate position. In fact, the cultural customs surrounding marriages are one example of this: The dowry and the patrilocal residence often put women in positions of inferiority. The dowry system forces the bride’s family to be burdened by a consistent economic load. The tradition of patrilocal residence sets the woman in a position of disadvantage as she is expected to leave her native family at marriage and enter the groom’s household, in which she is subordinate to the material and moral authority of her in laws and especially her mother-in-law. From a sociological point of view it becomes interesting to understand if and how transnational marriages (and the consequent perspective of migration through reunification) act as a sort of mitigating or emphasizing mechanism of these inequalities of power between men and women. These matches may, on the one hand, confirm some traditions and social roles and, on the other hand, encourage some negotiations from a symbolic, economic, and emotional point of view. In the context of arranged marriages, the process of selecting a partner, the enactment of wedding ceremonies, and other formalities have the important symbolic

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function of publicly reaffirming the borders of the transnational social fields of Italian Sikh families. From an economic point of view, these marriages may sustain the aspirations of social improvement of those who are still in Punjab (Ballard, 1990; Walton-Roberts, 2003) but also of those who already live abroad. If a Punjabi family arranges the marriage of their daughter or son with someone who lives in Italy they will gain new migration opportunities and maybe a flow of remittances. The Italian spouse and his or her family may, on the other hand, profit by attaining a privileged position which improves their social standing in the transnational social stratification.8 Sikh families of middle-to-low status in Italy can aspire to arrange prestigious matches for their children in India in ways that would not have been possible in the home country. From an emotional point of view, the strategic arrangement of transnational marriages, according to which women are often concerned with the social construction of kin ties, is something that may allow people to reunite with their loved ones, to honor family obligations and to extinguish moral debts to relatives (Walton-Roberts, 2003). These “facilitated marriages” (Somerville, 2009) may also add value to the role of the elders in India, involving them in the choice of candidates and in all the ritual practices (Shaw and Charsley, 2006). The story of Sonny is an example of how transnational matches may be strategies to reunite with family members left behind in India and of how they sustain further migration by creating moral obligations. It shows as well how migration may impose redefinitions in the “traditional” organization of family life. Sonny is a 15-year-old Sikh boy who, together with his mother, brother, and one of his sisters, was reunited nine years ago by the initiative of his father. His older sister could not join them when they moved to Italy because she was already an adult and did not get a residence permit. When Sonny’s father was unable to reunite his eldest daughter he decided to arrange her marriage with a Sikh boy in Italy (Harwinder). The wedding allowed for the reunification of the whole family and subsequently the Italy-based son-in-law proposed that Sonny’s younger sister should find a bridegroom from Punjab. As Sonny explained in this interview: My father was here in Italy, and then I, my mother, my little sister and my little brother came too. My oldest sister arrived later, she came when she got married; she came with her husband. [She married a boy who already lived in Italy because] when our family came here, she was already of full age, [so she could not be reunited. Now she lives with her husband] in Cremona, while my other sister lives here [with us]. My brother in law knew my youngest sister’s husband [in India]. A friend of my father [knew] my older brother in law. (Interview with Sonny, a 14-year-old boy, January 2009)

Sonny’s story is interesting because it illustrates how the “traditionally” arranged marriage may be used to achieve goals that have little to do with tradition. Through marriage, the adult daughter left behind in the first phase of the family reunification process could arrive in Italy. This match determined another one, since Sonny’s family had a moral debt toward the son in law and consequently married the youngest daughter to one of his relatives in Punjab. The first transnational match created the conditions for

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another arranged marriage to take place through which the bride reunited the groom. In the case of Sonny’s younger sister, the traditional principle of patrilocal residence was set aside. She can count on the support of her native family, also when it comes to child care, and this allows her to work and gain economic autonomy and participate actively in the budget of the widened family. Her groom from India, on the other hand, is in a position of subordination as he is a guest in his in laws’ house and economically dependent, at least in the first phase of his settlement. His legal status depends on his wife and his salary is pooled for the maintenance of the widened household and for the payment of the mortgage of a house even if it does not belong to him. Sometimes, the spouses may claim certain autonomy in relation to the relatives in India, as they are trying to escape the demands that inevitably come from them. Transnational marriages may favor the elaboration of a family idea according to which conjugal complicity, the couple’s individual projects, and privacy are considered to be important concerns (Bhachu, 1985). An example is that of Raji, a Sikh woman who lives in the house of her family (parents and a younger sister), together with her husband and baby. Raji reunited her Punjabi husband one year ago and to be able to do this she asked for the help of her parents, who supported the couple with hospitality and the means to submit the request for family reunification to Italian authorities. Raji does not work because of her small child and her husband has not succeeded in finding a job. Because of this situation a heavy financial responsibility rests on Raji’s parents and continuous moral pressures from their relatives in India aggravate the difficulties, especially since the husband’s parents consider their son’s transnational match to be an economic investment that occasionally generates requests of remittances or expectations of financing events that take place within the kin network (marriages, dowries, and so on) in India. According to the in laws in the Punjab, the physical and economic participation in these events is a symbolic means to reaffirm the value of family belonging, which has to be maintained despite the geographic distance (Gardner, 1995). In this case, the social pressures of the husband’s family have strengthened the conjugal complicity of the spouses, as they have attempted to escape these forms of intrusiveness in their private life. This is an example of how the arranged marriage, although traditional in practice, is combined with “Western” expectations of married life and perceptions of individualism and how the social pressures of elders lead to the couple’s wish for progressive acquisition of autonomy of the family unit. In an interview Raji said: I liked to stay in India, here you can have a good life, but you don’t have your peace . . . In Italy people give more importance to the single person . . . In India . . . some people just love only money, so they come to see you only if you have money . . . Italians don’t care about your private life . . . they all are independent from one to the other . . . On the contrary in India . . . if you don’t give money to your sister in law, then they get angry. Or . . . for example, we went to India in December . . . My husband did not work and we were in great difficulties . . . They told us from India “No, you have to come to your niece’s marriage!” My husband has a niece, who is the daughter of his sister. We said “We cannot come . . . just the tickets cost 1,000 euro . . . ” [They insisted]: “No, you have to come . . . ” So we went there. “You

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have to pay for the wedding ceremony and the dowry . . . ” What a mess! If you don’t give money, they quarrel with you . . . So my husband is happy to live here [in Italy], because in India they always make a big mess . . . (Interview with Raji, a 24-year-old Amritdhari woman, June 2009)

Transnational marriage can favor a redefinition of the roles between husband and wife in terms of their personal prestige or power, somehow changing the traditional role and status of women. Nevertheless, this argument could also be valid for cases when the bride is reunited, because her immigration to Italy represents the opening of a migratory channel for her kin network. The history of Lal and his wife Kamla is an example. They are part of a very complex Punjabi kin network: The “bridgehead” of this network is Lal’s brother, Harwinder, who arrives in 1984 and reunites first with his wife and children a year later, and subsequently sponsors the migration of Lal and Satinder, his oldest and youngest brother. In due time, Lal reunites with his wife Kamla and children. Satinder also reunites with his wife, and their children are born in Italy. Every brother continues supporting the migration of other members of their kin network but when their wives arrive they instead favor relatives of their family and not their husbands. As a result, a great number of people of the present reunited kin network in Italy arrived in Italy because of the women’s intermediation, and this suggests that they enjoy a high degree of authority in their transnational social field. Even if women remain housewives and do not contribute to the family’s economy by working outside of the household, their personal influence on decisions in the family is strong and mainly based on a continuous weaving activity of kinship ties. These ties allow them to provide other people with useful opportunities for immigration. Although Harwinder, Lal, and Satinder (and also their grown-up children who work in Italy) formally support the immigration of in laws, the true inventors of these migratory strategies were their wives, who were able to address the choice of their husbands in order to favor the arrival of their own consanguineous relatives. For instance, Lal’s wife Kamla supported, directly or indirectly, the immigration of 11 people in total (her own children, a son-in-law, her own sister, nephews, and nieces). This example illustrates how reunited women may become significant agents of someone else’s immigration and actively negotiate within the framework of traditional ideas and practices of gender, in contrast to many stereotyped images of Punjabi women as being passive (Bhachu, 1985; Mooney, 2006). The kin network also shows that Punjabis arriving in Italy are mainly those who possess certain skills and characteristics, that is, young males who can easily find a job. The ways in which the kinship network widens over time in Italy are gender based and traditional: The wives and the children are normally reunited with a migrating male (there is just one case of a reunited groom), while adult men mostly gain residential permits because of sponsorship from relatives, a contract of employment or amnesty. In Lal and Kamla’s kin network, no women have arrived in Italy because of employment, but this scheme of reunification could possibly change over time when second generation Sikhs reach adult age, or if new immigration opportunities are made available by the law.

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Negotiating arranged marriages in the transnational social field Sikh women are not always able to act as described above and, especially if they are young and still single, their wishes might not be considered when their transnational marriage is arranged. Previous research has described how girls are, in various ways, induced to accept transnational matches that they do not desire. These brides are “in essence sacrificed for the potential migration benefit of other family members” (Mooney, 2006, p. 398). In other cases, young brides who marry Punjabis overseas may be victims of fraud or abandonment, if, for example, the bridegrooms return abroad without reuniting them after marriage and the payment of the dowry. Excluding these extreme cases, there may be various types of attempts to exploit for personal advantage the immigration opportunity offered by transnational marriage. The history of Nittu shows how these attempts may lead at the same time to the instrumental assertion of traditional hierarchies and roles within the family, as well as to the possible negotiation of customs concerning arranged marriages. Nittu is a 20-year-old Sikh girl, who has lived in Italy for the past two years, sponsored by her maternal uncle with a job contract. She also has another uncle in Italy, who lives nearby with his wife and children and offers to arrange her marriage as he knows a beautiful boy from a “good family.” Nittu expresses her gratitude to her uncle but refuses his proposal. She becomes very confused since she is still young and without any desire to marry. She does not want to have any family responsibilities, but is more concerned about saving and sending money to her own parents in India. Her uncle insists and lets the aunt speak with Nittu. In the meantime, and without telling her, he also calls up her parents in Punjab and tries to convince them to pressure their daughter, but without result. The uncle and aunt compel Nittu to keep the matter secret and not to tell anyone else. However, the girl has already told everything to the relatives living with her and her grandmother in India, who react strongly because they have not been consulted. Nittu’s paternal grandmother especially considers it to be her role to find a suitable spouse as she is the eldest member of the family. The true reason for this reaction, however, seems to be some sort of spite. Had this marriage been arranged, it would have deprived Nittu’s family of a precious financial resource and of a potential migration means to the advantage of her aunt’s kin network. In fact, Nittu’s mother reveals to her that the proposed groom is a first degree cousin of Nittu’s aunt and therefore a close relative, almost a brother. In her diary Nittu explains in her own words what happened: [ . . . ] my uncle has talked to me of my marriage, has insisted to make me accept this proposal of my arranged marriage. To convince me [he has] told me a lot of things on the account of the boy, that he is very beautiful, he works and has studied a lot . . . Me, thinking of my life and of my parents, I have answered “no,” already the first time, but uncle and aunt have tried to convince me putting pressure on my family in India, phoning them all the time. Without knowing, without seeing the person with whom they tried to marry me, they insisted on having an answer from me in a “yes or no”; even if I had answered “no” the first time, they expected the same thing from my parents, that is, a curt “yes or no” answer. I am happy that

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my parents have supported my choice. They did not think that I, being young of age, would have dared to refuse the request of my uncles. According to me, these decisions could ruin my future, therefore it was not a matter of old or young and of respect of these rules, it dealt with my future . . . [My uncles] said that “we are older than you and we think for your own good.” I wonder, what kind of good is this? Marrying before the right age and without talking to other members of my family . . . For this reason my family is very angry . . . To me my aunt had said that my future bridegroom was the brother of one dear friend of hers. When I refused the proposal, I heard from my mother that the boy was a relative of my aunt. Evidently my aunt combining this marriage . . . wanted to fix one relative of hers up in Italy . . . She thought that I would have taken a decision without speaking with [the rest of the family] . . . however this was for me impossible . . . In this whole matter, [also] my grandmother . . . has been ignored . . . I was supposed not to talk to anybody . . . but all [the relatives of the future bridegroom in India] knew [already] everything. (Excerpts from the diary of Nittu, a 20-year-old girl, November 2009)

The attempt to marry off Nittu shows how transnational arranged marriages are perceived as a strategic resource to widening one’s network. It describes a case where a series of rules and traditional roles concerning the choice of the spouse are broken for the purpose of initiating the migration of someone who is linked with the person that proposes the match (the aunt) and not with Nittu’s family. Rules are strategically put aside or reaffirmed when needed, as the same persons who avoid involving Nittu’s grandmother put pressure on the girl by referring to social customs of seniority and of the respect which is due to them. This attempt also underlines the validity and strength of these principles and roles through the reaction of those excluded from the marriage plans. For instance, Nittu herself does not question an arranged marriage as such, but the fact that others are using it for their own interest. She does not completely refuse the principle of hierarchy and family authority, but instead disapproves of the attempt of her uncle and aunt to act as match makers and sponsors of her marriage by circumventing more elderly and authoritative family members. The story also shows the desire of young people to redefine, at least in part, the tradition: Nittu wants her parents and grandmother in India to take part in the selection of the spouse, as marriage is a family matter and not simply her private choice. At the same time, the girl wants to play an active role, as she wants to decide the right moment to get married and to choose the right boy, by meeting and getting to know him before the wedding. The case described above highlights that young Sikhs, who are either born in Italy or migrated at an early age try to negotiate social customs surrounding arranged marriages. What do second (or the 1.5) Sikh generation think about arranged marriage and about traditional rules of caste endogamy and of lineage exogamy? Besides the two opposite extremes of conformism and refusal (however minor), many young people look for more or less radical negotiation of the rules of arranged marriage. What seems to influence their views of marriage is not so much the temporal extent of their residence in Italy, but rather at which age they arrived in the country. Those who came to Italy in their “teens” seem to be more positively concerned with traditional practices even if they might highlight many negative aspects of them, while those who

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arrived during infancy tend to be more critical of their parents’ customs. Negotiations of marriage rules usually occur in two distinct ways: The formal or procedural aspects of traditional practices are redefined with some adjustments proposed, but without contesting the existence and enactment of them as such. Another strategy is to refer to the sense and moral “substance” of their cultural and religious affiliation, putting aside traditional customs and religious symbols (Bertolani, 2009, 2011; Bertolani and Perocco, 2012). Many young Sikhs in Italy want to know their own future partner before the wedding and expect some tolerance from their parents. What exactly “knowing each other” means, however, is much more unclear and subject to family bargaining. Sikh youth may set some conditions concerning the characteristics of the ideal partner, such as defining desired physical aspects, age, character, caste, and so on. Whereas criteria like these are simultaneously perceived to be contradictory to Sikhism, young people may reinterpret their ideas of religion for the purpose of making them compatible with the criteria of a preferred spouse. This is clearly evident when young people are justifying to themselves and to others the practice of traditional marriage rules which are contradictory to the principle of equality in Sikhism. In these cases, religion is reinterpreted in a more selective or instrumental way to be used as a symbolic resource for processes of redefining identity. For instance, the importance of caste when arranging a marriage can be explained in terms of having more guarantees about the devotion of one’s future partner, or as a choice congruent with another value which is ascribed to the Sikh religion: the obedience to parents. Raji, a 24-year-old Amritdhari woman, justifies her choice in this way: My mum has chosen, she has looked, then she has asked if I liked him or not. Me, I have looked at three, five boys. Of those, I liked the last . . . There are . . . the castes. Caste must be equal, religion [must be the same one] . . . and he must [be Amritdhari] since many years. I am Amritdhari. Then my mother did not ask for anything else. She said “the boy must have the same caste, he must be Amritdhari . . . and that’s it” . . . Got [the lineage] must be different from mine, that’s it . . . In theory [We should not consider the caste], but . . . Because there are castes like jat and saini and labana: they devote more of their life to religion, and then there are castes like chomar . . . and those are very low . . . [Religion] doesn’t interest them. If they are Amritdhari, [there are some differences in the way of conceiving Sikhism] . . . I don’t believe in castes in theory, however, my parents believe in them. I must respect what [my] parents say, because I say God is always God, and God says “If you respect your parents, then I will be with you.” So, parents are for me like God on Earth. (Interview with Raji, a 24-year-old Amritdhari girl, June 2009)

The negotiation over wedding traditions may also be accompanied with an interpretation of Sikhism as mainly a “universal religion.” In these cases we can speak about a process of “ethicization” of religious behaviors (Bertolani, 2009), where some young people may give less importance to ritual practices, external Sikh symbols, or religious customs linked to Punjabi tradition. Due to this process the religious affiliation becomes an important resource, but in ways and for purposes opposed to

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the above mentioned. The young people refer to Sikhism in order to obtain space for their free choice or to negotiate with their parents about nonconventional behaviors. What are emphasized in these cases are interpretations of Sikhism as a religion which affirms human equality and the rejection of castes. To some young Sikhs, their marriage arrangements will be a benchmark to test their own parents in religious matters: If they are “true” Sikhs they will not consider caste, but give free choice to their children. Karam, a 21-year-old Amritdhari boy, says: I do not care about the caste, even if my girlfriend is of a lower caste . . . Her parents are Amritdhari, but they do not respect the Sikh rules [the Rahitnama] . . . She does not like this fact. [She told me] “I want to marry an Amritdhari boy that knows Sikh prayers and that can teach them to me.” I liked that. My father too desires that my bride does not estrange me from Sikhism . . . I trust my father [he will not oppose to my choice]. He [always] says “if you care about castes, you are not my son!” . . . The [real] problem is my mum. (Interview with Karam, a 21-year-old Amritdhari boy, May 2009)

The negotiation of tradition does not necessarily involve the loss of one’s own cultural and religious belonging. For the Sikh youth in Italy religion has turned out to be a powerful resource in the processes of constructing personal identity and is used in creative or selective manners.9 Another issue for negotiations concerns the “matrimonial market”10 within which a partner can be chosen. Some young Sikhs in Italy prefer to look for a Sikh Punjabi man or woman who has been born in Italy, or at least grew up there. The reasons for this preference are usually of a practical nature and pertain to different responsibilities (economic, moral, human, and so on) which a transnational marriage entails. Remembering all the difficulties they faced during the first years of their own migration, young people may prefer to choose someone who has already acquired all the necessary competencies to live in Italy. When choosing a partner from India, there will be additional responsibilities during the first years of marriage.11 Pretty, a 22-year-old Sikh girl explains: For me, I think [of a Punjabi boy] who already lives here, [not in India] . . . yes, at least who knows the language and all these things, already integrated, otherwise it is difficult. With all the girls that have gotten married in India . . . you have to get all the documents prepared to reunite him . . . Afterwards the whole responsibility falls on your shoulders, let’s say. Bringing a person from India, who doesn’t know the language . . . that is difficult. We adjusted here after so much time, you need at least two years here, three years. If you marry a person [from India], some responsibility falls on your shoulders. [I think of an Indian boy] because I am Indian, for these reasons. (Interview with Pretty, a 22-year-old girl, May 2009)

Besides the practical inconveniences when choosing a spouse who migrates from India, the desires of young people also reflect concerns about the cultural and religious values of the future partner, whether this person will maintain tradition or

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adjust to a Western lifestyle. These concerns among young people mirror possible intergenerational conflicts, as parents may wish that their children choose a partner who lives in India starting from the same assumptions (i.e. that Sikh girls and boys who grow up in India may be less Westernized and more concerned with traditional family rules and roles) but with opposite desires (Ballard, 1990).12 The questions of how young Sikhs brought up in Italy perceive arranged marriages and negotiate traditions with their family members need to be investigated further in future research. One important aspect of this inquiry would be to explore if and how second generation Sikhs will continue to arrange marriages transnationally, and, if so, as a significant strategy to provide others with an opportunity for migration to Italy. Future studies also need to examine how transnational kin networks are activated in order to facilitate mate selections for second generation Sikhs. Another question to address concerns the role of religious affiliation among the Sikh youth in Italy. Religion can be used by young people as an effective tool for negotiating and redefining traditions when they attempt to balance their individual and personal aspirations with the expectations of their larger and transnational family networks.

Notes 1 Kapferer (1969) defines “ego-centered networks” as all direct relations that link one specific ego with other individuals and all relations that link those individuals among them in one specific (transnational) situation. I refer to this definition, but I approach these networks not only as social and relational but even as symbolic spaces. 2 The data have been obtained over a long period and in connection with various research on Punjabis and Sikhs in Emilia Romagna, including the research for my PhD (1999–2003) and postdoctoral research (2003–9). The chapter is based mainly on information collected from 11 life histories (first “bridgeheads” males), 10 semistructured interviews with brides and grooms of five different families, 40 in-depth interviews with Sikh boys and girls (14–23 years old), numerous informal conversations, other personal documentation (some pages of a girl’s diary), and six months of participant observation in the local gurdwara of Novellara and in the mandir of Fabbrico (in the province of Reggio Emilia, Northern Italy). Pseudonyms are used to protect the informants’ privacy. All interviews have been registered, transcribed, and partially cited in the chapter, as well as some excerpts of the diary, with the informants’ consent. 3 The law that rules all aspects concerning immigration is the so-called “Bossi Fini law,” nr. 189/2002, and subsequent modifications are the so-called “security laws,” nr. 125/2008 and nr. 94/2009. The text of these laws can be found at Altalex (n.d.). The website for the online request is Polizia di stato (n.d.). 4 Somerville (2009) distinguishes between “facilitated” and “arranged” marriages, arguing that the first term better describes the role of transnational kin networks in finding and choosing a right partner for second generation Indo Canadians. 5 The “endogamy” of caste means that spouses belong to the same caste whereas the “exogamy” of lineage means that their families of origin belong to different lineages.

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6 In Italy, family reunification is granted to immigrants who regularly stay in the country with renewable permission for a duration of not less than 12 months. It is a right that concerns a narrow group of relatives, according to a model of the nuclear family: the consort, young children, and parents in case that they do not have anyone who cares for them abroad. The one who reunites must show possession of a certain income to be able to maintain the family and provide suitable lodging. The permit of the newcomers is “legal dependent,” that is, it depends on the regularity of the documents of the person that has reunited them, and has the same duration (see Rinaldini, 2011). 7 Family honor is traditionally linked to women’s virtue and to a separation of roles among women and men (where men belong to the public sphere of life). Moreover, the traditional Punjabi extended family is structured on the principles of agnatic and patrilineal descent, so that after marriage women become a part of their husbands’ families of origin. This fact is in turn linked to the dowry system: women traditionally do not inherit land but just gold, money, and other goods from their families of origin in the form of a dowry when they get married. In the past and in the rural Punjab especially, the dowry system enabled families to keep together the property of the land, which was considered the most important symbol of wealth, prestige, and family honor. 8 For some of the women I interviewed, this meant, for example, that their families were exempt from the payment of a dowry at their marriage. This point needs to be investigated further. In literature, see Mooney (2006). 9 In literature, the debate on immigrants’ lives that refers to different cultures, the one of origin and the one of the country of settlement, has led to the conceptualization of different interpretative models: The “culture clash” which insists on the existence of a polarity and of possible cultural conflicts, and the “triangle” or the three-way pull which suggests more complex outcomes. See Nesbitt (2005), Nayar (2010), Dusenbery (2008), and Ghuman Singh (2003). 10 “Matrimonial market” is used here as a demographic concept, that is, a symbolic space where people with specific demographic or social characteristics (such as age, sex, origin, and so on) can find each other to marry. 11 Very few young people in my sample considered the possibility of marrying Sikhs living in other countries of immigration. The comparison was still built on the relationship between mainly Sikhs living in India and in Italy, probably because the immigration to Italy is still a recent phenomenon and the transnational kin networks that can facilitate mate selection mostly develop between India and Italy. 12 In my case, we are speaking mainly about the intentions of 1.5 or second generation Italian Sikhs, as two thirds of my sample were too young and therefore still unmarried when the interview occurred.

Bibliography Ambrosini, M. (2008), Un’Altra Globalizzazione: La Sfida delle Migrazioni Transnazionali. Bologna: Il Mulino. Altalex (n.d.), Testo Unico sull’Immigrazione [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.altalex. com/index.php?idnot=836 [Accessed September 5, 2010].

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Ballard, R. (1982), “South Asian families,” in R. Rapoport, M. Fogarty, and R. Rapoport (eds), Families in Britain. London: Routledge, pp. 179–204. — (1990), “Migration and kinship: the differential effect of marriage rules on the processes of Punjabi migration to Britain,” in C. Larke, C. Peach, and S. Vertovec (eds), South Asians Overseas: Migration and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 219–49. Bertolani, B. (2003), “Capitale sociale e intermediazione etnica.” Sociologia del Lavoro, 91, 92–102. — (2005), “Gli indiani in Emilia: tra reti di relazioni e specializzazione del mercato del lavoro,” in D. Denti, M. Ferrari, and F. Perocco (eds), I Sikh. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 163–76. — (2009), “Processi di trasmissione e ridefinizione dell’identità religiosa fra le seconde generazioni sikh nel reggiano.” Religioni e Sette nel Mondo, 5(1), 110–28. — (2011), “Le famiglie indiane,” in M. Tognetti Bordogna (ed.), Famiglie Ricongiunte. Esperienze di Ricongiungimento di Famiglie del Marocco, Pakistan e India. Torino: UTET, pp. 183–222. Bertolani, B. and Perocco, F. (2012), “Religious belonging and new ways of being ‘Italian’ in the self-perception of second-generation immigrants in Italy,” in R. Blanes and J. Mapril (eds), The Best of All Gods. The Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Leiden: Brill (forthcoming). Bhachu, P. (1985), Twice Migrants. London: Tavistock. Charsley, K. and Shaw, A. (2006), “South Asian transnational marriages in comparative perspective.” Global Networks, 6(4), 331–44. Dusenbery, V. (2008), “ ‘Through wisdom, dispense charity’: religious and cultural underpinnings of diasporan Sikh philanthropy in Punjab,” in V. Dusenbery (ed.), Sikhs at Large: Religion, Culture, and Politics in Global Perspective. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 136–64. Gardner, K. (1995), Global Migrants, Local Lives: Travel and Transformation in Rural Bangladesh. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Ghuman Singh, P. (2003), Double Loyalties: South Asian Adolescents in the West. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Guarnizo, L. E. (2003), “The economics of transnational living.” International Migration Review, 37(3), 666–99. Kapferer, B. (1969), “Norms and the manipulation of relationships in a work context,” in J. C. Mitchell (ed.), Social Networks in Urban Situations. Analyses of Personal Relationships in Central African Towns. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 181–244. Levitt, P. and Glick Schiller, N. (2004), “Conceptualizing simultaneity.” International Migration Review, 38(3), 1002–39. Mand, K. (2002), “Place, gender and power in transnational Sikh marriages.” Global Networks, 2(3), 233–48. Mooney, N. (2006), “Aspiration, reunification and gender transformation in Jat Sikh marriages from India to Canada.” Global Networks, 6(4), 389–403. Morris, L. (2001), “The ambiguous terrain of rights.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 25(3), 497–516. — (2003), “Managing contradiction.” International Migration Review, 37(1), 74–100. Nayar, K. E. (2010), “Sikh women in Vancouver: an analysis of their psychosocial issues,” in D. Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 252–75.

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Nesbitt, E. (2005), Sikhism. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Polizia di stato (n.d.), Stranieri: domande online per i flussi 2009 [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http://poliziadistato.it/articolo/14845-Stranieri_domande_online_per_i_ flussi_2009 [Accessed September 5, 2010]. Portes, A. (1999), “Conclusion: towards a new world.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(2), 463–77. Portes, A., Guarnizo, L. E., and Landolt, P. (1999), “The study of transnationalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22(2), 217–37. Rinaldini, M. (2011), “Stratificazione civica e famiglie migranti,” in M. Tognetti Bordogna (ed.), Famiglie ricongiunte. Esperienze di Ricongiungimento di Famiglie del Marocco, Pakistan e India. Torino: UTET, pp. 63–88. Sai, S. (2008), “Riconfigurazioni familiari e identità di genere fra i migranti sikh a Reggio Emilia,” in A. Colombo and G. Sciortino (eds), Trent’Anni Dopo. Bologna: Il Mulino, pp. 117–46. Saifullah Khan, V. (1977), “The Pakistanis: Mirpuri villagers at home and in Bradford,” in J. L. Watson (ed.), Between Two Cultures. Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, pp. 57–89. Shaw, A. (1994), “The Pakistani community in Oxford,” in R. Ballard (ed.), Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain. London: Hurst and Co, pp. 35–57. — (2000), Kinship and Continuity. London: Harwood. Shaw, A. and Charsley, K. (2006), “Rishtas: adding emotion to strategy in understanding British Pakistani transnational marriages.” Global Networks, 6(4), 405–21. Smith, M. P. and Guarnizo L. E. (eds) (1999), Transnationalism from Below. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. Somerville, K. (2009), “Facilitated transnational marriages among Indo-Canadian youth: the role of social networks in mate selection,” in V. Chandra (ed.), Growing Up in a Globalized World: An International Reader. New Delhi: Macmillan Publishers, pp. 118–38. Walton-Roberts, M. (2003), “Transnational geographies: Indian immigration to Canada.” Canadian Geographer, 47, 235–50. Werbner, P. (1990), The Migration Process. New York: Berg.

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Part Two

Constructing Identities, Representations, and Belongings

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Narratives of “Return”? Travels to Punjab in the Contemporary Transnational Sikhscape Federica Ferraris

For several decades, the study of mobility in social sciences has been marked by a distinction between two broad mainstreams. On the one hand, studies on migration practices, which emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century and increased consistently since the end of the Second World War with the de-colonization process, focused on forms of mobility that were carried out permanently by leading persons, families, and “communities” from one country to another (Handlin, 1951; Radin, 1970). On the other, studies of travels and tourism intended as forms of temporary mobility have also increased with the emergence of global mass tourism in the 1950s and are now innumerable and consolidated in a number of different disciplines (Boorstin, 1964; MacCannell, 1973). Both migration and tourism studies have, to some extent, shared some characteristics in their development: the reduction of travel costs, the increase of world charter flights, and the availability of worldwide communication have strongly influenced both processes. However, it is only in recent years that social scientists have analyzed these two phenomena conjunctively and considered tourism and migration as significant (Williams and Hall, 2000; Coles and Timothy, 2004). In this chapter, I address the conjunctures and disjunctures of these two phenomena applied to a specific context—the Sikhs living in Europe (mainly in the United Kingdom) and their journeys to Punjab. I focus on narratives of trips which have the character of tourism and engender visits to holy places and spaces in re-created Punjabi homeland after the Partition. The chapter also describes travels that are conducted for the search of family roots and can be defined as “genealogical” or “roots” tourism. To treat travel as an activity which brings first, second, and third generations of immigration temporarily to a landscape that is viewed as a real or imagined homeland can shed light on how Sikhs in the diaspora construct identities (Hansen, 2005). I refer to pilgrimage in a similar way as Ellen Badone and Sharon R. Roseman, who have recently highlighted the potential of blurring the division between tourism and pilgrimage as an attempt to achieve a better understanding of modern touristic practices that either pertain to the visit of sacred spaces or embed spiritual intake, even if undertaken in secular contexts. With regard to the specific experiences I will refer to in this chapter, I find significance in their affirmation that “touristic travel in search of authenticity or self-renewal falls under the rubric of the sacred, collapsing the distinction between secular voyaging and pilgrimage” (Badone and Roseman, 2005, p. 2).

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The data on which this chapter is based are excerpts of cultural productions from different media sources: TV programs broadcast by UK channels and homeconsumption-oriented videos, more specifically a semiprofessional documentary showing a UK-based group of Sikhs going on a pilgrimage to Pakistan.

Punjab: Homeland or destination? The mobile dimension of Punjabi culture is well known and has been analyzed in studies of the region and its diaspora. This dimension has also been highlighted in studies focusing on the Sikhs, who constitute an important but not the sole group of Punjabis migrating to Europe.1 If we have to consider the role of pilgrimage within the Sikh tradition, however, it is important to clarify here what we are referring to. In contrast to other religious traditions of the subcontinents, Sikhism has never overtly encouraged pilgrimage as a religious practice. Quite the opposite, this has been contrasted by the gurus in their scripts; in the Guru Granth Sahib several references mention the fact that a true pilgrimage in search of the true guru is made in the heart (Jutla, 2006). However, such statements are, to some extent, mitigated by the attitude of the Sikh gurus toward undertaking preaching odysseys, which have been part of the Sikh tradition since its very beginnings (Axel, 2001, pp. 237–8). This aspect, emphasized within Sikh hagiography, is reenforced by common practices of mobility that have now converged—especially in the case of Sikhs settled overseas—into something wider that intertwine family reunions with leisureoriented activities including visits to religious sites. As Rajinder S. Jutla puts it: Sikhs in contemporary times have to pray for health, happiness and prosperity, and to thank God for showering them with blessings. . . . Sikhs are pulled to these places because of the historical significance of events and places that shaped the community. They also go on pilgrimage to connect to their spiritual and cultural traditions. (Jutla, 2006, pp. 216–17)

Jutla also reminds us that “[p]ilgrimage provides a link to the past and a sense of community among Sikhs from different parts of India and from the diaspora at large” (ibid.), and in doing this he seems to locate his own idea of pilgrimage in Sikhism and the diaspora within a “Turnerian” theoretical framework (Turner and Turner, 1978). Here, the focus is placed on shared elements by a temporary communitas in opposition to the normative reality that is asserted by structured orthodox religious institutions—in our case, the group of pilgrims versus the gurus’ indications about the role of pilgrimage. Conversely, I will concentrate on individual and experiential aspects of those travel practices, following an approach that has been applied to studies of Jewish (Mittelberg, 1999; Habib, 2004) and African diasporas (Bruner, 1996; Ebron, 1999) and can be useful for the present inquiry. As Simon Coleman recalls, Sacred travel frequently overlaps with tourism, trade, migration, expressions of nationalism, creations of diasporas, imagining communities . . . the most valuable

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work in this area is that which looks outward, making points about human behaviour through using “pilgrimage” as a case-study rather than focusing on the institution itself as a firmly bounded category of action. (Coleman, 2002, p. 363; emphasis added)

Let me begin by emphasizing a connection between the Sikh diasporans’ travel narratives considered here and some considerations suggested by Tim Coles and Dallen J. Timothy. They have focused on “diaspora tourism, or tourism primarily produced, consumed and experienced by diasporic communities” (Coles and Timothy, 2004, p. 1). They suggest classifying the possible connections between diaspora and tourism along six patterns: 1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

Members of diasporic communities make trips in search of their roots and their routes with aims of reaffirming and reinforcing their identities. Most commonly, these are associated with trips back to their original homelands, but they may also include trips to visit co-members of the extended community beyond the homeland. . . . The search for roots and routes is also manifested in the rise of so-called genealogical . . ., ancestral . . ., or family history tourism. This form of travel may be both domestic and international depending on the family’s routes and roots. Residents of the original “homeland” may make a trip to diaspora spaces to discover how co-members of the diaspora, perhaps even their friends and relations, have adapted to life and conditions in another place. . . . many are centered on the consumption of experiences, events, spectacles, and festivals in their particular manifestation beyond “home” in the diaspora. . . . Diasporic communities also become the object of the wider tourist gaze. Diasporic destinations become notable attractions and features on “mainstream.” nondiaspora tourists’ vacation itineraries. . . . The theme of traveling, mobility, and movement and transit spaces in the process of diasporic scattering are the basis for the fifth form. . . . Chinatowns, Little Italys and Little Indias . . . have been heavily developed and deliberately commodified by public and private capital to attract and to cater for a large volume of visitors. . . . The final form of travel flows and tourism spaces generated by diasporans is to destinations, resorts, retreats, and vacation spaces they have fashioned for themselves in the host state (ibid., pp. 14–16).

Travel narratives illustrated in the following paragraphs seem to mainly fall within the first two above-mentioned categories. What is interesting in relation to the second type, in the case of Sikhs, is return trips are not limited to the Indian Punjab, but increasingly involve an imagined homeland comprising the Pakistani Punjab. This “pre-Partition Punjab” is consistently advertised as a destination to Sikh travelers. If, on the one hand, the usually popular sites visited by overseas Sikhs are historical gurdwaras located in Indian Punjab, the tours to Sikh sites in Pakistan is a rapidly growing market.

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Despite the unstable political situation in Pakistan and the recent floods that have affected the region, the conditions for travel and pilgrimages to Pakistan have undergone major changes over the past years.2 Signs of these transformations are trips to the more easily accessible Pakistani Punjab, both from India and from diasporic settlements.3 Although discouraged by the gurus, visiting sacred places is of great significance in the Sikh religion and history. The emic narratives of spiritual quest and the search for family roots which emerge from the accounts in this study have made me consider three different meanings of “pilgrimage” within the context of the Sikh diaspora: (1) Organized travel to places of worship/holy spaces related to the Sikh religion, tradition, and a collective history; (2) semiorganized collective tours to Punjab and other Sikh settlements including visits to family, friends, and other co-religionists; (3) participation in religious-oriented and collective activities/camps/trips (e.g. Khalsa Camps or Sikh Missionary Society UK summer camps at gurdwaras in other EU countries), within and outside Western locations.4 These social practices, although different from one another, share the attention to cultural and ethnic dimensions, intertwining them with religion and belief, and will be interpreted by insiders as “community-oriented” activities. On the other hand, the ethnographic analysis of social and cultural products related to these practices may highlight a complex, multifaceted interpretation of traditions and beliefs among participants and promoters. This becomes even more evident by the co-existence of Punjabi and convert (ghora) Sikhs, which, along with the disjunctive patterns already mentioned, contribute to create “many disparate narratives of identity” (Hannam, 2004, p. 247), and highlight the “multiple weaving” (ibid.) when individuals and groups define themselves.

Travel narratives in the diasporic Sikhscape In the last few decades, social sciences in general and anthropology in particular have assisted in the shift toward the “individual.” Postmodern or postindustrial reflections have contributed to highlight the danger of reifying “community-oriented” analyses and to consider the need of releasing “culture” from “place” (Appadurai, 1996; Clifford, 1997; Gupta and Ferguson, 1997a,b). Seemingly, a consistent turn toward narratives, in the field of migration studies (Singer, 1997; Rapport, 2000, 2006; Gardner, 2002), in tourism studies (Bruner, 1995, 2005; Bendix, 2002; Harrison, 2003), and in the few studies that ventured to combine the two (Ebron, 1999; Basu, 2005, 2007), has taken place and brought individuals back to the core of ethnographic analysis. Researchers’ attention to heterogeneity and disjunctions has been helped by the use of narratives, since they . . . embody a perceived order, and in their telling they maintain this order despite seeming temporal, spatial, experiential disjunctures. In a world in motion, narratives provide for the world-traveler—whether anthropologist or informant—a

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place cognitively to reside and make sense, a place to continue to be. (Rapport, 2000, p. 74)

Travel narratives can be shaped in various forms; the more obvious is that of oral accounts, but the role of visual accounts has emerged consistently over the past decades within social analysis, both of migration and tourism (Ball and Gilligan, 2010; Molz, 2010), which has been traditionally associated with gazing (Urry, 1990). I will consider here two particular typologies of travel accounts. The first type comprises accounts that have been purposely produced for media consumption, whose significance has been proved to affect identity construction and to reshape related strategies (Wood and King, 2001). This aspect has been shown to be fundamental in the analysis of the Punjabi diaspora itself. These materials derive from two TV programs broadcast in 2005 and 2006 in the United Kingdom and both, from different angles, are emblematic narratives of Sikh migrants’ travels reconnecting tourism with a search of roots through routes. The two TV productions address, to some extent, the idea of the multicultural Britain, and try to highlight multiple belongings of British Asian citizens, their family histories, and kin ties, through the display of different places related to their social linkages. As Marie Gillespie recalls, “TV talk, though it may often seem esoteric and trivial, is an important form of self-narration and a major collective resource through which identities are negotiated” (Gillespie, 1995, p. 205). The first accounts the journey of a 12-year-old Scottish Sikh boy, Munmeet Sandhu, to Punjab. The second episode is an example of genealogical tourism and focuses on the family history of the renowned director Gurinder Chadha. Besides the shared feature of the two episodes being part of a larger series which directly address a vague idea of “identity,” the two programs do not share many characteristics. Nonetheless, I argue that some common traits tie up these two mediatized accounts of Sikh identities and allow, despite their heterogeneity, for analytical reflections. The analogies are the importance of a destination as the place of origin—multiple in the case of Gurinder Chadha—and the ambivalence of narratives reducing elements of the visit to a “foreign, exotic site” with rhetoric of “returning home.” I will first describe Munmeet’s account presented in the documentary Rooted and continue with Gurinder’s experience in the series Who do you think you are? The second category of accounts I will consider further relies on new and personal media information data, which can derive from various sources (personal videos, websites, forums, YouTube). Among those data, I will specifically focus my attention on a semiprofessional video that was produced for family consumption and addressed to the participants of a religious pilgrimage organized by a group of UK Sikhs to Pakistan in 2005. The video consists of three DVDs, documenting in detail the temples and locations visited, the ceremonies celebrated, and providing explanations to participants. The dialogues and overprints are all in Punjabi without subtitles. There is no audio commentary, but devotional music (kirtan) serves as a soundtrack. In addition to the video, I had the opportunity to discuss this pilgrimage with one of

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the participants, and I will, therefore, rely on his words to highlight the importance of the subjective dimension when reinterpreting collective experiences such as an organized tour.

Rooted Rooted has been described as a “groundbreaking” children’s documentary series on Channel 5 (Oneworld.net n.d.). The producers depict it as a program that . . . follows the journey of a British child as they travel to their family’s country of origin, to experience at first-hand the differences in culture, society, religion and daily life. . . . The program format ensures that each country visited is shown in a positive and lively way, giving the British audience a real understanding and insight into the country, its unique culture and its people’s lives, underlining its religion oriented focus. (Rooftop Productions, n.d.)

In the episode I examine, a 12-year-old Scottish-born Sikh boy, Munmeet, and his mother—born in Punjab but grown up in Scotland—go on a journey to visit some relatives and Sikh shrines in Punjab on the occasion of the Sikh festival Vaisakhi. The documentary begins with an illustration of Munmeet’s life in Glasgow. He introduces his family and then the scene moves to the local gurdwara in Glasgow, where Munmeet plays the harmonium, sings some kirtan, and performs seva. The scene then moves back to his home. Munmeet’s grandmother is an Amritdhari Sikh maintaining the five Ks. Munmeet lingers over his grandmother’s kirpan, and recalls when he was younger and thought, “My granny has a sword! . . . She’s supergran!.” When it is time to get ready for the journey, the camera follows Munmeet into his room while he is packing his luggage. Asked about the expectations he has regarding the trip, the answer, without hesitation, is: I think it will be different. Definitely . . . quite fun to see how they live, actually. Maybe their house has a different structure, maybe they’ve got their sort of bedrooms, or . . . I don’t know how they would live at all! Let me find when I will go there!

The trajectory from Glasgow to Delhi is highlighted on a world map: “Travel time: 15 hrs. Time difference: 4½ hrs ahead,” and after arrival a new map brings the spectator, along with the protagonists, from Delhi to Punjab. The camera focuses on the pictures of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, which are hanging from the minivan driver’s mirror. It is a leit-motif of the entire documentary, since within Munmeet’s house and, more obviously, within the gurdwara, the eye of the camera has always lingered on elements of “Sikhness” in the household—images of the Gurus, Punjabi press, khandas, all providing visual evidence of religious and cultural specificity. The first destination is the kin village of Samrela. The camera shoots the greetings with family members and then turns back to Munmeet playing marbles with boys from the village. After a meal, Munmeet follows his male relatives to the fields. It is time for harvesting and he has been given a little sickle to help cut the crops. Labor activities,

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which are part of the daily life of his folks, take, in the tourist’s experience, the shape of a role-playing game. Then it is time for milking. The visit to the local gurdwara gives Munmeet the impression of being “like home” but at the same time the awareness of being “elsewhere” as he expresses “yes, this is India!” After some bhangra music and dance, it is time to rest. The following day, Munmeet goes with one of his cousins to the local school. Munmeet is very surprised by the lack of computers. After school, it is time again to help with the farming activities. When the interviewer asks Munmeet how does he feel about a daily life like this, and if he could get used to it, the comment is clear-cut: “Awful. Probably not.” The evening is an occasion for a semi-improvised bhangra dance performance in the house courtyard. The morning after, it is already time to say goodbye to the family, to keep on with the tour trip. Munmeet comments: “The family is really loving. They’re really wonderful people, and happy as well.” When the interviewer asks “Would you swap?,” Munmeet replies “I don’t know about that” and continues: “waking at 4–5 o’clock in the morning, it was tiring. But it was fun.” Again, Munmeet’s words made it clear that he is aware that it is one thing to partake in the extemporaneous, even fun experience of the local lifestyle as a guest, quite another are the harsh conditions of everyday life for his family hosts. The journey continues toward Anandpur Sahib. It is Vaisakhi and Munmeet and his mother are going to meet another couple of relatives to visit all together the important gurdwara of Kesgarh Sahib. In his illustration of the importance of Vaisakhi and the role of the gurdwara and the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib, Munmeet seems to turn his role from that of a guest visiting India into that of a host, introducing his heritage to the camera and to the audience at home. But the roles seem to reverse all of a sudden when he keeps on accounting his selfless service in the gurdwara (seva): I should get the opportunity to do seva in that holy temple: when I was looking around, all I could see was flying chapattis and I was like . . . What was that? It was like one chapatti, two chapattis, flying in the air . . . I didn’t feel the same as doing the seva in the gurdwara in Glasgow. Off here it was a total different feeling. After, we sat down on the marble outdoors. My mind was absolutely, totally in peace. It was like I was being blessed by all the Gurus’.

The journey is nearing its end. Back in Glasgow, Munmeet elaborates on the most vivid memories of his journey to the camera: “The best bit of the trip has definitely been the village with the dance, the whole life there, because I didn’t know what my dad’s folks . . . what my dad’s life was when he was a boy. I have got it.” The episode concludes with Munmeet’s words about his own interpretation of his identity: “I am Scottish, but I’ll definitely say that I am Indian, and I am proud to be Indian.”

Who do you think you are? The BBC2 series Who do you think you are? has been conceived as a form of “genealogical” or “ancestral tourism” (Coles and Timothy, 2004, p. 15) TV program, an audio-visual experiment focusing on the family histories of several British celebrities (Wikipedia, 2011). The episode here considered is the sixth and last of the second

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series, broadcast on February 14, 2006, on BBC1 and revolving around the family history of Gurinder Chadha, better known as the director of internationally successful movies such as Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Bride & Prejudice (2004), and Paris je t’aime (2006). The BBC website summarizes: Gurinder Chadha is best known as the writer and director of Bend It Like Beckham. The film’s humor and charm delighted audiences around the world, but the process of making it was touched by sorrow—while Gurinder was writing the screenplay, her beloved father Bhajan passed away. As with many people who have lost a parent, the death of Gurinder’s father moved her to take more of an interest in her family’s background, and to learn more about her own place within that story. (BBC, n.d.)

The scene starts in the family home in Southall, where Gurinder reads a diary of her father’s time in Kenya, from where they moved when she was one year old. Some relatives are still there, and the first part of the trip shows Gurinder visiting the significant places of her family’s history in Africa.5 Gurinder then follows her grandmother’s footsteps backwards, traveling from Kenya to India and then to Pakistan, rebuilding her family history to her ancestors’ homeland. Here, the protagonists—Gurinder and her uncle Balwant—visit various locations of the former Sikh motherland, an extended Punjab that crisscrosses the actual borders between India and Pakistan. Gurinder’s statement at the moment of her arrival addresses quite clearly the difficulty she encounters in recognizing her Indian roots: Whenever I come to India, it really makes me realize how English I am, because to me it is a foreign land, even though our films have done really well here and people recognize me all the time, that makes me feel very uncomfortable, because I’ve never found a part of India that I feel I really belong to.

The meeting with her uncle Balwant is an opportunity for Gurinder and the spectators to explore the painful issue of Partition, with its 10 million refugees and 1 million victims. On a train trip from Delhi to Panipat, Balwant recalls his painful memories. Till now, Gurinder’s journey is shaped as a sacred journey into her family roots rather than a spiritual experience. However, her travels take on a different angle when she visits Haridwar, defined by the narrator as “a shared Sikh and Hindu holy site.” Here, Gurinder and Balwant go in search of details of the Chadha family before they migrated to Africa. The sacredness of this Hindu site is highlighted by the narrating voice: “Each year, millions of pilgrims come to scatter the ashes of loved ones or to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganga. Their visits are recorded by a family priest, or pandit,” with whom Gurinder and her uncle have arranged an appointment. Once again, Gurinder’s words make the role of the guest, a visitor from a foreign and distant place, overcome that of the host: “Someone like me, who has only ever sort of known England, I have no concept of an ancestral home or in fact a homeland. Hopefully in the gurdwara I might find clues to take me back beyond my grandparents.” Gurinder

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elaborates her astonishment to the camera, highlighting once more the newness of such experience for a second generation “twice migrant” visiting India: The experience with the pandit was just fantastic, was phenomenal, because for someone like me and other people like me who’ve been either born or raised in England, we’re cut off from whatever, you know, our parents’ homeland might be; we would never get the opportunity to go beyond one or two generations at the most, and now I know what the names of all my great great great great great grandfathers are. But now . . . we have to go to Jhelum, which is now Pakistan, to find out.

The trip to Pakistan constitutes another significant moment in strengthening Gurinder’s simultaneous experience as a host and a guest, but also complexifies her gazing at an ancestral homeland that no longer exists but that, indeed, can be re-created through travel: Going to Jhelum is a very new experience for me, even though I am originally from here, I guess, it is a Muslim country, and it’s, you know, it’s a military state, but to me it’s Punjab, so it’s sort of my ancestor land as well as being a completely different country called Pakistan.

Balwant grew up here, but he has never been back since the trauma of Partition 60 years ago. After more than seven hours going in circles, Balwant is finally able to see a building he recognizes as the old family mansion in which he was born. But still, Gurinder needs to find out something more about what her ancestors did. The search continues at the land registry office, where they seek information about land property. The shape of the old wooden room where the ancient registries are preserved reminds Gurinder of the movie Harry Potter, adding a glimpse of pop world culture to her gazing experience. Gurinder finds out that her forefathers had served in Maharajah Ranjit Singh’s army. Gurinder discovers here that her ancestors were from a small village, called Dariala Jelib. It is there that her search for roots comes to an end. The arrival to this village is interpreted by Gurinder as the ultimate site at which she can lose herself in a timeless plane and easily visualize Alexander the Great approaching from the hills only to be stopped by her ancestors. It is, in one sense, returning home. The episode ends with the director’s statement: To me it has always been Southall and London, because that’s all I have ever known, that’s all I have always cherished, and that’s what has always been home to me. And while this is still not home, because home is where my friends are, where my family is and where I grew up, it feels really good to be standing on the soil of where I know my ancestors came from over four thousands years ago.

Pilgrimage by the Pakistan Yatra Committee UK Another type of recorded pilgrimage is a semiprofessional video that has been offered to me as research material by a member of a Sikh community in the United Kingdom

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which I have been in touch with since 1995. It documents the pilgrimage that a group of 100 Sikhs from various locations in the United Kingdom, coordinated by the Pakistan Yatra Committee, took in 2005 to the Sikh shrines in Pakistan on the occasion of the birthday anniversary (prakash divas) of Guru Nanak. The journey begins in Amritsar and ends in Lahore in Pakistan, crossing various Sikh historical sites, mostly gurdwaras. The pilgrims (yatris) are accommodated mainly in guest rooms set up within the gurdwaras visited.6 This allowed the organizers to keep the prices much lower than the common fares provided by professionally organized tours.7 On the first day the video begins in front of a local gurdwara in Amritsar, while on the second day, the group briefly visits the Harimandir Sahib before taking a train toward Pakistan. Once arrived, three buses transfer the group to Panja Sahib Gurdwara in Hassan Abdal. They visit the compound and Wali Kadhari’s Hillock gurdwara. The third day is devoted to a one-day trip to Bhai Joga Singh gurdwara located in the Dabgari Bazar in the center of Peshawar, near the Afghan border. On the fourth day, the group stops at Hasan Abdal railway station to commemorate the victims—or, more accurately, the martyrs, since they attempted to stop a British train transporting predominantly Sikh prisoners in order to feed them—of the Saka (demonstration) that took place in 1922 (Allaboutsikhs.com, n.d.b; SikhiWiki, 2009), and then heads toward Nankana Sahib, Guru Nanak’s native village, where they are accommodated in the Janam Ashtam gurdwara complex. On the fifth day, the pilgrims visit Sacha Sauda Gurdwara in Chauarkana (Farooqabad district) and Rorri Sahib and Chakki Sahib Gurdwaras (Eminabad), all of which are associated with events related to the life of Guru Nanak. The sixth day is dedicated to a visit to Kartarpur on the India–Pakistan border which is associated with the end of Guru Nanak’s life on Earth, as well as the establishment of a Sikh community after his udasi (preaching odyssey). The site is maintained by the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) (Singh, 2004). On the seventh day, they go on foot around Nankana Sahib to visit several gurdwaras, such as Bal Lilah Sahib, Tanboo Sahib, Nihang Singhan, Chhevin Patshahi, Mall Ji Sahib, and Kiara Sahib.8 The eighth day is devoted to celebrations of Guru Nanak’s birthday (see below), while on the ninth day the group heads toward Lahore to visit various gurdwaras (Shahid Ganji Singhian, Shahid Ganji Bhai Taroo Singh, and Pashthan Chhevin Mazang) (allaboutsikhs.com, n.d.a). After having spent the night in a hotel, the tenth day of the tour concludes with a visit to some monuments that are important in Sikh history, such as Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Shahid Masjid, the mausoleum of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Lahore Fort, and a gurdwara commemorating the birthplace of Guru Ram Das. The routine that the pilgrims followed in visiting the shrines was interesting. Every morning the group rejoined to perform the Sikh prayer (ardas), take a “daily order” (hukam) from the Guru Granth Sahib and engage in devotional singing (kirtan). At the shrines visited during the day they offered monetary donations and robes to the Guru Granth Sahib (rumalas), despite the fact that many temples did not have a scripture installed due to the lack of custodians of the text (granthis). The tour leaders took turns in explaining the places visited, and in the evenings the group gathered for devotional singing (kirtan) and a communal prayer (ardas). The climax of the trip in the video is probably represented by the city procession (nagar kirtan) in Nankana Sahib for the celebrations of the anniversary of Guru

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Nanak, which the group took part in along with many other pilgrims from India and other locations of the diaspora. The devotees enlivened a crowded and choreographed entourage off the streets of Nankana Sahib, visiting the gurdwaras under the gaze of locals and with the support of the local police and Boy Scouts, who maintained the public order. Youths and adults performed gatka and hymns were sung with interludes of Sikh invocations. Banners in Punjabi and English waved among the crowd; a vessel from Canada tilted among the Nishan Sahib brought by the panj piare. The celebrations ended with a long prayer and kirtan session in the main hall of Janam Ashtan Gurdwara, in which sevadars from various locations were publicly awarded for their commitment. The UK group organized a public distribution of food (langar), under the banner of the Nankana Sahib Yatra Committee UK, in the gurdwara’s garden. The participation of “local” guides or hosts—as seen in the video—was quite limited. Also, the “secular” elements of the trip, such as shopping for instance, have been left out of the picture. It might be interesting to highlight those elements which, from a subjective point of view, have been considered significant by one of the participants who gave me his oral account of this pilgrimage experience. First of all, his most vivid memories relate more to local people than to local sites. In particular, he was very impressed by the Pashtun Sikhs they met in Peshawar, who were especially admired for their commitment to maintaining a “true Amritdhari lifestyle” in such a remote area. He regretted the fact that, as they spoke only Pashtun, communication outside the religious space was minimal. Conversely, he felt rather deceived by the tour organizers, toward which he developed a lack of trust because he felt exploited in relation to accommodation costs.9 He was also quite skeptical about the forms of investment that overseas Sikhs were involved in, such as trying to buy historical monuments in Pakistan. However, he was committed to visiting the country again, aiming to organize by himself a smaller tour by minivan with a group of 10–15 persons maximum. Overall, like many other overseas Sikhs, he felt closer to Pakistan and the Pakistani population and authorities than to the Indian government.10 He also acknowledged the fact that visiting Pakistan is easier for those coming from European countries, despite the initiatives that the two governments are trying to set up in order to allow Sikhs to visit religious shrines.

Narratives of “return” and the conflicting contemporary Sikhscape Qualitative analysis of cultural productions such as media artifacts draw attention to the ways in which leisure, fused with religion and kinship, can shape a new Appaduraian “Sikhscape” that overcomes the national borders and—to return to a dichotomy that has long shaped both tourism and migration studies—blurs the classical distinction between hosts and guests (Sherlock, 2001; Smith and Brent, 2001; Smith, 1977, 1989). The importance of the iconic and visual dimensions in constructing a religious identity has also been investigated in depth (Morgan, 1998, 2005). This aspect is of great significance for the analysis of Sikhism, a religion which has shaped much of its own identity around the bondage of ethics and esthetics (Ferraris, 1997, pp. 47–86; Kapur and Misra, 2003; Takhar, 2005).

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The narratives described above indeed highlight some important elements to be considered when analyzing contemporary forms of tourism, and which question the classical frame of analysis that views Westerners as leading the market in exotic travel. In the case of Punjab, a region that is not among the major touristic destinations in India,11 this is even more factual as the tourism market is addressing and targeting Sikh diasporans (and converts) and focusing precisely on pilgrimage; religious heritage as a cultural experience is also targeted by Indian tour operators, strengthening the idea of a connection between tourism in Punjab and the Sikh religion.12 Also, some recent choices made by the Pakistani government to implement services and facilities for Sikh pilgrims—along with the attempt to bring abandoned gurdwaras back to life—can be interpreted as a similar political trend (PTI, n.d.). On the other hand, overseas Sikh travel practices—as well as the accounts of such experiences—can become a way to express multiple belongings to their motherland and to their context of settlement. Munmeet’s conclusive sentence, “I’m Scottish, but I am also Indian” is a clear statement in this direction. Conversely, at the beginning of the episode Gurinder Chadha contests ideas which define Sikhism by external symbols and appearance, declaring: “Sikhism is not in my hair, it is in my heart.” Her account illustrates multiple belonging through a complex heritage in terms of lineage that is shaped by the country of birth, the country of residence, and the native country of the ancestors. This vision seems to be reversed in the visual representation emerging from the video of the Pakistan Yatra Committee UK, in which the idea of a Khalsa Sikh identity emerges reenforced largely by the participation of Amritdhari Sikhs who wear the five Ks. The “touristic” element in this video is provided by the presence of many cameras and video cameras which, along with the pilgrims, are ever present at each visit and prayer. Narratives, therefore, reveal elements of disjunction, allowing us to consider the journey not solely in terms of an experience creating and/or reinforcing feelings of community identity, but also as a “religious void . . . capable of accommodating diverse meanings and practices” (Eade and Sallnow, 1991, p. 15; see also Coleman and Eade, 2004). The landscape of belonging, the “motherland,” is also a complex issue that emerges from these kinds of accounts and attests the importance of maintaining ties to significant sites beyond constant kinship contacts, family linkages, and reciprocal visits—something which has been typical of transnational research on migrant communities (Glick Schiller et al., 1992; Riccio, 2007). Examples of documented pilgrimages include visits to religious places of worship, such as local gurdwaras or larger cultural and religious places of historical importance. This is an aspect that some researchers have connected to the emergence of a Sikh political and religious identity (Axel, 2001) that, if sacrificed in the TV programs in favor of a broader and more “neutral” imagined “Punjabi” landscape, is, on the other hand, clearly marked in the Yatra video. Comments on Pakistani shrines-related websites seemingly highlight the controversies that cut across the Sikh global “community” when it addresses political issues, such as Partition, recognition of Sikhism by Muslims and/or Hindus, and heritage management of Sikh sites by political, religious, and local/national institutions. At the same time, several leit-motifs recurring in these accounts simultaneously question the idea of “return,” and verge on more commonly analyzed forms of travel narratives, usually produced by Western tourists in their encounter with the exotic

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(Harrison, 2003; Bruner, 2005). For instance, in Rooted Munmeet re-asserts Duccio Canestrini’s theory that “there’s no travelling without tasting” (Canestrini, 2004, p. 16), illustrating the traditional Punjabi food to the TV camera. It is the kind of food you can also get in other localities, but “over here is more tasty, more delicious.” The experience of Gurinder Chadha in Haridwar also seems to be shaped more by the gaze of an outsider than an insider, as she admits at her arrival in India; it provides a stimulating example of a contested experience of religious belonging that would probably not be shared by orthodox Sikh authorities or believers. The protagonists of these travel narratives can, therefore, broadly fit into two typologies of “diaspora tourism” presented by Coles and Timothy: The travel narratives in Rooted and the videos of the Pakistan Yatra Committee exemplify the broad typology of “trips back to their original homelands . . . practiced by diaspora members in the . . . hope of discovering more about themselves, their ancestry, their heritage, their families and their extended communities” (Coles and Timothy, 2004, p. 14). Yet, the orientation toward spirituality in Rooted adds to Munmeet’s account an element of piety that to some extent makes his own and personally described experience something different from a “secular pilgrimage.” Piety is also primary in the account of the participant’s pilgrimage to Pakistan, as well as in the protagonist of the video. Gurinder’s narrative, though more representative of the second typology by Coles and Timothy—“genealogical,” “ancestral,” and “family history” tourism (ibid.)—manifests to some extent a spiritual character who is able to reconnect with the past of her Indian family as well as her British upbringing. These narratives also show that generational differences have a considerable impact on shaping the travel experiences as well as the memories derived from them. Notwithstanding the clear positioning of their own place of origin, which for all the protagonists is Britain, what distinguishes Munmeet’s account from Gurinder’s narration is a more straightforward comparison between the United Kingdom and India: less sophisticated to some extent, but still interesting because it is possibly biased by a Western viewpoint in terms of domestic and exotic, in terms of developed countries—with their comforts—and underdeveloped regions and their harsh life conditions. From this angle, the route back to one’s roots clearly takes a different shape because of the different positions of family members during the journey experience. In Munmeet’s case, the family’s presence in the United Kingdom creates a physical and emotional presence to go back, while in Gurinder’s case, her father and kin are instead the protagonists of her route into the past. For participants of the Pakistan yatra, experiences are more a search of a collective “ancestral religious motherland,” a pre-Partition Punjab which still hosts significant sites of the Sikh tradition and its imperial and colonial history. Cultural heritage too, in their video, emerges as an important means for re-asserting identity. But while the professional gaze, given by the video producers, focuses on those aspects that are pertained as most significant for the collective of Sikhs, personal accounts on the very same experiences can send back a different vision. The pilgrims’ ideas about how the cultural heritage should be maintained and which authorities are responsible for the degradation of historical sites invites future research on the symbolic and financial investments that diaspora Sikhs are making for the purpose of recreating a “pre-Partition” homeland of Punjab.

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Family heritage, migration history, cultural and religious identity, a feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood, along with ideas of the sangat—experienced prominently in sites of worship—are altogether present in the travel accounts of diaspora Sikhs and highlight their multiple sense of belonging. Traveling Sikhs can be guests in their native homeland or land of origin and at the same time feel at home as well. These and other types of travel narratives constitute an invaluable source for the study of the intersections, both between tourism and diaspora and between diaspora and notions of homeland, fields that, with regard to global and mobile Sikhs, undoubtedly need further investigations. Focusing on gender and generational differences, along with diversities between group-organized tour packages and individual travel, through participant observation and recollection and analysis of travel narratives on their return, could become extremely fruitful methodologies to proceed along this line of research.

Notes 1 Ballard (1994), Nesbitt (2004), Talbot and Thandi (2004), Bhachu (1985, 1995), Mand (2003), and Tatla (1999). 2 After the beheading of two Sikhs in Peshawar district which happened in February 2010 (Times of India, 2010), touristic flows are likely to be influenced by the floods that occurred in August 2010 in Punjab, since gurdwaras have also become places of refuge for displaced Hindus and Sikhs of the region (NDTV, n.d.). 3 Daily Times Pakistan (n.d.), The Economic Times (n.d.), China Airways, Jet Airways, Turkmenistan Airlines, Uzbekistan Airlines, to name a few among those mentioned in the diasporic Sikh EU press and travel agencies’ leaflets. 4 This third typology will not be considered in detail hereafter. However, I am convinced of its importance and significance in understanding diaspora in leisurebased practices which construct identity, especially considering that these camps are usually addressed to youth. They can be perceived as forms of leisure trips with an “Asian” vocation appeal, experienced either within diaspora sites exclusively, or with tours to important sites in the Indian subcontinent. 5 I will not focus on this part of the trip, since despite acknowledging the significance and importance of the African Indian diaspora for the UK context I am paying more attention in this contribution to issues that have wider implications for the enlarged European Sikh diaspora. 6 Often, rooms that could host two or three persons were used to lodge up to six or seven persons and sometimes men had to mount tents because there were not enough rooms available. Saranjit Singh, personal conversation, October 29, 2006. 7 About £200 GBP compared to £500–600 GBP charged by professional tour agencies. Saranjit Singh, personal conversation, October 29, 2006. 8 For details about these shrines and monuments, see Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (n.d.). 9 The tour organizers told him he got a special price—£280 GBP; however, while talking to other participants he discovered that the majority spent £200 GBP. 10 The different interpretations of the conflict between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the PSGPC that appear on the internet and, from my informant’s emerging discourse, represent, in my opinion, an interesting

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vehicle for the analysis of political conflicts and conflicting identities through the lens of cultural heritage (Constantinou and Hatay, 2010). 11 According to official India tourism statistics, Punjab is ranked 28th and 31st respectively among the 35 States of the Federation in terms of domestic and foreign tourist arrivals. It is indeed true that Amritsar especially is an important site for international tourism, but Punjab overall ranks as unappealing compared to other states (Ministry of Tourism, n.d.). 12 See allindiatravelinfo.com (n.d.), incredibleindia.com (n.d.), indiaprofile.com (n.d.). All mentioned websites do not quote Punjab on their homepage as a major attraction, but reserve some attention to it only in the pilgrimage section.

Bibliography Allaboutsikhs.com (n.d.a), “Historical gurdwaras in Pakistan” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.allaboutsikhs.com/gurudwaras-in-pakistan/historical-gurudwarasin-pakistan.html [Accessed November 14, 2010]. — (n.d.b), “Historical Sikh events: Saka Punja Sahib” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.allaboutsikhs.com/historical-events/historical-sikh-events-saka-punja-sahib.html [Accessed November 15, 2010]. Allindiatravelinfo.com (n.d.), “Sikh pilgrimage tour” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.allindiatravelinfo.com/sikh-pilgrimage-tour.html [Accessed December 28, 2011]. Appadurai, A. (1996), Modernity at Large. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Axel, B. K. (2001), The Nation’s Tortured Body. Violence, Representation and the Formation of a Sikh ‘Diaspora’. Durham: Duke University Press. Badone, E. and Roseman, S. R. (2005), Intersecting Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage and Tourism. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. Ball, S. and Gilligan, C. (2010), “Visualising migration and social division: insights from social sciences and the visual arts.” Forum: Qualitative Social Research/Sozialforschung, 11(2) [Online]. Available at: www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/ view/1486/3002 [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Ballard, R. (1994), Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain. London: Hurst. Basu, P. (2005), “Macpherson country: genealogical identities, spatial histories and the scottish diasporic clanscape.” Cultural Geographies, 12(2), 123–50. — (2007), Highland Homecomings: Genealogy and Heritage-Tourism in the Scottish Diaspora. London: Routledge. BBC (n.d.), “Who do you think you are? Gurinder Chadha” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.bbc.co.uk/whodoyouthinkyouare/past-stories/gurinder-chadha.shtml [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Bendix, R. (2002), “Capitalizing on past, present and future. Observations on the intertwining of tourism and narration.” Anthropological Theory, 2(4), 469–87. Bhachu, P. (1985), Twice Migrants. East African Sikh Settlers in Britain. London: Tavistock. — (1995), “New cultural forms and transnational South Asian women: culture, class and consumption among British Asian Women in the diaspora,” in P. Van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 222–44. Boorstin, D. J. (1964), The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. New York: Harper & Row.

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Bruner, E. M. (1995), “The ethnographer/tourist in Indonesia,” in M.-F. Lanfant, J. B. Allcock, and E. M. Bruner (eds), International Tourism. Identity and Change. London: Sage, pp. 224–41. — (1996), “Tourism in Ghana: the representation of slavery and the return of the black diaspora.” American Anthropologist, 98(2), 290–304. — (2005), Culture on Tour. Ethnographies of Travel. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press. Canestrini, D. (2004), Non Sparate sul Turista. Dal Turismo Blindato al Viaggio Permeabile. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri. Clifford, J. (1997), Routes. Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Coleman, S. M. (2002), “Do you believe in pilgrimage?.” Anthropological Theory, 2(3), 355–68. Coleman, S. M. and Eade, J. (2004), Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in Motion. London: Routledge. Coles, T. E. and Timothy, D. J. (2004), Tourism, Diasporas and Space. London: Routledge. Constantinou, C. and Hatay, M. (2010), “Cyprus, ethnic conflict and conflicted heritage.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 33(9), 1600–19. Daily Times Pakistan (2006), “Manmohan to flag off bus to Nankana Sahib” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\03\21\ story_21–3–2006_pg7_15 [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Eade, J. and Sallnow, M. J. (1991), Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage. London: Routledge. Ebron, P. A. (1999), “Tourists as pilgrims: commercial fashioning in Transatlantic politics.” American Ethnologist, 26(4), 910–22. The Economic Times (n.d.), “Sikh pilgrims throng train to Pakistan” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshowpics/5785170.cms [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Ferraris, F. (1997), Religiosità e Identità Etnica. La Trasmissione Culturale in due Comunità di Sikh Inglesi. Unpublished BA Thesis in Cultural Anthropology. Bologna. Gardner, K. (2002), Age, Narrative, and Migration: The Life Course and Life Histories of Bengali Elders in London. Oxford: Berg. Gillespie, M. (1995), Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change. An Ethnographic Study of Punjabi Londoners. London: Routledge. Glick Schiller, N., Basch, L. G., and Szanton Blanc, C. (1992), Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration: Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Nationalism Reconsidered. New York: New York Academy of Sciences. Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. (1997a), Anthropological Locations. Boundaries and Grounds of a Field Science. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. (1997b), Culture, Power, Place. Explorations in Critical Anthropology. Durham: Duke University Press. Habib, J. (2004), Israel, Diaspora, and the Routes of National Belonging. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Handlin, O. (1951), The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People. Boston: Little Brown. Hannam, K. (2004), “India and the ambivalence of diaspora tourism,” in T. E. Coles and D. J. Timothy (eds), Tourism, Diasporas, and Space. London: Routledge, pp. 246–60. Hansen, T. B. (2005), “Between autochthony and diaspora: Indians in the ‘New’ South Africa,” in P. N. Abinales, N. Ishikawa, and A. Tanabe (eds), Dislocating Nation-States: Globalization in Asia and Africa. Melbourne: Trans-Pacific Press, pp. 147–70.

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Harrison, J. (2003), Being a Tourist. Vancouver: UBC Press. Incredibleindia.com (n.d.), “Sikh pilgrimage tour” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www. incredibleindiatravel.com/pilgrimage-travel-in-india/sikh-pilgrimages-in-india.html [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Indiaprofile.com (n.d.), “Pilgrimage sites of the Sikhs” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.indiaprofile.com/pilgrimage/pilgrimagesofsikhs.htm [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Jutla, R. S. (2006), “Pilgrimage in Sikh tradition,” in D. J. Timothy and D. H. Olsen (eds), Tourism, Religion and Spiritual Journeys. London: Routledge, pp. 206–19. Kapur, P. and Misra, G. (2003), “Image of self in the Sikh community: continuity of the core and the global presence.” Psychology & Developing Societies, 15(1), 103–16. MacCannell, D. (1973), “Staged authenticity: arrangements of social space in tourist settings.” The American Journal of Sociology, 79(3), 589–603. Mand, K. P. (2003), Gendered Places, Transnational Lives: Sikh Women in Tanzania, Britain and Indian Punjab. PhD Thesis in Social Anthropology. University of Sussex. Ministry of Tourism (n.d.), “Statistics. Domestic and foreign tourist visits. 2009. Figures” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http://tourism.gov.in/statistics/statistics.htm [Accessed November 18, 2010]. Mittelberg, D. (1999), The Israel Connection and American Jews. Westport: Praeger. Molz, J. G. (2010), “Performing global geographies: Time, space, place and pace in narratives of round-the-world travel.” Tourism Geographies: An International Journal of Tourism Space, Place and Environment, 12(3), 329–48. Morgan, D. (1998), Visual Piety: A History and Theory of Popular Religious Images. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. — (2005), The Sacred Gaze: Religious Visual Culture in Theory and Practice. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. NDTV (n.d.), “Over 2,000 Sikhs, Hindus displaced by Pakistan floods” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.ndtv.com/article/world/over-2–000-sikhs-hindus-displaced-bypakistan-floods-45121 [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Nesbitt, E. M. (2004), “I’m a Gujarati Lohana and a Vaishnav as well: religious identity formation among young Coventrian Punjabis and Gujaratis,” in S. Coleman and P. Collins (eds), Religion, Identity, and Change: Perspectives on Global Transformations. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 174–90. Oneworld.net (n.d.), “Rooted. Christian aid” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http:// uk.oneworld.net/article/view/83128/1/6159 [Accessed December 29, 2011]. PTI (n.d.), “172 Sikhs shrines in Pak to be opened for pilgrims” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.zeenews.com/news620696.html [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Radin, P. (1970), The Italians of San Francisco: Their Adjustment and Acculturation. San Francisco, CA: R&E Research Associates. Rapport, N. (2000), “The narrative as a fieldwork technique. Processual ethnography for a world in motion,” in V. Amit (ed.), Constructing the Field. Ethnographic Fieldwork in the Contemporary World. London: Routledge, pp. 71–95. Rapport, N. (2006), “Anthropology as cosmopolitan study.” Anthropology Today, 22(1), 23–4. Riccio, B. (2007), “Toubab’ e ‘vu Cumprà.” Transnazionalità e Rappresentazioni nelle Migrazioni Senegalesi in Italia. Padova: CLUEP. Rooftop Productions (n.d.), “Rooted” [WWW] [Online]. Available at www.rooftopproductions.co.uk/rooted/rooted.htm [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Sherlock, K. (2001), “Revisiting the concept of hosts and guests.” Tourist Studies, 1(3), 271–95.

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Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (n.d.), “Historical gurdwaras – gurdwaras in Pakistan” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: www.sgpc.net/historical-gurdwaras/ index_gurdwaras_in_pakistan.asp [Accessed December 29, 2011]. SikhiWiki (2009), “Saaka Punja Sahib, true story” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhiwiki. org/index.php/Saaka_Punja_Sahib,_True_Story [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Singer, W. (1997), Creating Histories: Oral Narratives and the Politics of History-Making. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Singh, P. (2004), “Gurdwaras in Pakistan: an overview.” Sikh Spectrum Quarterly, 15 [Online]. Available at: www.sikhspectrum.com/022004/preetam_singh.htm [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Smith, V. L. (1977), Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. — (1989), Hosts and Guests: The Anthropology of Tourism (2nd edn). Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Smith, V. L. and Brent, M. (2001), Hosts and Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century. New York: Cognizant. Takhar, O. K. (2005), Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups among Sikhs. Aldershot: Ashgate. Talbot, I. and Thandi, S. S. (2004), People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial and Post-Colonial Migration. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tatla, D. S. (1999), The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood. London: UCL Press. Times of India (2010), “Pakistani Taliban behead two Sikhs” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/videos/news/Pakistani-Taliban-behead-2-Sikhs/ videoshow/5600765.cms [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Turner, V. W. and Turner, E. L. B. (1978), Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture: Anthropological Perspectives. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Urry, J. (1990), The Tourist Gaze: Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies. London: Sage. Wikipedia (2011), “Who do you think you are?” [Online]. Available at: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Do_You_Think_You_Are%3F_%28British_TV_ series%29#Series_Two_.282006.29 [Accessed December 29, 2011]. Williams, A. and Hall, M. (2000), “Tourism and migration.” Tourism Geographies, 2(1), 5–27. Wood, N. and King, R. (eds) (2001), Media and Migration: Constructions of Mobility and Difference. London: Routledge.

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Tuning Identity in European “Houses of the Guru”: The Importance of Gurdwaras and Kirtan among Sikhs in Europe Knut A. Jacobsen

A distinguishing feature of Sikhs in the diaspora is the dedication with which they have built gurdwaras (Tatla, 1999, p. 73). This dedication for gurdwara construction also characterizes the “new” Sikh diaspora of continental Europe. One of the functions of these European gurdwaras is to support and develop awareness of the multilocality of the Sikh religious tradition. The history and geography of Sikhism bind the religion to the state of Punjab, and the European gurdwaras often become hubs of transnational networks, especially for connections with Punjab, but also for continental Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America (especially Canada). They are settings for transnational transmissions of Sikhism in the diaspora—transmissions that maintain and develop the transnational identity of the European Sikhs.1 They provide a sense of religious and ethnic belonging, both to the local community, to Punjab, and to the imagined global Sikh community as well, and are sites of transnational “influences and practices that are accommodated in new local settings” (Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011, p. 8). The Sikh religious tradition in the European diaspora functions in various ways to maintain and transfer a Punjabi identity. Peggy Levitt has argued that “in the twentyfirst century, many people will belong to several societies and cultures at once, and they will use religion to do so” (Levitt, 2007, p. 104), and the ways in which the Sikh religious tradition is used in the diaspora in Europe seem to fit well with this description. The role of Punjab in the religious geography, the sacralization of the Punjabi language in the textual tradition, the use of traditional Punjabi food in the communal kitchen (langar), the emphasis on the Punjabi appearance of people in the gurdwaras, and so on, makes Sikhism function in order to assure a sacralization of a Punjabi cultural and ethnic identity. Because of the strength of the connection between Sikhism and the state of Punjab, and the many overlaps between the Sikh religion and a Punjabi culture, the gurdwaras in Europe, also in their religious function, serve to maintain links between Punjab and the European countries. The gurdwaras are often founded to serve as miniPunjabs, for the preservation and generational transfer of Punjabi culture. “The life and

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activities of Sikh migrants,” writes Niki Papageorgiou about the Sikhs in Greece, “are structured around these gurdwaras” (Papageorgiou, 2011, p. 212). To new immigrants, they give a feeling of being at home, that is, a place that closely resembles Punjab, although situated in a foreign country. For the second generation, the gurdwara can be a place where “they act most completely and ‘authentically’ ‘Indian’ ” and which “is a world filled with the sounds, sights, and scents of their parents’ homeland” (Hall, 2002, p. 172). The gurdwaras are arenas of transnational transmissions in which various semiprofessional religious specialists, such as ragis (musicians), kathavacaks (lecturers), and granthis (custodians of the Guru Granth Sahib) bring a Sikh, Punjabi, and Indian culture to the European Sikhs when they travel throughout the continent to perform and provide religious services. On Sundays in the gurdwaras, the Sikhs . . . enter an atmosphere that has a sensory identification with “things Indian”: the portraits of sainted Gurus; the close proximity of same-sexed bodies sitting long hours “Indian-style,” heads covered and feet bare on the white-sheet-covered floor, the brightly colored garlands crisscrossing the hall; the air perfumed with incense and reverberating with the atonal wail of the harmonium and the thud of the tabla; the holy man with his long sword, standing behind the silk and satin shrouded holy book, beating the air reverently with a whisk of white horsehair. (Hall, 2002, p. 173)

And this transplanted world “summons memories and a sensual awareness of ‘things Indian’ ” (Hall, 2002, p. 173). The description quoted above is from Great Britain, but it is the case for all the countries of Europe in which gurdwaras have been established that the gurdwaras construct transnational space and transplant “Punjab space” to sites in Europe. In this chapter, I will analyze some aspects of the development of gurdwaras in Europe. A gurdwara is a room or a building where the Guru Granth Sahib is present and the book of one volume is considered the living guru of the Sikhs and requires ritual handling. The presence of the book and its ritual handling in a room or building transforms the spaces into a gurdwara. “Gurdwara” means “door to the guru” and refers to the presence of the holy book in the room or building. The establishment of a gurdwara is for religious purposes, but once the gurdwara is established, it may acquire many other functions. I will analyze some of these functions and then consider one main feature of the ritual gatherings—the gathering for performing and listening to kirtan. In many gurdwaras in the diaspora, the only time the gurdwara is crowded on a weekly basis is during the kirtan hours, usually on Sundays. The kirtan, therefore, is especially able to illustrate important functions of the gurdwaras and dimensions of Sikh worship.

The academic study of gurdwaras The centrality of the gurdwaras for the Sikhs cannot be denied, but they have nevertheless not been at the center of the academic study of the Sikhs. This is also

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true in the study of the Sikh diaspora, although to a lesser degree. The importance of gurdwaras is briefly mentioned (in academic studies) but more comprehensive studies are absent. In the edited volumes on Sikh identity and the Sikh diaspora, studies on gurdwaras are often strikingly nonexistent. Typically, edited volumes such as The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (1996) contain essays on pilgrimage, gender, identity, Khalsa rahit, martyrologies, reconstructions of the past, the Punjab crisis, and academic scholarship and Sikhism. Another example is the collection of essays in Sikh Identity (1999) which includes essays on the turban and other markers of a Sikh identity, Sahajdhari Sikhs, the narrative of Sikh religion and nation, Sikhs and the state, caste, second generation Sikhs, representation of Sikhs in school books, and Sikh youth. The last essay in this book, however, by the historian Norman Gerald Barrier, is about conflict in the management of a gurdwara. This lack of detailed studies on gurdwaras in a lot of previous research is perhaps because most of the researchers in Sikh studies have been historians and textual scholars. As recently as 2006, Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla pointed out that in research on the Sikhs in Britain “the role of gurdwaras in community development has received little academic attention” (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 5). But when the gurdwaras are indeed the main subject of research studies, the focus is often on conflicts in management (see ibid., 2006, pp. 69–93). Singh and Tatla focus on the role of the gurdwaras in community building and also, in particular, the competition for control and leadership in the gurdwaras. Community building and competition for control are also themes in the literature about several other European countries (see in particular Ilkjær, 2011; Lum, 2011). However, the activities of the gurdwaras can be divided between religious/ritual and social/political activities. Even though factionalism and sectarianism are prevalent features of Sikh gurdwaras, the political is only one of the aspects of the gurdwara, and from the point of view of the study of religion, perhaps not the most significant. The lack of focus on religion is probably because of the marginal position of the study of Sikhism in the academic discipline of Religious Studies. Although also arenas of political conflicts, “from the Sikh point of view the gurdwara is, first and foremost, the place of worship” (Mann, 2000, p. 265). For the Sikhs, the gurdwara is the door to the guru, a place of religion. In other words, even when the gurdwaras have been in focus, what is most essential to the Sikhs—the gurdwara as place to worship together with others—has been given minimal scholarly attention.2

Constructing gurdwaras in Europe The institution of the gurdwara is almost as old as Sikhism itself. The places where the early Sikhs came together to sing devotional hymns and learn about the teaching were called dharamsalas (“the abode of dharma”), a term mentioned many times in the Guru Granth Sahib. From the time of Guru Hargobind, the name changed to gurdwara. The first Sikh gurdwara in Europe, and by far the oldest, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Dharamsala in Putney, was opened in 1911, and in the British news media at that time the Sikh temple was identified with the word dharamsala (Bance et al., 2008, p. 6).3

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Undoubtedly, the establishment of gurdwaras is the most important act in the process of institutionalizing the Sikh religion in a new country of settlement. Since individuals most often do not have a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib in one volume and usually do not establish gurdwaras at private houses, the presence of a collective gurdwara can offer people the opportunity for ritual worship in the presence of the guru and to listen to the live performance of the words and music of the gurbani (the words of the Sikh gurus, the Sikh scripture). Once the first gurdwara has been established in a country, its presence may also encourage more Sikhs to settle, as Zbigniew Igielski has observed in the case of Poland (Igielski, 2011, p. 125). The presence and location of a gurdwara may also influence where in the country new immigrants choose to live. The institutionalization of the religion of Sikhism in Europe has occurred through the establishment of a large number of gurdwaras as Sikhs have settled in various countries in northern, southern, western, and eastern regions of Europe. The earliest gurdwara in continental Europe was probably founded by German converts to Sikhism, who were followers of Harbhajan Singh Yogi (Laue, 2012). In 1979, Sikh immigrants in Frankfurt, Germany, discovered a gurdwara there established by German converts and started to use it.4 This probably marked the earliest use of a gurdwara by Sikh immigrants in continental Europe. Before the establishment of the gurdwara, groups would meet in private homes, and when the numbers grew localities were rented for the meetings. The arrival of family and children often played a significant role for the establishment of gurdwaras in Europe. The number of gurdwaras in Europe is fast growing. In addition to the gurdwaras in the “old homeland” of the European Sikhs, that is, Great Britain, which probably hosts close to 300 Sikh places of worship,5 gurdwaras have been established in Austria (3 gurdwaras), Belgium (4), Denmark (1), Finland (1), France (5), Germany (31), Greece (10), the Netherlands (8), Ireland (2), Italy (39) (see Bertolani and Singh, Chapter 11 in this volume), Norway (2), Poland (1), Portugal (1), Russia (1), Spain (10), Sweden (4), and Switzerland (5).6 The geographical expansion of gurdwaras in Europe outside of Great Britain has happened especially during the last 30 years. In 2012, there were around 100 gurdwaras in continental Europe. This number demonstrates the recent dramatic growth of European Sikhism. The increase in the number of gurdwaras closely parallels the growing number of Sikhs. Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla point out that the growth of the gurdwaras not only “corresponds with the growth of the community, but also increasingly reflects its religious and social diversity” (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 5). Singh and Tatla suggest that 83.3 percent of the gurdwaras in the United Kingdom belong to the Sikh “mainstream” community, in that they do not identify along caste or sectarian lines (ibid., 2006, p. 77). The percentage for continental Europe is probably even higher. The gurdwaras have become sacred spaces for worship and religious activities centered around Guru Granth Sahib; they are centers for learning punjabi, gurbani, kirtan, and so on and nowadays arrange camps for the youth; they are social meeting places to meet other Punjabis and co-devotees, which also include matrimonial services and help with legal papers; they are cultural meeting places and they are places for representing Sikhs and the Sikh religion in the host society by welcoming visits from school classes, politicians, and others of the majority society.

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In a study of the gurdwaras in England, Manvir Singh Dhesi argues that the pattern for England involves three types of gurdwaras: main gurdwaras, caste based, and saint based. Dhesi argues that the main gurdwaras were built out of the necessity of having a collective place of worship; caste-based gurdwaras were built later and for political reasons; and saint-based gurdwaras were also built later on and organized out of religious concerns (Dhesi, 2009). In continental Europe, there are mostly only main gurdwaras, that is, gurdwaras built out of necessity. This is probably to do with the size of the communities and the length of the period of presence. Conflicts within smaller mainstream gurdwaras outside the United Kingdom also seem to be based on diversity, but the communities are often too small to create separate gurdwaras when differences turn into conflicts. Nevertheless, there are also caste-based gurdwaras in continental Europe, in Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands, and a particular strong presence of Ravidasias in Spain where conflicts led to a split with Sikhism (see Lum, 2011). Traditionally, there are two sorts of gurdwaras. In addition to those built to serve the religious and social needs of the community, there are those that are built to mark historical events (related to the Sikh gurus; related to virtuous devotees and martyrs; and related to relic shrines; see Myrvold, 2007, pp. 154–6). The gurdwaras in Europe all belong, of course, to the first type. However, a new dimension of the community gurdwara seems also to be developing in Europe—those built to serve the religious and social needs of the community but also to function as public representations of the Sikhs and display Sikhism in the public space, which Singh and Tatla characterize as “imposing grand ‘new cathedrals’ ” (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 72). Their architecture is Mughal style and reminiscent of the historical and communitybased gurdwaras in Punjab. They are intended for worship and representation when the Sikhs are firmly settled in a country and to display the beauty, strength, and pride of Sikh traditions and become the premier symbols of the Sikh presence in the country. To erect buildings only for the guru and the congregation becomes an important means to celebrate and respect the guru in new countries, to gain status within the community, and prove one’s social and economic strength and success, as well as represent Sikhism to others. There are only a few gurdwaras in Europe that possess this dimension, but their number will certainly increase. The most famous and the largest gurdwara outside of India is the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall in London, which opened in 2003 and cost 17.6 million pounds to build. The most beautiful “display” gurdwara in continental Europe is Gurdwara Sahib Switzerland that was completed in 2006 (gurdwarasahib.com, n.d.). It was built according to the Mughal gurdwara architectural style and money (7 crore rupees, i.e. 70 million rupees) was also contributed from the Sikhs in other European countries (sikhreview.org, 2006), making it a European project. The transnational nature of the project is recognized on the web page of the gurdwara: While Sikhs of Switzerland were on the forefront to complete their mission, who can forget the valuable contributions made by Sikhs from all over the Europe? It would have been very difficult to accomplish this mission without their contributions. (gurdwarasahib.com, n.d.)

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Another beautiful, newly constructed “display” gurdwara is the Norwegian Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier. It is a purpose-built gurdwara of 1,500 square meters and probably the largest in continental Europe after the Gurdwara Sahib Switzerland. Like Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall and Gurdwara Sahib Switzerland, it is a community building and, like them, it also functions as a monument to the achievements and pride of the country’s Sikh community. The gurdwaras in Europe have developed in several phases to serve the local Sikh community in their new homes. The gurdwara becomes a community center and without a gurdwara there are often no meeting places for the Sikhs of the locality to come together as a community. Congregational worship (sangat) is at the heart of Sikh devotion and Sikhism favors worship together with others rather than in isolation: participation with others is the basis of religious life. This is also the case in the diaspora; it is the congregational religious activities of the Sikhs that are at the center in the gurdwaras. The first phase of establishment of gurdwaras in Europe corresponds to the settlement of sizable Sikh communities and the establishment of the first gurdwaras. This process took place in England particularly from the 1960s, although Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Dharamsala was already opened in 1911. The number of gurdwaras in the United Kingdom increased from 42 in 1972 to 214 in 2001, which illustrates the enormous, rapid growth of Sikh communities (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 76). The gurdwaras of continental Europe grew rapidly in numbers only from the 1990s. Hindus from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and other areas may regularly visit because for them the gurdwaras also appear as authentically Indian and a “little Punjab” and “a home away from home,” as the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo continues to be. A second phase for the gurdwaras is when the focus on generational transfer to the Sikhs born and raised in Europe becomes predominant. A continuous worry in many of the Sikh communities in Europe, especially in those countries in which the main Sikh immigration took place before the 1990s, is the lack of involvement of youths in the gurdwara. One reason for this is perhaps that the gurdwaras are little Punjabs and to a large extent fulfill the needs of the first generation by reestablishing a Punjabi Sikh space, a place where everyone speaks Punjabi, dresses Punjabi style, and which becomes a “comfort zone” (Ebaugh and Chafetz, 2000), confirming the saying, “Punjab is where Punjabis live.” Some Sikhs in Norway who were children of the early migrants who arrived in the 1970s report having grown up in the gurdwara in the 1980s, spending every Sunday from morning to evening playing with other children and youths in the gurdwara. The gurdwara is an old house with many small rooms on the second floor where the children could play on their own while their parents were socializing. But many of the second generation might not feel any need to recreate Punjabi cultural space as they are brought up in another culture or might wish to de-culturize Sikhism (see Singh, Chapter 7 in this book). They might want to explore the identity of Sikhism as a religion and its relationship to Punjabi culture and might use other sources, such as the internet, to identify Sikhism not as a ritual culture but as statements of faith or principles to abide by. In the rules for the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo, for example, it is said that a requirement for becoming a member of the governing board is to dress and appear in traditional Punjab style and this is also a requirement for having responsibility for any of the routines in the gurdwara.7 This exemplifies the function

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of the gurdwara as a place for recreating a Punjabi culture and illustrates the possible tensions involved in the second phase of gurdwara development, transferring the gurdwara to the generation of Sikhs born in Europe. The gurdwaras are important not least for new migrants, and there is a tension between the gurdwara serving as mainly a comfort zone for the first generation and the new migrants, and its development as an institution for the new generations. An important issue for the gurdwaras in Europe regarding the authority and transnational transmission of Sikhism is the relationship to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). Some gurdwaras, like Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo, have written in their regulations that they follow the directives from Sri Akal Takhat (Sikher.no, n.d.a). They have also decided that the SGPC should have the final word when there are unsolvable disagreements in the gurdwara. The gurdwara organization is registered as the owner of the gurdwara property, but in case of a crisis situation, the owners are Sri Akal Takhat Sahib and the SGPC.8 This serves as a guarantee that in case of conflict it will not be possible for one group to claim the gurdwara as their property. An interesting suggestion for transnational transmission of Sikhism has come from the Swiss Sikhs, via the founder president of its Sikh Foundation, Karan Singh. He has proposed that the SGPC should appoint representatives or ambassadors to be sent around the world to inform governments of different countries about Sikh identity (Sikhreview.org, 2006). This would broaden the transnational role of the SGPC and give them an active responsibility for the global transmission of Sikhism. However, the proposal seems to imply that the European Sikhs are not able to perform the task of presenting Sikhism to the public themselves. Nevertheless, the proposal points to one of the major concerns of the European Sikhs, that is, the general ignorance of Sikhism among the public, which is interpreted both as a source for and an expression of discrimination.9 Other gurdwara communities might disagree with SGPC, such as the Sikhs in Helsinki, Finland (see Chapter 12 by Jacobsen, Myrvold, Kaur, and Hirvi in this volume). Even for those who are critical of SGPC and the jathedars of Akal Takhat, Darbar Sahib/the Golden Temple has a unique religious authority that serves as the exemplary sacred space and the rituals performed there as the exemplary sacred performance, and a typical feature of the gurdwaras in Europe are images of Darbar Sahib/the Golden Temple on prominent places in the gurdwara. Similar patterns of establishment are repeated in each European country in which the Sikhs have settled. The level of the activities within the European gurdwaras varies between communities and countries. In the early years of a migrant Sikh community, the organizing of help and support for fellow Sikhs, such as solving practical problems related to immigration, dealing with administrative procedures, acting as a link to the local administration, giving loans, finding employment, and providing information, are the center of attention among many of the participants of the regular gatherings (Bertolani et al., 2011, p. 155). The gurdwaras provide solidarity networks that might also be used in later periods and in crisis situations, such as unemployment. As the community expands and becomes more stable, the ritual activities also become more varied. When a public gurdwara is established, the Sikhs try to conduct the daily prakash and sukhasan ceremonies even if they are not able to arrange other programs daily and even if the person responsible for conducting these ceremonies is alone. The

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kirtan (devotional singing) on Sundays often provides the main occasion for visiting the gurdwara. If they can afford and organize the arrangements, the gurdwara management will invite a ragi jatha from India to perform shabad kirtan and kathavacaks to deliver kathas. Only two gurdwaras in Europe have continuous religious programs every day, from morning to night (Soho Road Gurdwara in Birmingham and Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall), and with different ragis who are given a weekly slot in the gurdwara in order to provide variety (Dhesi, 2009). This level of activity is unusual in a European setting and demands a large number of semiprofessional religious specialists.

Kirtan in gurdwaras A number of forms of worship take place in the gurdwara. The festivals to honor historical gurus and events are the annual highpoints of the gurdwaras. Other practices to honor the guru are the daily prakash and sukhasan, and various acts of seva. Seva is also performed for the congregation. Lifecycle rituals celebrate important family events. Birthday celebrations have become important in the gurdwara in that they have come to be connected to the langar. The parents of a child whose birthday is celebrated take responsibility for preparing the Sunday langar. And finally, there are practices to mediate and learn gurbani, such as devotional singing (kirtan), recitation (path), discourses (katha), and meditation/repetition (nam simran). In the diaspora, the Sikhs probably first try to establish the practice of path (scriptural reading), such as recitations of Japji Sahib, Rehras Sahib, and Sukhmani Sahib. Reading/ reciting is such an integral part of the daily routine (nitnem) of Amritdhari Sikhs and is something that others have been brought up with. In the city of Bergen, Norway, path has been organized for several years as the minimal congregational activity in places rented for the weekend a few times annually for that purpose. The next stage is to buy a place or rent one on a permanent basis for the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. A further development is the Sunday kirtan performance and, in such gurdwaras, it is noticeable that the only time the gurdwara is crowded on a regular basis is during the kirtan. In the rest of the chapter I will focus on the element of kirtan in the gurdwara as the ritual performance that brings the congregation together on a regular weekly basis. Sikhism as a religion focuses on the community, and the congregational-style gathering typical of Sikhism in the diaspora, sitting together often for several hours in meditation of gurbani, through path, kirtan, and katha, is at the center. Sikhs attend the gurdwara for a number of reasons, but at the heart of the religious dimension of the gurdwara is the esthetics of the gurbani. Providing religion to the Sikh community—a place to worship—is considered the main task of the gurdwaras. The most important element to make the gurdwaras religiously relevant to the lives of the European Sikhs is often the kirtan (devotional singing of songs from Guru Granth Sahib). As previously mentioned, the only time the gurdwaras in Norway are crowded on a weekly basis is during the kirtan on Sundays. This highlights a unique feature of Sikhism; that music is considered to be absolutely essential to the practice of religion, and that kirtan is mainly performed in a congregation, and mostly in the gurdwara.

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The performance of kirtan, though possible individually or in isolation, is not encouraged. The Gurus advocated the performance of kirtan in congregation. It is an indication of divine grace that people gather together to participate in the kirtan. The congregation is generally held in the Gurudwara premises or in special enclosures covered with canopies on occasions of important Gurpurb celebrations. According to the Sikh faith, God is present in the congregation. (Mansukhani, 1982, p. 51)

Silently listening to the words and music, shabad kirtan, is a main religious act, as people can sit quietly in meditation for several hours in front of Guru Granth Sahib in the darbar hall of the gurdwara.10 In the gurdwaras in Europe, this takes place mostly on Sunday mornings, with a large part of the Sikh community seated together. The gurdwaras are often almost empty except during the music performance on Sundays. It is music and musical performance that is the focal point around which the congregation regularly comes together. Providing religion means providing an esthetic experience. The Guru Granth Sahib is a book of devotional poetry arranged in melodic measures (ragas), and one of the purposes of listening to the poems is esthetic enjoyment. One of the tasks of the gurdwaras is to make esthetic experience possible and this is facilitated primarily through shabad kirtan, poetry, and music.11 The ragi jatha (a ragi group consists of three persons: one playing the tabla, another playing the harmonium, and a third playing a stringed instrument, harmonium or cymbals, see Mansukhani, 1982, p. 73) facilitates this experience and, therefore, since listening to the kirtan is the main activity, the skills of the ragi jathas become an essential factor for the gurdwara to fulfill its function.12 Most often in the European gurdwaras, only people from inside the local communities perform during the kirtan. However, some communities do have a continuous presence of highly skilled ragi jathas from India. Manvir Singh Dhesi has noted, in the case of the gurdwaras he researched in London and Bradford, that the management places heavy emphasis on kirtan or path (Dhesi, 2009). A main priority of the gurdwaras in Norway, and also some other European gurdwaras to the degree they are able to attain their ambitions, is to offer high quality kirtan performances. The two gurdwaras in Norway are served by ragi jathas from India that stay for longer periods, and this is a principal priority of the Norwegian gurdwaras, because listening to the kirtan is the main regular religious practice that brings a large part of the congregation together in the gurdwara. When one ragi jatha returns to India, another one arrives to make sure there is a continuous presence. This emphasis on transnational transmission confirms Punjab as the site of religious authenticity and authority and links the Sikhs in Europe to the Sikh community in Punjab. Since the ragi jathas perform in many different countries, they also confirm Sikhism as a global religion. The gurdwara in Poland has ragi jatha from Amritsar and is, in addition, visited by other ragis and granthis from India for shorter stays. Economic ability and prioritizing its importance are probably the main reasons the gurdwaras in Norway and Poland have a permanent presence of Indian ragi jathas, as this is not common in continental Europe.13 Some ragi jathas from India organize the entry visas to Europe on their own, and having arranged to stay initially in one gurdwara, after arrival they tour Europe and perform in different gurdwaras in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, and other countries. The gurdwaras in Greece and Spain receive only infrequent visits from ragi jathas from

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India. One can assume that such visits to gurdwaras anywhere in Europe would be the most attended events in the gurdwaras. Sikhism is a religion that emphasizes esthetics, that is, “the heightening of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting” (Singh, 2011, p. 74). Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh argues that Guru Nanak considered that “the esthetic experience of an individual is absolutely crucial for ethical development” (Singh, 2011, p. 74). Writes Singh: Knowledge is a delectable banquet. The sumptuous array of dishes indicated by Guru Nanak is specified by Guru Arjan as Truth, Contentment, and Contemplation. The epistemological value of these dishes is not conceived intellectually or argued logically; it is swallowed and digested by the body. But mere “eating” (khavai) is not enough; the esthetic heightening, “savoring” (bhuncai) is crucial for the esthete par excellence. (Singh, 2011, p. 76)

The beauty of the gurbani is the most striking esthetic quality of the gurdwara. This beauty and the esthetic experience it generates is one main reason people come to the gurdwara (Townsend, 2011). The music aims to create a spiritual, calm state, to generate peace and tranquility. Ultimately, from a Sikh theological point of view, “the purpose of shabad kirtan is to experience Nam, the Divine presence, that resides in each person. Shabad (revealed Word) itself is the manifestation of anhad shabad (unuttered Word) that exists within each person” (Kaur, 2011, p. 268). And the purpose of kirtan “is to connect with the anhad shabad, to enable it to resonate in and permeate the being,” and in this state “the experience of Nam ras and Har ras, and of sahaj and anand, are obtained” (Kaur, 2011, pp. 268–9). The importance of the esthetics of Sikhism can probably not be exaggerated for understanding the gurdwaras, although it is nevertheless only one of its dimensions, and kirtan is only one of the esthetics forms. The main activity of most persons who visit the gurdwaras in Norway (Oslo and Lier) is sitting quietly for several hours listening to kirtan. Without a gurdwara this would be impossible on a regular basis (although people recite in private and do also listen to CDs and young people especially watch kirtan on YouTube. See Singh, Chapter 9 in this volume), and the conception among the Sikhs in Norway is that it is not really possible to be a proper Sikh if one lives in the areas of Norway where there are no gurdwaras. Some even claim that those who live in cities without a gurdwara have chosen to live in those areas because they do not want to be proper Sikhs. In those regions, however, where the number of Sikhs is sufficiently large, they organize kirtan and unbroken readings of Guru Granth Sahib (akhand path) in localities rented for the weekend (Friday to Sunday) or do “open” readings (khulla path). This is often the first stage from which follows the purchase of a building in order to transform it into a gurdwara, a process that is currently taking place in the city of Bergen, Norway.

Conclusion The gurdwaras provide an esthetic experience that centers on music and this music is meant to speak to the innermost being of the persons. Gurbani kirtan has been a

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key factor in the attractiveness of Sikhism. This is one reason the gurdwara in Oslo emphasizes the importance of having high quality ragi jatha performed in the gurdwara. The kirtan ensemble provides the esthetic experience for the community in the gurdwara. The language of the kirtan may not be understood by all the community members, especially those who have not lived in Punjab, but not understanding the meaning of the words being sung may not make it a less important practice. It is not only the semantic meaning of the words but also the property of sound that affirms the uniqueness of the Sikhs because “the non-dualistic ideology of language among Sikhs values both sound properties and semantic properties of words” (Dusenbery, 1992, p. 397; see also Myrvold, 2007). Learning kirtan is perceived as essential to the generational transfer. In the gurdwara in Oslo, the ragi jatha performs on Sundays, but for the rest of the week during their customary three-month long stay they are involved in musical education of the children and youth, teaching them to play the instruments and sing the words of kirtan. However, plasma screens are increasingly being used to provide translations to accommodate primarily the Sikhs born or raised in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom and the countries in Europe with the oldest Sikh communities, that is, with the highest percentage of second and third generation European Sikhs. The use of screens to provide translations is a response to the fact that “Sikhs are today confronted with a sacred text increasingly unintelligible to Sikh worshippers” (Dusenbery, 1992, p. 397). The response to this in Norway has been Punjabi schools and ragi jathas teaching the children and youth words and music, but also the establishment of a Sikh youth organization that organizes meetings for the children in the gurdwara in Norwegian and occasionally uses plasma screens to provide an English translation of the kirtan. The ideal is to learn the sacred language, but young Sikhs in particular realize that many of them will not learn enough to understand the kirtan. The absence of youths in the gurdwara perhaps reflects the tension between religion and culture implied in these issues, but also between transnational and national issues. The Sikhs’ aim is to copy the ritual patterns of Punjab when they establish gurdwaras, and the gurdwaras in most places in Europe are arranged in a similar fashion. But on the other hand, they also modify practices because of practical circumstances such as lack of specialists and resources and national regulations. The second and third generation Sikhs might use translations of gurbani downloaded from the internet, use the internet as a source of religious authority, prefer plasma screens in the gurdwaras, participate in summer camps organized by the youth themselves, and discuss new dress codes and new cultural customs. In the future, they will be the ones who decide the developments of the European gurdwaras. Gurinder Singh Mann has advised that for the Sikh global community “decisions will have to be made about issues of religious authority, sacred land, sacred language, and social practice” (Mann, 2000, p. 274). Sikhs in Europe struggle with these issues, and although there is a great plurality, especially in the United Kingdom, the general trend is that it is SGPC, Punjab, Punjabi language, and Punjabi culture that for the most part are being promoted as authentic and authoritative representations of Sikhism in most of the mainstream gurdwaras in Europe. The continuous presence and flow of semiprofessionals from Punjab to the European gurdwaras is an important feature of this Sikh transnationalism.

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Notes 1 Transnational here means “the process by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement” (Schiller, 1992, p. 1; quoted in Helweg, 2004, p. 232), but that also link together settlements in other countries worldwide. 2 However, two recent praiseworthy studies are the study of selected British gurdwaras by Dhesi (2009) and of music in two gurdwaras (in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong) by Khabra (2010). In the newly published collection of studies of Sikhs in 11 European countries (Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011), a number of the essays are about gurdwaras (Bertolani et al., 2011; Hirvi, 2011; Igielski, 2011; Jacobsen, 2011; Lum, 2011; Myrvold, 2011; Papageorgiou, 2011). For a monographic study of the gurdwara rituals in the Indian city of Varanasi, see Myrvold (2007). See also Dosanjh (2002), Hans (2003), and Townsend (2011). 3 The organization behind this gurdwara, the Khalsa Jatha London, was founded in 1908. In 1913, only two years after opening the gurdwara in Putney, they moved the gurdwara to 79, Sinclair Road in Shepherds Bush, London. In 1969, it moved into the building in Norland Castle on Queensdale Road in London, where the gurdwara is still situated. 4 Ajit Singh Sikand, personal communication, February 1, 2012. 5 By the middle of 2000, there were around 250 gurdwaras in the United Kingdom (Singh and Tatla 2006, p. 75). 6 Some of the numbers are only suggestive. I thank Kristina Myrvold for providing the statistics. 7 The rules of the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo states that only persons with traditional Sikh appearance are allowed to perform the routines in the gurdwara: “Det er kun personer som har tradisjonell-Sikh-utseende som har mulighet til å utføre rutinemessige tjenester som Tabbiaa-, Katha-, Kirtan” (see Sikher.no, n.d.a). Also, only Amritdhari Sikhs are eligible to a place on the management board. 8 This is stated in rule 7.9 (Sikher.no, n.d.a). 9 This is the view expressed on the web page of Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Oslo: “The largest problem which Sikhs in Norway meet in their daily life is probably ignorance among Norwegians. There are very few who have knowledge of Sikhism and its message. Even though most people respect us, they often have a fear of the foreign. Ignorance is often the cause of this fear. It is natural that people are afraid of people they do not know. Turbans and beards are not common in Norway. Others associate us with extremists/terrorists” (Sikher.no, n.d.b; translation from Norwegian by the author). 10 Shabad kirtan are songs from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Dasam Granth, and the works of Bhai Gurdas and Bhai Nand Lal (Mansukhani, 1982, p. 73). “A shabad should be sung in the specific raga in which it is composed. It can be sung in any tal, unless specially indicated. It is full of devotion and spiritual fervor and evokes shant rasa (the emotion of peace) and nam rasa (devotional mood). Shabads are collectively known as kirtan” (Mansukhani, 1982, p. 29). 11 Another important esthetic feature is the use of paintings in the langar halls and other rooms of many gurdwaras. Most gurdwaras contain pictures of Darbar Sahib/ the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the gurus, and warrior heroes. The production, use, and understanding of these in the diaspora need to be investigated, but will not be the topic of this chapter. However, the most important esthetic quality of the European

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gurdwaras is the music and words of the shabad kirtan. Gurdeep John Singh Khabra notes with respect to the research on the Sikh diaspora that “there is a distinct lack of work focusing on the importance of cultural artifacts and artistic achievements within the community” (Khabra, 2010, p. 2). Inderjit Nilu Kaur likewise observes that kirtan is “an understudied subject” (Kaur, 2011, p. 251). 12 Inderjit Nilu Kaur comments that “fine kirtan requires much more than musical ability and training. Fine expression of the esthetic of shabad kirtan requires deep understanding of the shabad text as well as Sikh culture and history” (Kaur, 2011, p. 258). 13 The wealthy Sindhi community in Warsaw makes this possible. Personal communication, Zbigniew Igielski, January 31, 2012.

Bibliography Bance, B. S., Paul, S. S., and Anand, G. S. (2008), Khalsa Jatha British Isles 1908–2008. London: The Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha). Bertolani, B., Ferraris, F., and Perocco, F. (2011), “Mirror games: a fresco of Sikh settlement among Italian local societies,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 133–61. Dhesi, M. S. (2009), An Ethnographic Study of the Concept and Development of the Gurdwara in the UK. Unpublished MA Thesis. University of Birmingham. Dosanjh, J. S. (2002), The Development of Gurdwaras, Sikh Temples in Nottingham. Nottingham: Nottinghamshire Living History Archive Millennium Award Scheme. Dusenbery, V. A. (1992), “The word as guru: Sikh scripture and the translation controversy.” History of Religions, 31(2), 385–402. Ebaugh, H. R. and Chafetz, J. S. (2000), Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press. gurdwarasahib.com (n.d.), “Gurdwara sahib Switzerland” [Online]. Available at: www. gurdwarasahib.com/ [Accessed January 25, 2012]. Hall, K. D. (2002), Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Hans, R. K. (2003), “Gurdwara as a cultural site of Punjabi community in British Columbia, 1905–1965,” in S. J. Varma and R. Seshan (eds), Fractured Identity: The Indian Diaspora in Canada. Jaipur: Rawat Publications, pp. 217–33. Helweg, A. W. (2004), “Ethnic dynamics within a transnational framework: the case of the Sikh diaspora,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikhism and History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 230–47. Hirvi, L. (2011), “Sikhs in Finland: Migration histories and work in the restaurant sector,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 93–114. Igielski, Z. (2011), “The Sikhs in Poland: a short history of migration and settlement,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 114–29. Ilkjær, H. (2011), “The Sikh community in Denmark: balancing between cooperation and conflict,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 39–60. Jacobsen, K. A. (2011), “Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway: community growth and generational transfer,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 19–38.

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Jacobsen, K. A. and Myrvold, K. (2011), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate. Kaur, I. N. (2011), “Sikh shabad kirtan and gurmat sangit: what’s in the name.” Journal of Punjab Studies, 18(1–2), 251–78. Khabra, G. J. S. (2010), “Music of the Sikh diaspora: devotional sounds, musical memory and cultural identity.” Unpublished MA Thesis. University of Cardiff. Laue, T. (2012), Tantra im Westen: Eine religionswissenschaftliche Studie über ‘Weißes Tantra Yoga’, ‘Kundalini Yoga’ und ‘Sikh Dharma’ in Yogi Bhajans ‘Healthy, Happy, Holy Organization’ (3HO) unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der ‘3H Organisation Deutschland e. V.’ Münster: LIT. Levitt, P. (2007), “Redefining the boundaries of belonging: the transnationalization of religious life,” in N. T. Ammermann (ed.), Everyday Religion: Observing Modern Religious Lives. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 103–20. Lum, K. (2011), “Caste, religion, and community assertion: a case study of the Ravidasias in Spain,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 179–200. Mann, G. S. (2000), “Sikhism in the United States of America,” in H. Coward, J. R. Hinnells, and R. B. Williams (eds), The South Asian Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 259–76. Mansukhani, G. S. (1982), Indian Classical Music and Sikh Kirtan. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing. Available at: www.esikhs.com/articles/indian_classical_music_&_ sikh_kirtan.pdf [Accessed January 25, 2012]. Myrvold, K. (2007), Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi. Lund: Media Tryck. — (2011), “The Swedish Sikhs: community building, representations and generational change,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 63–94. Papageorgiou, N. (2011), “Sikh immigration in Greece: on the road to integration,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 201–22. Sikher.no (n.d.a), “Vedtekter” [Pdf] [Online]. Available at: www.sikher.no/Nedlastning/ Diverse/vedtekter.pdf [Accessed January 25, 2012]. — (n.d.b), “Ofte stilte spørsmål” [WWW] [Online]. Available at: http://sikher.no/8FAQ. html [Accessed January 31, 2012]. Sikhreview.org (2006), “Swiss Sikhs want SGPC to appoint its ‘ambassadors’ ” [Pdf] [Online]. Available at: www.sikhreview.org/pdf/december2006/pdf-files/diary.PDF [Accessed January 25, 2012]. Singh, N.-G. K. (2011), Sikhism: An Introduction. London: I.B. Taurus. Singh, P. and Barrier, N. G. (1996), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora. Delhi: Manohar. — (1999), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. Delhi: Manohar. Singh, G. and Tatla, D. S. (2006), Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community. London: Zed Books. Tatla, D. S. (1999), The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Townsend, C. M. (2011), “Gurbani kirtan and the performance of Sikh identity in California,” in P. Singh (ed.), Sikhism in Global Context. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 208–27.

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Attending the Cyber Sangat: The Use of Online Discussion Boards among European Sikhs Satnam Singh

When leading scholars of the Sikh community came together in the first half of the twentieth century to create the official Sikh code of conduct (Rahit Maryada), they included well-known aspects of Sikh life, such as kirtan (devotional singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib), sangat (congregation and fellowship of believers), hukam (taking the guru’s order for the day), vichar (contemplation of hymns from the scriptures), katha (interpretation of hymns), and so forth. Little did the compilers of the code of conduct manual know that within a few decades, all of these practices would have their own online equivalent. In today’s world, it has become very common for young Sikhs living in the West to listen to kirtan on YouTube, read the hukam on Sikhnet.com, and discuss the hymns of Guru Granth Sahib on online discussion boards. Traditionally, all of these practices were confined to the physical spaces of the gurdwara but the increasing globalization and new technologies have taken these practices out of the traditional religious spaces and thereby created a living, virtual sangat of the Sikhs. For many years, there has been a battle among various Sikh groups, online as well as offline, to win the hearts and minds of young Sikhs in Europe. For young Sikhs, on their part, it has become difficult to know which interpretations of Sikhism are the most legitimate and which code of conduct should be followed. These issues have led to the appearance of many different approaches and versions of Sikhism among representatives of different Sikh organizations. Each of these emphasizes different aspects of Sikhism, such as traditionalism, modernism, warrior lifestyles, strict observance of rahit and kirtan, and so on. Some of these differences of opinion will be highlighted in this chapter where I will examine two popular and very different discussion boards—www. Sikhsangat.com and www.Sikhawareness.com—as case studies to shed light on why some young European Sikhs choose to find their sangat online and what they find important to discuss on these new forums on the internet. Whereas Sikhsangat.com, as one of the world’s most visited Sikh forums, is targeted toward a broad segment of Sikhs in the West, Sikhawareness is a smaller forum targeted toward a narrow segment of Sikhs with an entirely unique view of Sikhism. The differences between the two forums will be explored further in this chapter.1

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The first section of this chapter will briefly analyze the reasons why young Sikhs in the West “go online” to learn about their religious tradition. The second section will focus on the discussion boards on Sikhawareness.com and Sikhsangat.com, and describe what interests the members share and what distinguishes one forum from the other. The third section will compare the sociopolitical issues that arise from the two discussion boards, and then briefly describe how social networks such as Facebook have a function in connecting European Sikhs to different religious events that are taking place all over Europe. The data for this chapter were collected from online interviews with eight active members of Sikh forums who identify themselves as Sikhs and all have divergent social identities.2 The responses I collected will be used in the first section to describe why young Sikhs go online to attend new sangats. The interviews took place online via the internal mail system that each forum provides. Having been an observer of the discussion boards for four years, I selected eight members whom I consider to represent the voice of those particular forums. Thus, this paper does not seek to answer the question of who speaks for the Sikhs,3 but rather to present the views and interpretations of the members of the two selected discussion forums on the internet.

Young Sikhs and discussion boards With the increasing developments in technology, the internet has become a widely used medium of communication among young people in Europe. The internet provides social arenas in which people get the opportunity to meet old and new friends, gain information and share it with others. By the click of a mouse, one can communicate with unknown people around the globe while booking cinema tickets and simultaneously checking when the bus for the cinema will arrive. The existence of many European Sikh forums indicates that many Sikhs have embraced this opportunity to present a platform where they can meet, discuss, and negotiate the Sikh religion and practical issues related to being a part of the Sikh diaspora in Europe. There are different forms of online Sikh discussion boards. Some are international, while others are national. Some are inclusive of differences in opinion, while others are limited to a certain affiliation. As can be seen in Table 7.1, the North European sangats have especially been active on the web in creating national discussion boards to discuss Sikhism, Sikh practice and events taking place in the local gurdwara. Though the three Scandinavian discussion boards initially began as separate national forums, the three webmasters quickly realized that due to the small populations of Sikhs in each country, and since their languages were so similar, it would be most fruitful to combine the three forums on one website. Thus, a transnational cooperation between webmasters from the three countries resulted in a single website on which the members had access to discussions in all three languages. Acquiring a good company and congregation of like-minded people that provides support in one’s spiritual pursuit has been an integral part of Sikhism since its beginning (McLeod, 2003, pp. 190–1). Guru Nanak emphasized and promoted collective worship and healthy relations between people, as a response to the ascetic

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Table 7.1 Overview of national Sikh discussion boards in Northern Europe as of September 2010

Country of origin

Board statistics

URL

Sweden

1,756 posts

http://forum.sikh.se

Denmark

4,034 posts

http://khalsa.dk/forum

Norway

312 posts

http://forum.sikh.se

Germany

372 posts

http://www.carookee.com/forum/sikh-forum

ideals at the time. Through collective worship, the seekers would assist one another in spiritual progress and implement the guru’s teachings on equality rather than categorizing and dividing each other on the basis of caste, religion, profession, and so on. By sitting down together to eat, pray, or discuss, one would come closer to humanity and eventually closer to God. Traditionally, the sangat was to be found in places of worship, such as the gurdwara or at Sikh gatherings during festivals. However, with the new technologies, many contemporary Sikhs now attend their sangat online and hereby transcend physical locations and communicate with people they perhaps would not be able to interact with otherwise. According to my respondents for the present survey, the internet and modern means of communication are considered to play an important role in shaping their identities as Sikhs in Europe. Young people in particular, who are fluent in English or some other national language, often find it frustrating to participate in rituals in the local gurdwaras as most of the speeches are conducted in the Punjabi language without explanations or ritual exegeses. For the youth, the websites and discussion forums on the internet have come to play a key role in providing the interpretations and explanations they are missing in the gurdwaras. As one young, female Sikh explained regarding learning on the internet and how it had helped her to understand ceremonies and activities in the gurdwaras: Sikh forums have helped me become a much better Sikh because you don’t just get one person’s view on topics, everyone is giving their opinions. Visiting the forums has become an everyday routine. I actually believe that I have come more into Sikhi due to the Internet than other people or sources. Before, going to the gurdwara was just a family ritual but now it has much more meaning. I think once youngsters start getting into Sikhi from online, then they will try to look up vichar and katha etc. (E-mail correspondence, July 12, 2010)

The respondents of my study saw many advantages in conducting one’s sangat online instead of in real life. As most gurdwaras are still managed by their parents, they experience a generation gap between themselves, brought up in Europe, and their parents who are following Punjabi social and cultural customs. As Amrit Phaghura suggests, the online discussions have managed to create an increased sense of cooperation between religious authority figures born in the West and ordinary members online, which has provided the youth with more influence in the internet community and created an open atmosphere for dialog where Punjabi cultural and

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hierarchal customs are not hindering the youth from expressing their views on topics they are concerned about (Phaghura, 2001). Thus, the websites have helped the youth in developing fruitful discussions on Sikh identity, history and everyday life. In the gurdwara, many of the youngsters do not always find that the elders are giving them power to influence religious activities and they feel like they visit the gurdwaras only as guests. As knowledge is monopolized and restricted to the elder members of the gurdwaras who are seen as the authorities, many young people are resorting to the internet where they can become the new authorities. Here, knowledge is mainstreamed, meaning that it is not in the hands of the few who might have undergone years of training as a granthi or the elders whose words are respected on the basis of their long life experience. By resorting to the social spaces of the internet, new authorities are created where everyone has the opportunity to speak and be involved in a dialog. The respondents whom I interviewed for this chapter agreed on the advantages of online discussions and were of the opinion that real-life discussions in the congregation are often restricted, controlled, and tend to end up in conflicts because people become aggravated. A 35-year-old Sikh man expressed his views in the following way: I think often Punjabi Sikhs can sometimes be fiery in temperament when it comes to debates of religious or political matters. The benefit of the Internet is that it can allow for views to be expressed without a debate ending in a fracas. Also, the nature of Internet forums means that posts are logged sequentially so a wider range of opinions can be expressed which could easily have otherwise been drowned out by loud people, or dominant groups had the debate physically taken place. So at its best, the web allows for a wider range of views to be aired and provides space to digest information at one’s own pace. (E-mail correspondence, July 18, 2010)

Some Sikhs, especially females, also experience other clear advantages of discussing and sharing views online because they are able to remain anonymous and do not need to worry about people being judgmental and spreading rumors on the basis of the personal or practical questions they might have the need to discuss. As one 18-year-old woman wrote, “Internet sangat is different because you don’t really get haters hating on you due to your past and it is just less gossip” (e-mail correspondence, July 12, 2010). As will be explored later in this chapter, many online Sikh discussion forums today are not just dealing with Sikh history and philosophy but also provide arenas in which people can exchange ideas about real-life issues and problems, such as those concerning friendship, premarital relations and sex, parental and cultural issues, and so on. The internet provides the social spaces and means for discussing problems without having to reveal one’s identity and be judged by the larger community (see also Phaghura, 2001). As one 24-year-old male expressed his view, “Internet sangat is better because you can tell what you really feel because your words are not identified with a face but a username” (e-mail correspondence, July 19, 2010). The online discussion boards also serve the purpose of negotiating between different interpretations of Sikh theology, history, and practice. Doris Jakobsh discusses “the meeting of truths” and how these meetings, where people discuss and challenge each other’s views, are now taking place on the internet (Jakobsh, 2006, pp. 29–33). The

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different Sikh forums existing on the internet today can be seen as such places where people of various backgrounds and approaches to religion interact and continually challenge previously presented interpretations. An example of this can be seen in one male respondent who explained that these discussions had broadened his perspectives of what it meant to be a Sikh: Engaging in forums has had the effect of opening my mind considerably and seeing Sikhism from multiple perspectives. This has been an enriching and evolving experience in that certain perspectives I may have held in the past have been adapted or amended and new information accommodated into my frames of reference. Today, I am inclined to think that perhaps my original conceptualization of Sikhi was relatively narrow. (E-mail correspondence, July 18, 2010)

Other respondents also stated that their view on Sikhism and particularly on the question of the Dasam Granth,4 “the very mysterious granth [scripture]” as one respondent put it, had changed after they had become members of online forums because of the possibility to exchange views with others, see things from different perspectives, and reconsider their own interpretations and views. The above-mentioned reasons were considered to be some of the main advantages of finding one’s sangat online and debating on the internet. Having located the main reasons why some young Sikhs go online, the following section will take a closer look at what young Sikhs seem to be interested in discussing, by describing two popular Sikh discussion forums and the contents they present.

Sikhsangat.com—“The voice of Sikhs” Sikhsangat.com was launched during the spring of 2003 and has about 76,000 visitors each month which makes it, by far, one of the most visited discussion boards for Sikhs in Europe. A majority of the visitors log on from Europe and especially from the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. Since its launch, more than 19,000 members have registered and more than 440,000 posts have been written. Approximately ten new members register each day and the target group are young Sikhs aged 16 years and above. There is a clear majority of active male members, but many female members have also registered and participate in the discussions. The discussion board has three categories and ten rooms each representing particular aspects of Sikhism. The most popular rooms are: “General—What is happening,” “Gurbani–Rahit–Dasam Granth Sahib,” “Politics–News–Fun,” and “Multimedia–Kirtan–YouTube.” The graphical theme of the board changes frequently and usually reflects the various Sikh memorial days and anniversaries of the gurus. Sikhsangat.com addresses a wide audience of Sikhs which can be seen from the member list that includes Sikhs inspired by or adhering to the Sikh groups (jathas) of Damdami Taksal, Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), and Puratan Sikhs.5 This is very unusual as most Sikh discussion boards online mainly attract members inspired by a certain affiliation.6 Though there are a few differences in details between different Sikh

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groups, the moderators of Sikhsangat.com have attempted to be inclusive by avoiding discussions on subjects which distinguish these groups apart, such as the issue of ragmala, kes/keski, the mulmantra, consumption of meat, and the Dasam Granth. As the webmaster expresses: “Sevadars [the moderators who perceive their work as a social service to the community] of SikhSangat are not related to any jathabandi [group] and that is the main reason why we are neutral and still running” (e-mail correspondence, July 13, 2010, italics by the author). In order to prevent disputes between Sikhs of different groups, the webmasters of Sikhsangat.com have compiled a list of rules and guidelines that are strictly enforced regarding the above-mentioned issues (Sikhsangat.com, 2005). The moderators will close any topic within minutes or hours of release if it concerns disputed issues in the broader Sikh community. Thus, the moderators have managed to keep a wide variety of Sikhs on the same board without discussions resulting in heated debates causing further divisions. This form of strict control has been criticized by some members of Sikhawareness.com in my study as they believe that Sikhsangat.com has become too heavily politicized. Some of my participants preferred a bottom-up approach where members research, discuss, and come to their own conclusions on the basis of evidence and they indicated that Sikhsangat.com has a top-down approach where the moderators strictly control which views are correct and what is allowed to be expressed in accordance with the overall spirit of the forum. However, I would disagree that Sikhsangat.com intentionally promotes a certain political jatha-based interpretation of Sikhism, since the forum attracts and has members of several different groups which is not seen in other forums. According to the webmasters and my own research of the forum, I would argue that the reason for this strict control on controversial topics is a response to the divisions of Sikh youth seen on other forums. As such, the forum is strictly controlled due to a vision of preserving unity among Sikh youth rather than a vision of promoting a certain mindset. The topics that are discussed on Sikhsangat.com often relate to the practice and philosophy of Sikhism, personal issues, and various events taking place in Europe (mainly in the United Kingdom). A large part of the topics reflects practical issues related to practicing Sikhism in the West, such as: How to deal with the ban of the Sikh dagger (kirpan) in airports? How to properly maintain unshorn hair (kes)? How to wake up early in the morning to do prayers? How to tie different styles of turbans? How to deal with working in a supermarket that sells alcohol and meat? What to do when one has violated the code of conduct? How to practice Sikhism when living in a non-Sikh area? How to correctly pronounce words in Guru Granth Sahib? What to do with the five Ks when exercising or playing sports? Which organizations are recommended to donate alms and charity to? As illustrated by these topics, Sikhsangat.com is a pragmatic and practiceoriented forum which the members find useful in their search for support and knowledge on how to live and interpret a Sikh lifestyle in Europe. Another famous room on the website is called the “anonymous” (gupt) section which allows visitors to post questions without registering, and thereby provide them a possibility to present topics without displaying their identity. This is a feature which is not offered on most of the other Sikh discussion boards. This room goes one step further by

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allowing various private problems and issues that concern Sikh youth to be discussed. Subjects that have been discussed in this room are, for instance, how females should relate to the performance of “selfless service” (seva) while having their menstrual cycle, or the issue of kes for females. Topics in particular that might be considered taboo by parents are discussed more freely in the forum room, such as premarital relations, sex, forced and arranged marriages, problems with a partner or in-laws, and also generational conflicts and private anxieties. By allowing anonymity in the discussions, Sikhsangat.com gives a unique insight into the problems that young Sikhs may face while living in Western countries and belonging to two or more cultures. Although the prescribed conduct on Sikhsangat.com is to help and support co-devotees, it is quite apparent that topics related to promiscuous themes are not debated to the same extent as topics concerning personal problems with family and religious practices. This may be due to either a sense of shyness among the members or the members wanting to keep a good image of themselves within the cyber community. Another feature that distinguishes Sikhsangat.com from other online forums is that the representatives of the discussion forum occasionally “go offline” and involve themselves in social and political issues that concern the international Sikh community. At a more serious level, the administrators of the forum have been threatened with many lawsuits and slandered in Indian Punjabi newsletters due to the various contents that are expressed on the forum. A few years ago, the moderators behind Sikhsangat.com launched a small transnational charity organization called Sikhgiving which used the forum as a platform for fund-raising. The charity organization has launched campaigns to help various Sikhs all over the world in, for example, paying their medical bills and raised awareness of drug abuse problems in the Indian state of Punjab. As one moderator expressed his view, “Sikhgiving projects are only dedicated for non-cyber seva” (Sikhsangat.com, 2006, italics by the author). As another way to connect online and offline practices, Sikhsangat.com also serves as an instrument to spread awareness about religious events that are taking place in different communities. Issues that concern the larger Sikh community at a local level are often discussed on the forum, such as what the community can do to prevent national bans on religious symbols, how one should maintain the respect of gurdwaras and the Guru Granth Sahib, and by which means the message of Sikhism can be spread in local areas. As will be seen later in this chapter, many of the members have grown weary of the disputes in the gurdwara committees and a trend is seen on Sikhsangat.com toward active online involvement in Sikh affairs where the members believe that the elder generations and gurdwara committees have failed to uphold their duty as vanguards of the Sikh religion. Regarding the view on Sikhism, the members adhere to a narrative that can roughly be described in the following way: Guru Nanak came to earth in 1469 and established the Sikh religion. Through a succession of nine gurus, the religion was completed by the tenth guru, who sealed the religion with a code of conduct. Sikhism is an independent, rational, and uniform religion with its own scriptures, rules, and rituals. The Guru Granth Sahib, Dasam Granth, Bhai Gurdas varan, and the poems of Bhai Nand Lal are said to make up the Sikh canon, as is also

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stipulated by the Rahit Maryada of the Akal Takhat. In addition to these, some lines in the code of conduct manuals (Rahitnamas) from the eighteenth century, which do not contradict their view of Sikhism, are also considered authoritative. By this, Sikhism is seen as a uniform and independent religion and this view is projected backwards when interpreting Sikh history. In Western scholarship, this view would be considered the outcome and result of the Singh Sabha reformations in the late nineteenth century.7 As Harjot Oberoi expresses his view in regard to the impact of the Singh Sabha reformers, the Sikhs in the early twentieth century began to “think, imagine and speak in terms of a universal community of believers united by uniform rites, symbols and scriptures” (Oberoi, 1988, p. 154). However, among the members on Sikhsangat.com, this view is considered to be the authentic Sikhism since the formation of the Khalsa in 1699 and, as such, there is hardly any mentioning and most probably no awareness either of the Singh Sabha reformers. The same unawareness of the Singha Sabha reformers can hardly be said of the members of Sikhawareness.com who adhere to the Sikhism they believe existed prior to the Singh Sabha reformations. The following section will explore this in more detail.

Sikhawareness.com—“The eye-opening forum” Sikhawareness.com was launched in April 2003 and has about 4,200 visitors each month. Since its beginning, the website has gained more than 3,000 registered members, mainly from the United Kingdom, and about 94,000 posts. Although these figures indicate that Sikhawareness.com is one of the smaller Sikh discussion boards on the internet, what makes the forum interesting is its content and unique view on Sikhism which attracts a narrower target group. Most of the members are in their late twenties, married, and hold university degrees, which is reflected in the content and shape of the discussions displayed. All of the active members are men and only a few women have been active members in the past. The discussion board has seven categories and 34 rooms, each of which covers a particular aspect of Sikhism. The most frequently used rooms are: “Sikhism—Questions and answers,” “General discussion,” “Download centre,” “Inspirational stories and sakhia,” and “Gurbani, Gurmat and spiritual poetry.” Right from the beginning, the creators of Sikhawareness.com have tried to create a profile of the discussion forum in opposition to mainstream Sikhism by emphasizing philosophical, scriptural, and contextualized interpretations of Sikhism, hereby presenting more controversial beliefs with regard to the consumption of meat, the influence of “Hindu doctrines,” Sikh history, and so on. These views would probably be considered outside the borders of the Sikh religion by the majority of Sikhs. As one 24-year-old female respondent from Sikhsangat provocatively expressed her view, “go to Sikhawareness and you will become a Hindu” (e-mail correspondence, July 22, 2010). The Sikhism presented by members of this forum seems to be diverse, pluralistic, and inclusive of other Indian traditions.

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The forum has attracted several university students with a scriptural interest in Sikhism, which manifests itself in a climate of debates where analytical reflection and argumentation are used. This is expressed by one of my male respondents in the following way: Although the forum has recently seen a decline in activity, Sikhawareness is the most open minded and intellectual of all forums I have encountered. The contributors are from people of diverse backgrounds with different worldviews and skills/interests, so engaging enables one to learn about particular subjects in a multidimensional way. Unlike other forums, many of the contributors seem to have engaged in serious study and reflection beforehand and put their points across in a cogent and coherent way. So even when you disagree, you can at least understand how they have formed the opinion they have. (E-mail correspondence, July 18, 2010)

Most members have participated in the discussions for years and many of the new members who register often tend to leave within a few weeks, probably because they do not agree with the content on the website. Often, when new members register, they express their disagreements in interpretation with the other members and subsequently leave within a few days as they do not agree with the members’ views on Sikh history, “Hindu gods and scriptures,” as well as their interpretations of the Guru Granth Sahib. This has narrowed the target group of the discussion board into a small segment of academic Sikhs, which has caused several discussions on how to increase the number of members of the website. As one member stated in a thread, “this site is actually a bit more intellectual than most Sikh ones. Maybe that contributes to the lower hits?” (Sikhawareness.com, 2010b). The members themselves consider Sikhawareness.com to be a website for a small, academic segment of Sikhs, whereas other discussion boards, such as Sikhsangat.com, are considered to target the broad masses. One member made this comparison in the same thread: I have asked some people, younger Sikhs, if they go on any forums. What I gathered after talking to them, SA [Sikhawareness] unfortunately in the wider cyber sangat is perceived as a sanatan-Sikh site [an interpretation of Sikhism that mixes Hindu beliefs with Sikhism], so some, especially younger Sikhs, are reluctant to join. They all run to SS [Sikhsangat]. (Sikhawareness.com, 2010b)

The webmaster of Sikhawareness.com is trying to increase the number of members, but many of the users also consider it important to have fewer people who intellectually challenge the views of the masses. As the same respondent expressed his view: On one hand it’s a good thing that this site is somewhat elite with fewer, knowledgeable and wiser members having serious discussions. On the other hand, it’s the younger kids, who tend to veer towards the hotheaded sites, that we need to

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attract here and to keep away from some of the unsavory, if not the plain wrong stuff that is talked about on other sites [referring to the “modern” interpretation of Sikhism that is often held on other Sikh discussion boards according to the members of Sikhawareness]. (Sikhawareness.com, 2010b)

The members who are attracted to Sikhawareness.com are young Sikhs interested in what they themselves call “traditional Sikhi,” in other words, the kind of Sikhism they believe existed prior to the Singh Sabha reformation of Sikhism in the late nineteenth century. Though they are somewhat interested in Sikhism from a scholarly point of view, the scholarship they are attracted to is not that of the Western world. Famous international scholars in Sikh studies, such as W. H. McLeod and Louis Fenech, are held in high suspicion by many of the members due to the conclusions they have drawn on various topics.8 Some are critical due to the belief that applying Western academic methods to a spiritual tradition such as Sikhism will eventually lead to wrong conclusions; hence, some of the authors’ conclusions are considered unfounded due to an invalid methodology devoid of any spirituality. The scholars who are in focus are mostly those belonging to the saint-scholar Nirmala tradition of Sikhism—a tradition that has produced thousands of books in the last 300 years, though mainly ignored by Western academia.9 The discussions on Sikhawareness.com put a great deal of emphasis on the traditional arts of Sikhism, such as the martial traditions (shastar vidiya), classical music (rag vidiya), and early pre-reform Sikh literature such as Dasam Granth, Sarbloh Granth, Suraj Parkash Granth, Panth Parkash, as well as the works of the early Nirmala scholars. Great emphasis is also placed on “Hindu scriptures,” such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, in order to interpret the Sikh scripture from a broader Indian context of religious texts. The members are thus approaching the Sikh religion from a scholarly perspective, or as one 35-year-old male member stated when explaining his interests: [My interests are] the history and ideology of Sikhs/Sikhism. The development and evolution of the interpretation of the Sikh theology and history, Sikh historiography, Sikh literature, Sikh art, the Punjabi language, and Gurmukhi [the Punjabi script]. Although some information in these areas is available online, I find much of the material is not and is usually only available in printed material. (E-mail correspondence, July 18, 2010)

For many affiliated to Sikhawareness.com, Sikhism is not just limited to scriptures but also encompasses Punjabi culture and arts. The forum has been the platform of extensive theological and philosophic debates based on early Sikh literature and ancient Indian scriptures. It is noteworthy to see such deep theological and scriptural discussions taking place today on the internet, whereas in the past, these kinds of debates were limited to religious sites (Nirmala, 2006, p. 48). Over the past years, there have also been developments in the discussions on the forum. In the beginning, many of the discussions attempted to contextualize Sikhism within the world religions and focused on the etymology of words in the Guru Granth Sahib and its grammar, the

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history of the early Sikhs, and the four orders (sampradayas).10 Equally, many members also tried to resolve controversies as well as create new controversy over Sikh history, popular figures, and scriptures such as the Dasam Granth and the Sarbloh Granth, which were quite unusual texts to debate on Sikh forums at the time. Today, the members, most of whom share their views on these issues, seem to be more concerned with how these narratives of Sikhism should be preserved. In recent years, there has been a decrease in the amount of academic debates since many members have left the site. The golden era for Sikhawareness.com could be said to have been in the formative years between 2003 and 2006. Sikhawareness.com describes Sikhism from a broader Hindu tradition: Guru Nanak came to earth as an avatar (a manifestation of God) in 1469. Guru Nanak appears in a long tradition and list of avatars, such as Vishnu, Ram, and Krishna, each having provided the dharma (religion) suitable for the different ages. As such, they are all respected and honored. Though the website places Sikhism in a broader Hindu tradition, Sikhism is, by all means, perceived to be an independent religion. However, the early text of the Hindus must be studied to gain deeper understandings of the Guru Granth Sahib. Most of the members consider Guru Granth Sahib to be the present guru, but some members, especially the warrior members (Nihangs), also perceive Dasam Granth and Sarbloh Granth to have equal status as the guru. In the members’ opinion, old Sikh traditions should be upheld while new innovations are considered to be against the spirit of the Sikh religion. For example, kirtan should be sung in the prescribed rags (musical meters), martial arts should be exercised in their fullest form, and one should put great emphasis on education in various ancient Indian and Sikh arts.11 The above analysis of the two discussion boards indicates a clear diversity of thought among contemporary European Sikhs. Though they belong to the same religion and share the same fundamental beliefs, their interpretations and approaches to Sikhism are radically different. Whereas the members of Sikhsangat. com consider Sikhism to be an independent, uniform religion with its own tradition and symbols, the members of Sikhawareness.com interpret Sikhism as a religion springing from a broader Hindu tradition where the various symbols have their origin. The Sikhs who are attracted to Sikhsangat.com come from a wide variety of geographical backgrounds and group affiliations whereas the members of Sikhawareness.com seem to be more homogeneous. While Sikhawareness.com focuses more on the theoretical aspects of the Sikh daily practice (rahit) and the rahit manuals, Sikhsangat.com presents a greater focus on the daily practice of this rahit in a European context. One reason for these divergences could be the difference in target groups. While the target group of Sikhsangat.com is considered to be young male and female Sikhs above the age of 16 years, Sikhawareness.com seems to attract Sikhs in their late twenties with an academic background, hence, a target group within a whole different socioeconomic position who have been practicing Sikhism for many years and, therefore, have other channels to address when facing difficulties in their daily practice of Sikhism. The differences in content and approach are sketched in Table 7.2, which illustrates how each forum represents a unique approach to the Sikh religion.

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Table 7.2 Overview of the differences in content between the websites Sikhsangat.com and Sikhawareness.com

Topic

Sikhsangat.com

Sikhawareness.com

Sikhism as a religion

Sikhism is a unique, uniform, and separate religion not dependant on the scriptures or philosophy of other religions. “Hinduism” is therefore not considered relevant in Sikh studies.

Sikhism is a unique and diverse pluralistic religion as it is seen as a continuation of ancient Indian religions. “Hinduism” is therefore considered to be important in Sikh studies.

Literature and scriptures

Emphasis is primarily laid on the Guru Granth Sahib and to some extent the Dasam Granth as well as other literature approved by the Akal Takhat

Emphasis is laid on Guru Granth Sahib, Dasam Granth, and Sarbloh Granth as well as early historical literature and documents, including those of the Hindu tradition.

Sikh practice (rahit)

Rahit is discussed in practice

Rahit is discussed theoretically

Members

Young male and female Sikhs above 16 years

Young Sikh men in their late twenties with a scriptural interest in Sikhism

Content

Primarily Sikh practice, events, and personal issues

Primarily Sikh philosophy and history

Sociopolitical issues arising from the discussion boards During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most research and publications on Sikhism were conducted within a historical framework (Jakobsh, 2006, p. 1), and much research has been carried out in the field of Sikh identity (see McLeod, 2004; Singh, 2004). However, little has been researched in the field of sociopolitical views and activities among contemporary European Sikhs. This section will explore the political views of the young Sikhs in relation to recent Punjab history and their social views in regard to their parents’ generation. The members on Sikhsangat.com seem to be more interested in politics and international issues of the Sikh community compared to the members on Sikhawareness. com. Sikhsangat.com can be said to follow a global trend of revitalizing the idea of Khalistan (Axel, 2002, p. 412), and the subject is, therefore, occasionally discussed on the forum where most of the members seem to be in favor of Sikh sovereignty in the form of an independent Khalistan state. The discussions about Khalistan on Sikhsangat.com are normally conducted within the frames of the guidelines which state that “insulting the Sikh Shaheeds [martyrs] of the 1980s is certainly not allowed under any condition” and “supporting the Indian government for attacking Darbar Sahib [the Golden Temple] and justifying the 1984 massacre [is forbidden and could result in a ban from the forum]” (Sikhsangat.com, 2005).

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A great majority of debates can be narrowed down into a notion of Khalistan as an idea and entity separated from India. There has not been much focus on judicial and practical issues related to the state of Khalistan itself, for example, how the state should be governed, which laws should be implemented, politics, and so forth. The events of 1984 are commemorated annually by changing the website’s visual design as well as the appearances of many topics discussing the events and the need for a separate Sikh state. Some members express a negative view of the Indian government and still believe it is conspiring to weaken the Sikh community and enfold Sikhism into the wider fold of Hinduism. As such, there are many theories of false flag operations in which the Indian government launches bomb attacks and then blames the Sikhs in order to slander their name in the global media. Most of the debates regarding 1984 are not based on literary documents and human rights reports, but rather on what is considered common knowledge and popular misconceptions among young Sikhs today. As Brian Axel discusses, ideas and narratives of Khalistan in the form of images of tortured and mutilated bodies circulated transnationally in the 1990s. According to him, these images were scattered globally, particularly on the internet, to reveal the massive human rights violations that took place in the 1980s with the intention of inspiring Sikhs worldwide to become supporters of Sikh sovereignty (Axel, 2002, p. 414). Though these images are not presented on Sikhsangat.com, it is interesting to note that the similar ideas and narratives produced by the elder generations are repeated on the discussion forum among young people. From a historical point of view, traditionally, the Sikhs used the mobile ballad singers (dhadi jathas) as a medium for the spread of knowledge and information about Sikh martyrs and military battles (Fenech, 2000, pp. 33–7). These singers would roam the land of Punjab and sing narrations about the battles that had taken place and the lyrics would instill optimism and encourage people to either participate in the battles or to keep alive the memory of the various Sikh martyrs who fell in battle. One could argue that the internet Sikh forums today serve the same purpose as the ballad singers did in the past: to present life stories of martyrs to new audiences and keep their memory alive. For instance, when the Pakistani Taliban movement beheaded three Sikhs in February 2010 for their refusal to convert to Islam, it was interesting to note that many of the members did not view them as victims of Taliban brutality but rather as martyrs of the Sikh faith. Hence, they were hailed for their decision to stay true to their guru and never lose their honor. A young man and member of Sikhsangat.com wrote: The face of the Shaheed [martyr] carries the same expression that it did in their life. Like the Mughals, Afghans, British and Indian Government, the Taliban terrorists may have severed the head of Bhai Jaspal Singh from his body thinking they stole his life but they could not steal his inner peace or his conviction to Sikhi. (Sikhsangat.com, 2010b)

The internet forum has in this way become another medium for spreading knowledge of martyrs in modern times and whatever is known about their early life is shared with the global internet sangat.

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As Axel points out, Khalistan is no longer so much a geographical and empirical place of origin as it is “one among many points of orientation, or organization, for a globally dispersed people—a signifier of the sovereignty of an already constituted Sikh nation” (Axel, 2002, p. 413). In a similar fashion, many Sikhsangat.com members consider themselves to be stateless Khalistanis and even reject all links with India or an Indian identity. This appears distinctly in connection with celebrations of Indian festivals such as Raksha Bandhan.12 Most members on Sikhsangat.com reject the festival as a non-Sikh celebration, some because it is considered to be a meaningless ritual event and others because it is an Indian tradition (Sikhsangat.com, 2009). These topics seem to cause much debate between members who believe that these traditions are harmless and do not threaten a Sikh identity, while others think it is just one step further toward the incorporation of Sikhism into the Hindu fold. In general, the discussions on Sikhsangat.com appear to reflect a common trend of “deculturalization” among religious youth who wish to refine the religion from the cultural and social practices of their parents. Typical issues that surface on the discussion boards and are criticized are, for example, casteism and the celebration of festivals such as Lohri (traditionally a celebration of the birth of a son), Raksha Bandhan, and Karva Chauth (a wife’s fasting for the welfare of her husband, never vice versa), as these are considered to support patriarchal values that are against key doctrines of equality in Sikhism. Other heated debates appear in connection with the celebration of India’s independence on August 15, as some of the young Sikhs do not want to consider themselves to be Indians and are of the opinion that the Sikhs never obtained their freedom during the Indian liberation in 1947 but simply had one oppressor replacing the other. By removing the cultural elements of Sikhism, the members of Sikhsangat. com seek to present Sikhism as a world religion instead of a Punjabi religion limited to a geographical area in northern India. In comparison to this, the notion of Khalistan is not revered on Sikhawareness. com, whose members consider it to be an unrealistic dream and instead attach great importance to the human rights violations that took place in the 1980s (see Mahmood, 1996). This is not to reject the fact that there are some Khalistan supporters on the board. However, the common view among the members of Sikhawareness.com seems to be that the human rights of the Sikhs should be protected and the various government officials responsible for the events in the 1980s should be prosecuted. However, there is no discussion about taking the situation to the next level of actually promoting Sikh sovereignty. Most members are in favor of the Khalsa Raj (rule) as this idea is mentioned in early Sikh literature, some attributed to Guru Gobind Singh, while they consider Khalistan to be a man-made concept. Again, this illustrates how the members of Sikhawareness.com are more inclined toward scriptural interpretations of Sikhism, or as the administrator of the website himself expressed his view in a debate: I don’t believe in Khalistan because I believe Khalsa Dharama [religion] cannot be held by a country. Khalsa Dharma is universal. It’s way of living. I believe in Khalsa raj because that is [the] Guru’s bachan [words] compared to the Khalistan

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concept which was created by a bunch of politicians/fanatics. (Sikhawareness. com, 2003)

Young Sikhs and their involvement in community affairs For Sikhs, the gurdwaras represent the “principal religious institutions. As places of worship, they are the foundations of community-building, acting as guardians of its core values and providing a forum for collective worship by the congregation” (Singh, 2006, p. 147). Ever since the Sikhs migrated to Europe and established their own gurdwaras, there have been several incidents of mismanagement and fights that have sometimes resulted in yearlong court trials. The fights usually erupt when the congregations seek to elect new committee members, and in the worst of cases, there have been examples of knife stabbings and shootings within gurdwara complexes. As Gurharpal Singh writes, “[t]here is probably no gurdwara in the country [UK] that has remained immune from such conflicts. Case after case can be cited where gurdwara management committees were involved in disputes, engaged in unseemly fights or went to court” (Singh, 2006, p. 156). Gurharpal Singh further argues that the income and expenditure of the various gurdwaras are some of the main reasons for the conflicts. The young generations growing up in the midst of these conflicts seem to be extremely critical of the management of sacred places run by their parents’ generation, which in their view is driven by self-promotion and cultural Punjabi customs. The members often question the legitimacy of many of the current committee members and express visions for how the gurdwaras should ideally be governed. As one member of Sikhsangat.com expressed his view in a thread on committee members: I agree that all committee members should be at least Amritdhari [initiated practicing Sikhs]. However, committees (in general) seem to ruin everything. Either they sit on their backsides, nodding to plans and don’t carry them out. Or they go and do the wrong thing (either for monetary gain or sheer stupidity). (Sikhsangat. com, 2007)

Another member in the same thread wrote: Most just come in the evenings to collect money, have a chat and do nothing good. Every gurughar [Sikh temple] should hire a professional financial consultant and committee members should only be worried about running day-to-day activities and performing seva [selfless service for others]. (Ibid.)

However, many members do express the view that as long as people have their hearts in the right place it does not matter whether he or she is initiated or not—what matters is his or her actions, educational background and intentions, as written in the same thread:

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It does not matter about the outer appearance in this context, it depends on how well you can be approached and can approach the sangat with generosity and with full respect. I know many people who are committee members, with flowing beards that are really nasty from the inside. (Ibid.)

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of topics concerning the “dishonor” or “disrespect” (beadbi) of Guru Granth Sahib in the gurdwaras and in many of these topics, the gurdwara committees are held directly responsible (see Bertolani and Singh, Chapter 11, this volume). The members accuse the committees of prioritizing their own interests above those of the congregation and many express concerns over what should be done. Some active members have used the forum as a platform for so-called mass callings to protest and demonstrate against gurdwaras where this “disrespect” has taken place. One example was at a gurdwara in Gravesend in the United Kingdom where the committee planned to host a movie screening of an Indian Bollywood film which the young Sikhs did not approve of (Sikhsangat.com, 2010a). The forum was used as a platform to mobilize and coordinate actions on how to stop the event from taking place and it eventually resulted in the movie screening being cancelled. This was purely an event targeted against committee members and coordinated by the youngsters who, among other things, used Sikhsangat.com as a medium to spread awareness and information. The youth have also taken the initiative for organizing various events, such as Sikh camps, by and for themselves, to keep out the politics of the parental generation, and as a result, there have been massive campaigns of spreading awareness of Sikhism. A recent example is the launching of the TV channel “Sikh TV” in response to the youth’s dissatisfaction with the TV channel “Sikh Channel,” which was launched in 2009 by the parental generation. Both channels air short documentaries and panel discussions regarding various notions that concern the Sikh community, such as gurdwara fights, caste issues, human rights violations in Europe and India, and so on. The organizers behind “Sikh TV” felt a demand for a channel which targeted the youth in a vibrant and passionate way and was run by people who themselves were practicing Sikhs and put more emphasis on spirituality than politics. The members on Sikhawareness.com do not seem to talk much about the various problems between the younger generations and their parents. There are hardly any topics about the subject, and the few that do exist mostly center on news articles about the violence in gurdwaras and the discussions reflect the members’ aggravation over the events. As one member ironically commented in a thread on a 2010 gurdwara fight in the United States: “If the Taliban saw the state of these ‘Sikh warriors’ today I get the feeling they’d be mooting themselves laughing” (Sikhawareness.com, 2010a). Given the references to historical Sikh traditions on Sikhawareness.com, it is interesting that the underlying legitimacy of the current democratic elections in gurdwaras is seen as an innovative practice contrary to the principles of Sikhism. As a “traditional Sikh” from Sikhawareness.com wrote in a Sikhsangat.com thread:

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If we look at our predecessors and puratan Sikhi [traditional Sikhism], then committees are a relatively modern trend. Puratan Sikhi leadership used to be based on a meritocratic decision (as opposed to the modern democratic approach) chosen by a consensus, where the Punj pyaray [panj pyare, here meaning the leaders] would be selected. As with many things in Sikhi there does seem to be puratan maryada [early guidelines] for selecting leadership. A good place to see this maryada in practice are within the dals [battalions] of the Nihang [warrior] Singhs, where a mini Budha Dal and Tarna Dal [two Sikh warrior battalions in India] style structure of leadership still exists till today. (Sikhsangat.com, 2007)

Many members of Sikhawareness.com do not believe in the modern form of democratically elected leadership because, as one male respondent in the study said, “it [elections] is wrong because people are elected on the basis of their popularity in the community and not on the basis of their merits, skills and knowledge” (E-mail correspondence, July 21, 2010). According to this view, the traditional methods should be applied again where the committee members are selected instead of elected to assure that the leadership stays firm to the principles and methods of the gurus and the early Sikhs as well as to maintain peace and progress in the gurdwaras. The above analysis indicates a clear diversity in thought and approach toward the sociopolitical themes that are of most importance to young, contemporary Sikhs in Europe. The notion of Sikhs as a nation is stronger on Sikhsangat.com where most of the members are in favor of Sikh sovereignty in the form of an independent Khalistan state. As such, many consider themselves to be stateless Khalistanis until the creation of an independent Khalistan state, which is further expressed by the way many of the members try to undertone their Indian heritage. The events of 1984 are remembered annually and the ongoing need for autonomy is discussed. These trends are not seen on Sikhawareness.com whose members downplay the element of Khalistan and instead attach importance to the human rights violations that took place in the 1980s. For them, there is no contradiction in being Indian and Sikh at the same time. The members on Sikhsangat.com seem to have a clearer motivation for discussing and involving themselves in community affairs, whether locally or transnationally. Events that are happening in India are often discussed on Sikhsangat.com and heavy criticism is often placed on current leaders in the local communities in charge of the gurdwaras. Their legitimacy is questioned and new visions of how affairs should ideally be governed are expressed. Sikhawareness.com does not seem to engage in discussions on local leadership and instead theoretically questions the legitimacy of the current methods of election in gurdwaras. As elections are perceived to be an innovation, Sikhawareness.com prefers that Sikhs return to the traditional methods of running gurdwaras. Table 7.3 summarizes the differences in sociopolitical attitudes toward the various topics that have been discussed.

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Table 7.3 Overview of the differences in content between Sikhsangat.com and Sikhawareness.com Topic

Sikhsangat.com

Sikhawareness.com

Politics, Khalistan, and Indian identity

Politics regarding Sikhs is often discussed. The forum is ProKhalistan and the events in 1984 are considered the reason why Sikhs ought to be sovereign. Many of the members (though not all) consider themselves to be Sikhs primarily and undertone their Indian heritage.

Politics is rarely discussed. Khalistan is not an issue and the events of 1984 are not considered a reason to demand Sikh sovereignty. Main focus is laid on the human rights violations in Punjab during the 1980s. There is no problem with identifying oneself as an Indian and Sikh.

Sikhism and Indian traditions

Many members consider Indian festivals as non-Sikh practices and Sikhs should not participate in these events. Casteism is considered against Sikh principles.

Indian traditions are seen as harmless festivals and therefore not considered a problem as such. Casteism is considered against Sikh principles.

Gurdwara management

Many of the current gurdwara committees have failed their duty as vanguards of the Sikh community. As they have become engrossed in their own interests, the youth dream about new styles of leadership and active involvement among youth is encouraged.

Not a widely discussed topic. However, many of the members adhere to the view that the current democratic election system is against the orthodox principles of Sikhism. Selection instead of election should be the right method in choosing committees.

Conclusion—The future of cyber sangats In recent years, there has been a change in authority within the Sikh community. Traditionally, it used to be granthis, the educated and elder Sikhs who were considered knowledgeable and had the right to teach. However, in the contemporary world, with the increasing technologies and new means of communications, authority has been moved to the social arenas of the internet where ordinary Sikhs in Europe are given the chance to discuss and negotiate their religion. Due to this mainstreaming of authority, dozens of online discussion boards have emerged where young Sikhs can meet and discuss various issues related to being a Sikh. What emerges from these different discussion boards is a picture of diversity among Sikh youth. Though they belong to the same religion, there are clear differences in how they perceive Sikh history, theology, and practice. This chapter has attempted to outline the various differences between the boards and what concerns young, contemporary Sikhs have in regard to their identity and relationship with Sikh society. The diversity is, for example, illustrated in the many topics surrounding what it means to be Sikh in regard to one’s Indian cultural background as well as the wish for an empowerment of the international Sikh community in the form of an independent Sikh national

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homeland. In addition, the internet has become a factor in uniting Sikhs worldwide and the younger generations have embraced this opportunity to further enhance relations across borders. This, for instance, is seen in the increasing popularity of Facebook where many young Sikhs use the various features as a way of uniting Sikhs in Europe. This is especially demonstrated by the various events that are created and afterwards “marketed” on Facebook as an event that people can attend. When looking at the participant lists, one quickly notices that many of the events are transnational in the sense that they include Sikhs from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Sweden, and United Kingdom; one also notices that many of the events are often coordinated between Sikhs from several European countries. But how does the future look for the cyber sangats? All of my participants in the study agreed that the future looks bright. They believe that the internet will be used as a medium for creating greater cohesion among a global audience of Sikhs. As the world gets smaller, interaction among Sikhs worldwide will grow bigger. As has already been seen with the various Sikh TV channels in recent years, transnational projects will be launched in which the internet will play a great role. None of the respondents expressed any concerns about the cyber sangats replacing physical sangats or any concerns about young Sikhs listening to katha or kirtan on the internet rather than doing so at the local gurdwara. As one male respondent in his twenties stated, “I don’t think the Internet will ever replace traditional concepts. I see the use of Internet as an extension of sangat rather than a replacement” (e-mail correspondence, July 19, 2010). Guru Nanak promoted healthy relations between people as a way to unite the common men and give them a platform from where they could discuss and evolve mentally and spiritually. The Sikh internet forums of the twenty-first century are an expression of the very same purpose and thus, one might wonder how young, contemporary Sikhs will further evolve and integrate the newest technologies with the conservative values and practices of Sikhism to create a modern cyber sangat. Three of my respondents expressed a greater need for authority figures in the physical world to recognize the possibilities of the internet and integrate it into Sikh daily life or as a way for Sikhs to connect with each other worldwide. I would like to end this chapter with the words of one male respondent’s view on the need for community recognition of the internet as a new medium for strengthening internal ties within the transnational Sikh community: For some, the social aspect of a faith is an all important and highly valued aspect of their faith and such people will ensure the traditional methods continue. We should note that these people have doctrinal approval in their actions through the concepts of sangat. But for others it is the ideas and learning that are of utmost importance and I think in this modern “information age” we have to understand that alternative, digital means of communication are increasingly and rapidly becoming the norm and any system that wishes to engage in dialogue with the wider world has to accept this; Sikhi is no exception to this. In addition to this, it can also serve as a wonderful tool of learning and internal communication within the community to help strengthen Sikh identity and facilitate further comprehension

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of one’s heritage. This is especially pertinent to a geographically scattered, minority community with no country of their own. (E-mail correspondence, July 18, 2010)

Notes 1 I am grateful for the assistance of the two webmasters of both forums for providing me information and member statistics for this chapter. I am equally grateful to the eight discussion board members whom I interviewed during the summer of 2010 regarding their internet activities. All statistics presented in this chapter indicate figures that were available to me during August/September 2010. 2 The eight respondents were between the ages 17 and 35 years, and all had different backgrounds. Five of them were men, while three were women. Four of them lived in the United Kingdom, one in France while the remaining three lived in other European countries (they preferred not to have their exact whereabouts revealed in this chapter in order to stay anonymous). Five had attended or were attending universities while the remaining three were either working or finishing their final year at upper secondary school. One was married and one was engaged. The criteria for inclusion in the study was that the subjects had been active members on one of the forums for more than a year and that their views were in accordance with the overall spirit of the forum. 3 For further reading on the complexity of authority within the Sikh community, see Jakobsh, 2006. 4 The Dasam Granth is a scripture attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. The authenticity of the Dasam Granth is highly debated as it deals with large, detailed narrations of Hindu gods and mythology as well as an entire section on the wiles of women which some Sikhs consider to be against the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib (see McLeod, 2003; Fenech, 2008; and Jacobsen et al., Chapter 12 in this volume). 5 These various groups should not be considered as sects of Sikhism, but rather as different schools of thought each holding a different interpretation of Sikhism, specifically with regard to their daily practices. 6 Tapoban.org attracts members attached to the Tapoban gurdwara, DiscoverSikhi.com attracts members of AKJ, while Sikhawareness.com attracts those who claim to be following a more “traditional” Sikhism, as will be shown in the next section of this chapter. 7 For further reading on the Singh Sabha reformations, see Oberoi, 1994, pp. 207–376. 8 For one example of the suspicion of McLeod’s and Fenech’s motives and works, see Sikhawareness.com, 2009. 9 For a short critique on Western scholarship by a member of Sikhawareness, see Nirmala, 2006, pp. 1–2. 10 According to the traditionalists on the forum, Guru Gobind Singh created four orders as the vanguards of the Sikh community. Each of these orders had its own mission and they consist of Nihangs (warriors), Nirmale (scholars), Udasis (ascetics and mystics), and Seva panthis (philanthropists). Each group had its own code of conduct. This belief is not shared by the great majority of Sikhs. For further reading, see Singh (2001) and Nirmala (2006).

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11 Today it has become the norm to sing kirtan using tunes from Punjabi folk songs, modern films or non-rag melodies while the full martial combat form of shastar vidiya has been replaced with a smaller martial art called gatka. According to some of the members of Sikhwareness.com, these ancient arts are being revived among youth in the United Kingdom due to the classical rag academies of Raj Academy and the shastar vidiya training of Niddar Singh. 12 Raksha Bandhan, “the bond of protection,” is an old Indian tradition that celebrates the relationship between a brother and a sister. The ceremony is marked by the sister tying a thread on the wrist of her brother and the brother and sister then feed each other sweets, representing the responsibility of the brother to protect the sister.

Bibliography Axel, B. K. (2002), “The diasporic imaginary: violence and diaspora.” Public Culture, 14(2), 411–28. Fenech, L. E. (2000), Martyrdom in the Sikh Tradition: Playing the Game of Love. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (2008), The Darbar of the Sikh Gurus: The Court of God in the World of Men. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Jakobsh, D. R. (2006), “Authority in the virtual sangat: Sikhism, ritual and identity in the twenty-first century.” Online—Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 2(1), 24–40. Mahmood, C. K. (1996), Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. McLeod, W. H. (2003), Sikhs of the Khalsa: A History of the Khalsa Rahit. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (2004), “Who is a Sikh?,” in W. H. McLeod, Sikhs & Sikhism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Nirmala, T. S. (2006), Bhavrasamrit: Translation and Commentary. Patiala: Western Printers. Oberoi, H. (1988), “From ritual to counter-ritual: rethinking the Hindu-Sikh question, 1884–1915,” in J. T. O’Connel et al. (eds), Sikh History and Religion in the Twentieth Century. Toronto: Center of South Asian Studies. — (1994), The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Phaghura, A. (2001), Punjabi Women and the Internet: Four Case Studies. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of London. Sikhawareness.com (2003), “Nihangs and Khalistan,” SikhAwareness Forum [Online]. Available at: www.sikhawareness.com//index.php?showtopic=876 [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2009), “Hew McLeod documentary (part 1) New Zealand documentary,” SikhAwareness Forum [Online]. Available at: www.sikhawareness.com//index. php?showtopic=11642 [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2010a), “Disruption at US gurdwara,” SikhAwareness Forum [Online]. Available at: www.sikhawareness.com//index.php?showtopic=13184 [Accessed October 31, 2010].

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— (2010b), “Where on earth has everyone gone,” SikhAwareness Forum [Online]. Available at: www.Sikhawareness.com//index.php?showtopic=12987 [Accessed October 31, 2010]. Sikhsangat.com (2005), “Forum rules and guidelines,” Sikh Discussion Forum [online]. Available at: www.Sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/9119-forum-rules-guidelines/ [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2006), “Trouble getting on,” Sikh Discussion Forum [Online]. Available at: www. sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/19791-trouble-getting-on [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2007), “Should all committee members be amritdhari?,” Sikh Discussion Forum [Online]. Available at: www.Sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/24070-should-allcommittee-members-be-amritdhari/ [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2009), “Rakhriya,” Sikh Discussion Forum [Online]. Available at: www.Sikhsangat.com/ index.php?/topic/45567-rakhriya/page__hl__rakhri [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2010a), “Grave concerns for Gravesend sangat,” Sikh Discussion Forum [Online]. Available at: www.Sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/54088-grave-concerns-forgravesnd-sangat [Accessed October 31, 2010]. — (2010b), “Jaspal Singh Pakistan wala,” Sikh Discussion Forum [Online]. Available at: www.Sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/54920-jaspal-singh-pakistan-wala/ [Accessed October 31, 2010]. Singh, G. (2006), “Gurdwaras and community-building among British Sikhs.” Contemporary South Asia, 15(2), 147–64. Singh, P. (2004), “Sikh identity in the light of history,” in P. Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikhism and History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 77–111. Singh, T. (2001), The Turban and the Sword of the Sikhs. Amritsar: B. Chattar Singh Jiwan Singh.

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“Sikhizing the Sikhs”: The Role of “New Media” in Historical and Contemporary Identity Construction within Global Sikhism Doris R. Jakobsh

According to the Pew Report titled “Cyberfaith: How Americans Pursue Religion Online,” 9/11 was a turning point for millions of Americans; more than ever before, users were turning to the internet for information about religion and religious concerns (Larsen, 2001, 2004). This hunger for information that would help people make sense of the events of 9/11 went far beyond the United States. Users worldwide became “Religious Surfers,” treating the internet “as a vast ecclesiastical library” in hunting “for general spiritual information online” (Larsen, 2001). This chapter is an attempt to come to an understanding of “Sikhism online,” particularly in light of the proliferation of websites devoted to the Sikh tradition in the past number of years. Turbaned Sikhs, given their adherence to the outward manifestation of Sikh identity, namely, the keeping of uncut hair, in the United States, Canada, UK, and Europe in particular, have frequently been negatively affected by the events of 9/11. Many have been identified as turban-wearing Muslims instead of Sikhs. One of the first victims of the anti-Muslim backlash in the United States was a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was shot to death at his gas station in Mesa, Arizona. His crime? Wearing a turban that (mis-)identified him as a member of the cohort of Osama Bin Laden. In post9/11 France, the Stasi Commission in 2003 investigated the extent that the principle of laïcité, strictly defined as the separation of Church and state, was being applied in France which resulted in a law being passed in 2004 to strictly uphold laïcité through the banning of all religious symbols or religious garb within the public school system. While the law did not specifically target Sikhs, turbaned Sikh schoolchildren attending state schools were severely impacted as they were expelled from their schools. The law also extended to the prohibition of religious garb or symbols on identification photographs for important documents, which also had deleterious consequences for turbaned Sikhs (Shani, 2008, p. 140). In various parts in Germany, regional councils proposed similar bans on the wearing of religious garb, which for the most part were eventually overturned as they were deemed to be unconstitutional (Klausen, 2005, pp. 171–7).

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One of the outcomes of the 9/11 event has been a proliferation of organizations, largely based online, that serve as virtual databases on all matters of “Sikh”—history, religion, culture. Others serve as human rights centers, “watchdogs” per se who keep track of abuses facing Sikhs within the United States in particular, but also in Europe and Asia. According to I. J. Singh, a Sikh commentator, . . . the most attractive silver lining to emerge from the crisis of 9/11 has been the fantastic initiatives of young Sikhs who are growing up in the diaspora . . . They are products of this culture and understand how to pull its levers of power and tweak the system. I am pointing primarily to the role of the Sikh Coalition, the Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART) and a host of similar smaller groups. (Singh, I. J., 2003, p. 211)

Many of these sites are the creations of Sikh technocrats, namely, Sikhs who are skilled in the technological wherewithal to create, manage, and update highly sophisticated, user-friendly websites. In essence then, largely based on their technological skills, these individuals have become “new authorities” of Sikhism as it is presented online. Moreover, Barry Wellman and Keith Hampton’s exploration of the “glocal” (Wellman and Hampton, 1999, pp. 648–54), the almost seamless transition between local and global concerns through the virtual realm, underscores the critical role played by these “new authorities,” regardless of their actual locale, in the creation and maintenance of both digital and global diasporas (Cohen, 1997). In other words, in seeking information about Sikhism online, it makes little difference whether a website is created and hosted in the United Kingdom, Germany, India, or the United States. Instead, it is the organization, ease of navigation, reliability, interactivity, and attractiveness offered by a website that leads to its becoming an “authoritative” site. Given their skills and training, largely Western-based technocrats are in excellent positions to design and maintain highly sophisticated repositories of information pertaining to Sikhism. However, as noted elsewhere (Jakobsh, 2004, pp. 127–42), the question arises, to what extent are these “new authorities” of Sikhism actually constructing Sikh identity online? Moreover, complex questions of Sikh identities quickly come to the fore, namely, which Sikh identity is being presented as normative? A brief overview of traditional understandings of Sikh identity is perhaps in order. I utilize the terms Khalsa Sikhs in distinguishing Sikhs who conform to the external manifestation of the Khalsa order in the wearing of what is known as the five Ks of Sikhism, kirpan (dagger), kes (uncut hair), karha (iron bracelet), kachha (breeches), and kangha (comb). Another important component of the Khalsa Sikh focuses on adhering to the Sikh code of conduct, the Sikh Rahit Maryada. However, within this delineation of the Khalsa Sikh, there exists at least two “varieties” of identity. The initiated Sikh, known as Amritdhari, has undergone an initiation ritual into the Khalsa order; full maintenance of external symbols of Sikhism, in conjunction with full observance of the Sikh Rahit Maryada, must be followed by the Amritdhari Sikh. The Kesdhari Sikh is one who, while observing most aspects of the Sikh code of conduct, including the five Ks, has not undergone Sikh initiation into the Khalsa order—in essence then—not fulfilling the Code’s full injunctions, given that initiation is a central mandate of the

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Rahit Maryada. There are a number of variations within the Kesdhari identity in that in some instances, while wearing the turban, some Kesdharis may trim their beards, clearly rejecting the Khalsa’s mandate of uncut hair. However, by and large, both “types” of Sikhs are indistinguishable from one another. While no accurate statistics exist, it would appear that the majority of diasporic Sikhs do not fully follow the mandate of the Khalsa order; many may wear one or two articles of Sikh faith and generally cut their hair. While it is impossible to ascertain exact numbers of Khalsa Sikhs, estimates range from 5 to 15 percent of Sikhs worldwide as Amritdhari, with the majority of Sikhs in Punjab, the homeland of the Sikhs as Kesdhari. The latter would include Sikhs who may cautiously trim their beards yet otherwise wear the five Ks, including the turban. The situation is radically different when looking to Sikhs in the diaspora where the majority of Sikhs by and large cut their hair and do not maintain most Khalsa identity markers (McLeod, 1997, p. 208). Among Sikhs who reject the Khalsa identity, tradition also distinguishes between three “types.” Sahijdhari Sikhs are an umbrella term for non–Khalsa Sikhs, those noted earlier not following the injunctions of the Sikh code of conduct, particularly in the cutting of hair. In its current usage, the term is often translated as “slow adopter,” in other words, a Sikh who is on the path toward the Khalsa ideal, but has not yet made a sufficient commitment to follow through on that ideal. What is fascinating about the terminology itself is that the term’s original meaning referred to the state of bliss attained by following the meditative path taught by the gurus (McLeod, 2005, p. 176). Thus, during the developing tradition, Sahijdhari was a delineation utilized to show allegiance to the Sikh path of meditation on the Divine Name. After the inauguration of the Khalsa order with its focus on the saint-soldier, Sahijdhari Sikhs were those who insisted on earlier characteristics of Sikh discipleship, while choosing to reject the militant identity of the Khalsa brotherhood. Other names or distinctions within the context of the Sahijdhari Sikh identity include mona Sikhs and patit Sikhs. The term mona is generally interchangeable with Sahijdhari in its current usage, while patits are those who are considered to be apostates, those who were once Amritdhari Sikhs yet lapsed in their commitment to the Rahit Maryada. While many Sikhs who embrace and insist on the Khalsa ideal take issue with any interpretation that does not place the Khalsa identity at the apex of Sikhism, it is without doubt that the Sikh tradition at large has been and continues to be in a state of flux with regard to issues of Sikh identity. Needless to say, the issue of Sikh identity is a complex one. Some Sikhs maintain that the distinguishing between “types” of Sikhs simply adds to the divisiveness of the Sikh community. In other words, “a Sikh is a Sikh.” Others however vehemently disagree, believing that the Khalsa ideal of the Amritdhari Sikh must be upheld as normative. Still others maintain that while distinctions between Sikhs exist, the traditional designates given to these varieties sanction the Khalsa identity, while denigrating, through their negative terminology, those who do not subscribe to the Khalsa identity. By and large, however, the Amritdhari Sikh identity is presented as normative, despite the fact that a vast majority of Sikhs are non-Amritdhari. It would appear however that there is a segment of the “silent majority” of diaspora Sikhs, non–Khalsa Sikhs, who are beginning to insist on being given their full rights

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and full recognition within the Sikh community; this includes leadership roles within overseas gurdwaras, and, a rejection of the negative connotations associated with the terminology that distinguishes them from other Sikhs.1 Discussion forums, particularly on the internet, show the potential for a radical mobilization effort among this segment of Sikhs. According to recent postings on Sikh-Diaspora Forum, an online discussion group, a more positive designation such as “reformed Sikhs” is helpful in distinguishing those who choose not to embrace the Khalsa identity and in doing so, removing the denigration implicit in the term Sahijdhari, or, “slow adopter.” The latter term, it is maintained, also inadvertently maintains the Khalsa identity as the ideal. According to one such posting, the term reform “asserts that the claimed ‘true’ path of the orthodox is questionable. The term reformed would of course be resisted by the orthodox. No terms can hide dissent; nonetheless, avoiding obnoxious terms can reduce acrimony” (Sikh-Diaspora Discussion Group, 2006).2 Another posting continues that the orthodox insist on beard, kesh, turban, etcetera as essentials. The reformed free themselves of these restrictions. The unfortunate term currently in vogue for those who have rejected these restrictions [is] “patit” . . . I have long chafed at the latter term . . . (Ibid.)

It would appear that traditional terms such as “unorthodox,” “patit,” “Sahijdhari,” and “mona” are being rejected by a small number of Sikhs who believe that their Sikh identity is being undermined by the negative associations given to such designation. Dissention with regard to Sikh identity is far from being resolved. Certainly the heterogeneity of Sikh identity today is utterly consistent with Sikh identity throughout the tradition’s 500-year history. What is important for the purposes of this study is the effect of the internet on the very construction of Sikh identity. As noted above, much of the grassroots discussion surrounding identity construction is taking place within what many consider to be the safe haven of internet discussion groups.3 The ramifications thereof are grist for considerable research and analysis. According to Stephen O’Leary, following Walter Ong’s work on the Reformation and religion in the modern age (Ong, 1981), to fully understand religion online, one must “attend . . . to historical contexts and comparisons” (O’Leary, 2004, p. 38). And indeed, to understand Sikhism in the twenty-first century, including the production of knowledge on the internet by Sikh technocrats as “new authorities,” is to recognize its evident corollary within recent Sikh history, namely, the context surrounding Sikhs at the turn of the nineteenth century in colonial India. Imbued by the British educational system, an elite group of Sikhs became increasingly aware of the many ramifications of their minority status in the state of Punjab. According to Shyamala Bhatia, while . . . education opened new opportunities, it was soon found that the number of jobs were not enough and as the number of the educated increased, there was keen rivalry and competition, both for education and for office . . . some of these Western educated men, who had been groping in the dark because of their alienation from their traditional religion and social uprootment, had found their identity. (Bhatia, 1987, p. 352)

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Many found their “calling” within socioreligious reform movements within their respective communities. In doing so, communal divisions, among members of the “intellectual aristocracy” who had hitherto formed close communion with one another, regardless of religious affiliation, were increasingly developed (Jakobsh, 2003, p. 91).4 A Sikh movement known as the Singh Sabha was initiated in 1873 in Amritsar, and, a rival Sikh group in Lahore in 1879. The reform initiative at large was initially spurred by incidents of young Sikhs converting to Christianity, the religion of the colonizers, the best and brightest choosing to leave community lagging far behind in terms of educational advancement within Punjab. Reformers also focused on what they perceived to be the alarming state of a “degraded” Sikh tradition, a tradition that over time had fallen from a glorious state of purity stemming from the Sikh guru period. Differences between the two chapters were largely caste-, economic-, and identitybased. The Amritsar group was composed of the Sikh aristocracy as well as traditional religious leaders and upheld a highly inclusive definition of what constituted a Sikh. They were Sanatan Sikhs, the term itself connoting that which is ancient, timeless. Sanatan Sikhs made a distinction between their “timeless truths” and the radical “new” interpretations of Sikhism proposed by the Lahore chapter (Oberoi, 1994, p. 92).5 The Lahore division was more firmly entrenched in the elite consumerism of “new knowledge,” many of the members were of lower castes that had risen in status due to the British educational system (Lawrence, 1989, p. 98). Eventually however, the Lahore chapter’s vision triumphed; a heterogeneous Sikh identity was increasingly understood as corrupt and cause for great alarm. According to Harjot Oberoi, the group . . . began to view the multiplicity in Sikh identity with great suspicion and hostility. The social and cultural forces unleashed by the Raj helped the Singh Sabha’s powerful project to recast Sikh tradition and purge it of all its diversity. It established a highly systematized discourse of what it meant to be a Sikh: one who fully subscribed to the Five Ks, visited only what were defined exclusively as Sikh shrines, conducted his rites de passage according to the prescribed rituals, and did not consume prohibited foods. (Oberoi, 1994, p. 25)

The specific identity advocated by the Lahore Singh Sabha movement had its genesis in the inauguration of the Khalsa brotherhood by the tenth guru of the Sikh, Guru Gobind Singh. While all ten gurus contributed to the process of Sikh identity formation, it was Guru Gobind Singh, who, under hostile Mughal rule (the latter increasingly suspicious of his powerful political and spiritual sway, at least over his Sikh followers), added the Khalsa initiation ritual, and, physical signs of membership into the Sikh the Khalsa order. The event was “critically important for Sikhism since the formation of the Khalsa endeavored to provide Sikhs with a final distinct identity from both Hindus and Muslims, as much by outward appearance as inward philosophy” (Takhar, 2005, p. 11). Rajinder Kaur has stressed that this was also done “to create a martial atmosphere and an expectancy of military action” (Kaur, 1992, pp. 21–2). The eighteenth century witnessed subsequent warfare between the Khalsa Sikhs and their Mughal masters which had the effect of strengthening the Khalsa order; the Khalsa ideal eventually became politicized into units known as misls, Sikh confederacies (McLeod, 2000,

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pp. 49–102). By the end of the 1700s, members of the Khalsa had risen to leadership within both the political and religious milieu in Punjab. Recent scholarship has questioned the homogeneity of Sikh identity even during this period of Khalsa ascendancy. According to Opinderjit Kaur Thakar among other Sikh scholars, Guru Gobind Singh “did not regard only Khalsa Sikhs as proper Sikhs” (Takhar, 2005, p. 12).6 In other words, Sikhs who did not undergo the initiation ritual were still considered by the guru to be integral to the Sikh community. As noted earlier, those who rejected the Khalsa identity were by the mid-eighteenth century known as Sahijdhari Sikhs. Sahijdharis were integral to the Sikh community, before and after the inauguration of the Khalsa brotherhood. This attitude toward a heterogeneous Sikh identity changed during the time of the ascendancy of the Tat Khalsa during the colonial period. The question of “who is a Sikh” plagued the reformers, particularly given Sikh extreme minority status in Hindu-dominated India. Swami Dayanand, the founder of the reformist Arya Samaj Reform movement in the nineteenth century, among many others, simply considered Sikhism as part and parcel of the larger Hindu milieu. Finding ways to counter this perception became the dominant focus of the Sikh reformers. It was to the order of the Khalsa that the Singh Sabha reformers turned for their inspiration in the movement to insist on Sikh uniqueness within the wider milieu, as well as rejuvenate what was understood to be a degenerate Sikh tradition. The reasons for this are not difficult to understand, namely, increasingly, many Sikhs were rejecting the Khalsa identity as normative. Reformers made colossal attempts to stem the tide of those unwilling to undergo initiation into the Khalsa, citing that this state of affairs was responsible for the degeneration of the Sikh community. The Singh Sabha discourse of the regeneration of a “fallen” tradition was then and still continues to be the benchmark of modern Sikhism today, continuing “to hold a profound fascination for the adherents of the faith” (Oberoi, 1994, p. 306). The means by which the Singh Sabha divested a highly heterogeneous tradition into an increasingly homogeneous identity, the Khalsa Sikh, or, Tat Khalsa, is important for coming to an understanding of the construction of Sikh identity today. Certainly, the efforts of this small group of Sikh intellectuals were remarkably successful; the process of reinterpretation and adaptation of their tradition had far-reaching effects, during the colonial time frame and into the twenty-first century. The reforms they put in place in their purification process are reflective of what the majority of Sikhs today understand to be the essence of “true” Sikhism. In many ways, the Singh Sabha movement at large can be understood as a Sikh Renaissance; the movement is unparalleled in terms of the intellectual activity that took place. By the early 1900s, there were more than 20 Sikh newspapers, periodicals, and journals; new editions of the Guru Granth Sahib were being published, as were glossaries and commentaries of the Sikh scripture; encyclopedias, dictionaries, and theological treatises and tracts flourished; volumes focusing on Sikh history and its evaluation proliferated; and scholars scoured Punjab locating and publishing ancient texts (Barrier, 1975, pp. 219–52). The success of the newly educated Sikh elite, once it gained ascendancy over the Sanatan Sikh vision, owed immeasurably to the power of the printed word and access to the print culture introduced by American Presbyterian

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missionaries in Punjab in 1836. For the transmission of religious and cultural codes had until then been largely the purview of traditional religious authorities among the Sikhs, many of whom did not subscribe to the vision put forth by the Singh Sabha reformers. Indeed, a major focus of the reform movement was to decentralize and delegitimize what was considered to be a degenerate system of traditional authority structures. Singh Sabha reformers worked diligently to replace these time-honored structures, including guru lineages, saints or holy men, caretakers of Sikh shrines known as pujaris, literate granthis who recited and read Sikh scripture at gurdwaras, gianis and bhais, in other words, bearers of Sikh tradition (Oberoi, 1994, pp. 108–38). What separated the “new” and the “old” bearers of tradition was the educational advantage offered by the British and missionary machine. The “new” authorities became the new middle class of Punjab. They were also highly skilled in the methods and means of print culture, a culture effectively passed on by their Christian missionary teachers. “[B]y gaining proficiency in the mechanics of print culture, members of the new elites—lawyers, teachers, journalists, the rural gentry—appropriated both the channels of communication and, more importantly, the signifiers these generated.” Perhaps even more importantly, control of print culture “gave them an unprecedented sway over the production of symbols, texts and stories, the elements out of which any culture is created” (Oberoi, 1994, pp. 276–7). Having the power associated with control of print culture allowed for important inroads into the production of the specificities of Sikh identity that these new elites were in the process of constructing (Sayers, 2003, pp. 19–36). The new “voice of authority” of the Tat Khalsa in the nineteenth century, the Sikh cultural elite “aggressively usurped the right to represent others within this singular tradition . . . The older pluralist paradigm of Sikh faith was displaced forever and replaced by a highly uniform Sikh identity, the one we know today as modern Sikhism” (Oberoi, 1994, p. 25). What is important for the purposes of this study is the increasing homogenization of Sikh identity that was being formulated. The Khalsa identity became the focus of what was perceived to be “true” Sikhism, while the range of diversity of what it could mean to “be a Sikh” in the eighteenth to the twentieth century was increasingly downplayed and even vilified. While this chapter is not of the scope to allow for more in-depth exploration of the above process of identity construction during this time period, suffice it to say that the Singh Sabha’s success was in large part due to the power that came with their enthusiastic application of the “new media” at their disposal, in this case, the vast domain of the print culture that had initially made its way into Punjab due to the colonizers and specifically, the missionaries who saw in the Sikhs in particular, a field ripe and ready to be harvested for their message of conversion. Ironically, the results were diametrically opposed to what the Christian missionaries had envisaged; the Sikhs instead became increasingly focused on what they perceived to be their own superior, now “reformed” Sikh identity.

The Sikhs and the WWW The Singh Sabha movement’s success can in large part be attributed to its embrace of the new technologies available during the time of the Raj, and in this regard, there

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exists a remarkable similarity to the new religious authorities that are in the process of constructing Sikh identity through the phenomenon of the internet. Similar to the process of displacement of traditional religious authority that took place during the time of the Singh Sabha movement, increasingly, it is the computer-savvy Sikh technocrats who are usurping traditional forms of religious authority among the Sikhs (Jakobsh, 2004, pp. 127–42). As the “Authority Home Page” has noted, “the monument of the text and the authority that [is] extended to the author rests in the technology” (White, n.d.a).7 The more sophisticated, wide-ranging and appealing the website, the more “authority” is accrued. Thus, “the real question is not, What can electronics do? But rather, Who will control the keys? Who (or what) will capture the all-important role of trusted intermediary in the digital domains? How transparent will their mediation be?” (Brown, 1998, p. 14). Sikh technocrats, computer engineers, and specialists within technical fields, who have taken up the challenge to present and define Sikhism online, have, by virtue of their technical knowledge and profound interest and personal devotion, become the new digital intermediaries, the new transmitters of Sikh religion and culture. As I have noted elsewhere, one simply needs to peruse the most popular sites on Sikhism to realize that they are not those associated with the traditional loci of religious authority among the Sikhs. What becomes quickly evident is that many of these websites simply lack the sophistication, reliability, and ease of interchange of those constructed by Sikhs who are not traditional authority figures (Jakobsh, 2004, pp. 135–8). And certainly this is in line with many institutions and structures generally associated with “tradition.” As noted by the “Authority Home Page,” they are simply “not able to fully take hold on the Web. Authors who could never be published in the restrictive print publishing world are published on the Web. And the success of a Web page is largely determined not by elitist literary standards, but by popularity, as determined by web counters” (White, n.d.b).8 And here we find remarkable parallels between the Sikh technocrats who are utterly at home within the boundlessness of digital and web technology today, and the Sikh intellectual elite of the nineteenth century. Both, by virtue of having access and expertise within their respective “new technologies,” and thus credibility largely based on their abilities within the realm of these technologies, have been enabled to overshadow the authoritative rights of those representing “tradition” within Sikhism. The notion of a Sikh resurgence in the twenty-first century has taken hold in the minds of those at the forefront of technology today. As noted by the creator of one of the first internet sites devoted to Sikhism, what is taking place online today is likened to a Sikh renaissance . . . in large part due to the Internet where Sikhs are seeking to reclaim their spiritual heritage before it is lost . . . [The] information technology revolution has unleashed a virtual Pandora’s box of issues that the community has never had to face before as well as causing a reexamination of old issues from a new technological perspective.” (Brar, 2001a,b)

Moving well beyond the traditional loci of authority that the Singh Sabha reformers endeavored to replace, namely, guru lineages, saints, gianis, and bhais,9 these “new”

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voices stemming primarily from the Western world appear to be questioning the legitimacy of other time-honored and authoritative Sikh institutions, particularly with regard to Sikhs in the diaspora. According to one online commentator, while the “leading Sikh religious institutions based in India have online presences . . . their track record of commitment and vision are substandard at best.” He continues that many of these leading institutions simply cannot relate to the diasporic Sikh experience: A traditional Punjab-centric approach to the presentation of the religion is no longer necessarily a valid model for Sikhs of the 21st century. Traditional learning resources about Sikhism have always presented the religion in a very regional light focusing on Punjab and cultural practices relevant to that part of the world. The online presentation of Sikhism has instead tended to focus more on the philosophical aspects and principles of the religion, the Sikh lifestyle and its more global relevance in today’s world. That changing global outlook is the frame of reference of the Diaspora Sikhs and it comes across in the presentation of the religion on the Internet. As there is no way to limit the audience to only a specific region on the Internet, the presentation of information focuses more on the language and idioms understandable and of interest to a wider and culturally diverse audience. (Brar, 2001a)

The term “Generation-K,” an offshoot of the “Generation X” phenomenon, perhaps best reflects these Sikhs’ Western roots, cynicism, and disenchantment with Sikh traditional institutions, while at the same time cleaving to a Khalsa-centric perspective and lifestyle (Singh, 1999).10 In a similar vein, the German-based Sikh-Forum is, according to its designers, . . . an independent Internet portal which provides comprehensive information about Sikhi (Sikhism, Sikh religion) and Sikhs. It was founded in 2000 by Sikhs who do not belong to any political or other organization . . . By now, the Sikh-Forum is one of the most popular European Sikhi resource websites . . . All religious interpretations are based on Guru Granth Sahib and linked with mundane and global challenges of the world we live in today. The topics covered pay considerable attention on what the founders actually had in mind and passed on in their original writings, and critically assess widespread religious practices and interpretations. (Sikh-Forum, n.d.b, italics by the author)

What becomes quickly apparent when looking to the new authorities of Sikhism on the internet is that, like their predecessors within the Singh Sabha movement within the realm of print culture, they are taking full advantage of what Trevor Haywood has called the “delightful anarchy” of the internet (Haywood, 1995, p. 84). Given their technological expertise in the production of knowledge online, in effect clearly fulfilling Marshall McLuhan’s schema of the notion of print culture as commodity, they too are wielding considerable power in the construction of identity that is being freely disseminated through websites devoted to the Sikh tradition (McLuhan, 1962). Another aspect of the displacement of traditional authority structures is an “anti-intellectual” or

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“anti-scholarly” trend that tends to accompany the production of knowledge online by the “new” Sikh authorities (Jakobsh, 2006, pp. 24–40). For as Daniel Adams has noted, the “so-called information superhighway is changing the way knowledge and value are diffused throughout society . . . one does not have to be a member of the intellectual and political elite” to take part in that knowledge production (Adams, 1997). This becomes quickly apparent when looking to the resources that often accompany many Sikh websites. Scholars or observers, who tend to be supportive of the views of these new authorities or at the very least do not conflict with the worldviews espoused by them, are lauded, whereas numerous scholars of distinction are denigrated. The SikhForum for instance, includes a list of what it considers “permissible” authorities on Sikhism; on the other hand, it warns its readers about the research and publication of those who would, in most academic circles, be viewed as some of the most respected scholars of Sikhism (Sikh-Forum, n.d.c).11 Gary Bunt’s study of “cyber Islamic environments” has shown that otherwise marginal perspectives, through sophisticated representation articulated in cyberspace, can easily be presented as normative (Bunt, 2000, p. 8). Similarly, what becomes increasingly apparent is that a specific, highly homogeneous Sikh identity is being constructed online; namely, the identity that is representative not of the majority, but rather, a highly visible Sikh minority—particularly in the diaspora—the Khalsa Sikh. This “hegemonization” of what Brian Axel has called the “Amritdhari body” has had the effect of producing a “normative model” by which all other Sikh identities are weighed against, generally through the “negation or deferral.” It has, in essence, become the “authoritative reference” of Sikh identity (Axel, 2004, pp. 26–60). To turn again to the Sikh-Forum, this process of hegemonization is clear. Sikhs, according to this website, “can easily be recognised by their outward appearance” (Sikh-Forum, n.d.b). What must be stressed is that this is not unique to the twenty-first century; its genesis is clearly located in the remarkably similar processes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the Singh Sabha reform movement in its promotion of a purified and unified Sikh identity. Without doubt, the focus of these reformers was on “the unique symbolic prescription furnished by the institution of the Khalsa” and in their rather inventive clarion call insisting that real Sikhs were those who followed the outward manifestations of the Khalsa Sikh (Jakobsh, 2003, p. 211). Moreover, for the Tat Khalsa ideology to become hegemonic, efforts were redoubled into two primary foci, heterogeneous customs followed by the bulk of Sikhs, particularly among the rural illiterate majority, and “undisciplined attitudes toward the human body,” namely, that of the Sikh body (Oberoi, 1994, p. 306). And without doubt, this focus on the corporeal aspects of Sikh identity becomes all the more prevalent if one does even a cursory search of prominent websites devoted to Sikhism. One such site is The Sikh Coalition, whose slogan is “The Voice of a People,” and whose focus in largely on education, awareness, and civil liberties within the Sikh community. The Coalition’s “Mission” Statement reads: The Sikh Coalition is a community-based organization that defends civil rights and civil liberties in the United States, educates the broader community about Sikhs and diversity, promotes local community empowerment, and fosters civic

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engagement among Sikh Americans. The Coalition serves as a resource for all organizations and individuals as well as a point of contact for Sikh people. The Sikh Coalition’s mission is to . . . [p]rovide Sikh organizations, Sikhs, and others with the skills and resources necessary to help organize, coordinate, and implement an effective and sustained Coalition effort. (The Sikh Coalition, n.d.e)12

Highly sophisticated in terms of its usability and well established as a resource on Sikhism, particularly with regard to Sikhs involved in legal actions due to discrimination against their external insignia, the site gives the following information about its inauguration soon after the events of 9/11: A group of young Sikh professionals from diverse professional backgrounds such as banking, law, consulting, and public relations immediately felt a dire need to mobilize Sikhs across the continent. They put their lives on hold for several months and concentrated on educating the media, the public at large, and government agencies about Sikhism and the issues affecting Sikhs. (The Sikh Coalition, n.d.b)

The Sikh Coalition provides information specifically designed for three respective audiences, the media, employers, and educators. While the group’s initial focus was that of civil liberties in the United States, yet given their highly visible presence online, their message reaches a global audience. If one looks to the production of knowledge facilitated through this site, one becomes quickly aware of its singular focus on the Khalsa Sikh identity. In one of its resource packages, the site insists that the turban, or, the dastar, is not an issue of choice for Sikhs, but is instead a “mandatory” article of faith. And interestingly, this perspective is not confined to a minority Sikh position but has also become part and parcel of legal battles involving the rights of Sikhs to maintain all external insignia, including the wearing of the kirpan. Judge Painter in Ohio, USA, wrote that “[t]o be a Sikh is to wear a kirpan—it is that simple” (The Sikh Coalition, n.d.c).13 Furthermore, images of renowned Sikhs prominently displayed at the resources site of Sikh Coalition include only those who embody the outward manifestations of the Khalsa Sikh. As the self-proclaimed “Voice of a People,” in depicting a sole minority identity among the Sikhs, The Sikh Coalition effectively negates the multiplicity of Sikh identities in the Sikh diaspora, the majority of which do not subscribe to the identity of the Khalsa Sikh (The Sikh Coalitions, n.d.a). UNITED SIKHS is another prominent and multifaceted site founded by a group of Sikhs from the New York metropolitan area whose initial aim was to come to the aid of immigrants in Queens, New York.14 It has since become a global initiative, with North American, European, and Asian chapters. The Mission Statement of UNITED SIKHS reads: “To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.” It continues with an “Equal Opportunities Statement”: “UNITED SIKHS is committed to the promotion of diversity and equal opportunities amongst its employees, volunteers and project beneficiaries” (UNITED SIKHS, n.d.a). A

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prominent focus of this group is project oriented, particularly through its subsidiary agencies, including a relief agency, GHANAIA (Giving Humanitarian Aid Necessities and Assistance Impartially to All), “International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy,” ICHRA, a monitor of human rights abuses globally with a particular focus on the French ban on turbans, as well as “Community Awareness” and “Empowerment” initiatives among others (ibid.). UNITED SIKHS’ focus on the construction of Khalsa identity also comes to the fore through their announcement of an “International Guru Nanak Youth Award” in honor and in memorial of three recently deceased Sikh youths “who lead exemplary lives.” The announcement adds that the . . . recipient of the award will act as a roving Sikh youth ambassador who will travel across the globe to spread the message of Sikhi amongst youths . . . The purpose of this award is to raise awareness of issues facing young Sikhs, to provide an ambassador of Sikh values and principles with hope to promote understanding and cooperation amongst the global community. (UNITED SIKHS, 2004)

In the photo accompanying the announcement, all three of the individuals being honored are Khalsa Sikhs; presumably, it is the “Amritdhari body” that is being upheld as normative and worthy of representing the global Sikh community. While insisting that UNITED SIKHS is promoting the interests of all Sikhs, the creators of the site tend to focus almost exclusively on that of the turbaned Khalsa Sikh, particularly through an interpretive and selective lens positioning the raison d’être of the Khalsa order as ultimately one focused on the fighting of oppression in the name of justice. Under “Requirements to Join” (to become a Sikh, one would presume), the message focuses only on the Khalsa initiation rite, maintaining that a . . . special initiatory rite is required to join the Khalsa, or community of the Pure. The Khalsa were once a militia, but are now recognized as the devout initiates of the religion. Initiated male Khalsas adopt the mandatory last name “Singh,” meaning “Lion”; females take the name “Kaur,” meaning “Crown Prince” (an emphasis on equality). The Khalsa’s historic mission has been to fight oppression and injustice. (UNITED SIKHS, n.d.d)

One of the resources power point slides offered by UNITED SIKHS as an educational tool notes that “all Sikh men are identifiable by their distinctive turbans. 99 percent of people worldwide that wear turbans are Sikhs. Many Sikh women wear ‘smaller’ turbans to keep their head covered as well” (UNITED SIKHS, n.d.b). The image accompanying the slide would certainly support this statement; all Sikhs in the photo have their hair covered by a turban or a scarf, the latter representative of the traditional head covering for Sikh women. Similarly, if one turns to the German-based Sikh-Forum, a downloadable resource leaflet contains three images: one of a woman wearing a head scarf, and two others, a male and female, both donning turbans (Sikh-Forum, n.d.a). Yet, these images are simply not reflective of the dominant Sikh identity within diasporic communities; nor are they necessarily representative (particularly of the be-turbaned Sikh woman)

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of many Sikhs in India. Thus, this usage of the Amritdhari body and Amritdhari symbols, through the constant reproduction of images highlighting a particular Sikh identity construct, become in and of themselves “signs” of what it means to be a Sikh, despite the very obvious fact that, at least in the diaspora, this particular manifestation is simply not the case. Moreover, while UNITED SIKHS may claim to be representative of all Sikhs, particularly with regard to diversity alongside the promotion of Sikhs worldwide through their textual assertions, the very fact that the photos dotting the website appear to be focused on the Amritdhari body would negate those claims. As John Berger has noted with regard to the relationship between image and text, it is in the image that a prior, more significant place is claimed in the range of human senses, for, “it is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it” (Berger, 1977, p. 7). Words can never encapsulate in the same way that an image has the capability of capturing. Along the same vein, Archer, Iritani, Kimes, and Barrios’ fascinating study on how gender is constructed through photographic images utilizes the term “face-ism” to delineate tendencies in photographic technique that emphasize different aspects of gender (Archer et al., 1983, pp. 725–35). I would suggest that the term “khalsa-ism” can be applied in a similar manner, where it is the Khalsa Sikh identity, here upheld as normative, that becomes the prevailing norm in Sikh identity construction online. It becomes even more so the case given that in these prominent websites, by and large, only khalsa-isms (or, amritdhari bodies) are presented. UNITED SIKHS also links to other like-minded sites; these convey similar images and messages, and are for the most part, created and maintained by Western Sikhs (UNITED SIKHS, n.d.c). One innovative website that is also linked is the creation of an American Sikh computer software developer Vishavjit Singh, who effectively utilizes the medium of cartoons for his message. His initial foray into Sikhism on the internet was the result of the post-9/11 slaying of his fellow Sikh in Arizona, Balbir Singh Sodhi, and the “dearth of positive media images of Sikhs who wear turbans as an article of the Sikh faith” (Bhatt, 2006). In perusing a vast array of online cartoons, it becomes quickly evident that for Singh, “Sikh” means Khalsa Sikh. It is this identity that is actively and unabashedly being presented as normative. When characters are featured without turbans, or, rarely, when they feature Sikhs with trimmed hair or beards, they are by and large featured as the “villains of the piece.” These may take the form of Hindu fundamentalists (with uniquely “Hitler-esque” features) (Singh, V., 2005c, 2010), or, they may focus on Sikhs who do not uphold Khalsa discipline in its full form. With regard to the latter, what is important for the purposes of this study is that through the combination of image and captions, one recognizes a subtle disparagement of Sikhs who trim their beards or cut their hair, counter to the Khalsa Code of Conduct. In a cartoon titled “Why do Sikhs in Punjab repeatedly elect the most corrupt leaders to the highest of Sikh institutions like the SGPC?” the accompanying caption is indicative of a belittling attitude, namely, “Let’s talk to the average ‘Sikh’ voter in Punjab” (Singh, V., 2004d). The term “Sikh” itself is in parenthesis, denoting the incongruity of the actual image (of a turbaned Sikh male) and a “true” Sikh. The “Sikh” in question, trims his beard, cuts his hair, and imbibes alcohol. In essence, while the turbaned male may look as though he is

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representative of Sikh identity, in reality, his Sikh identity must be questioned; he is not a real Sikh. According to what can be characterized as a process of “branding” Sikh identity, this is in fact a “no-name” Sikh, an incorrectly branded Sikh. According to Richard Elliott and Kritsadarat Wattanasuwan in their study of branding in the construction of identity, one of the characteristics of Generation X, a characteristic that can easily be transferred to Generation K, is a craving of “social confirmation” through a utilization of symbolic meanings (Elliott and Wattanasuwan, 1998, pp. 131–44). Vishavjit Singh’s work reflects this desire for social confirmation, particularly with regard to the Amritdhari body. This includes the “hot” Singh (Singh, V., 2005b), the strong Sikh father image (Singh, V., n.d.a), Sikh Super Heroes (Singh, V., 2004c), Cover, TIME Magazine (Singh, V., 2003), New York Police Department’s “finest” (Singh, V., n.d.b), and Khalsa Sikh associations with global branded images, such as I-Singh, IPod—Vaisakhi edition (Singh, V., 2005a). They conjure images that reflect an “ego-ideal which commands the respect of others and inspires self-love” (Gabriel and Lang, 1995, p. 98). Vishavjit Singh, through the utilization of positive, inspiring Khalsa “branding” techniques, is in effect actively constructing the Sikh identity I have called khalsa-isms; he is in effect presenting a sole identity, one that is consistently represented and in effect negating the actual diversity of Sikhism today. Roland Barthes’ understanding of the interrelation between image and text is useful in understanding what he calls the “coded iconic message”—the sum of all the messages that are connoted by the image—and the text that “directs the reader through the signifieds of the image . . . remote-control[ing] him [sic] towards a meaning chosen in advance” (Barthes, 1977, pp. 39–40). In fact, according to Barthes, “in the movement from one structure [text, image] secondary signifieds are inevitably developed” (Ibid., p. 26). With regard to the images projected by Singh’s cartoons, the primary signifier, the Amritdhari body, powerfully evokes both negative and positive connotations, the negative associated with the secondary signifier, the “fake” Sikh, or, the non-Amritdhari body and the positive with the “true” Sikh and the Amritdhari body. While the primary focus of Vishavjit Singh’s cartoons is on the male Amritdhari body, the turbaned-Sikh-woman is also highlighted. Strong and “hip” turbaned women ride “hot” motorcycles (Singh, V., 2004a); they also dream in Olympic colors (Singh, V., 2004b). This focus on Sikh women’s identity signifiers is highly reminiscent of the Singh Sabha movement’s attempts in the nineteenth century to conclusively carve out “Sikh” ritual space and distinct Sikh identity markers for their womenfolk. For Sikh reformers, the “regenerated” Sikh woman upholding Tat Khalsa ideals was contrasted to the uneducated, degenerate, superstitious, and decided “un-Sikh” bulk of the populace, largely rural Sikh women (Jakobsh, 2003). The tradition of women wearing turbans also has its genesis during this era. A radical voice, eventually banished from the Sikh panth (community) as too radical by the majority of the Singh Sabha reformers, was Teja Singh Bhasaur. The branch of the Singh Sabha movement associated with him was known as the Panch Khalsa Diwan. The Panch Khalsa insisted that their Singh Sabha counterparts were not aggressive enough in their molding of a distinct Khalsa Sikh identity; those who did not fully endorse the ideals advocated by the Panch Khalsa Diwan were cast out of the organization, including Sahijdhari Sikhs. Teja Singh Bhasaur advocated, in the name of the strict egalitarianism espoused by his organization, that

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both women and men were required to wear uncut hair and turbans. Those women who did not agree to wear the traditional male headgear were simply refused initiation (ibid., pp. 213–14; see also Barrier, 1970, pp. xvi–xxvii). Needless to say, the “new authorities” mandating Sikh orthodoxy online are clearly in line with Bhasaur’s vision; this, despite the fact that Bhasaur was expelled, by the highest seat of Sikh authority, the Akal Takhat, from the wider Sikh community. The Panch Khalsa Diwan soon thereafter disintegrated, but clearly, at least Bhasaur’s radical mandate requiring initiated women to don turbans is being espoused by the new authorities online. In terms of the correlation between the Singh Sabha authorities and the “new authorities” of the twenty-first century, both were and are making every effort to go beyond the active construction of the male Amritdhari body to also include that of the female. And certainly, many Sikh websites focus the lens of Sikh female identity on women wearing turbans. Indeed, even a cursory search would lead one to believe that the majority of Sikh women don turbans (SikhNet, n.d.; Sikhiwiki, 2010). For what is poignant about this process of identity construction is the fact that turbaned Sikh women are unequivocally not representative of Sikh female identity; by far the majority of even Amritdhari Sikh females in India, as well as within the Sikh diaspora, instead cover their hair with the traditional Indian scarf (chunni). For the most part, Sikh women do not cover their hair except within the bounds of gurdwaras, or, wherever the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh sacred scripture, is enshrined.15 According to Brian Axel’s study of the Sikh corporeal images online, particularly those of Amritdhari bodies, it is in the archiving of these images through the internet that a particularized Sikh subject is created. Similarly here, within the process of identity construction taking place, through the repeated “visuality and iconicity” of the specific image, a “globalized domain of images” or “transnational domain of visual images” which Axel labels the “diasporic imaginary,” is created (Axel, 2004, pp. 26–60). Thus, while the minority of Sikhs worldwide are Amritdhari, while the minority of Sikhs in the diaspora are even Kesdhari, while miniscule numbers of Sikh women wear turbans, particularized identity markers have the potential, through persistent and repetitive usage on the internet, to become the primary identity markers of “what it means to be Sikh.” These carefully constructed images are not only available within the online context, but clearly, the boundlessness of the internet is an accelerated catalyst in the active construction of Sikh identity taking place. In the process, the image of the turbaned Sikh woman, for instance, despite the fact that it clearly does not mirror the realities of Sikh women worldwide, is cast instead as normative. Once again, the process outlined above is highly comparable to the situation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to Matthew Sayers, the “common misconception that all Sikhs are Khalsa Sikhs or that Khalsa Sikhs represent all Sikhs was not an accident of history. Sikhs within the Lahore Singh Sabha worked tirelessly toward this goal” (Sayers, 2003, p. 33). Roland Barthes utilizes the term myth in referring to the value systems and beliefs inherent in advertisements and images that is useful in this regard. According to Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright’s analysis, for Barthes, “myth is the hidden set of rules and conventions through which meanings, which are in reality specific to certain groups, are made to seem universal and given for a whole society” (Sturken and Cartwright, 2000, pp. 19–20). For instance, Barthes argues that a French advertisement for Italian

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pasta and sauce is as much about the “myth” about Italian culture as it is about the product itself, what he calls the concept of “Italianicity” that is constructed through the image and the text (Barthes, 1977, p. 34). In essence then, what is innocuously presented as normative becomes mythologized because it is “historically and culturally specific, not ‘natural’.” Thus, . . . to explore the meaning of images is to recognize that they are produced within dynamics of social power and ideology. . . . Images are an important means through which ideologies are produced and onto which ideologies are projected. . . . The most important aspect of ideologies is that they appear to be natural or given, rather than part of a system of belief that a culture produces in order to function in a particular way. (Sturken and Cartwright, 2000, pp. 19–22)

This concept is, I believe, helpful in coming to an understanding of the process of Sikh identity construction taking place online, both for male and female Sikhs. Images of the Amritdhari body, “khalsa-isms” per se, complete with external insignia such as uncut hair and turban, have become mythologized, not because they are representative of Sikh identity at large but because they are constructed in such a way, over and over again, as to seem universal and representative. Axel’s understanding of the “transnational domain of visual images” online that are part and parcel of “a diasporic imaginary,” echoes the process of mythmaking as envisioned by Barthes (Axel, 2004, pp. 26–60). And clearly, there are ramifications of Sikh identity construction emanating from a diasporic Sikh consciousness as opposed to those from within the Sikh structures of authority in India; power dynamics associated with Sikh identity construction are changing; diasporic “imaginings,” repetitive narratives outlining “true” Sikh identity are taking hold largely due to the internet. And, the key players in Sikh internet sites are Western Sikhs, most based in North America, the United Kingdom, or Western Europe. This is however not unique to the Sikh diasporic experience. As Radhika Gajjala’s important work on South Asian feminist ethnography and the internet has shown, “narratives are often appropriated and reappropriated in various ways within the hegemonic frameworks that favor ‘[w]estern’ structures of thought and cultures” (Gajjala, 2004, p. 39). In the contemporary scenario, Western structures include those that are grounded in the available technologies and privileges associated with the digital age; in the nineteenth century, these hegemonic frameworks were built upon similar privileges, through the educational advantages offered by the British and the subsequent and whole-hearted consumption of print culture. In the twenty-first century, effective exploitation of digital media and the boundlessness of the internet have enabled the formation of new loci of authority, largely Western based. These new authorities are aptly taking up the challenge of constructing and furthering their own visions of Sikh identity.

Conclusions While the focus of this study has largely been the “new authorities” in both the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries in the construction of a homogeneous Khalsa identity, a

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brief overview of an important study based on fieldwork in Punjab is perhaps useful in that it allows for a revealing and entirely opposing perspective on contemporary Sikh identity, far removed from the examples of virtual Sikh religiosity, “khalsa-isms,” and imaginings outlined above. Ron Geaves’ research on the village of Danda, a majority Sikh-populated village in Punjab with more than 60 percent of its inhabitants having migrated to the West, gives an important perspective on the diversity of Sikh identity today, and the complex interrelationship of Punjabi Sikh traditions with Western assumptions, influences, and economics (Geaves, 1996). Geaves outlines the vast range of Sikh identity today, including Sikh followers of living gurus, Sikh sadhus and ascetics (Udasis); a preponderance of Sikhs who worship miracle saints and believe in witchcraft and magical healing; Sanatan Sikhs; and among others, Sikhs who do not view their identity as a distinct religious tradition but as an ethnic affiliation instead. Geaves’ central focus is on the worship of Baba Balaknath within this region of Punjab; in the village temple, Baba Balaknath is identified with one of the two offsprings of Lord Shiva and is the focus of devotion for both Sikhs and Hindus. The village also houses gurdwaras and smaller Sikh shrines, one dedicated to Banda Singh, a disciple of Guru Gobind Singh, and the other shrine to one of the “five beloved” who were the first to respond to the tenth guru’s call during the inauguration of the Khalsa. According to Geaves, the shrine to Banda Singh is maintained by an elderly Sikh with a contemptuous attitude toward the Khalsa. “He accuse[s] them of reading the Guru Granth Sahib ‘like parrots’ and having no inner awareness of the truth revealed by Guru Nanak” (Geaves, 1996). The second shrine has recently been rebuilt with a new gurdwara with funds fed from migrants to the West. This large gurdwara reflects the allegiance of these Western migrants to what they consider to be a superior, Khalsacentric identity that is actively being fostered in the Sikh diaspora. Acknowledging Harjot Oberoi’s monumental study of the diversity of Sikh identity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Geaves critiques Oberoi’s assertions that while religious eclecticism may still exist within the Sikh community today, contemporary examples thereof must however be understood as mere anomalies, given the preponderance of the Khalsa identity as a result of the Singh Sabha fortitude and skill in constructing a homogeneous Sikh identity (Oberoi, 1994, p. 11). Geaves instead notes that his own . . . observations in the village of Danda indicate that not only is this kind of religious eclecticism still very much alive in the Punjab but that there are also many ways of maintaining Sikh identity that are rarely mentioned in the textbooks written by scholars, Sikh or non-Sikh. (Geaves, 1996)

He adds that the predominant focus on the Khalsa identity as the definitive Sikh identity is highly problematic and it “may be necessary to re-examine the definition of a Sikh in order to incorporate the diversity of Sikh identity” today (ibid.). Geaves’ study is important, on the one hand, in that it lends itself to a contextualization of the complexity of Sikh identity today, and, on the other, in that it allows for an acute juxtaposition of the singular focus on the Khalsa identity by the new digital authorities of the West, particularly in their role as creators and maintainers of virtual knowledge

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production. Despite the well-meaning intentions of these new authorities to bolster what many consider to be the Sikh ideal, increasingly presented as the “normative” Sikh—the Khalsa Sikh—integral to the Sikh tradition at large, both historically and within the contemporary milieu, is a wide spectrum of beliefs, affiliations, and identities. The Sanatan vision, overshadowed in the nineteenth century by the Singh Sabha reformers, and today, by the privileged position, status, and skills of the Sikh technocrats in the Western world, has not disappeared. It remains to be seen whether the “silent majority” of Sikhs in the diaspora, many of whom also have the technical skills and privileges accorded to their Khalsa-centric counterparts, will begin (or in some rare cases, continue) to claim and to represent a respected and legitimate Sikh voice and identity within the unbounded virtual realm.16

Notes 1 One of the leading voices insisting on the right to full membership for non-Khalsa Sikhs is that of Puneet Singh Lamba, a clean-shaven Sikh software engineering specialist based in Massachusetts, USA. His website, The Sikh Times, contains news and analysis of events, personalities, issues, and publications related to Sikhism (see Lamba, 1999). Another outspoken defender of the Sahijdhari Sikh identity is Bhai Harbans Lal, a highly respected Sikh community leader from the United States who unequivocally identifies as Sahijdhari Sikh (see The Sikh Foundation International, 2003). 2 All names withheld. Reproduced with permission from moderators of Sikh-Diaspora@ yahoogroups.com. To the best of my knowledge, it is Mr Lamba who initially suggested the term “reformed Sikhs” as an alternate, positive self-imaging tool to delineate Sikhs not following the Khalsa ideal from orthodox Sikhs. 3 For a discussion of the internet as “third place,” see Jakobsh, 2004. 4 The Brahmo Samaj and Anjuman-i-Punjab, or, “Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,” were organizations that included members of the new educated elite from varied religious backgrounds. 5 This volume remains the most authoritative on the historical developments surrounding the ascendancy of the Singh Sabha and the reforms initiated by the movement. 6 Takhar cites an unpublished paper by historian J. S. Grewal delivered at the Sikh and Punjab Studies Conference, Coventry University, May 1999. See also Lal, 1999, p. 111. 7 The Authority Web Homepage, a vast database is now defunct, but a new link (http:// tc.eserver.org/18951.html) explains: “This is an alternative/modified title page for a web of documents focused on the issue of authority and exists as the result of my decision to include this site on authority in hypertext as part of another project. This page exists for several reasons: the passage of time, the nature of the WWW, and the fact that the authority web exists. I will briefly discuss each of these reasons: the nature of the WWW, and the fact that the authority web exists.” It is likely that the Authority Home Page will be resurrected. 8 See note 7 for its status. 9 While many Sikh communities in the diaspora still rely heavily on Sants (holy men), Gianis, and Granthis from the Punjab, often brought in to stem the tide of Westernization of Sikh communities (particularly among the youth), by and large, these mediators of spirituality and tradition tend to be rejected by the new authorities of Sikhism online. For a discussion on ways that overseas Sikhs continue to rely on Punjab for their spiritual needs, see Gayer, 2002.

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10 To the best of my knowledge, Amardeep Singh coined the term “Generation-K.” 11 The “questionable” works include the writings of W. H. McLeod, Harjot Oberoi, Louis Fenech, and Pashaura Singh. 12 The Coalition’s Mission Statement has changed its focus considerably over time to include a broader scope in terms of human rights. As of August 2, 2010, it reads: “The Sikh Coalition is a community-based organization that works towards the realization of civil and human rights for all people. In particular, we work towards a world where Sikhs may freely practice and enjoy their faith while fostering strong relations with their local community wherever they may be. We pursue our mission by: Providing direct legal services to persons whose civil or human rights are violated; advocating for law and policies that are respectful of fundamental rights; promoting appreciation for diversity through education; and fostering civic engagement in order to promote local community empowerment.” 13 Citing “United States Judicial Opinions Regarding the Sikh Religious Identity, STATE OF OHIO, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Harjinder Singh, Defendant-Appellant” (see The Sikh Coalition, n.d.d). 14 Giorgio Shani posits that UNITED SIKHS, in contradistinction to groups such as SALDEV or Sikh Coalition, is best viewed as a transnational institution, given that it has chapters in the United States, Asia, and Europe. I would suggest that this distinction between the varied Sikh organizations represented on the internet is difficult to sustain, given the glocalized nature of these organizations as sites of authority in light of the boundlessness of the internet. This is particularly the case with regard to knowledge production about Sikhism. See Shani, 2008, p. 139. 15 While there are no statistics available on Sikh women wearing turbans, it would appear that their numbers, in terms of actual representation, are higher within diasporic contexts than within Punjab, the heartland of Sikhism. 16 An interesting turn of events in this regard recently took place on April 8–9, 2006, in Chandigarh, Punjab, where one of the foremost spokespersons for non-orthodox (to utilize the terminology below) Sikhs in the United States, Puneet Singh Lamba is a young Sikh technology specialist who is the creator of an innovative site, The Sikh Times. His dedication to raising the status of the silent majority of Sikhs, who he calls nonorthodox Sikhs, has been unwavering. Lamba was invited to speak at a conference organized by the International Sikh Confederation (ISC) which is associated with the highly conservative Institute of Sikh Studies. The very fact that he was invited to the ICS conference as a speaker can perhaps best be understood in light of the power dynamics associated with Western Sikh technocrats and recognized as such by organizers of the conference. His response to the welcome given to him at the conference is as follows: “As an unorthodox Sikh, I applaud Mann’s statesmanship in inviting me to speak and for honoring me at the conference. However, his fundamental position is apparent from the comments he made as I was getting ready to leave on day one. He said, ‘Sahaj-dharian nu asi apne nede liana hai’ [We need to bring Sahijdharis closer to us]. That can be interpreted in two ways. One, orthodox Sikhs wish to embrace unorthodox Sikhs as they are, without making orthodoxy an issue. Two, orthodox Sikhs wish to convince Sahijdharis to embrace orthodoxy. However, any doubt I had was cleared up by Mann’s subsequent comment. He turned to Kartar Singh Gill and said, ‘Puneet di daadhi vi vadd jaayegi’ [Puneet will surely continue to grow his beard]. Many people have asked me why I decided to grow a tenday stubble [beard] and wear a turban for the conference. My answer is twofold. One, I like wearing the Sikh turban, which looks better with a beard than without. If there is any chance of the Guru Granth being present, I prefer to be wearing a turban rather

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Sikhs Across Borders than scamper for a rumal [handkerchief] to cover my head. I refuse to relinquish to orthodox Sikhs the exclusive right to wear the Sikh turban. Two, I tend to wear a turban at Sikh gatherings as a show of solidarity. The Sikh turban is a proud part of my heritage. I enjoy wearing a turban but reject the notion that there is any spiritual superiority associated with wearing a turban or any of the 5Ks” (Lamba, 2006).

Bibliography Adams, D. J. (1997), “Toward a theological understanding of postmodernism.” Cross Currents, 47(4). Available at: www.crosscurrents.org/adams.htm [Accessed August 3, 2010]. Archer, D., Iritani, B., Kimes, D. D., and Barrios, M. (1983), “Faci-ism: five studies of sexdifferences in facial prominence.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45(4), 725–35. Axel, B. K. (2004), “The context of diaspora.” Cultural Anthropology, 19(1), 26–60. Barthes, R. (1977), “Rhetoric of the image,” in S. Heath (ed. and tr.), Image, Music, Text. New York: Hill and Wang. Barrier, N. G. (1970), The Sikhs and Their Literature: A Guide to Tracts, Books and Periodicals, 1849–1919. Delhi: Manohar. — (1975), “The Sikh resurgence, 1849–1947: an assessment of printed sources and their location,” in W. E. Gustafson and K. W. Jones (eds), Sources in Punjab History. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 219–52. Berger, J. (1977), Ways of Seeing. London: Penguin. Bhatia, S. (1987), Social Change and Politics in Punjab: 1898–1910. Delhi: Enkay Publishers. Bhatt, S. (2006), “Cartoonist draws on Sikh frustrations, aspirations.” The Seattle Times, February 28. Brar, S. S. (2001a), “Sikhs and the internet: assessing the impacts of a technological revolution.” Unpublished paper presented at the conference Sikhs in the Diaspora: New Century, New Challenges. Renison College, Waterloo, Ontario, May 25–27. — (2001b), “Sikhs and the internet: developing a global outlook” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion.nsf/3d8d6eacce83bad8872564280070c2b3/f8762 29ca832b61087256a7c0075e018?Navigate&To=Prev [Accessed June 3, 2010]. Brown, D. (1998), Cybertrends: Chaos, Power and Accountability in the Information Age. London: Penguin Books. Bunt, G. (2000), Virtually Islamic: Computer-mediated Communication and Cyber Islamic Environments. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. Cohen, R. (1997), Global Diasporas: An Introduction. London: University College London Press. Elliott, R. and Wattanasuwan, K. (1998), “Brands as symbolic resources for the construction of identity.” International Journal of Advertising, 17(2), 131–44. Gabriel, Y. and Lang, T. (1995), Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity Press. Gajjala, R. (2004), Cyber Selves: Feminist Ethnographies of South Asian Women. Walnut Creek, CA: ALTAMIRA Press. Gayer, L. (2002), “The globalization of identity politics: the Sikh experience” [pdf, online]. Paris: Centre for International Studies and Research (May). Available at: www.cerisciencespo.com/archive/mai02/artlg.pdf [Accessed May 31, 2010].

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Geaves, R. A. (1996), “Baba Balaknath: an exploration of religious identity.” DISKUS, 4(2), Web Edition. Available at: web.uni-marburg.de/religionswissenschaft/journal/diskus/ geaves.html [Accessed August 1, 2010]. Haywood, T. (1995), Info-Rich–Info-Poor: Access and Exchange in the Global Information Society. London: Bowker Saur. Jakobsh, D. R. (2003), Relocating Gender in Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity. Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (2004), “Constructing Sikh identities: authorities, virtual and imagined.” International Journal of Punjab Studies, 10(1 and 2), 127–42. — (2006), “Authority in the virtual sangat: Sikhism, ritual and identity in the twentyfirst century” [Online]. Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 2(1), 24–40. Available at: http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/volltextserver/volltexte/2006/6955/pdf/ Aufsatz_Jakobsh.pdf [Accessed July 29, 2010]. Kaur, R. (1992), Sikh Identity and National Integration. Delhi: Intellectual Publishing House. Klausen, J. (2005), The Islamic Challenge. Politics and Religion in Western Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lal, B. H. (1999), “Sahajdhari Sikhs: their origin and current status within the panth,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 109–26. Lamba, P. S. (1999), The Sikh Times. Available at: http://www.sikhtimes.com/ [Accessed August 1, 2010]. — (2006), “Tasks before the I.S.C.: a conference report.” The Sikh Times [Online], June 7. Available at: http://sikhtimes.com/news_060706a.html [Accessed August 1, 2010]. Larsen, E. (2001), “Cyberfaith: how Americans pursue religion online” (PEW report) [pdf, online]. Washington: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Available at: www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2001/PIP_CyberFaith_Report.pdf.pdf [Accessed August 3, 2010]. — (2004), “Cyberfaith: how Americans pursue religion online,” in L. L. Dawson and D. E. Cowan (eds), Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. New York: Routledge, pp. 17–22. Lawrence, B. B. (1989), Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper & Row. McLeod, W. H. (1997), Sikhism. London: Penguin. — (2000), Exploring Sikhism: Aspects of Sikh Identity, Culture and Thought. Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (2005), Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Oxford: The Scarecrow Press. McLuhan, M. (1962), The Gutenberg Galaxy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Oberoi, H. (1994), The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Ong, W. J. (1991), The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. O’Leary, S. D. (2004), “Cyberspace as sacred space: communicating religion on computer networks,” in L. L. Dawson and D. E. Cowan (eds), Religion Online: Finding Faith on the Internet. New York: Routledge, pp. 34–54. Sayers, M. R. (2003), “Tat khalsa use of non-traditional educational tools in the ascendancy of the khalsa Sikh identity.” Sagar, 2, 19–36. Shani, G. (2008), Sikh Nationalism and Identity in a Global Age. London: Routledge. Sikh-Diaspora Discussion Group (2006), June 1. Reproduced with permission from the moderators of [email protected].

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Sikh-Forum (n.d.a), “Die Sikh Religion” [pdf, online]. Available at: www.sikh-religion.de/ Flyer_Sikh-Religion-Sikhi.pdf [Accessed April 16, 2010]. — (n.d.b), English [Online]. Available at: www.sikh-religion.de/html/english.html [Accessed April 16, 2010]. — (n.d.c), Literatur [Online]. Available at: http://www.sikh-religion.de/html/literatur.html [Accessed 16April 2010]. SikhNet (n.d.), “Why do Sikhs Wear Turbans?” [Online]. Available at: http://fateh.sikhnet. com/s/WhyTurbans [Accessed March 11, 2010]. Sikhiwiki (2010), “Sikh Women” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/ Sikh_women [Accessed March 11, 2010]. Singh, A. (1999), “Sovereign cybernation of Sikh diaspora @ k300.” Samar: South Asian Magazine for Action and Reflection, 12(Fall/Winter). Available at: www.samarmagazine. org/archive/article.php?id=92 [Accessed February 18, 2005]. Singh, I. J. (2003), Being & Becoming a Sikh. Toronto: Centennial Foundation. Singh, V. (2003), “Current Issue!” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www. sikhtoons.com/Time.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2004a), “2-Wheelin’ Sikh women don’t need helmets” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: http://www.sikhtoons.com/MotorBikeSinghnees.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2004b), “Sikh Olympic dreams” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www. sikhtoons.com/sikholympicdreams5.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2004c), “Super heroes” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons. com/SikhSuperHeroes.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2004d), “Why do Sikhs in Punjab repeatedly elect the most corrupt leaders to the highest of Sikh institutions like the SGPC?” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons.com/SGPC2004.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2005a), “IPod—Vaisakhi edition” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www. sikhtoons.com/iSingh.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2005b), “Singhs are hot” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons. com/SinghsRHot.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2005c), “Supreme lies” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons. com/SupremeLies.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (2010), “Sikhs are Hindus” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www. sikhtoons.com/sikhs-are-hindus.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (n.d.a), “Baby wisdom” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons. com/babytalk.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. — (n.d.b), “NYPD” [Image online]. Sikhtoons.com. Available at: www.sikhtoons.com/ joinnypd.html [Accessed January 27, 2010]. Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (2000), Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. London: Oxford University Press. Takhar, O. K. (2005), Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups among Sikhs. Aldershot: Ashgate. The Sikh Coalition (n.d.a), “Brochure, English” [pdf, online]. Available at: www. sikhcoalition.org/documents/sikhi_brochure3.pdf [Accessed July 26, 2010]. — (n.d.b), “History” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhcoalition.org/History.asp [Accessed December 4, 2006]. — (n.d.c), “Kirpan. The Sikh sword” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhcoalition.org/ InfoKirpan.asp [Accessed January 3, 2009].

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— (n.d.d), “Legal center” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhcoalition.org/LegalUS6.asp [Accessed January 3, 2009]. — (n.d.e), “Mission statement” [Online]. Available at: www.sikhcoalition.org/Mission.asp [Accessed December 4, 2006]. The Sikh Foundation International (2003), “Dr. Harbans Lal” [Online]. Community Profiles. Available at: http://sikhfoundation.org/comprof0803.html [Accessed July 13, 2010]. UNITED SIKHS (2004), “United Sikhs international Guru Nanak Youth award to be launched to honour the lives of three Sikh youths of British Columbia” [Online], June 3. Available at: www.unitedsikhs.org/award.html [Accessed December 8, 2006]. — (n.d.a), “About” [Online]. Available at: www.unitedsikhs.org/about.htm [Accessed July 13, 2010]. — (n.d.b), “Introduction to Sikhism” (slide 9) [PPT online]. Presentation. Available at: www.unitedsikhs.org/downloads/ [Accessed August 1, 2010]. — (n.d.c), “Other links” [Online]. Available at: www.unitedsikhs.org/links.htm [Accessed January 19, 2010]. — (n.d.d), “Requirements to join” [Online], About Sikhs. Available at: www.unitedsikhs. org/aboutsikhs.htm [Accessed January 19, 2010]. Wellman, B. and Hampton, K. (1999), “Living networked on and offline.” Contemporary Sociology, 28(6), 648–54. White, C. I. (n.d.a), “The monument of the text” [Online]. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University, Authority Web Homepage. Available at: http://www.public.iastate. edu/~ciwhite/authority/homepage.html [Accessed November 21, 2007]. — (n.d.b), “The web upholds authority” [Online]. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University, Authority Web Homepage. Available at: www.public.iastate.edu/~ciwhite/authority/ homepage.html [Accessed November 21, 2007].

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Part Three

Learning, Teaching, and Contesting Religious Beliefs and Practices

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Global Sikh-ers: Transnational Learning Practices of Young British Sikhs Jasjit Singh

My clearest memory of learning about Sikhism as a young Sikh growing up in Bradford in the 1970s is not from attending the gurdwara, or being formally taught about Sikhism in a classroom, but from reading comic books depicting the lives of the Sikh gurus. These comics, produced in India by Amar Chitra Katha and the Punjab Sind Bank presented the lives of the gurus in a simple and interesting format but most importantly for me, the stories presented were in English (see Amarchitrakatha, n.d.). Reading these stories ignited my interest in Sikhism and led me to study other books and pamphlets on Sikhism also written in English but this time produced by the Sikh Missionary Society, UK.1 The fact that I had access to these comics and books was a result of my parents ensuring that the bookshelves in the house were well stocked with materials on Sikhism and also because those producing these publications felt that it was important that young Sikhs were receiving parchar (propagation) about the Sikh tradition. On reflection, this early exposure has clearly led to an ongoing interest in Sikhism and into Sikhs themselves. This chapter presents an analysis of data gathered as part of a research project on religious transmission among young British Sikhs during which useful information on learning practices was gathered through interviews with young British Sikhs and also via an online survey.2 The survey which ran between November 2009 and July 2011 was advertised to British Sikhs between the ages of 18 and 30 years on internet forums and on Facebook, and in total elicited 645 respondents. The survey did not seek to be representative of young British Sikhs as a whole, but sought to gather the views of individuals to highlight possible trends. This larger research project itself followed on from an investigation into the relationship between young British Sikhs and their hair and turbans (Singh, J., 2010). As part of this early research, I attended a Sikh youth camp held in the United Kingdom in August 2007, which first brought to my attention the huge efforts which were being made by young British Sikhs to learn about the Sikh tradition. As well as attending this camp, I had also begun to notice increasing numbers of young Sikhs wearing bana, the traditional Khalsa uniform along with the dumallah, a particularly tall, tight round style of turban. These observations immediately raised a number of questions relating to the methods being used by young British Sikhs to learn about the Sikh identity and about the Sikh tradition.

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Religious learning among young British Sikhs An examination of the literature relating to religious learning among British young adult Sikhs demonstrates that few studies have been undertaken on this particular group to date. Indeed, scholars writing about Sikhs in Britain have highlighted the dearth of research on British young adult Sikhs, with Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla noting that: Sikh youth today clearly continue to identify with the religious tradition, but this identification is far more complex and ambiguous than hitherto . . . In the absence of more detailed, systematic and comprehensive research in this extremely important area, all conclusions must remain tentative. The culture of young British Sikhs today remains an area of darkness for the community and a testing ground for its uncertain futures. (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 207)

Most studies of young British Sikhs have focused on Sikh children (James, 1974; Nesbitt, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2004; Nesbitt and Jackson, 1995) with fewer studies on Sikh adolescents (Drury, 1991; Hall, 2002). Unlike these previous studies, this chapter will focus on religious learning among young Sikhs in the phase of “emerging adulthood,” a period of life which falls between the ages of 18 and 30 years, and which according to Jeffrey Arnett, has recently emerged in industrialized societies (Arnett, 2000, p. 473). As Christian Smith explains, the phase of “emerging adulthood” has evolved in the late twentieth century due to four key social factors (Smith, 2009, pp. 4–6), the first being the increase in the number of young adults in higher education (see BBC, 2008). As fewer young people leave school at 18 years and often continue their education into their mid-twenties; this has resulted in the second crucial social change which is the delay of marriage among emerging adults. Compared to previous generations of South Asians, particularly women, many of whom would live at home until marriage (Nayar, 2004, p. 93), many people now face almost a decade between the end of university and marriage in which to examine their lives and beliefs. The third factor which has led to the development of “emerging adulthood” is the change from careers being “for life” to careers becoming less secure and requiring ongoing training, leading many young people to feel a general orientation of maximizing options and postponing commitments and thinking nothing of continually learning and developing (Smith, 2009, p. 5). Fourth, young emerging adults enjoy the support of their parents for much longer than previous generations, with many living with their parents until marriage. Although this may not be a change in behavior for many young Sikhs who would live with their parents until marriage anyway (Johnston, 2005, p. 1079), it appears that young adults as a whole are generally living with their parents well into their twenties, allowing them more time to explore their ideas, and offering them increased resources within which they are able to examine their identities as emerging adults. Although there have been no studies of emerging adult Sikhs to date, in a recent volume examining the religious and spiritual lives of young Americans, Smith presents a list of six “types” of emerging adults defined by their relationship with religion, ranging from “committed traditionalists” whose faith is a significant

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part of their identity and who consequently attach themselves to a religious group, to “irreligious” emerging adults who hold skeptical attitudes about religion (Smith, 2009, pp. 167–8). As this chapter is focusing on religious learning among young British Sikhs who wish to learn about Sikhism, only those Sikh emerging adults who are actually engaging with Sikhism will be examined. According to Brandon Vaidyanathan, “studies on religious socialization usually take into account four agents: parents, church, religious education, and peers” (Vaidyanathan, 2011). Although the role of the family in religious socialization is clear with parents sharing their religious ideas with their children and other members of the family reinforcing these ideas (Uecker, 2009), this chapter will examine the role of peers and mentors focusing on how young British Sikhs both teach and learn from other members of the Sikh diaspora living outside Britain. Following Steven Vertovec, transnationalism will be defined as “the actual, ongoing exchanges of information, money and resources—as well as regular travel and communication—that members of a diaspora may undertake with others in the homeland or elsewhere within the globalized ethnic community” (Vertovec, 2009, p. 137). Transnational religious learning will be defined as that which takes place when young British Sikhs make a conscious decision to interact with members of the Sikh Diaspora outside the United Kingdom to exchange information about the Sikh tradition. Consequently, the focus of this chapter will be on the transnational exchanges which young British Sikhs take part in through Sikh camps and the internet.

Sikh camps Although Sikh camps have been running in the United Kingdom since 1977, apart from my own recent examination of the role and workings of British Sikh camps, they have received little scholarly attention to date (Singh, J., 2011). As Shinder Thandi notes: Although no critical evaluation of the impact of these camps on identity development has yet been undertaken, their popularity and more regular occurrences appears to suggest that they are increasingly playing an important role. (Thandi, 1999, p. 355)

My own study highlights that many young British Sikhs attend these events as they offer them space to simply “be Sikh,” and act as arenas of revitalization for many of their attendees (Singh, J., 2011). This chapter will now examine transnational aspects of these Sikh camps by first focusing on teaching, that is, by analyzing examples where young British Sikhs teach non-British Sikhs about Sikhism, either at events held in the United Kingdom or at events held outside the United Kingdom. The focus will then be on learning, presenting examples where young British Sikhs learn from non-British Sikhs, either through travelling to attend events outside the United Kingdom or by attending events where Sikhs from outside the United Kingdom travel to the United Kingdom to teach young Sikhs. The four types of transnational religious engagement which will be examined are summarized in Table 9.1.

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Table 9.1 British Sikhs: Types of transnational religious engagement

Process of religious transmission

Events in the United Kingdom

Events outside the United Kingdom

Teaching

Sikhs from outside the United Kingdom coming to the United Kingdom to learn about Sikhism

British Sikhs traveling abroad to teach non-British Sikhs about Sikhism

Learning

Sikhs from outside the United Kingdom coming to the United Kingdom to teach Sikhism

British Sikhs travelling abroad to learn about Sikhism

Transnational teaching Over the past few years, four camps have run at various times for young British Sikhs, “Khalsa Camp,” “Sikhi Camp,” “Sikh Student Camp,” and “The S.I.K.H. Camp” (Singh, J., 2011). Although all of these camps have taken place at some stage during the summers between 2008 and 2011, only Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp have been held every year throughout this period. From my examination of attendees based on data gathered from the online survey, I noted that both Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp attract an above-average number of Amritdharis and attendees who self-identify as being “religious” as compared to the attendees of “Sikh Student Camp” and “The S.I.K.H. Camp.” Each camp also appears to promote a particular subculture with a specific slant on Sikh beliefs, which then becomes the key identifier for this camp. Indeed, observing the history of these camps in the United Kingdom, it is clear that having an organization or group supporting a particular camp is important to ensure its continuation. For Khalsa Camp, this is the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), for Sikhi Camp, this is the British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS) who themselves follow the Damdami Taksal Maryada, whereas Sikh Student Camp and “The S.I.K.H Camp” appear to have run intermittently as they suffer from the lack of such organizational support (Singh, J., 2011). Although there are no readily available statistics regarding the geographical background of the attendees at these camps, examining online reports, it is clear that they have all attracted Sikh emerging adults from all over the world, with Sikhi Camp having attracted attendees from New Zealand and Denmark, Khalsa Camp having attracted attendees from New York, California, and Toronto, and Sikh Student Camp having attracted attendees from Toronto, Germany, and Stockholm.3 One of the main reasons why UK Sikh camps may be popular with Sikh emerging adults living in other parts of the world is that outside North America and India, only the United Kingdom hosts camps for this age group. The evolution of these camps is linked to the fact that there are now increasing numbers of British Sikh emerging adults in the United Kingdom, as outlined in Singh and Tatla’s demographic breakdown of the British Sikh community. Using the 2001 census figures, they calculate that of the 336,179 British Sikhs, 56.1 percent are British born, with 59.4 percent of the total population being

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below the age of 34 years (Singh and Tatla, 2006, p. 57). As the UK Sikh community is the largest and most established in Europe, it is clear why these camps might attract young Sikhs who live in countries or areas with small Sikh populations. As well as young Sikhs coming to the United Kingdom to learn about Sikhism, the early twenty-first century has seen increasing numbers of young British Sikhs being invited to teach Sikhism at Sikh camps held around the world. For instance, Navleen Kaur from London has been regularly invited to participate in camps in France, Sweden, and Norway, as has Manvir Singh, both of whom helped to established SOSS (the Swedish Organisation of Sikh Students) in December 2004.4 Navleen Kaur first made contact with Sikhs in Paris during the time she spent in France as part of her undergraduate degree course (Interview, May 6, 2010), and appears to have since been contacted by Sikhs in other parts of Europe as a result of her involvement in the Sikh media. During the early twenty-first century, both Navleen Kaur and Manvir Singh were hosts of the “Sweet Sikhi” show, a radio program which is still broadcast on Punjab Radio every Sunday evening and which specifically targets young Sikhs. As Punjab Radio, a digital radio station based in Southall, London, is easily available throughout Europe through satellite television and via the internet, it was and still is relatively easy for young Sikhs across Europe to access this one of very few media shows for young Sikhs. Another young British Sikh attending this first camp in Sweden in 2004 was Ravinderpal Singh from London who regularly participates in Sikh Missionary Society camps held in the United Kingdom, and who has since been invited to speak at and perform kirtan at a number of European Sikh youth camps.5 Ravinderpal was asked to participate in the Sweden 2004 camp by Navleen Kaur who at this time needed the British Sikh participants to be able to speak fluent Punjabi. As many of the European Sikh children taking part in these early camps were not confident in English, Punjabi became the primary language of discussion between the young British Sikh adults and the European Sikh children. Following on from these Swedish camps, Ravinderpal has since been a regular contributor at camps in Oslo, having attended these camps for the past five years (Kaur, P., 2010). This commitment to attending camps in one country is important for him, as he explains that he would: . . . rather do camps in just ONE country than lots of camps in different places. I found that I built a relationship with kids in Norway—most of that generation know me . . . [as it] takes time to ice break with the kids—a lot of the European kids have a lot of issues and they won’t open up unless they are comfortable so its important to build and MAINTAIN relationships even on Facebook and emails. (Email communication, January 7, 2012)

In addition to teaching at camps organized for Sikh children and adolescents in Europe, Ravinderpal Singh and Navleen Kaur have also taught at Sikh events further afield. Ravinderpal has taught at camps in the United States, Malaysia, and Frankfurt, having come into personal contact with the organizers of these camps while living in London. Navleen Kaur has also gone on to teach at camps in America organized by the white Sikhs of Espanola including “Camp Miri Piri”6 held in 2010. Other British

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Sikhs who have been invited to Espanola to teach include Kamalroop Singh and Sukha Singh, two young Sikhs who met Gurumustuk Singh, the webmaster of Sikhnet on his visit to Sikh Student Camp in 2005.7 All of these examples highlight the importance of networking and of the fact that most of these transnational contacts are actually made face to face although the internet is also facilitating transnational connections, as speakers at British camps and Sikh societies are beginning to be invited to participate at events in other European countries having been seen and heard on YouTube. Other important networking events include rainsbhais organized by the AKJ, which appear to facilitate both national and international links between young Sikhs who are inspired by the AKJ. As I noted in my study of British Sikh camps, “many of the attendees of Khalsa Camp 2008 had recently returned from rainsbhais in Italy and Denmark held earlier on in the year” (Singh, J., 2011, p. 262). Although the presence of the AKJ has been observed in a number of European countries including Denmark (Ilkjaer, 2011, p. 41), Sweden (Myrvold, 2011, p. 73), and Italy (Bertolani et al., 2011, p. 145), there are few clues as to why this might be the case. On further examination, it appears that the popularity of the AKJ in mainland Europe may have been influenced by the efforts of the “Chalda Vaheer Jatha,” an organization led by Bhai Rajinder Singh of Dudley, Birmingham, through the late 1980s and 1990s.8 According to the Chalda Vaheer’s website, Bhai Rajinder Singh was a young Punjabborn Sikh, who moved to Dudley in the West Midlands of the United Kingdom at the age of 15 years and who undertook Amrit initiation at an AKJ rainsbhai at the age of 20 years. From 1978 to 1984, Bhai Rajinder Singh was the head (jathedar) of the AKJ in the United Kingdom, after which, following the events at the Golden Temple in 1984, he formed the “Chalda Vaheer Jatha,” a small group of kirtanis which travelled all over Europe, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.9 Indeed, Table 9.2 reproduces a document from 1987 which lists the Chalda Vaheer Jatha’s itinerary for July and August, and which clearly demonstrates the efforts made by Bhai Rajinder Singh to conduct Sikh parchar (propagation) to Sikhs living in Europe (Chaldavaheer. com, 1987). According to the Chalda Vaheer Jatha’s and AKJ’s websites, Bhai Rajinder Singh was driven to conduct parchar in Europe as he “was conscious that the Indian government would do whatever it could to exterminate Sikhs, the only option to counter that attack was to create more Sikhs who lived in the western countries (outside of Punjab).” Table 9.2 Chalda Vaheer Jatha 1987 European tour

Dates

Country

Contact

July 9–15, 1987

Norway

Jathedar Santokh Singh, Oslo

July 15–22, 1987

Denmark

Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Copenhagen

July 29 to August 5, 1987

Germany

Bhai Jarnail Singh, Hamburg

August 5–9, 1987

Germany

Singh Sabha Nanaksar Gurdwara, Frankfurt

August 9–16, 1987

The Netherlands

Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Amsterdam

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Consequently, he lived in Amsterdam from 1980 to 1982 and undertook a “world tour” in 1989 to Australia and New Zealand (Chaldavaheer.com, n.d., 1989; Akj. org, 2009). Given that the AKJ is very active in Europe and has become an important transnational movement, further research is certainly required on the impact of the Chalda Vaheer Jatha. A quick survey of kirtan from rainsbhais available on the akj.org website highlights the wide geographical spread of the AKJ in the United Kingdom and beyond (see Akj.org, 2006). Indeed, the transnational nature of the AKJ appears to have played an important role in developing Khalsa Camp UK into a transnational event. Having run in the United Kingdom for a number of years, this camp has recently expanded internationally, running for the first time in 2010 in British Columbia (Canada) with young British speakers including Manvir Singh being involved (see Khalsa Camp BC, n.d.; Singh, M., 2010). The first “Khalsa Camp Australia” ran from January 16 to 20, 2012, near Sydney with British Sikhs being involved in the form of Khalsa Camp UK regulars Bhai Surjit Singh and Bhai Jagjit Singh (see Khalsacamp.au, 2012). To date, of the various British Sikh camps running for emerging adults, only Khalsa Camp has developed a transnational presence.

Transnational learning Having examined examples of young British Sikhs teaching non-British Sikhs about Sikhism, this chapter will continue with examples of contexts in which young British Sikhs learn from non-British Sikhs. Of the camps mentioned above, two in particular have invited speakers from abroad to participate in teaching young Sikhs. As I describe, between 2005 and 2008, the organizers of Sikh Student Camp invited key members of the white Sikh community to teach at the camp with Guruka Singh, the founder of Sikhnet being invited in 2006 and 2008,10 a connection established through the visit of Gurumustuk Singh in 2005 (Singh, J., 2011, p. 266). Guruka Singh has since been invited to teach at the City Sikhs Network and at the Sikh Retreat 2011 (see Sikhnet. com, 2011). Similarly, Khalsa Camp UK has in the past hosted Canadian Sikhs from the Tapoban gurdwara in Toronto a gurdwara which appears to be inspired by the AKJ Maryada as it “strives to maintain a strict Khalsa rehit and conducts Akhand Keertan, the collective singing of hymns in front of Sree Guru Granth Saahib jee with active participation by the Sangat” (Tapoban.org, n.d.). Other examples of Sikhs from across the world being invited to teach young British Sikhs include Harinder Singh of the Sikh Research Institute, San Antonio, who has recently participated in a number of events across the United Kingdom (Sikh Research Institute, 2011). As well as learning from non-British Sikhs at events held in the United Kingdom, an increasing but still relatively small number of British Sikhs are travelling abroad to engage with the Sikh tradition, which is demonstrated by the fact that 40 of the 645 online survey respondents stated that they had attended a Sikhism-related learning event held outside the United Kingdom. The most popular destination was North America where a number of respondents stated that they had or would want to attend events held by the white Sikhs in Espanola such as the Summer solstice. The next most popular destination was India, with some respondents stating that they had or would want to learn about Sikhism

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at Damdami Taksal and others stating that they had or wished to attend the annual summer camp held at Baru Sahib.11 Also known as the Akal Academy, Baru Sahib is an educational institution located in Himachal Pradesh run by the Kalgidhar Trust, which was founded in 1963 with the aim of providing education to village students (Singh, H. S., 2006). Having purchased the village Baru in 1956, the Akal Academy was established in July 1986 and since 2004 has been offering summer camps to young diaspora Sikhs, primarily from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada (Kaur, G., 2010). An examination of the attendees of the 2008 summer camp indicates that these camps appear to be primarily focused toward children and adolescents although some emerging adults and adults also attended.12 Indeed, one 24-year-old male survey respondent explained that he had attended the 2009 summer camp at Baru Sahib as this represented the “the next step” in his learning about Sikhism. Attending events abroad appears to provide young British Sikhs with new perspectives on Sikhism and, in the case of those attending Damdami Taksal, leads to them being regarded as religious authorities on their return to the United Kingdom. For example, Sukhraj Singh learnt santhiya (correct pronunciation of the Guru Granth Sahib) at Damdami Taksal, and now teaches this to a number of young British Sikhs in the United Kingdom as well as regularly taking on the role of head granthi at Sikhi Camp because of his in-depth knowledge of the Damdami Taksal Maryada.13 Indeed, Sukhraj Singh and others who run the “Sikh Inspiration” classes at my local gurdwara in Leeds are in 2012, for the first time, organizing their own transnational venture—a tour (yatra) for young British Sikhs to Hazur Sahib in India (Facebook, n.d.). For some young Sikhs therefore, India is regarded as a place where they can learn about their tradition in its original environment. Others have instead decided to visit the white Sikhs of Espanola whom they have found through the Sikhnet website. As this 30-year-old male survey respondent explains: I was inspired by Guruka Singh (Mr Sikhnet) and some other members of their sangat, heard about this community of white converts and was intrigued. Felt an affinity with their take on the practice and non punjabi based worship of Sikhi.

Although increasing numbers of British emerging adult Sikhs appear to be travelling abroad to learn about Sikhism, it is important however to recognize that numbers are still relatively small. Nevertheless, although many transnational connections are being made through personal contacts, it appears that the internet is also contributing to numbers travelling abroad, exposing young British Sikhs to a number of avenues through which they are able to explore Sikhism. Having understood the transnational aspects of Sikh events, this chapter will now examine the impact of arguably the most important recent transnational technological development, the internet, on the learning practices of young British Sikhs.

Sikhism online Although there have been a number of studies of the relationship between religion and the internet (see Campbell, 2011, p. 232), few have examined the online presence

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of Sikhism. Those that have have focused on the impact of internet forums on traditional authority structures (Jakobsh, 2006), the response of Sikh discussion groups to the events of partition and 1984 (Barrier, 2006), the impact of Sikh dating websites (Maclaran et al., 2008), the representation of Khalistan and of Sikh martyrs on the internet (Axel, 2005; Sokol, 2007), a comparison of discussion forums used by European Sikhs (Singh, S., Chapter 7 in this volume), and the role of the internet in contemporary identity construction within global Sikhism (Jakobsh, Chapter 8 in this volume). In order to fully understand how young British Sikhs are engaging with the internet, it is first necessary to map the types of online engagement which are currently available. Having understood the evolution of the online presence of Sikhism, this chapter will then analyze how young British Sikhs are using the internet to learn about their tradition.

The evolution of Sikhism online The beginnings of the public online presence of Sikhism are to be found among the Usenet newsgroups which developed in the early 1990s.14 At this time, there were no publicly accessible Sikhism newsgroups, forums, or websites with international communication being a novel and somewhat exciting experience. Although a relatively “late entry” into the world of online religion,15 the online presence of Sikhism has developed exponentially since the 1990s with a Google search of “Sikhism” carried out on October 6, 2011, producing 4,520,000 hits. Much has happened in the interim with Sikhism firmly establishing itself online in a number of different forms. The world’s first website on Sikhism, Sikhs.org, appeared online in December 1994.16 As well as a few websites, the mid-1990s also saw the formation of a growing number of specifically Sikhism-focused discussion forums, many of which broke away from the earlier culture–based forums such as the “soc.culture.indian” newsgroup. The first of these Sikhism-focused discussion groups was the “soc.religion.sikhism” bulletin board which had arrived online on July 4, 1995, and which was moderated by a group of young educated American Sikhs,17 including Sandeep Singh Brar, the founder of Sikhs.org, and Rajwinder Singh from Boston University.18 The rationale for this bulletin board makes interesting reading as these young American Sikhs felt a “dire need for a newsgroup where Sikhs and others interested can exchange information & ideas and discuss issues related to Sikh religion and Sikhs” (Singh, R., 1995a). An analysis of the early posts on “soc.culture.punjab” and “soc.religion.sikhism” during the period 1995 to 1996 highlights the following key topics of discussion: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Sikhs and meat eating (Kaur, J., 1995) Sikhism and caste practices (Singh, R., 1995b) The necessity for Sikhs to keep the five Ks and hair and turbans (Gurpreet, 1995) Difficulties for young Sikhs in finding marriage partners (Rattan, 1995) The discord between the Sikh religion and Punjabi cultural practices (Singh, H. K., 1995) Attacks on the Sikh religion from non-Sikh forces (Singh, P., 1996) Discussion in English of quotations from the Guru Granth Sahib (Singh, R., 1996)

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8. Event postings, for example, the Ontario Sikh Students Association kirtan darbar on January 27, 1996 (Singh, A. P., 1996) 9. Gender equality in Sikhism (Chewter, 1996) 10. How to keep the normative Sikh identity while living in the diaspora (TandMark, 1996) 11. How Sikhism address issues raised by bioethics such as abortion and euthanasia (Singh, B., 1996) 12. The status of Sants within Sikhism (Manjeet, 1996) According to Gurpreet Singh’s post on “soc.religion.sikhism,” there were 54 personal homepages and 23 Sikhism-related websites in January 1996 (Singh, G., 1996). Although many of these were based in the United States, British Sikh websites also began to appear in the late 1990s, including www.sikhspirit.com,19 a site representing the Central gurdwara London in Shepherd’s Bush and www.waheguru.demon.co.uk representing the BOSS (Waheguru.demon.co.uk, n.d.). It is important to remember that at this time, access to the internet was not easy as it is now with home access requiring a dial-up modem and website design requiring a significant amount of skill and knowledge of software technologies. For example, Sikhnet, which originally began in 1986 as a private bulletin board used by members of the 3HO and Sikh Dharma International organizations, had to close between 1994 and 1996 when its technical administrator Guruka Singh was no longer able to administrate it (Sikhnet.com, n.d.b). Following its reemergence in 1996, Sikhnet.com was one of the first websites to host a publicly accessible discussion forum and later developed a specifically youth-focused discussion forum in 1999.20 The early twentyfirst century also saw the emergence of a number of websites offering easy access to English translations of the Guru Granth Sahib. All of these sites, including Srigranth. org, Sikhnet.com, and Gurbanifiles.org (Gurbanifiles.org, n.d.; Sikhnet.com, 2000; Srigranth.org, n.d.), used a translation by Dr Sant Singh Khalsa and eventually led to the first version of the popular Sikhitothemax.com which arrived online in late 2000. According to Gary Bunt, the conversion of sacred texts into “searchable objects, whose content can be rapidly mined for key words and concepts” is one of the key contributions of the online world (Bunt, 2009a, p. 709). Indeed, these websites allow Sikhs all over the world to search the Guru Granth Sahib by page number, and thanks to Sikhitothemax to be able to also search using English or Punjabi words. As well as providing information about Sikhism, many of the early websites also hosted discussion forums. These were usually either hosted on Sikh “portals,” such as the Waheguroo network which would offer visitors a variety of services including kirtan downloads, Sikh-related screensavers, and articles about Sikhism,21 or on organization-specific websites such as the website run by the Tapoban gurdwara in Toronto (Tapoban.org, 2007). It is also important to note that a number of nonEnglish-language-based Sikh websites and discussion forums also evolved during this time including khalsa.dk based in Denmark, and sikh.se based in Sweden (Ilkjaer, 2011; Myrvold, 2011). The website-based discussion groups such as Sikhsangat.com and Sikhawareness. com (Singh, S., Chapter 7 in this volume) preceded the appearance of website-free

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discussion groups hosted on Yahoo groups and Google groups. As Randolph Hock explains, the distinction between these new discussion groups and previous discussion groups was that for the former “you went to a Web site or a newsgroup reader to read and send messages. For the latter, messages came to you via email” (Hock, 2005, p. 88). Website-free discussion groups which continue to be active include those with an international focus, such as the “Gurmat Learning Zone” and the “Sikh-Diaspora” (Gurmat Learning Zone, n.d.; Sikh-Diaspora, n.d.), those representing particular groups like BOSS and Sikhsocs (British Organisation of Sikh Students, n.d.; Sikh Socs Inspiring the Next Generation, n.d.), and those with more of a local focus such as Bangalore Sikhs, Seattle Sikhs, and leeds-bradfordsikhs (Bangalore Sikhs, n.d.; leedsbradfordsikhs, n.d.; Seattle Sikhs, n.d.). The emergence of blogging in the late 1990s added a further type of religious interaction online with individuals being able to write web logs, or “blogs” about their own personal religious journeys (Campbell, 2011, p. 24). As the internet primarily consisted of websites, blogs, and discussion groups up until the mid-2000s, it is not surprising that most of the academic analysis of the interaction between the internet and religion has focused on these particular technologies. To fully appreciate how young British Sikhs currently engage with Sikhism online, it is necessary to examine some of the important and relevant developments which have occurred online since 2000, beginning with the launch of Wikipedia in 2001 (Ayers et al., 2008, p. 46). The format of Wikipedia, as an online encyclopedia on which articles are written by anyone with access to the site, has subsequently been used to generate a number of specialized “wikis” dedicated to specific subjects with Sikhiwiki arriving online in 2005 and currently boasting 5,821 articles on Sikhism (Sikhiwiki.org, n.d.). In 2003, the social networking phenomenon began with the emergence of Myspace followed a year later by Facebook. Although Facebook only opened itself up to the public in 2006, in January 2011, it passed Google to become the most popular website in the world (Kiss, 2011). Many Sikh organizations now have a presence on Facebook; although given its relatively recent arrival, there has been little analysis of the impact of Facebook on religion. As well as wikis and social networking sites, the emergence of video-hosting websites, such as YouTube, has been an important development in the presence of religion online. The fact that videos of events held all over the world are now easily available and accessible has increased the amount of material available to young Sikhs allowing them to easily access lectures and talks that might have once been missed. As an area of analysis, YouTube is much like the rest of the internet in constant-flux with some users and videos being added while others are taken down (Vis et al., 2011, p. 114). The relative ease of the process of uploading videos online has led to a variety of Sikhism-related videos now being readily available including videos created on specific Sikh topics and recordings of live events held at gurdwaras, camps, and Sikh societies.

Young British Sikhs online Having examined the evolution of the various online options available to young British Sikhs, this chapter will now examine how the internet is being used for the transmission of Sikhism. Rather than assuming that young British Sikhs use the

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internet in particular ways, I will use the results of the online survey to understand how the internet is being used. The survey asked a number of questions about internet usage, the first of which was: Q. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Do you ever use the internet to learn about Sikhism? Yes/No Which websites/forums do you visit most to explore and learn about Sikhism? Of these, which ONE website do you visit the most? How has the internet helped you (or not) learn about Sikhism? What kinds of questions about Sikhism have you asked online? Are you a member of any online Sikh communities?

Responses to the above questions provided useful data about Sikhism-related internet usage among young British Sikhs.22 The popularity of Sikhnet above all other websites may be attributed to the fact that it offers a wide number of online facilities and is constantly providing innovative tools via its dedicated online team. As Gary Bunt explains, “fast-loading, highquality, easy-to-navigate sites with attractive graphics and easy-to-read content, perhaps aimed at a particular constituency, will possibly have the ascendency on more difficult-to-read, technical and/or poorly designed material” (Bunt, 2009a, p. 196). The fact that the most popular websites are not discussion groups but a mixture of different types of websites demonstrates that young British Sikhs engage with their tradition online in a number of different ways. An analysis of the survey responses to questions about Sikhism-related internet usage reveals that young Sikhs mainly go online in order to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Discuss taboo subjects Obtain answers to questions about the Sikh tradition Explore differing practices within the Sikh tradition Access repositories of kirtan and katha Examine English translations of Sikh scriptures Obtain hukam Find out about Sikh events Access event archives, recordings, and instructional videos Purchase Sikh resources including books, photographs, and clothing Understand the legal position of Sikh articles of faith

Discuss taboo subjects Many of the survey respondents noted that the internet had allowed them to discuss issues which they felt that they would not be able to discuss with their parents and peers, or which they did not feel their immediate contacts would be knowledgeable about. For example a 23-year-old male respondent stated that “if i have a question or thought about sikhi which i feel embarased [sic] to ask i can ask the net.” Similarly an 18-year-old male respondent felt that the internet had “helped me learn about things that i would have found difficult to ask say a person at the gurdwara or my parents.”

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The internet also allows young Sikhs to discuss topics which they might find difficult to discuss in their local community, as a 29-year-old female respondent explained, “I also found it useful when researching sikh ideas on fertility treatment, to advise a patient.”

Obtain answers to questions about the Sikh tradition Young Sikhs are also able to find answers to questions which are not satisfactorily answered by parents or traditional authorities. As a 30-year-old male respondent explained, the internet has “helped very much in asking the simplest questions. ie. Why do we tie up our hair?, why do we shower every morning?, what effect does the daily bani’s have on our psyche?” One 26-year-old female respondent also stated that the internet had allowed her to find out historical information about Sikh women, and “offered stories about strong Sikh women that i don’t hear from other Sikh men who ‘preach’ or tell stories.”

Explore differing practices within the Sikh tradition One of the most important ways in which the internet has impacted young Sikhs is the fact that young Sikhs are now able to research aspects of Sikhism which they might not have previously been aware of. Whereas young Sikhs might be aware of diversity within the Sikh tradition growing up, they can now easily access the views of various Sikh groups as this 22-year-old Sikh female explained: I’ve found out about things which my parents haven’t had an answer for (such as slaying a goat at Hazur Sahib), and it’s allowed me to exploe [sic] certain aspects of Sikh history in depth. I find that some sources are very biased, and while I can see this, I do worry that less educated people would take it all at face value.

As well as highlighting the variety of ideological viewpoints, the internet has highlighted the fact that there are a number of white Sikh converts to Punjabi Sikhs, previously unaware of this. A 26-year-old female respondent explained that: I haven’t realised how many american white people have come into sikhi which is inspirational. If they can make the effort to learn about sikhi why can’t we (the ones that are born in sikh families) why do we always seek excuses and they are able to adopt punjabi and live a full sikh life. We need to learn by their examples.

Another 26-year-old female respondent stated that she actually went online in order to examine alternative viewpoints: If there is an area of Sikhism I wish to investigate, then it is useful to get some other perspectives other than those explained by my family. If I want to learn about a new area of Sikhism the Internet can often provide a way in and begin the learning process.

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In this regard, it can be concluded that thanks to the internet, young Sikhs are much more aware of the diversity within Sikhism than previous generations may have been and are given the opportunity to explore these viewpoints from the safety of their own internet browsers.

Access repositories of kirtan and katha The internet also allows young Sikhs to easily download kirtan (music) and katha (discourse) from a variety of sources. As has been discussed, kirtan is an important aspect of Sikh worship with particular groups having their own particular styles of kirtan (see Khabra, 2010). Through mp3 downloads and video-hosting websites, it is now possible to listen to kirtan recordings in any style one chooses. Indeed, as of October 2011, the Sikhnet “Gurbani Media Center,” one of the largest repositories of kirtan online, lists over 14,000 tracks sung by 544 different artists.23 Although, the internet may not be acting as a “worship space” per se, in this context, the fact that kirtan can be downloaded means that young Sikhs now have more choice than ever before of the style of kirtan they wish to listen to. As with kirtan, a variety of types of katha are available, primarily by professional kathavacaks usually trained in Damdami Taksal, or in the various Sikh Missionary colleges (see Myrvold, Chapter 10 this volume). The increasing availability of kirtan and katha on YouTube indicates the functional usage of the internet as a distribution mechanism of religious discourse.

Examine English translations of Sikh scriptures Given that Sikhitothemax, the popular Guru Granth Sahib translation software first found a home online, it is not surprising that many young Sikhs mentioned the ability to examine English translations of the Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh scriptures as being an important use of the internet. As a 25-year-old female respondent explained, “Direct english translations from the Guru Granth Sahib have enabled me to interpret the Guru’s teachings for myself.”

Obtain hukams The increased access to translations has also allowed Sikhs all over the world to receive a hukam or “order” from the Guru Granth Sahib as and when required. Whereas Sikhs would previously have had to visit their local gurdwara to hear the daily hukam or to obtain a personal hukam, the daily “order” from the Golden Temple in Amritsar is now presented on websites and e-mailed and texted all over the world. Sikhnet not only offers an English translation of this daily “order,” but also presents a daily audio explanation of the relevant composition. Furthermore, Sikhnet also allows its users to take a “Cyber Hukam” for on the spot guidance from the Guru Granth Sahib. Many respondents stated that they read a hukam daily and noted its importance in providing “an idea of how to face the day” and in helping “stay connected.” It could be argued that the accessibility of hukams has allowed many Sikhs to experience a more personal relationship with the Guru Granth Sahib as those Sikhs who might not visit

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the gurdwara on a daily basis can now regard the scripture online as an easily accessible provider of immediate advice.

Find out about Sikh events An important offline impact of the internet is that it allows the advertising of events to interested people. Whereas previously events might have been advertised through telephone calls and/or advertisements in the Punjabi press, the evolution of discussion groups and in recent years, Facebook, have made it much easier for young Sikhs to find out what is going on where. Anyone with membership of the right Facebook groups, or in contact with the right friends will now be automatically notified about a whole host of Sikhism-related events happening in the next day, week, or month. Given that many young Sikhs have spoken about the importance of sangat, the fact that they are now made aware of events, such as rainsbhais, lectures, and kirtans taking place all over the country, means that they are now regularly able to physically meet other like-minded Sikhs through membership of these online “spiritual networks.”

Access event archives, recordings, and instructional videos As well as current events, the evolution of video-hosting websites has meant that video recordings of talks and lectures presented at camps and Sikh societies are now readily available. Consequently, Sikhs are now able to watch and listen to lectures and to take part in events even if they are not physically present. These video-hosting sites have also allowed for the viewing of videos from the late twenty-first century onwards, including the speeches of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and news footage of the events of 1984.24 In addition, the advent of these sites has allowed for instructional information, such as turban-tying videos to be viewed by young Sikhs who have no easily accessible family members to teach them.

Purchase Sikh resources including books, photographs, and clothing The internet has also made it much easier to find and purchase previously difficultto-locate items. A 28-year-old male respondent noted that “amazon—got me the books i need, emails got me the photos i needed of old granths [books],” whereas another stated that the internet had “greatly eased access to rare recordings by great Sikhs, access to old granths, made it possible to read Gurbani anywhere.” Many websites now offer Sikh music and clothes for sale,25 including Sikhism-related hoodies, T-shirts, posters, books, and DVDs (see G5 Sikh Media, n.d.).

Understand the legal position of Sikh articles of faith The internet has also allowed young Sikhs easy access to information about the legal position of Sikh articles of faith, especially the wearing of the ceremonial sword (kirpan). The Sikh organizations Saldef, the Sikh Coalition, and United Sikhs have all

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published legal guidance relating to the wearing of turbans and the five Ks and have provided legal assistance to those experiencing difficulties with wearing these articles of faith.

Conclusion This examination of transnational propagation among emerging adult British Sikhs has demonstrated that as well as engaging with Sikhism locally, many young British Sikhs are both teaching and learning about Sikhism while interacting with Sikhs all over the world. This chapter has demonstrated that young British Sikhs occupy somewhat a privileged position among young Sikhs globally with a number of them teaching at events being run all over the world. This can partly be explained as being a result of the maturity of the British Sikh population which like those in the United States and Canada has been well established since the 1970s unlike the Sikh populations of a number of European countries which have only really become established since the beginning of the twenty-first century. In addition, unlike the United States and Canada, the somewhat small size of the United Kingdom means that it is relatively easy for like-minded young British Sikh adults to congregate together regularly, and for some to gain valuable experience in teaching and in running events for their peers. The examination of transnational aspects of British Sikh camps has demonstrated that these events have contributed in variety of ways to Sikh teaching and learning in the diaspora. As well as providing arenas for non-British Sikhs to participate in larger congregations, speakers at these camps are now being regularly invited to events being held in countries with emerging Sikh populations. The commonality of the Punjabi and English languages allows young British Sikhs to converse with young Sikhs in other countries despite any local language barriers and appears to overcome any ideas of “generational difference” among young Sikhs as second- or third-generation British Sikhs are able to converse with first- or second-generation European Sikhs. This chapter has also emphasized the important role of key individuals in facilitating and contributing to transnational connections among young European Sikhs. British Sikh emerging adults, including Navleen Kaur, Ravinderpal Singh, Manvir Singh, and others, have become regular contributors to these camps, allowing young first- or second-generation Sikhs in European countries to interact with those in Britain who already have some experience of growing up in the Sikh diaspora. This may also mean that the time span between the arrival of migrant Sikhs and the establishment of camps for young adults will be shorter for Sikhs in other European countries compared with those in the United Kingdom, as a number of experienced young British Sikh adults are readily available to assist their European peers. It will be useful to monitor the emergence of these types of events in European countries. The role of the Chalda Vaheer Jatha in undertaking parchar (propagation) to countries with emerging Sikh populations has been examined and presented as one possible reason as to why the AKJ has gained popularity among Sikhs in a number of European countries. One of the main conclusions of this chapter relates to the importance of face-to-face interactions with peers and mentors in teaching young

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Sikhs about their religion, and in this regard, the impact of the travels of Bhai Rajinder Singh of Dudley certainly requires further research. Indeed, rather than emphasizing the impact of communication through virtual links, this chapter has demonstrated that many of the transnational links between young British Sikhs and the diaspora counterparts begin and build on interpersonal contacts and relationships. It is not a coincidence that many of the young British Sikhs who are being invited abroad are based in London, in particular Southall, as Sikh students from European and North American countries who frequently attend educational establishments in the capital are more likely to interact with young British Sikhs from London than elsewhere in the United Kingdom. However, as a networking tool, the internet has allowed young Sikhs to be aware of events happening all over the world which they might wish to attend, or even watch and listen to online. Having examined the history of the emergence of the online presence of Sikhism, this chapter has sought to present the evolution of the wide variety of engagement options which are available to young Sikhs when going online, beyond the role of websites and discussion forums. It has also been demonstrated that much has changed online since the development of early websites and discussion forums. Given the novelty factor of online engagement, it is not surprising that the internet quickly became the place to discuss previously taboo subjects. Although those regulating these arenas of discussion may have initially been regarded as authority figures, it is important to note that the sheer amount of choice in discussion groups currently available online allows young Sikhs to join and leave forums and Facebook groups as they wish. As a means of religious propagation, the internet can be seen to be all things to all people. For those young Sikhs who are unaffiliated and who begin to engage with their tradition online, the internet affords them a relatively “safe” space in which they can start to explore their tradition on their own terms without feeling the need to explain why particular topics are being investigated, or particular questions asked. For those who do affiliate to a particular ideology or point of view, the internet can supply wellrehearsed arguments for and against these views causing some young Sikhs to continue referring to offline elders or authorities to “check” information they find online. This offline checking can be seen to be both a coping strategy and a means of self-regulation as the increased access to differing types of ideology online presents young Sikhs with views contrary to those taught in their offline communities. Although the internet “holds transformative potential for religions, in terms of representation, networking, by adherents and application as a proselytizing tool” (Bunt, 2009b, p. 705), it is important to remember that without its users, the internet on its own does very little. Therefore, it should not be assumed that the existence of a particular website or discussion forum automatically means that it is being looked at, or is having an impact on religious propagation. Given the apparent reliance on the offline world, it appears that in terms of religious transmission, the internet is simply a means and not an end. The impact of transnational propagation among young British Sikhs is therefore an individual concern that depends on the geographical location of a person, his or her family socialization, and interactions with peer groups and mentors among other things. Rather than presenting a picture that outlines the ways in which young British

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Sikhs are impacted by transnational propagation, this chapter has sought to present the variety of options that are available to them today. Above all however it is clear that transnational parchar (propagation) in the Sikh diaspora is emerging and developing in a number of different forms, allowing Sikhs across the world both young and old to teach and learn about the Sikh tradition. As the term “Sikh” itself is often translated as “learner,” the evolution of this transnational parchar will hopefully present many members of the Sikh panth with new and exciting opportunities to learn and develop as Sikhs.

Notes 1 A full list of the Sikh Missionary Society’s publications can be found at Sikh Missionary Society U.K., 2011. 2 The interviews were conducted with 30 young Sikhs involved in Sikh Camps or University Sikh societies. For further details of the research project, see University of Leeds, 2009a. 3 References to these overseas attendees are available at: Asian Image, 2006; Khalsa Camp, 2003 (photographs of attendees from New York); Sikhsangat.com, 2006 (a discussion of attendees from California and Toronto); Sikhstudent.org, 2006 (testimonials from attendees from these locations). 4 For details about France, see Singh, M., 2005. For details about Sweden, see Vsingh, 2007. For details about Norway, see Singh, M., 2006. 5 Ravinderpal has attended Frankfurt Camp in 2009 and a camp in Switzerland in 2010, see Sikh-religion.de, 2009; YouTube, 2010c. 6 The majority of white Sikhs came to Sikhism having been inspired by Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh Yogi), the founder of the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy) organization. Many are based in Espanola, US, where camps are often held, including Camp Miri Piri. Navleen Kaur is listed as a teacher at Camp Miri Piri 2010, see Sikhnet. com, n.d.a. 7 Both Sukha Singh and Kamalroop Singh are listed as attending the Jaap Sahib course held in Espanola in 2006 (Singh, G., 2006b). They can be seen lecturing at the course at Vimeo (Vimeo, 2006). It is also important to note that Gurumustuk Singh’s airfare to the United Kingdom for his visit in 2005 was paid for by a group of four to five young British Sikh students who each contributed a small amount to the fare (Singh, G., 2006a). 8 “Chalda Vaheer” can be loosely translated to “moving encampment.” For a description of the establishment of the Chalda Vaheer Jatha, see YouTube, 2010a. 9 See Chaldavaheer.com, 1999, which shows a number of European Sikh camps that were held by the Chalda Vaheer Jatha in 1999. 10 For an account of his experiences at Sikh Student Camp, see Singh, G., 2006. For details about Sikh Student Camp 2008, see Sikhnet.com, 2008. 11 Baru Sahib has been running camps for UK Sikhs since 2006. For further details, see The Kalgidhar Society, n.d.a. 12 For photographs of attendees from this camp, see The Kalgidhar Society, n.d.b. 13 For details, see the website of Damdami Taksaal which lists all santhiya teachers in the United Kingdom (Damdami Taksaal, n.d.). 14 For an example of an early Sikhism-related post, see Sandhu, 1990.

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15 Sikhism is a relatively late arrival online, given that Jewish and Christian discussion groups existed since the mid-1980s. For further details, see Campbell, 2011, p. 22. 16 Sikhs.org claims to be the world’s first website on Sikhism (Sikhs.org, n.d.). From its registration date and from the fact that Sundeep Singh Brar was involved in other online Sikh interactions at this time, this claim is most likely true. 17 For details, see Soc.religion.sikhism, 1995/1996, which demonstrates that the first post in this group was on July 4, 1995. 18 This is demonstrated by Bonine, 1995. 19 Sikh spirit took the form of a monthly online magazine, providing information about the guru’s teachings, important dates in Sikh history, and upcoming Sikhism-related events (see Sikhspirit.com, 1995). 20 A snapshot of the earliest posts on this forum pre-1997 can be found at Sikhnet. com, n.d.c; and after 1997 at Sikhnet.com, n.d.d. For the earliest posts on the youthfocused forum, see Sikhnet.com, n.d.e. 21 For example, Keertan.net was hosted on the Waheguroo network, which also hosted a discussion forum. For further details, see Waheguroo Network, 2002. 22 In terms of popularity, the websites and forums most regularly mentioned in these responses have been represented in an image of a word cloud (see University of Leeds, 2009b). 23 This has been derived from the fact that there were 25 tracks per page and 572 pages of listings at Sikhnet.com. 24 Sant Jarnail Singh was a key personality during the storing of the Golden Temple in June 1984. He was also the head of the Damdami Taksal at this time. Many of his speeches can be found online (see e.g. YouTube, 2010b). 25 A British example of this is DTF Publishers and Distributors based in Birmingham, a retailer of products from India which offers such items as khanda key rings, stickers, and pendants.

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Sikh Research Institute (2011), “2011 Accomplishments” [pdf, online]. Available at: www. sikhri.org/download/A2011.pdf?inline [Accessed December 23, 2011]. Sikh Socs Inspiring the Next Generation (n.d.), “Description” [Yahoo groups, online]. Available at: http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/sikhsocs/ [Accessed November 4, 2011]. Sikhiwiki.org (n.d.), “Encyclomedia of the Sikhs” [WWW, online]. Available at: www. sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Main_Page [Accessed November 4, 2011]. Sikhnet.com (n.d.a), “Camp Miri Piri” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.sikhnet.com/ campmiripiri/more.html [Accessed October 15, 2011]. — (n.d.b), “History and evolution of SikhNet” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.sikhnet. com/pages/history-and-evolution-sikhnet [Accessed December 20, 2011]. — (n.d.c), “Sikhnet discussion forum” [Online]. Available at: http://web.archive.org/ web/19961227230300/http:/www.sikhnet.com/discussion [Accessed December 2, 2011]. — (n.d.d.), “The discussion forum Sikhnet” [Online]. Available at: http://fateh.sikhnet. com/sikhnet/discussion.nsf/All%20By%20Date!OpenView&Start=3850 [Accessed December 2, 2011]. — (n.d.e.), “Sikhism youth q&a” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://fateh.sikhnet.com/ sikhnet/youth.nsf/by%20Date!OpenView&Start=1441.1117 [Accessed December 2, 2011]. — (2000), “Gurmukhi to English translation and phonetic transliteration of Siri Guru Granth Sahib” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.sikhnet.com/oldsikhnet/sggs/ translation [Accessed December 2, 2011]. — (2008), “The awesome Sikh student camp 2008—England” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.sikhnet.com/events/2008/awesome-sikh-student-camp-2008-england [Accessed November 8, 2011]. — (2011), “Guruka Singh in London next week and teaching at the Sikh retreat” [Online], August 17. Available at: www.sikhnet.com/news/guruka-singh-london-next-weekand-teaching-sikh-retreat [Accessed October 15, 2011]. Sikhs.org (n.d.), “Whats new on the Sikhism home page” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.sikhs.org/whatnew.htm [Accessed February 4, 2009]. Sikhsangat.com (2006), “Cali Singhs at Khalsa camp” [Discussion forum, online]. Available at: www.sikhsangat.com/index.php?/topic/23006-cali-singhs-at-khalsacamp/ [Accessed November 30, 2011]. Sikhspirit.com (1995), “Central gurdwara resource centre newsletter” [Online newsletter]. Volume 1, issue 2, November. Available at: www.sikhspirit.com/khalsa/news2.htm [Accessed December 11, 2011]. Sikhstudent.org (2006), “Sikh student camp testimonials” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/20080914064356/http://www.sikhstudent.org/previouscamps/sikh-student-camp-testimonials/ [Accessed November 30, 2011]. Singh A. P. (1996), “Reminder: ossa keertan darbaar! >>> please come!” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_ thread/thread/1a9fd97b381c9e22# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Singh, B. (1996), “Sikhism and ethics” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups. google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_thread/thread/7cef82594cee8ae2# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Singh, Gurpreet (1996), “Personal homepages of Sikhs on the web” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_ thread/thread/84c54179b14ad64e/c35364e9b6820aff#c35364e9b6820aff [Accessed November 12, 2011].

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Singh, Gurpreet and Tatla, D. S. (2006), Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community. London: Zed Books. Singh, Gurumustuk (2006a), “Sikh youth travel exchange” [Online]. MrSikhNet.com, March 21. Available at: www.mrsikhnet.com/2006/03/21/sikh-youth-travel-exchange [Accessed November 28, 2011]. Singh, Gurumustuk (2006b), “Miri Piri Academy girls—sadhana chant music” [Online]. MrSikhNet.com, June 7. Available at: www.mrsikhnet.com/2006/06/07/miri-piriacademy-girls-sadhana-chant-music/ [Accessed November 8, 2011]. Singh, Guruka (2006), “Wednesday, August 23, 2006: Sikh student camp” [Online]. MrSikhNet.com, August 23. Available at: www.mrsikhnet.com/2006/08/23/august23–2006-sikh-student-camp/ [Accessed November 8, 2011]. Singh, H. K. (1995), “Sikh customs” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups. google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_thread/thread/71226824d25e7fcc# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Singh, H. S. (2006), “Rural education: a chain of Akal academies,” Abstracts of Sikh studies, July–Sept. Available at: www.sikhinstitute.org/pdf/july2006.pdf#page=95 [Accessed November 13, 2011]. Singh, J. (2010), “Head first: young British Sikhs, hair, and the turban.” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25(2), 203–20. — (2011), “Sikh-ing beliefs: British Sikh camps in the UK,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration Identity and Transnational Practices. Farnhamn, Surrey: Ashgate. Singh, M. (2005), “France Gurmat Camp 2005” [Blog, online]. Available at: http:// manvirsingh.blogspot.com/2005/08/france-gurmat-camp-2005.html [Accessed December 8, 2011]. — (2006), “Visit to Norway (Part 1)” [Blog, online]. Available at: http://manvirsingh. blogspot.com/2006/07/visit-to-norway-part-1.html [Accessed December 8, 2011]. — (2010), “Khalsa camp Canada 2010” [Blog, online]. Available at: http://manvirsingh. blogspot.com/2010/08/khalsa-camp-bc-canada-2010.html [Accessed December 8, 2011]. Singh, P. (1996), “Attack on the Sikh religion: a wake up call to Sikhs” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_ thread/thread/a54f7d3ec092234a# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Singh, P. and Barrier, N. (1996), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora. New Delhi: Manohar. — (1999), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Manohar. Singh, R. (1995a), “2nd RFD: soc.religion.sikhism” [Google groups, online]. Available at: https://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.punjab/browse_thread/ thread/0ed986167b1a0546/a937a21846729531?hl=am&# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. — (1995b), “The caste & sikhism” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups. google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_thread/thread/1052fa0871ae838a# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. — (1996), “Bhagat Ravidass Ji” [Online]. Available at: http://groups.google.com/group/ soc.religion.sikhism/browse_thread/thread/7c34bfe1e3df017a# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Smith, C. and Snell, P. (2009), Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Soc.religion.sikhism (1995/1996), “Discussions” [Google groups, online]. Available at: http://groups.google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/topics?start=2010&sa=N [Accessed November 13, 2011]. Sokol, D. (2007), “Sikh diaspora in cyberspace: the representation of Khalistan on the world wide web and its legal context,” Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, 1(2), 219–30. Srigranth.org (n.d.), “Acknowledgements for Sri Granth—a Sri Guru Granth Sahib resource” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.srigranth.org/guru_granth_sahib.html [Accessed December 2, 2011]. TandMark (1996), “Keeping the 5ks in America” [Online]. Available at: http://groups. google.com/group/soc.religion.sikhism/browse_thread/thread/e2c5ce6511bf9bb4# [Accessed November 12, 2011]. Tapoban.org (n.d.), “About: Gurdwara Tapoban Sahib” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.tapoban.org/about.php [Accessed December 23, 2011]. — (2007), “Old forum has been archived!!” [WWW, online]. October 24. Available: www. tapoban.org/forum/read.php?1,562 [Accessed December 4, 2011]. Tatla, D. S. (2003), The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood. London: Routledge. Thandi, S. (1999), “Sikh youth aspirations and identity: some perspectives from Britain,” in P. Singh and N. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 349–63. The Kalgidhar Society (n.d.a), “Akal International Youth Camp, UK (July 29 to August 23, 2006)” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://barusahib.org/youth-campdetailsUK2006. php [Accessed December 12, 2011]. — (n.d.b), “Akal International Youth Camp 2008 (for UK students)” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://barusahib.org/youth-campdetailsUK2008.php [Accessed December 12, 2011]. Uecker, J. E. (2009), “Catholic schooling, protestant schooling, and religious commitment in young adulthood,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 48(2), 353–67. University of Leeds (2009a), “Keeping the faith: the transmission of Sikhism among young British Sikhs (18–30)” [Online]. Available at: www.leeds.ac.uk/sikhs [Accessed September 10, 2011]. — (2009b), “Publications” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.leeds.ac.uk/sikhs/ publications.html [Accessed March 5, 2012]. Vaidyanathan, B. (2011), “Religious resources or differential returns? Early religious socialization and declining attendance in emerging adulthood,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 50(2), 366–87. Vertovec, S. (2009), Transnationalism (Key Ideas). London: Routledge. Vimeo (2006), “A discussion of Jaap Sahib by Kamalroop Singh Nihang and Sukha Singh” [Video online]. Available at: http://vimeo.com/7384260 [Accessed December 4, 2011]. Vis, F., van Zoonen, L., and Rossiter, A. (2011), “Women responding to the anti-Islam film Fitna: voices and acts of citizenship on YouTube.” Feminist Review, 97(1), 110–29. Vsingh, (2007), “Swedish Organisation of Sikh Students” [Online]. Available at: http://vsingh.blogspot.com/2007/02/swedish-organisation-of-sikh-students.html [Accessed December 8, 2011]. Waheguroo Network (2002), “Keertan.net” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://web. archive.org/web/20030319120533/http://keertan.waheguroo.com [Accessed December 2, 2011].

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Waheguru.demon.co.uk (n.d.), “British Organisation of Sikh Students” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://web.archive.org/web/19980614120020/http://www.waheguru. demon.co.uk [Accessed December 3, 2011]. Wallop, H. (2008), “Adults rely on parents for financial support” [Online]. The Telegraph, July 30. Available at: www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/2794047/Adultsrely-on-parents-for-financial-support.html [Accessed August 4, 2009]. YouTube (2010a), “Chalda vaheer jatha.MP4” [Video online]. Available at: www.youtube. com/watch?v=I5hW_dDuV3E [Accessed December 18, 2011]. — (2010b), “Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale speech” [Video online]. Available at: www. youtube.com/watch?v=57YuzG8osIw [Accessed October 9, 2011]. — (2010c), “Sikh youth camp Swiss Schweiz 2010. Ravinderpal Singh UK & Harcharanjit Singh Malaysia” [Video online]. Available at: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=J2yIy0nWJmQ [Accessed December 18, 2011].

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Transnational Sikh Preachers: Local Training and Global Aspiration of Kathavacaks in Punjab Kristina Myrvold

A popular way to learn and explore the Sikh religion today is through katha, which in the Punjabi language stands for a “story” that is communicated orally or in writing in both secular and religious contexts and, in the case of the latter, can be translated into a “sermon” or “religious discourse” (Gill and Joshi, 1999, p. 189). The Sikh notion of katha evokes associations to a variety of religious practices, which include discourses that interpret the Sikh teaching and narrate stories about the Sikh gurus, martyrs, and virtuous devotees. However, in a narrower understanding, it signifies a specific religious performance during which a kathavacak (“reciter/speaker of katha”), or a professional “exegete,” delivers an oral exposition on stage to a listening, devotional congregation (sangat). In Sikhism, katha is projected as an authentic religious performance genre that pertains to old traditions and is considered an efficacious medium for religious edification, education, and spiritual progress. The kathavacak is responsible for a living commentary and exegesis of the Sikh scripture, doctrines, and collective history in order to reveal and make spiritual meanings vivid and relevant to shifting contexts (Myrvold, 2007). With an extensive outmigration from Punjab and an increasing cultural and linguistic diversity within the Sikh community, the profession of kathavacaks is transforming and many of the performers today are transnational preachers who operate worldwide, continuously adjusting their expositions to congregations at various locations. What first amazed me when I began my fieldwork in 2009 was that all the kathavacaks I interviewed in Punjab had either been abroad delivering katha or had plans to travel and migrate at some point in their lives.1 Even if I was aware of the impact of migration and modernization processes on all layers of Punjabi society and knew that the profession of kathavacaks implies a mobile lifestyle, it was still surprising to see the extent to which the Sikh preachers, representing a traditional authority in the Sikh community, were enmeshed in transnational networks and used the new means of communication, travel, and debate. Almost all of the practicing kathavacaks I met had made audio or video recordings of their performances in order to reach out to a global Sikh community and demonstrate their knowledge and skills for possible engagements. The more renowned performers were regularly broadcasting their live

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and recorded katha on various TV channels and websites on the internet (Myrvold, forthcoming). The transnational aspiration seemed to cut across all categories of performers irrespective of age, education, and fame and regardless of their chances of actually going abroad. As Margaret Walter-Roberts correctly observes, “Punjab has long been a ‘transnational space’ where social identities and places were reconfigured as a result of the spatial connectivity channeled through diasporic networks” (WalterRoberts, 2005, p. 141). Even those who are excluded from the possibilities of crossing geographical borders due to immigration regulations and other restraints “may well engage in behaviours that bring them into transnational networks of exchange” (Walter-Roberts, 2005, p. 132). Contemporary kathavacaks are thus situated in a web of transnational networks and many of them are constantly on tour within geographical circumferences of various sizes. A typical performer may work for a local gurdwara in Punjab, participate in religious programs at different places in India, and be invited to spend a month or more in Europe, North America, or elsewhere to deliver religious discourses. Migration and the new means of communication and travel have strengthened their mobile lifestyle and made them responsible for creating significant links and identifications between Sikhs in the “homeland” of Punjab and diasporic communities by means of their exegetical practices. Based on personal narratives of transnational kathavacaks I have interviewed in Sweden and Punjab, the chapter provides examples of how contemporary kathavacaks can be motivated to go into the religious vocation and pursue training and competence in order to accomplish religious expositions that are regarded as legitimate by a broader community. Special attention is given to the formal education and training provided at the various Sikh missionary colleges in Punjab that have been established for training young exegetes. The chapter further examines some of the reasons behind their aspiration for a transnational career and the various strategies they can use to achieve this, while the final part discusses some of the challenges transnational preachers may experience when visiting congregations abroad. The purpose of the chapter is not to investigate the content and performance of various types of katha or other ways of interpreting the Sikh teaching, but rather it aims to shed some empirical light on a category of religious specialists that has been severely neglected in the academic study of Sikhism.

Motives for becoming a kathavacak The decision to enter into the vocation of a kathavacak may be prompted by a range of motives. Many of the performers I have interviewed have had other work experiences before they decided to go into the religious field. Becoming a kathavacak was not always their first choice, but due to a religious orientation and a set of divergent external factors, such as experiences of poverty, injustice, violence, or unemployment, they ended up dedicating their lives to a profession that made it possible to combine a devotional life with career opportunities. In an attempt to illustrate the diverse backgrounds and motives Sikh preachers may have for choosing the profession, I will present the narratives of three transnational kathavacaks below.

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Bhai Ranjodh Singh, who originates from a Hindu Brahmin family in Punjab, explained that his interest in Sikhism started with a spiritual restlessness in his early twenties. While working in a factory, a Sikh friend suggested that he should start reading the composition Japji Sahib to find peace and gave him books. At first he experienced nothing, but when members of the Pingalwara Charitable Society in Amritsar came to the factory and distributed books with translations and explanations of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, his interest grew and he began to read comprehensively about the Sikh teaching and history. Bhai Ranjodh Singh found the Sikh teaching to be rational and universal, easy to live by, and eventually he decided to leave his Hindu background and convert to Sikhism. In response to this decision, his family threw him out of the home and would only allow him to come back if he cut his hair (kes). He refused to oblige their condition and left the family home. Without a place to stay, he sought admission in the Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College in Roopar. As Bhai Ranjodh Singh narrates his story today, he did not have thoughts of becoming a kathavacak when he entered the college but was only looking for shelter and wished to remain a Sikh. However, during his study, he gradually began to realize that he should “spread the message of Guru Nanak Dev ji” and “tell the truth” (Interview, Gothenburg, July 23, 2009). After graduation, he worked for several years in gurdwaras and advanced to become the head granthi of Takhat Kesgarh Sahib in Anandpur for a period of time. When an opportunity to go abroad occurred in the early 1990s, he saw the possibility to create a more independent lifestyle and in the following years began traveling worldwide. Today, Bhai Ranjodh Singh is based in Phagwara in Punjab but spends almost half of his time touring between different diasporic Sikh communities preaching Sikhism. In the case of Bhai Sarabjit Singh, it was also the inspiration and company of other Sikhs that created a gradual growing interest in the religion. He currently works as a kathavacak for Gurudwara Nauvi Patshahi in Jalandhar which broadcasts live his daily katha through the cable TV operator Siti Cable (Gurudwara Nauvi Patshahi, n.d.).2 Coming from a poorly educated landowning Sikh family, his parents did not expect him to become a kathavacak for several reasons. In his early childhood, Bhai Sarabjit Singh had serious speech defects and went through surgery at the age of six years. After completing tenth standard, he wished to join the army and went for trials, but was not selected because of his physical weakness. To improve his chances of acquiring a post as a junior commissioned officer, he studied at Khalsa College in Amritsar. It was during this study period that Bhai Sarabjit Singh slowly developed an interest in reading and understanding Sikh texts when he was playing chimta in a group of religious people performing devotional music.3 While attending a religious event, during which the world-famous kathavacak Sant Singh Maskin delivered katha, he became inspired and began to consider a mission in the religious field.4 After graduation, Bhai Sarabjit Singh joined a diploma course at Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat College in Roopar to find out if he could follow the disciplined lifestyle. In the beginning, he tried to copy the voice of Sant Singh Maskin but on the advice of his professors, he developed an individual style of katha that quickly became popular. Although the profession of a kathavacak was not the first choice for Bhai Sarabjit Singh, he perceives it as his destiny to earn his livelihood by doing service (seva) to the Sikh community. As he said, “Even

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today when I see a military person in uniform I’m inspired, but God (malik) made me a ‘soldier’ (fauji) of him” (Interview, Jalandhar, January 10, 2010). Bhai Akhbar Singh has been working as a granthi of a village gurdwara in the district of Hoshiarpur for 16 years and additionally delivers katha at different places in India, Europe, and Canada “to make people understand gurbani and reach out to people in a direct way.” Unlike the above-mentioned performers, Bhai Akhbar Singh did not pursue formal education at any institute training Sikh preachers, but has dedicated himself to self-study and built up a career through personal networks. When he explained the reasons for becoming a kathavacak, he emphasizes a Godgiven interest in religious matters from a very young age in combination with the inspiration he received from televised katha. After the family got a television in 1986, his father began requesting him to watch Sikh devotional music (kirtan) in the mornings. Gradually, the religious viewing became a regular part of his daily routine and came to encompass broadcasted katha by Sant Singh Maskin. Although Bhai Akhbar Singh only got the chance to listen to live performances of Sant Singh Maskin on three occasions, the mediated katha became a source of inspiration and eventually convinced him to dedicate his own life to a similar mission. In his view, Sant Singh Maskin was not merely a knowledgeable scholar and an excellent performer of katha, but a “great being” (maha purush) who had reached a higher spiritual stage than ordinary humans and was graced with divine knowledge (gian) (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). Characteristic of the narratives of these and other kathavacaks is their genuine interest in understanding the Sikh teaching and a belief in their vocation and ability to engage people in the teaching, and even transform society in accordance with the message of the gurus. Although becoming a kathavacak was not their first choice and some of them were initially attracted to the profession for mundane reasons, such as seeking work opportunities or shelter, they project images of themselves as being graced with a religious disposition from an early age, which has worked as a foundation for later decisions to enter the religious field. Quite often, they present their mission within a larger cosmological perspective and perceive it as the karmic and divinely prewritten destiny and the will of God. Why some have expressed an initial hesitation and needed considerable time to nurture ideas about their future work seems to be connected with some general perceptions about the vocation. Being a kathavacak is not a nine-to-five role, but a devotional lifestyle that presumes religious commitment, development, and practice. One of the many reasons as to why Sant Singh Maskin is frequently mentioned in the accounts of other Sikh preachers is that he gained a reputation of being a spiritually advanced scholar who practiced what he preached. The knowledge signified in this context does not merely involve intellectual understanding pursued through studies and training (viddaya), but spiritual insights that have evolved from intense religious practice (gian). Classifications and honorific titles of kathavacaks generally distinguish between a giani, a learned preacher who is believed to possess worldly and spiritual knowledge and can thereby work as a teacher of others, and a sant, who has been blessed with extraordinary knowledge, reached a state of spiritual advancement, and lives as a moral exemplar for others. To be well educated in the Sikh teaching is considered to be a different matter from gaining

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spiritual knowledge and insights, and the aspiring kathavacak is expected to embark on a religious journey that cultivates both. Another common theme in biographies of kathavacaks is the importance of senior preceptors and their social environment. Most of the kathavacaks have had families or friends who have encouraged them to dedicate themselves to various devotional activities in their childhood and teens. Some have especially emphasized the importance of their mothers in socializing and shaping an early interest in spiritual matters. Others have credited particular groups of devotional people for their religious orientation and dedication. At some point in their lives, many have interacted with a particular saintly person, either in real life or through modern media, who has made a strong impact on them. In addition to Sant Singh Maskin, the kathavacaks have mentioned other renowned Sikh scholars and preachers in Punjab, as well as local saintly people who have served as important sources of inspiration and incited a spiritual quest to pursue knowledge and teach others in the Sikh teaching.

Education and training in Punjab Considering that kathavacaks are responsible for a creative oral retelling and exegesis adjusted to diverse situational contexts, and are expected to give oratory from memory, the aspiring performers need to obtain theoretical and practical knowledge in a vast number of areas. The procedures for pursuing the required standards of competence in order to build up a career as a kathavacak today are numerous and frequently involve formal studies at educational institutes and/or more informal studies under the supervision of senior colleagues. In a historical perspective, religious education has been an integral part of the Sikh religion and can be traced back to the period of the Sikh gurus (1469–1708). Historical sources suggest that the gurus founded important centers of learning in Amritsar and Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, and Sikh disciples established religious seminars and Gurmukhi schools attached to gurdwaras in villages and cities to meet their educational needs (see e.g. Singha, 1998; Mann, 2005; Allender, 2006). As Gurinder Singh Mann suggests, the gurdwara schools came under pressure during British colonization when governmental schools were introduced to provide Western secular education. But as the need of religious specialists in the community increased, both in India and abroad, the traditional centers of learning expanded and new institutions were created that combined Sikh and Western education (Mann, 2005, p. 13). What has been typical of the developments during the past 50 years is an expansion of various educational institutes that provide vocationally oriented education for different types of Sikh specialists. Today there are a growing number of so-called Gurmat Vidhyale (literally “schools of the guru’s teaching”) and “Sikh Missionary Colleges” all over northern India that have adopted the structure of a Western educational system and offer two- or three-year-long courses for aspiring musicians (ragis), custodians of gurdwaras (granthis), propagandists (pracharaks), and kathavacaks. Students who successfully complete these courses will receive diplomas that make them permissible to work in gurdwaras and for Sikh congregations. Aspiring Sikh preachers may also

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pursue academic studies at the universities in Punjab that were founded with strong Sikh support in the 1960s, such as the Punjabi University in Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar (Ozanne, 2010). The Department of Religious Studies in Patiala, for example, offers both academic degrees in religious studies and one-year courses that will result in Divinity or Giani diplomas. Students focusing on Sikh studies at this university with an intention to propagate Sikhism in their future career may receive scholarships from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the organization which manages Sikh gurdwaras in the state of Punjab (Punjabi University Patiala, 2009). With regards to the Gurmat and Sikh Missionary Colleges dedicated to the training of religious performers, the SGPC is today running four colleges in Punjab and Rajasthan that offer educational programs for prospective male kathavacaks. The oldest of these is the Shahid Sikh Missionary College in Amritsar which was established in 1927 in memory of the martyrs (shahids) who laid down their lives at Nanakana Sahib. Another prestigious college under the management of SGPC is the Guru Kashi Gurmat College nearby Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo, which by tradition is called the “Guru’s Kashi” or the Sikhs’ city of learning (Guru Kashi Gurmat Institute, 2010).5 In a similar fashion, the organization Sikh Missionary College in Ludhiana runs four missionary colleges in Punjab and Haryana, the first of which was established at Anandpur in 1995. This organization has since 2002 managed the only Sikh missionary college exclusively for girls in Jalandhar for the purpose of encouraging women to enter into religious vocations and promote gender equality in the Sikh community.6 For those who are unable to pursue education at any of the institutes, the Sikh Missionary College also provides two-year-long correspondence courses in Sikh texts, philosophy, and history for prospective male and female preachers and propagandists with Punjabi, Hindi, or English as the medium of instruction (Sikh Missionary College, n.d.). Other renowned missionary colleges are run under the aegis of gurdwaras or trusts and sometimes in the name of the Sikh gurus, historical Sikhs, or events, such as the Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Sikh Missionary College in Roopar which has provided religious education for young men since 1983. Many of these faith-based educational institutions are founded on and formed through transnational networks that are sponsored by Sikhs in the diaspora and train performers for congregations worldwide. As several studies have suggested, Sikhs overseas have from an early migration phase sent remittances to create new educational facilities for varied reasons and as a consequence enhanced educational interests and opportunities in Punjab (Mehta, 1990; Walter-Roberts, 2005). The sponsorship of schools and education of religious specialists seems to be no exception in this regard. For example, the trust behind the Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana was founded in 1996 by Jagjit Singh Sidki in North America and supported by the nonprofit organization Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) in Washington (Ozanne, 2010; Gurmat Gian Missionary College, 2012). In the beginning of the twenty-first century, Bhai Gurdas Gurmat Missionary College in Ludhiana inaugurated new buildings on a three-acre-large property that had been donated by the international kathavacak Sant Singh Maskin and presented in advertisements the possibility of going abroad as one advantage of seeking admission to the school

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and pursuing studies in the religious field (Interview, Bhai Sarabjit Singh, Ludhiana, January 13, 2010).7 Private donations of smaller and larger sizes that are given in support of individual students, their education, or new school buildings often seem to be motivated by a desire to provide opportunities for young people from deprived families and, at the same time, encourage the development of a corps of educated Sikh preachers who can embody and teach religious values and norms in a global age. The minimum requirement for admission to most of the Sikh missionary colleges in Punjab is formal education up to matriculation, that is, completion of the tenth standard of high school and passing the board exams. As prospective Sikh preachers are expected to inculcate ethical values of the Sikh teaching and lead a life in an exemplary fashion, admission is restricted to students who already are or immediately after entering the schools become Amritdhari Sikhs and follow the Khalsa discipline. Being an Amritdhari Sikh is considered to guarantee a high level of morals as the students are not allowed to consume alcohol and drugs, must follow a vegetarian diet, and are expected to display a dignified appearance and behavior. To create opportunities for young people of small means, the colleges usually have low admission fees, which at some places are used as down payments to secure the institution against default and later returned to the students, with no charge for tuition fees. As the principals of some of these colleges have stated, many of the boys seeking admission are extremely poor and come from rural areas in different parts of Northern India. Sometimes, their families even find difficulties in securing the money required for an admission fee amounting to between a few hundred and a couple of thousand rupees and need to depend on the generosity of others. To foster a high degree of discipline, the colleges operate as boarding schools providing students with free lodging facilities, meals, books, clothing, and other expenditures that are usually supplied by the larger Sikh community.8 Many of the teachers also reside within the campus and function as mentors with close relationships to the students. The training at the missionary schools entails a building process during which the students cultivate both social and religious capital by securing resources through interpersonal attachments, learning the mastery of Sikhism and strengthening their emotional ties to the religious culture.9 As they are expected to embody a normative Sikh way of living, they must commit to disciplined routines. According to the daily schedule of the Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College in Roopar, for example, the students rise before dawn, take a bath and begin their “daily routine” (nitnem) of reciting morning prayers, singing devotional songs (kirtan), and katha from five in the morning. After cleaning the rooms and eating breakfast together, they have classes between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. with breaks for lunch and rest. At dusk after 6 p.m., the students again gather for evening prayers, singing, and katha before going to bed at around 10 p.m. The discipline within the school extends to the students’ attire and bodily care. In the campus, they are expected to wear a solemn, traditional pyjama kurta and turban in accordance with the sanctioned “uniform” of the school and keep their beard natural without hair products.10 According to the prospectuses of the missionary colleges, the aspiring Sikh performers are to pursue both theoretical studies and practical training during their two- or threeyear-long programs (e.g. Bhai Gurdas Gurmat Missionary College, 2000; Gurmat Gian

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Missionary College, n.d.; Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College, n.d.; Sikh Missionary College, 2009). They are expected to become familiar with various religious, historical, and exegetical texts and learn Sikh history, philosophy, and ethics from a wide range of perspectives and approaches, especially texts accredited gurbani status, that is, recorded by the Sikh gurus and given historical sanction. They are required to learn how to memorize, recite, and sing these texts in ritual contexts, as well as pursue linguistic and exegetical knowledge as a means to be able to make interpretations (arth), reflections (vichar), and commentaries (viakhia) of the contents of the texts. In order to be prepared for a future career, the students should also achieve proficiency in a number of arts and are trained in carrying out katha and addressing a congregation, performing vocal and musical exercises in kirtan, and learn how to perform various rituals and worship acts that are included in Sikh liturgies and the daily running of a gurdwara. Interestingly, many colleges have incorporated comparative religion in their programs and therefore teach beliefs and practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and other religious traditions from a comparative perspective. According to the curriculum of Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Sikh Missionary College in Roopar, the aspiring kathavacaks are also expected to become acquainted with subjects like politics of religion, humanism, and socialism (Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College, n.d., p. 16). The different colleges represent and teach quite divergent approaches to the Sikh teaching, practices, and history. While some are more conservative and conform to collectively sanctioned interpretations of religion, others emphatically stress the need to unite religion with modern science and train the students in critical inquiry of certain texts, practices, and beliefs. The kathavacaks educated and fostered at these institutes may consequently advocate different and sometimes conflicting interpretations and methods for understanding the Sikh teaching. Although most Sikh missionary colleges sustain a “standardization of locality” (Robertson, 1995, pp. 30–1) by teaching Sikh beliefs, values, and practices from local perspectives of the Punjabi culture and using the Punjabi language as the primary medium of instruction, some of them have also begun adopting diasporic perspectives through which they also seek to prepare their students for the transnational missions they may embark on after graduation. For example, Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College in Roopar both have elementary English included in the curriculum. The former is also offering computer classes to make the preachers computer literate and equip them with knowledge and tools to reach out through the new social media.11 In 2011, Guru Angad Dev Institute of Religious Studies in Khadur Sahib, affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University, made headlines when the college began giving students crash courses in English, French, German, and Spanish to prepare them for a career in Europe and North America (Chaudry, 2001; Nishan-E-Sikhis, 2009). Many of the Sikh missionary colleges are thus aware of the linguistic and cultural dislocations from Punjab among Sikhs overseas and have consequently adopted a more relaxed attitude toward a religious transmission restricted to the Punjabi language and instead choose to present Sikhism as a universal religion translatable into any language and culture. In addition to institutionalized training, it is also common to follow a more traditional model of education and serve an apprenticeship under a senior performer

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to hone the art during years of training and simultaneously gain access to networks. New kathavacaks may sometimes follow a successful and knowledgeable teacher for an extensive period of time to observe and listen to discourses, take notes, and analyze how he structures interpretations and commentaries. After completing studies, the aspiring kathavacak may gain employment in local gurdwaras with the responsibility to deliver katha in the daily program and display his exegetical skill at various locations in connection with festivals and other religious events. Through years of practice, he may gradually work his way up to assignments for renowned historical gurdwaras. Others may choose to become self-employed traveling kathavacaks from the beginning and earn their livelihood by being constantly on tour between different congregations.

Transnational aspirations and strategies Punjabi society today can be characterized as a “culture of migration” in which transnational movements have become so deeply rooted that the aspiration to migrate has almost become normative and “is transmitted across generations and between people through social networks” (Kandel and Massey, 2002, p. 981). Being a part of this culture, Sikh kathavacaks are encouraging new means of travel and communication for the purpose of facilitating their spiritual and educational missions worldwide. Biographies of kathavacaks often reveal that the motives for choosing a transnational career and the strategies used for being recruited abroad can be very diverse. In the following section, I provide a few glimpses into personal narratives of already established transnational kathavacaks to exemplify how different economic and social factors may influence their transnational dreams and endeavors, in addition to a fundamental religious ambition to spread knowledge about the Sikh teaching. Bhai Ranjodh Singh, who worked and lived in a local gurdwara for six years before commencing his worldwide travels, said he would initially get 350 rupees in monthly pay for his employment as granthi and kathavacak, and later, after getting married, an increase in salary of 150 rupees. When he and his wife had their first daughter, he began thinking of the possibility of going abroad as he was unable to provide for his family on his current salary. In 1991, he accepted an offer to perform katha of the composition Asa di var for one month in a Sikh congregation in New Zealand, even though the invitation did not include any promise of payment. “They told me on the phone that they would only give me the air ticket, not any donation, but what I got from the sangat, that would be mine,” Bhai Ranjodh Singh explained. It turned out that the overseas congregation was satisfied with his performance and gave him monetary gifts equivalent to 80,000 rupees. After a visit to a Sikh community in Canada the year after and yet another trip to New Zealand in 1993, he was able to collect enough capital to leave his work in the gurdwara, pay off debts, build a home for the family, and become an independent transnational kathavacak (Interview, Stockholm, July 23, 2009). This case can perhaps illustrate how the motives for choosing a transnational career are sometimes driven by strategies of economic survival and independence. All of the kathavacaks I have interviewed either come from poor families or have ended up in situations which have made them search for new sources of income. The fixed payments

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they can receive from employment in gurdwaras in India are generally low in relation to family expenses and only provide the minimal means of subsistence.12 Most of them carefully emphasize that they never demand remuneration but only humbly accept monetary donations (dan) that are given to them in charity and devotion. Behind this position lies the moral and religious principle that the work of kathavacaks and other religious specialists should be perceived as a type of “selfless service” (seva) to the Sikh community and “the house of the guru” (gurdwara) and not occupations for making profit. However, the kathavacaks make no secret of the fact that visiting congregations abroad for some weeks or months every year can provide a valuable addition to the private finances and, sometimes, their livelihood. As Bhai Akhbar Singh explained when visiting Sweden, “Before, the whole family survived on my father’s pension, but this is the first time I’m coming here [to Sweden] and accepting money from the [gurdwara] committee because without that life is not going” (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). When asked if they want their children to follow in their footsteps and become kathavacaks, my informants either hesitated or answered in the negative, asserting lack of respect for the profession as the primary reason for encouraging their children to choose other occupations. While young kathavacaks in the beginning of their career tend to be more optimistic and appreciate the public attention they have gained, performers with longer work experience have emphasized their dependence on local patrons, mostly the committees of gurdwaras, and expressed feelings of not being given due respect, especially by the younger generation, since social status and power in Punjab have become so closely attached with economic wealth. For Bhai Ranjodh Singh, independence from the gurdwara committee for which he was working was yet another reason for envisioning a transnational career. As he explained: When I did ardas [the Sikh prayer] in front of Guru Granth Sahib ji, I was thinking I want to do prachar [propaganda/preach the Sikh religion], but not be dependent, not be dependent on anyone. Every third day [while working in the gurdwara] I heard “Giani ji, don’t talk like that. If you speak like that people are not coming to the gurdwara” . . . If they [the committees] want us in the gurdwara they give a lot of respect, but when they don’t agree with our views they want to kick us out . . . When things like these happened my heart became very sad. I thought maybe I can go abroad sometime. My subordination could perhaps go away if I would do that. I could get free from that. That was in my brain. (Interview, Gothenburg, July 23, 2009)

When seeking an autonomous lifestyle, according to which the performers can more freely choose their travels, tasks, and talks as they like, the Sikh diaspora and the extensive transnational networks provide arenas for gaining access to new social positions. In smaller congregations abroad, such as many of those in different parts of Europe, kathavacaks are perceived to be knowledgeable scholars and attributed a substantial amount of status, power, and respect. To Sikhs in a migrant situation, many of whom are making considerable efforts to maintain and teach their children the religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of the homeland, kathavacaks invited

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from India or historical communities in the diaspora are often considered to be more authentic and authoritative bearers of Sikh and Punjabi traditions. As preachers who teach and practice an exemplary way of living that many may perceive difficult to uphold in the diaspora, they come to epitomize a more genuine Sikh identity of the homeland. As Bhai Akhbar Singh also commented, there are indeed many knowledgeable Sikhs in the diaspora, but “ ‘a prophet is not honored in his hometown’ while someone from the outside will be appreciated. Even if he may know less, people are still willing to learn from him” (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). The transnational career of performers residing in India often depends on how successful they are in building up a good reputation about themselves and extending their transnational networks, considering that most need a supportive sponsor who can provide the required invitation for visa documents. For those who have pursued formal education at any of the Sikh missionary colleges, a recommendation from the seminary can sometimes act as a springboard into the career. Occasionally, the colleges organize various events during which both students and teachers get a chance to demonstrate their skill to the public and sometimes establish contacts for possible future employment. When congregations in the diaspora are in need of kathavacaks, they may perhaps contact the educational institutes for suggestions of performers to invite. This was the case with Bhai Ranjodh Singh who got the chance to take his first trip abroad by recommendation of the Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College in Roopar: They [the Sikhs in New Zealand] contacted my college and requested a Singh who is firm (pakka) in his view. The college knows that I am a solid person and they asked if I want to go . . . I got a visa easily the first time. (Interview, Gothenburg, July 24, 2009)

After the first experience abroad, Bhai Ranjodh Singh was able to gradually extend his network and reputation as a knowledgeable Sikh scholar of principles and was contacted directly with invitations. Others may get opportunities for assignments abroad through their extensive social networks and by being included in groups of renowned globe-trotting kathavacaks. Bhai Sarabjit Singh in Jalandhar, for example, was able to visit Bangkok by traveling with a group of performers accompanying the celebrated kathavacak Sant Singh Maskin on one of his tours (Interview, Jalandhar, January 16, 2010). In the case of Bhai Akhbar Singh, his wife’s sister’s husband (sandhu), who was residing in England, recommended him to Sikh families in Sweden which eventually resulted in an invitation from a Swedish gurdwara committee. During the visit, he was also able to extend his personal network by getting to know friends of friends at other places in Sweden and Denmark (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). Another popular means through which many kathavacaks can be appointed for transnational assignments is the use of modern media. On numerous websites and Facebook pages on the internet, the performers, or the organizations supporting them, exhibit their life stories and spiritual achievements, and distribute amateur or professional audio and video recordings of their katha to a global community (Myrvold,

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forthcoming). Modern media has facilitated new accessibilities and opportunities for kathavacaks of various degrees of fame to demonstrate and promote their knowledge and artistic skill for possible engagements in the future. During my fieldworks in Punjab, I sometimes became a part of this promotion when a kathavacak would hand over a DVD recording of his katha for my study and at the same time humbly add that I should feel free to show it to congregations in Europe if they were interested in arranging a religious event. Due to visa requirements, the wish for a more independent transnational lifestyle among kathavacaks with Indian passports creates a new dependence on sponsors abroad, especially in comparison to performers who operate within and between diasporas in Europe and North America. Bhai Ajit Singh Alankari, who is settled in Canada and has been a regular guest at Swedish congregations, said he would plan and pay for his travels to Europe by himself and then approach the gurdwaras en route with inquiries of interest. In this way, he organized in 2011 (at the age of 78 years) a two-month-long katha tour covering Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany, but without any guarantees that the congregations he visited would compensate him for the trip (Interview, Stockholm, October 2, 2011). For many performers, the hopes of a transnational career can also be dashed by difficulties in getting a travel permit. A kathavacak in Delhi said he had applied several times for visas to Britain and Canada based on invitations, but gave up after being refused. “After that I was very disappointed, but then I thought what will I gain? I’m well settled and can do a similar kind of service (seva) here as abroad” (Interview, Delhi, January 6, 2010). Even if this preacher did not cross geographical borders, he was still enmeshed in transnational networks of friends and colleagues in Europe and North America with whom he frequently exchanged ideas over the phone and the internet.

Challenges in the diaspora Conversations with transnational kathavacaks reveal that traveling abroad, sometimes to people and places they only know through others, implies several practical, emotional, and intellectual challenges and a high degree of trust, risk-taking, and adjustment. As providers of their families in Punjab, many usually hand over the family responsibilities to their wives when away for long periods. The kathavacaks I interviewed have considered the possibility of bringing their families overseas in order to spend more time together, but visa regulations and the conditions given by the inviting sponsors had prevented them. When arriving at a congregation in the diaspora, they are often completely dependent upon the practical provisions arranged by the sangat and live, eat, and sleep in the public gurdwara like employees. While most performers affirm they are usually provided simple but comfortable accommodation and receive numerous invitations for food, conversations, and excursions from individual community members, the reception at some places can also be poorly arranged.13 During visits to smaller congregations, like those in Sweden, the kathavacak is often assigned or takes the initiative himself to carry out a number of other duties, except for delivering katha, such as performing the daily morning and evening rituals

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in the gurdwara (the prakash and the sukhasan ceremonies); teaching the children Sikh history, beliefs, and the Punjabi language; and training them in reciting and singing hymns from Sikh scripture and enacting rituals. Moreover, kathavacaks occasionally assume roles as religious counselors who are invited to private houses for performing recitations and prayers in exchange of monetary gifts and, at the same time, provide guidance and advice to families on spiritual and mundane matters. Whether a traveling kathavacak is able to receive frequent invitations that can serve as a base for his transnational career obviously depends upon how he is appreciated and appraised by diaspora communities. The first visit to a congregation abroad is often seen as a trial performance during which his knowledge, talent, and moral disposition are evaluated in practice. Bhai Akhbar Singh explained that the decision to issue renewed invitations is usually in the hands of the gurdwara committees that “will make a balance and evaluate if the house of the guru (guru ghar) is going with profit or loss” (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). According to Bhai Ranjodh Singh, a common strategy to gradually build up the trust and popularity needed for future invitations is to use “a sweet talk filled with love” during the first visit and select “soft topics” of katha that are widely popular and not considered controversial in any way. For example, a discourse that builds on the popular line “those who love, they reach God” (jin prem kiyo tin hi prabh payo) from Dasam Granth and unfolds the devotion and qualities humans should have for gaining happiness is a “soft topic” likely to be highly appreciated by most people.14 When the kathavacak has succeeded in attracting the interest of the congregation and is sponsored again, he can gradually begin adjusting the themes and topics of the expositions according to his own preferences (Interview, Gothenburg, July 24, 2009). Some kathavacaks do not hesitate to level severe criticism against the ways in which gurdwaras are managed abroad, asserting that political committees and not the religious congregations instruct them on which topics they should use in their katha, sometimes only for the purpose of attracting people to the gurdwara. As Bhai Ranjodh Singh critically expressed, “The committees are concerned about how much money they gain in the donation box (gholak) and how many people (sangat) are coming to the gurdwara, but they do not have concerns with the teaching of the gurus (gurmat)” (Interview, Gothenburg, July 23, 2009). When the preachers wish to encourage people to implement a normative Sikh way of living according to the Rahit Maryada, they sometimes need to compromise and adjust their discourses to the audience they are interacting with. As Bhai Ranjodh Singh continued, If there are a hundred people in a congregation, perhaps only five persons are attached to the maryada of Akal Takhat. The committees therefore prefer we make five persons disappointed instead of 95. They say “Giani ji, don’t talk about the Rahit Maryada” (Interview, Gothenburg, July 24, 2009).

The kathavacaks may also receive various kinds of reactions and responses to their discourses when traveling between different diasporic congregations, especially if they introduce topics that are considered controversial (see Jacobsen et al., Chapter 12, pp. 232–50). As they themselves state, some of the most sensitive matters in the Sikh

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community today relate to the controversy regarding the authenticity of Dasam Granth, the historicity of the gurus’ wonders described in the narrative Janam-sakhi literature and other historical sources, and the question whether Sikhs should be attached to deras or religious places of worship dedicated to different saints. Accordingly, many preachers avoid broaching these topics for discussion and strategically choose more neutral subjects to please their audience. On the other hand, the kathavacaks may directly or indirectly address other critical issues in a thought-provoking manner. When asked about their views on the challenges Sikhs in the diaspora face today, they have unanimously expressed concerns about a general degeneration of moral principles and an increasing disassociation with Sikh values and a normative religious identity. They have partly explained this as a consequence of the economic motives behind migration as well as the religious discrimination that Sikhs have been exposed to in some countries that has made it difficult for them to uphold a Sikh identity. They can extensively elaborate on how the migrants’ quest for money makes them forget about religion and engage in disgraceful behavior, such as consuming alcohol and cutting their hair. When one kathavacak heard about a Sikh man who had married three women in a row, one Swede and two Indians, he thought this was a questionable conduct that urgently needed to be addressed in a discourse. Consequently, he structured one of his katha performances in the gurdwara around the line “In the Jujar Veda Kan Krishna of the Yadva tribe seduced Chandraval by force” (juj meh jor chhali chandraval kanh krisan jadam bhaia) derived from the composition Asa di Var in Guru Granth Sahib and elaborated the backstory of how Krishna disguised himself as a woman in order to be able to stay in the house of Chandraval and sleep with her.15 While presenting a detailed explanation of a single line from the Sikh scripture, he could simultaneously convey a moral message about dissolute behaviors that conflict with an honorable Sikh way of living. This is one example of how Sikh preachers sometimes delicately wrap moral messages in exegetical discourses in a response to matters they have found alarming in the Sikh diaspora. They do this in a context-sensitive fashion because they consider it their duty to bring the Sikhs into the religious fold. The kathavacaks I have conversed with have consistently highlighted that they do not merely have a mission to create understanding of Sikh history, teaching, and texts, but a responsibility, by means of their katha, to make people in India and abroad aware of various social problems in society. In their view, the primary purpose of bringing up contemporary issues is to explain current events and problems in light of the gurus’ teaching and make people become attached to the Sikh teaching. As Bhai Akhbar Singh expressed, “If a tragedy happens to someone, by listening to that tragedy the sangat will connect with gurbani, the incident creates fear in people and makes them connect with gurbani” (Interview, Gothenburg, March 29, 2009). According to Bhai Sarabjit Singh, the widespread “diseases” within the Sikh community today are the practices of dowry, the killing of baby girls, the use of drugs, and political corruption, which the kathavacaks have an obligation to address in a gentle manner. As he continued, “We should not punch anyone, but there are ways of telling and giving signs without specifying so that people understand what you are talking about” (Interview, Jalandhar, January 16, 2010). All the Sikh preachers have emphasized that the gurus’ teaching

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enshrined in gurbani unfolds a seamless world of meanings that cover all aspects of human life and it is consequently their duty to enlighten people, even transform perceptions and practices in the broader society, in accordance with this teaching.

Conclusion This chapter has exemplified how contemporary Sikh preachers can be motivated, educated, and trained to pursue a career as religious expounders for a community that is no longer restricted to Punjab. Enmeshed in transnational networks, individual kathavacaks can have various motives and use different strategies for pursuing and maintaining a transnational profession and lifestyle. As religious specialists continuously crossing borders, they are responsible for interconnecting Sikhs in the “homeland” and in the diaspora and are often perceived to represent a traditional authority because of their religious knowledge and disciplined lifestyle. With a mission to spread and make the Sikh teaching relevant to changing circumstances, they are context-sensitive preachers who unceasingly accommodate rich religious material within a linguistically and culturally diverse community. As Peter van der Veer has argued with regard to migrant communities that are conservative in religious matters, “ ‘traditionalism’ requires considerable ideological creativity that transforms previous practices and discourses considerably” (van der Veer, 2004, p. 4). The act of translating religion into new contexts implies transformation of religious traditions, even among those whose interpretations claim to represent traditional and unchanging values. Elsewhere, I have argued that many Sikh kathavacaks are generally engaged in a process of “glocalizing” interpretations of Sikhism and the religious performance of katha by reproducing, articulating, and delineating the particularities of a Punjabi Sikh religion. When traveling between local congregations in different geographical locations, they are simultaneously culturally and linguistically adjusting their expositions to address the concerns of Sikhs with multiple affiliations and especially a younger generation brought up in the diaspora (Myrvold, forthcoming). However, in the academic study of Sikhism, the phenomenon and performance of katha and the profession of kathavacaks have been severely neglected. As Sikhs with diverse backgrounds continue to use katha as a means to learn and explore their religion, more empirical research is required in order to understand what implications transnationalism and contemporary transformations of the exegetical practices and professions may have for the future Sikh community.

Notes 1 The fieldwork has been conducted for the research project “Translating the Guru’s Words to Local and Translocal Contexts: Oral and Written Exegesis among Contemporary Sikhs” which is funded by the Swedish Research Council (2009–11). Within this project, I have collected personal biographies and conducted in-depth interviews with 11 kathavacaks in Punjab and Sweden and talked with numerous teachers, students, and principals at missionary colleges in Amritsar, Anandpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Roopar, and Talwandi Sabo.

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2 Recordings of his discourses delivered in Gurudwara Nauvi Patshahi in Jalandhar are also distributed on the internet (LongislandKeertan.com, 2008). 3 Chimta is an instrument made of tongs with jingling metal discs and is often used in Punjabi folk music and Sikh kirtan. 4 Giani Sant Singh Maskin worked as a kathavacak for almost 50 years and gained worldwide fame before his death in 2004. The private TV channel ETC used to televise his katha performances daily to over 86 countries—30 minutes in the morning after the program from Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar and 30 minutes after sunset. 5 The other two colleges under the management of SGPC are located in Anandpur and Budha Johar in Rajasthan (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, n.d.). 6 The other two colleges run by Sikh Missionary Colleges are located in Bhaur Saidain and Bareli. 7 As one of the college professors said in a newspaper article of 2008, “[a]bout 15 percent of students are sent abroad almost every year. We sponsor only those students who work hard and learn with complete dedication. Sometimes these students get the visa of six months and sometimes it gets extended by two years” (Bhagria, 2008). 8 The syllabus for Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College, for example, gives the principal the right to expel a student if he does not stay at the college hostel (Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College, n.d., p. 7). 9 As Finke and Dougherty define religious capital, it “consists of the degree of mastery of and attachment to a particular religious culture. The mastery of the religious culture refers to learning the knowledge, skills, and rituals of a specific religion.” Attachment to a religious culture includes “[r]eligious activities such as prayer, rituals, miracles, and mystical experiences built up over a lifetime, not only increasing confidence in the truth of a religion, but strengthening emotional ties to a specific bundle of religious culture” (Finke and Dougherty, 2002, p. 106). 10 The prescribed dress code at the schools for boys is usually a white pyjama kurta with a black or orange turban, while the missionary college for girls in Jalandhar stipulates a white shalwar qamiz and black keski. 11 Both colleges are represented on Facebook. As of January 2012, the Gurmat Gian Missionary College had 491 members on Facebook (Gurmat Gian Missionary College Ludhiana, n.d.) and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Sikh Missionary College had 278 “friends” (Sahibjada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College, n.d.). 12 Within the state of Punjab, the salary scales are usually governed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, while congregrations at other places follow norms set by local committees (Mavi, 2002; Myrvold, 2007). 13 For example, kathavacaks can tell stories of how they have arrived at an airport or a train station in an unknown place without anyone there to meet them. 14 The quotation is derived from the ninth stanza of the composition Tav Prashad Savaiyye in Dasam Granth. 15 The composition Asa di Var is found on pages 462–75 in Guru Granth Sahib and this particular line is on page 470.

Bibliography Allender, T. (2006), Ruling through Education: The Politics of Schooling in the Colonial Punjab. New Delhi: New Dawn Press.

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Bhagria, A. (2008), “A college with a difference” [Online]. Expressindia.com, April 13. Available at: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/A-college-with-adifference/296291/ [Accessed December 28, 2011]. Bhai Gurdas Gurmat Missionary College (2000), Prospectus. Ludhiana: Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib. Chaudry, A. (2011), “In Khadur Sahib Gurdwara, new age granthis mix religious studies with linguistics” [Online]. Indian Express, June 28. Available at: http://www. indianexpress.com/news/in-khadur-sahib-gurdwara-new-age-granthis-m/809488/ [Accessed December 28, 2011]. Finke, R. and Dougherty, K. D. (2002), “The effects of professional training: the social and religious capital acquired in seminaries.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 41(1), 103–20. Gill, M. S. and Joshi, S. S. (1999), Punjabi English Dictionary. Patiala: Punjabi University. Gurmat Gian Missionary College (n.d.), Prospectus for Diploma Course in Sikh Studies. Ludhiana: Gurmat Gian Missionary College. — (2012), “About us” [WWW], Gurmat Gian Missionary College, Ludhiana. Available at: http://www.gurmatgian.com/about-us/ [Accessed January 5, 2012]. Gurmat Gian Missionary College Ludhiana (n.d.), “Open group” [Facebook, online]. Available at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/groups/gurmatgian/ [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Gurudwara Nauvi Patshahi (n.d.), “Welcome” [WWW]. Available at: http:// gurudwaragtbjal.org/ [Accessed January 5, 2011]. Guru Kashi Gurmat Institute (2010), “Home” [WWW, online]. Available at: www. gurukashicollegeofsikhstudies.com/gkgi/index.html [Accessed January 5, 2012]. Kandel, W. and Massey, D. S. (2002), “The culture of Mexican migration: a theoretical and empirical analysis.” Social Forces, 80(3), 981–1004. LongislandKeertan.com (2008), “Multimedia section” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://www.longislandkeertan.com/multimedia.html [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Mann, G. S. (2005), “Sikh educational heritage.” Journal of Punjab Studies, 12(1), 1–27. Mavi, N. S. (2002), “Education of Sikh preachers,” in R. P. Singh and G. Rana (eds), Teacher Education in Turmoil: Quest for a Solution. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers, pp. 47–54. Mehta, S. (1990), Migration, a Spatial Perspective: A Case Study of Bist Doab Punjab. Jaipur: Rawat Publications. Myrvold, K. (forthcoming), “Translating the Guru’s words to local and global contexts: katha for contemporary Sikh communities,” in M. Hawley (ed.), Sikh Diaspora: Theory, Agency, and Experience. Leiden: Brill. — (2007), Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi. Lund: Media Tryck. Nishan-E-Sikhi (2009), “SGAD Institute of Religious Studies” [WWW, online], Khadur Sahib Taran Taran. Available at: http://www.nishan-e-sikhi.org/religious_study.htm [Accessed December 28, 2011]. Ozanne, W. I. (2010), “Religious identity and governmental education policies: the case of the Sikh community.” Comparative Education, 46(3), 339–58. Punjabi University Patiala (2009), “Scholarships” [WWW, online], Guru Gobind Singh Department of Religious Studies, Punjabi University Patiala. Available at: http:// punjabiuniversity.ac.in/pbiuniweb/pages/departments/religious%20studies.html” \l “syllabi [Accessed January 5, 2012].

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Robertson, R. (1995), “Glocalization: time–space and homogeneity–heterogeneity,” in M. Featherstone, S. Lash, and R. Robertson (eds), Global Modernities. London: Sage, pp. 25–44. Sahibjada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College (n.d.a), “Open group” [Facebook, online]. Available at: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn” \l “!/groups/ sjsgmcropar/ [Accessed January 12, 2012]. — (n.d.b), Prospectus: Tin Sala Gurmat Diploma Course. Roopar: Gurmat Missionary College. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (n.d.), “Sikh missions and Sikh missionary colleges” [WWW, online], Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar. Available at: http://www.sgpc.net/the-sgpc/index6_Eng.asp [Accessed January 5, 2012]. Sikh Missionary College (n.d.), “Regular missionary colleges” [WWW, online], Sikh Missionary College Ludhiana. Available at: http://www.sikhmissionarycollege.org/ page.php?id=16 [Accessed January 6, 2012]. — (2009), Tin Sala Sikh Missionary Diploma Course. Ludhiana: Sikh Missionary College. Singha, H. S. (1989), “Sikh educational movement: past and present,” in M. Singh (ed.), History and Culture of Punjab. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors, pp. 118–28. van der Veer, P. (2004), “Transnational religion: Hindu and Muslim movements.” Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, 7, 4–18. Walton-Roberts, M. (2005) “Transnational educational fundraising in Punjab: old practices, new readings.” Journal of Punjab Studies, 12(1), 129–52.

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The Journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italian Sikhs: Defining “National” Leadership in Transnational Mass Media Barbara Bertolani and Iqbal Singh1

On May 5, 2011, hundreds of Sikhs came together for prayers in the seaport town of Livorno in Italy. They celebrated the arrival of 450 sarops or “forms” of the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib. The scriptures had left Amritsar on April 19 with a delegation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC),2 transported on a bus that had been internally modified to assure them all the due respect. Accompanied by granthis, the holy texts had been placed on board some days after, to begin their journey to Italy (Mann, 2011; Rana, 2011a; Singh, K. H., 2011). The decision to organize the scriptures’ travel was made by the SGPC after a request from Harwant Singh Daduwal, the president of the national association Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia. In fact, he had asked for 200 copies of the scripture to satisfy the religious needs of the growing Italian and European Sikh communities. The arrival of the “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib was anticipated by SGPC members, who were in charge of formally welcoming them, together with the local Sikh congregations, and organizing their subsequent journey to the gurdwaras of Castelgomberto in Vicenza province and Cortenuova in Bergamo province. When the copies of Guru Granth Sahib reached Livorno (Adinolfi, 2011; La Nazione, 2011), the members of SGPC came to the seaport with other devotees. However, the president of the Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia only arrived some hours later—almost at the customs office’s closing time—and there was the risk that the bus transporting the scriptures would be detained over the weekend by the customs authorities. In fact, in order to deliver the bus, they needed the presence of Harwant Singh Daduwal, as documents from India were registered in his name. In the meantime, SGPC’s members succeeded in changing the documents’ headings through diplomatic channels, by explaining that this was not a normal delivery of “wares,” but something of utmost importance, and that nobody had paid money for it. Finally, the bus left the seaport and arrived in Castelgomberto, where the local community welcomed the “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib with the greatest respect. Two hundred and one holy scriptures were accompanied inside the gurdwara, and then the local community asked for the others to be taken off the bus.

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SGPC’s members insisted that the scriptures should reach the gurdwara in Cortenuova as previously agreed and tried to drive off, but the devotees stopped the bus. Finally, with the help of police intervention, the scriptures started their journey to Cortenuova in the middle of the night. The decisions concerning the reception and the transportation of the Guru Granth Sahib have created bitter controversies within the global Sikh community, which have been reported by transnational mass media (such as online journals, blogs, and satellite televisions), whereas the Italian press related nothing. In fact, some members of the congregation in Castelgomberto, apparently headed by Harwant Singh Daduwal,3 questioned SGPC’s members for failing to show due reverence to Guru Granth Sahib. At the same time, the SGPC accused Harwant Singh Daduwal of insulting SGPC’s members and for failing to respect the holy texts. During the summer 2011, Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh [summoned] . . . Daduwal to appear before clerics and submit his clarification following the complaint by SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh about non cooperation of society in the distribution of 450 birs of Guru Granth Sahib in Italy. (Rana, 2011b)

The case was deferred, as Singh Daduwal did not have the possibility to go to India on the suggested dates. Finally, he arrived in Amritsar with a delegation of other Italian Sikhs, but this time the SGPC’s members themselves postponed the meeting until January 3, 2012 (Rana, 2011c; Times of India, 2011c; International Panthic Dal, 2012). On January 3, 2012, Akal Takhat meted out a tanakhah (religious punishment) to Harwant Singh Daduwal, publicly condemning him for his disrespectful behavior. He was ordered to clean utensils, dust shoes, and recite the holy text of Guru Granth Sahib in a gurdwara in Italy. According to the decree, he must recite an ardas at the Akal Takhat, offering to the Sikh shrine the sum of 1,100 rupees for prashad (News24online, 2012; Outlook India, 2012; Singh, J., 2012). Akal Takhat’s decision has provoked reactions from other Italian gurdwara leaders, who have defended Harwant Singh Daduwal.4 In the meantime, the transportation of some “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib has continued from the gurdwara in Castelgomberto to other European shrines: Fourteen copies of the scripture have arrived at French gurdwaras, and the French community has publicly expressed gratitude to the Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia and to its leader Harwant Singh Daduwal (Panjabi Today, 2012). Officially, the dispute between some Italian Sikhs and the delegates of SGPC is about the respect given to the Guru Granth Sahib, perceived by the Sikhs as their living guru. Nevertheless, it seems that the controversy is more complex than this and needs to be framed by some circumstances that have occurred during the last decade within the growing Italian Sikh community. Our hypothesis is that the current facts should be interpreted and referred to as a process of “territorialization” through which the Italian Sikhs are redefining and modifying religious identity over time. We also argue that the current conflict is linked to competition for leadership on the national level and that the global communication networks exert a great influence on these processes. In general, through the spread of transnational mass media, Sikhs in various national contexts are continuously redefining religious symbols and meanings in relation

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to representations and discourses on a global level. We maintain that these global communicative processes may influence and support current definitions of religious identity among Italian Sikhs and possibly even empower national leaders when they acknowledge Sikh demands for recognition in relation to the Italian majority society and governmental bodies. In this chapter, we approach the question of showing respect and disrespect to Guru Granth Sahib by Sikh devotees and present a description of the events surrounding the journey of the Sikh holy scriptures to Italy, referring to direct and indirect sources and to the mass media.5 We contextualize these events and the debate that followed within a wider frame of discourses which can illustrate complex political demands of recognition among a growing Italian Sikh community, as well as how identity is negotiated and defined through the interaction between national affairs and transnational mass media.

The issue of “respect” for Guru Granth Sahib The basic principles of Sikhism are exposed in a nonsystematic way in the Sikh holy book, known as the Adi Granth or Guru Granth Sahib. The book consists of a very large amount of religious poetry—in modern printed editions, there are 1,430 pages by multiple authors. Besides compositions by the first five and the ninth Sikh guru, the Guru Granth Sahib also contains the hymns of several Hindu and Muslim bhagats (McLeod, 1996). The doctrinal framework that emerges from the Guru Granth Sahib is uniform and based on the message of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, and was later expanded and developed by the other gurus. The teaching transmitted by the hymns of the scripture is not only theological and philosophical in nature, but also inspires religious and moral principles that should guide the practical conducts and the social practices of the Sikhs (Peca, 2005). Therefore, the Guru Granth Sahib has a central importance in the religious practices of the Sikhs and devotees attribute a supreme authority to the text. Indeed, most Sikhs do not consider it a “simple” holy book comparable to the scriptures of other world religions, but rather perceive the holy scripture as their eternal religious authority, which provides spiritual guidance and “enfolds words of an ontologically divine nature and mediates the revelatory experiences and teaching of the historical human gurus” (Myrvold, 2007, p. 3). Although Sikhism confirms that the devotion of the faithful should be directed to God as the formless and supreme being, the object of worship is also the Guru Granth Sahib because its contents—the words and the teaching—is the personal guru of the Sikhs, “who mediates relationships between humans and God and shows the way to attain liberation” (ibid., p. 114). Therefore, the Guru Granth Sahib is considered as a “living guru,” beyond the physical form of the book; that is, the scripture is thought to contain the same divine substance, the same spiritual essence of its human predecessors. This assumption has historical roots: The Sikhs believe that on his deathbed in 1708, Guru Gobind Singh performed an installation ceremony during which he transferred the spiritual authority to the Guru Granth Sahib, stating that the scripture was from this moment the eternal guru of the Sikhs (McLeod, 1996). This event also sanctioned

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the end of a succession line of human gurus and inaugurated a tradition of giving reverence to the physical form of the sacred text, in similar ways that faithful Sikhs had approached the previously human gurus. According to the tradition, the Sikhs believe that the scripture from this moment onwards is their living guru. Since the Guru Granth Sahib, while having the outward form of a book, is believed to hold the same authority and spiritual essence of the previous ten human gurus, many Sikhs consider the scripture a subject for learning, devotion, and also social interaction. For example, gurseva or “selfless service to the guru” is an integral part of Sikh worship and includes a set of acts directed to the Guru Granth Sahib, like dusting the throne on which it is normally stored and offering blankets or clothes appropriate to the season. Through these concrete actions addressed to the physical form of the guru, the Sikhs express and manifest their devotion and also transform “the ‘mere’ book to a superior object by integrating it into daily routines and publicly displaying it as a ‘person’ of exalted status” (Myrvold, 2007, 2010a, p. 131). There are rituals for the teaching and the spirit of Guru Granth Sahib: They concern reading (path) and singing (kirtan) the words (bani) of the guru, and are aimed at activating divine words in the text. There are also other rituals to honor and pay respect to the physical form of the guru; they concern daily liturgies in the gurdwara, dedicated festival days, and even the lifecycle of the scripture (Myrvold, 2007, 2010a, 2010b). Apart from that, Sikhs have developed rules for transporting the physical form of the guru in a specific manner: The holy scripture has to be carried on the head by a barefoot devotee, it must be wrapped in clothes, dusted with a whisk, and accommodated on a suitable throne during the day or on a comfortable bed during the night (Myrvold, 2007). All these practices are aimed at making the scripture a person and allowing the Sikh devotees to build a relationship and a physical interaction with their guru. To give due respect to the Guru Granth Sahib is, therefore, not considered a matter of mere tradition. For many Sikhs, the performance of various conventional rituals to the scripture has a deep religious significance, while noncompliance is interpreted as a deplorable and blasphemous behavior. Over the course of time, Sikhs have redefined and reinterpreted these stipulated rules for handling and paying respect to the physical form of the guru according to modern innovations and contemporary needs. For example, the necessity to transport the Guru Granth Sahib to places far away from Punjab, to comply with the requests, and respond to the religious needs of the Sikhs in the diaspora has imposed innovative solutions to the logistical problems experienced by the SGPC and others. The intercontinental travels of Guru Granth Sahib have, therefore, resulted in the use of modern means of transport, such as airplanes, trains, and buses, which are sometimes modified on an ad hoc basis. In all these cases, transporting the scriptures like human passengers according to precise rules has ensured respect. For example, the copies of the scripture that arrived in Italy were sent in a bus expressly constructed by the SGPC for transporting Guru Granth Sahib, where each copy was kept separate from the others on special supports, like human passengers.6 The bus boarded a ship from Mumbai to Italy and, on their arrival in Livorno, the “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib were received by devotees who threw flower petals on the bus. At Castelgomberto, the first leg of their journey on Italian soil, the scriptures were greeted by the congregation with a prayer and then carried on the heads of Amritdhari Sikhs;7

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each scripture was carried by a barefoot Sikh walking into the gurdwara, followed by another devotee waving a whisk (chanwar) in his hand.8 Once in the gurdwara, the scriptures were dusted and then placed in a separate room, specially arranged with mattresses, blankets, draperies, and ornaments. At last, the clothes that the scriptures had been wrapped in during the journey were replaced with new ones. The fact that respect for the Guru Granth Sahib is of great importance to the Italian Sikhs has been demonstrated by the controversy that followed the journey of the scriptures in Italy and by the public display of a number of videos uploaded online. In fact, video recordings of the event document in detail, for a transnational Sikh community, the preparations for welcoming the physical forms of the guru in the congregation of Castelgomberto—the arrival, all stages of the transportation from the bus, and all subsequent acts of paying respect to the scriptures (YouTube, 2011b, 2011c, 2011d). These videos have a strong regulatory and normative content: On the one hand, they show the “correct” and respectful behavior implemented by the Italian Sikhs toward the scriptural guru. On the other hand, they attempt to highlight the presumed lack of respect given to the scriptures by the SGPC, which eventually sparked the controversy. In a Punjabi video, images show the efforts of the Sikh community of Castelgomberto to welcome the holy scripts: Rooms are prepared with new, still-wrapped mattresses, drapes, and decorations on the walls and ceiling, and ventilators to adjust the air temperature in summer. Then, images show the interior of the bus transporting the scriptures and the shelves on which they were placed. These shelves are criticized as inadequate and disrespectful, as “the sacred Maharaj [is put] in between the feet” and the same respect is given to the “driver and Guruji” by SGPC’s members. The video continues asserting that “The Guruji filled with joy the sangat [but] the joy was interrupted when the sangat was not allowed to serve the Guruji,” as “when 200 of Guru’s Saroop [the physical form of the Guru] reached the Sachkand place [the Guru’s resting place], they [SGPC members] said the rest of the 250 Saroops will go to other Gurdwaras” (YouTube, 2011a). The main controversy concerns the decision by the members of the SGPC to not ceremonially hand over all 450 copies of Guru Granth Sahib in Castelgomberto, but only 201, and then immediately continue the journey to the gurdwara in Cortenuova. The members of the SGPC are thus accused of having offended the Italian Sikhs and their desire to express devotion and profound respect. According to this interpretation, the devotees in Italy were eager to pay homage to all the scriptures after a long journey lasting several weeks, allowing them to rest in a suitable place. Moreover, the interior space of the bus as well as the presence of some objects in the vehicle were not considered appropriate and became issues of contestation. Beyond the content of these video recordings, it is interesting to underline the role that these virtual messages play in determining the practices of conduct that should be considered adequate/inadequate toward the scriptures. The messages conveyed tend to reinforce the orthodoxy of certain behaviors and match the Sikhs with the Amritdharis, although they are in a minority, at least in the Italian community.9 Moreover, even among the Amritdhari Sikhs—through the criticism of the organization of the transportation of Guru Granth Sahib by SGPC and the decisions of its delegates—these virtual

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messages suggest a rigid, precise, and univocal interpretation of the rules for transporting the physical form of the guru with the necessary respect. The general consequences are a lack of recognition of the internal pluralism of the Sikhs (Ballard, 1989; Restelli, 2005), in favor of a homogeneous self-representation.10 The rise of Sikh religious identity, as a defining and distinctive element in public representations, is somewhat in progress for Italian Sikhs. In fact, they have recently begun to present and define their religious identity in Italy, emphasizing an Amritdhari interpretation, as a result of local politics of recognition. This process can be interpreted as a consequence, specific in their outcomes, of current processes of “territorialization” by the Italian Sikh communities. Instead, at a national level, as we will show in the following pages, this process is in progress and is the result of several news items (such as, for example, the deliberate targeting and discrimination against turbaned British and Indian Sikhs in Italian airports) that have gained great emphasis in transnational mass media, starting a debate among the local Sikh communities and encouraging them to participate in public events to ask for recognition by the Italian government.

Being a Sikh in Italy: Different strategies in local contexts In an analysis of the earliest group of Punjabi migrants to the United States, who settled in rural California during the first decades of the twentieth century, Karen Leonard argues that, for those “pioneers,” religion was not conceived as a salient characteristic defining their social identity (Leonard, 1989). As Punjabi Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs worked, socialized, and lived together, it seems to be more appropriate for the author to speak about a Punjabi rather than a Sikh diaspora, at least at the beginning of the settlement. This argument is also found in McLeod’s work on Punjabis in New Zealand at the end of the nineteenth century (McLeod, 1986, 1989). Immigration from Punjab to Italy is a far more recent phenomenon occurring in a very different historical, social, and economic context (Bertolani, 2011; infra; Bertolani et al., 2011). Italy has for a long time been perceived as a second choice destination or a transit route, while migratory flows tended to be oriented elsewhere. This started changing only in the 1980s, in conjunction with a series of general factors, like the closing of the frontiers in many English-speaking and Northern European countries and the civil war in Punjab, which pushed many young people to look for refuge abroad. Although there are many differences among the Punjabi diasporas, for the first generation of Punjabi immigrants in Italy, religious identity was one element defining their individual and collective identity along with other characteristics, such as caste, lineage (got), and regional and geographical origin within Punjab (Bertolani, 2005, 2012). In the early stages of migration and settlement, all these belongings were used to define fictitious kinship networks, within which migrants could mobilize resources to help their socioeconomic inclusion in Italy. Only recently have the Sikhs in Italy begun to emphasize religion as a distinctive and defining element of their identity in relation to other Punjabis and Italians. This new emphasis on religion concerns the characteristics of the local “territory” of settlement, particularly in the north of Italy, where the Sikhs have settled more

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permanently and are well integrated into the local society from a socioeconomic point of view.11 In an ethnographic and comparative study of three Sikh communities in different Italian regions (the provinces of Rome and Latina in the Lazio region, near Terni in the Umbria region, and in Novellara near Reggio Emilia in the Emilia Romagna region), at different moments in time (in the case of Rome in the late 1990s, while the other two studies were carried out about ten years later), Ester Gallo and Silvia Sai have found that Sikhs are using quite different strategies for settlements. Many of the migrants interviewed in Rome were without residence permits or had arrived in Italy because of the civil war in Punjab. They had visited other parts of Europe before migrating to Italy and lived in Rome under precarious and uncertain conditions. Being far away from their families, they represented the typical category of “male migrants” who were considered potentially “dangerous” by the local host society. These Sikhs reported experiences of vulnerability in India and discrimination in Italy and, therefore, tended to hide and camouflage their religious affiliation, avoiding the use of Sikh symbols for fear of assault, intimidation, and rejection. The study conducted in Novellara near Reggio Emilia revealed a very different situation. In this case, the Sikh religion was used as an instrument of “territorialization” and emplacement in the local context. In fact, religion was used strategically to promote a public collective identity, which was recognized and received positively by the local Italian society. In Reggio Emilia, the Sikh migration is to a larger extent structured on reunited families and organized on the basis of extensive kinship networks that are reconstructed in the local territory (Bertolani, 2005). In this situation, being an Amritdhari becomes a reappropriation of a public identity and a sign of increased social status and successful migration. Finally, the Sikhs in Terni appeared to constitute a more structured community than the one in Rome but not yet as well established as the Sikh community in Emilia (Gallo and Sai, 2012, forthcoming). In the case of Reggio Emilia, the research has thus illustrated that the presence of the Sikhs in the public space is strongly marked by religion: The Sikhs promote a collective image by defining themselves primarily as a religious group. This process occurs through the adoption of several communication strategies in relation to the local host society. First, the Sikhs present their religion as universal and translatable to any culture (Bertolani et al., 2012). Secondly, a number of important religious events that are celebrated by the Sikhs, such as Nagar Kirtan and Vaisakhi, are publicly displayed in the local context as folkloristic and cultural events that overlap the ethnic and religious dimensions, while politicized and institutional aspects of religion are downplayed (Gallo and Sai, 2012, forthcoming). The study by Gallo and Sai shows the different ways adopted by Italian Sikhs to redefine their religious identity in the local public space, and highlights the difficulties they can face while constructing and expressing a leadership that can represent a collective voice and raise cases on the national level. We believe that it is premature to say that there is an Italian Sikh leadership that is nationally recognized by the host society and by the majority of Italian Sikhs. Nevertheless, as we will show, the controversy surrounding the journey of the Guru Granth Sahib, along with several other events that occurred in 2011, are signs of a need to define a leadership of the

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Sikh community in Italy and of the ongoing competition for the identification of this leadership. To understand these developments, we need to consider the rapid growth of the Italian Sikh community in recent years.

The growth of the Italian Sikh community: Defining a shared religious identity? The first gurdwara in Italy dates back to 1991 and was opened in the province of Reggio Emilia (Emilia Romagna) for worship on Sundays.12 As the first public place of worship, this gurdwara has great symbolic importance for the whole Italian Sikh community from a social as well as a religious point of view. Over the years, the gurdwara has acted as a catalyst in the process of internal migration from the south to the north of the peninsula, providing logistical support and hospitality to newcomers, and becoming a place where all Sikhs in Italy can gather and exchange information. From a religious point of view, the first gurdwara gave impetus to the birth and the progressive institutionalization of other local Sikh communities and supported their growth in various ways. The first collective gurdwara in Italy was established by Sikhs who were linked together by a vast ethnic and kin network. During the first stages in particular, the kinship bonds and caste affiliations created the conditions under which a cohesive group of promoters was able to consolidate.13 It is interesting to note that the original gurdwara project was warmly supported by Sikhs from outside of Italy and especially by a Sikh missionary from England (Gallo and Sai, 2012). After the first gurdwara opened in an abandoned flour mill in Rio Saliceto, the community in Reggio Emilia gradually institutionalized. Having received donations from Sikh devotees throughout Italy and also from the Hindu community of Reggio Emilia,14 the Sikhs inaugurated a new place of worship in 2000 with the President of the European Commission, Mr Romano Prodi, present. Since the end of the twentieth century, the growth of the Italian Sikh community has been rapid and constant. In 2011, 20 years after the opening of the first gurdwara, there are 39 gurdwaras that are mainly concentrated in the north (Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, and Veneto) and in the center (especially in Lazio) of Italy. The distribution and characteristics of these gurdwaras reflect the local settlements of the Indian population (Bertolani et al., 2011). There are also many internal differences between the gurdwaras: The first gurdwaras to be constructed are all situated in the north (such as the one in Novellara, but also those of Castelgomberto and Cortenuova) and are permanent establishments, located in purchased buildings and normally serving numerous congregations within wider areas. The gurdwaras in the middle and in the south of Italy usually serve much smaller groups of devotees and are characterized by more instability. The growth of Italian Sikh communities has also manifested in the establishment of different national associations. In 2001, the Sikhs founded the first association called Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia (literally meaning “Sikhism Religion Italy Association”) based in the province of Vicenza. The aim of this organization was to

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. . . promote the awareness of Sikh culture and religion, through studies, common prayers, and meetings to reaffirm the ethnic, cultural, moral, and social roots between the places of origin of Indians and the resident Italians; to promote the social inclusion of ethnic cultures different from the Latin, in the Italian territory, and respecting the common spiritual ideals that unite the human brotherhood. (Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia, 2001)

The association has a strong relationship with the gurdwara of Novellara in nearby Reggio Emilia, since some of the members of this gurdwara are also members of the steering committee of the association. Sikhismo Religione Italia has begun to play a political role at local and national levels by promoting the demands of Sikhs. Although the statute speaks about reaffirming the ethnocultural, moral, and social roots of the Indian people, the activities of the association have promoted Sikhism (intended both as culture and as religion) and have gradually been inclined to support the main requests of Khalsa Sikhs. One of its first claims has focused on the right to wear a turban in the photographs that are used for identification cards and documents, as Italy had no clear legislation on this matter until 2003. A second issue that Sikhismo Religione Italia has brought up for debate is the right to wear a kirpan in public places. A witness reports the first stages of Sikh identity recognition by the Italian government: [In 2003 with] Berlusconi’s government . . . [a converted Italian Sikh had written a letter to the Prime Minister]. We were received by the undersecretary. I went to the meeting with the President of the national association, the president of Novellara’s gurdwara, a representative of the Sikh community in Rome, and another converted Italian Sikh. We tried to point out this problem of the turban on documents . . . The other problem [we pointed out] was the kirpan . . . [we were told that] we should . . . ask for recognition of the Sikh religion . . . So we . . . prepared all the documents, then we asked for another meeting [at the Ministry of Internal Affairs]. At that stage the issue of Sikh politics began . . . [we did not agree anymore on who should take part in this second meeting. Finally, the converted Italian Sikh was replaced] . . . Then we went there [and we were told that the issue of the kirpan] was . . . very difficult [to solve] . . . [because of] the law on public security, which forbids the wearing of a knife longer than four fingers in a public place because it is dangerous. . . . (Interview with Bhagat Singh, November 2011)

Ten years ago, the request for recognition of Sikhism by the Italian state was a consequence of the desire to be authorized to wear a kirpan in public spaces. In other words, the demand was initially related to religious symbols and not to the recognition of Sikhism in itself. This suggests that the process of constructing a Sikh public identity on the national level was at that time at a very early stage. In fact, this request of recognition seemed to be more a matter of a few devotees claiming the right to practice their religion, rather than a question of “national interest” concerning the relationship between the majority of Italian society and a minority with a clearly and collectively defined religious identity in the public space. Nor did it seem to be a battle to state

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the civil rights of everyone. Moreover, at that time, this first effort did not gain much relevance in mass media, but apparently the whole thing occurred as a sort of dialog among certain individuals and the state. Some of the first promoters who took the initiative in creating dialogs with national institutions were Italians who had converted to Sikhism, and who were later replaced by Indians considered more “similar” to the group of Punjabi Sikhs. Even if the former were appointed as representatives for Sikhs, especially at these early stages, it seems to us that their role has been variable and their recognition ambiguous. The religious and social divisions within Sikh communities are frequently emphasized in scholarly literature (Ballard, 1989; Restelli, 2005). For example, with reference to non-Punjabi American and European converted Sikhs, Verne Dusenbery has put into question the idea of a common Sikh identity, recalling the dilemma of recognition of Sikhism as a political or a religious entity. The author speaks about two different and powerful narratives (Sikhism as “nation” or as “world religion”) “entailing different inclusions and exclusions and invoking quite different poetics and politics of recognition” (Dusenbery, 1999, p. 128). The events in Italy suggest that, even among Italian Sikhs, different “narratives” of Sikhism were immediately summarizing themselves, depending on whether Sikhism was prevalently linked to a territorial, cultural, and also “ethnic” or national origin, or if the emphasis was placed on the quest for universal values. The Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia, which attempts to gain national recognition for certain issues, seems to have employed different narratives depending on its interlocutors and on the different stages of its action. Italian converted Sikhs have been involved mostly in the first phases, contacting national institutions to present Sikhism as a universal religion practiced by Italian citizens and not just by Indian immigrants. But then, another narrative of Sikhism, more linked to a national, cultural, and “ethnical” origin, has apparently gained more importance because during the following encounters with the Italian government, the Sikh delegation was composed of only Punjabi Sikhs. Moreover, it is interesting to note that there are no Italian Sikhs among the founders of this association. Another opportunity for the Sikhs to gain national recognition occurred in 2006–8 when the Prodi government presented the so-called Carta dei Valori (literally “Charter of Values”) to immigrant communities.15 A witness reports what happened in this period: I went to Rome several times . . . They [the government] were ready to give us a permit for the kirpan . . . I spoke there with the security chief [who told me that if we would prepare an official document stating that the Sikh kirpan does not have a cutting edge, must have a rounded tip, and is no more than 9 cm long with 6 cm of blade, then it would not be necessary] to change the laws on security . . . I asked [the president of the national association to give me this statement, because with this permit] . . . even our religion would be recognized by the government . . . They [those of the national association] . . . did not give me this statement . . . [because they said that they did not want any conditions placed on the kirpan. Shortly thereafter] there was the fall of the government [and we lost the opportunity]. (Interview with Bhagat Singh, September 2011)

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The episode confirms the dialectics within the Sikh community, even among Amritdharis themselves: Interpreting the kirpan as a religious symbol, rather than as a traditional weapon of defense, prevents a shared and unified position which, in turn, slows down the process of institutional recognition. The Sikhs seem to struggle to express a view that represents the majority of Italian Sikhs and, thereby, recognize themselves in a univocal leadership. The internal pluralism among Italian Sikhs was also expressed in 2007 when a second nonprofit national association, the Italy Sikh Council ONLUS, was created in the province of Bergamo. According to the statute, the organization has solidarity objectives and is targeted at the “Indian immigrants.” Moreover, it aims to promote Indian culture and art, and “Sikh culture and religion, through study, prayer, and meetings.” The association also intends to educate and train people “through the preaching of religion designated ‘Shiri Guru NanakDevji’ and the publication of books and religious pamphlets” (Italy Sikh Council ONLUS, 2007). The two national associations appear to be linked and at the same time in mutual rivalry.As a matter of fact, some of the founders of the first national association (Sikhismo Religione Italia), probably expressing the internal pluralism among Italian Sikhs, have participated in the second foundation (Italy Sikh Council ONLUS). Furthermore, if we examine the statutes of the two national associations, it is interesting to notice that they are very similar in some of their parts, as they both recall the Sikh religion and the ethnocultural, moral, and social roots traced back to Indian origins. But there are also some important differences: Although both refer explicitly to Sikhism, the statute of Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia ends with a section titled “The Sikh religion and its culture,” where the list of the ten gurus is reported, as well as a description of the Khalsa, the five Ks, and the statement that the Guru Granth Sahib is a living guru for Sikhs.16 The document concludes by stating that the Sikhs’ greeting is “Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa Vahiguru ji ki fateh” (Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia, 2001). On the contrary, in the statute of Italy Sikh Council ONLUS, there is no explicit reference to the Khalsa and the rules of conduct (rahit) observed by the Amritdhari Sikhs, while the document explicitly recalls “the religious creed defined ‘Shiri Guru NanakDevji’” and the importance of teaching and preaching through informative materials (Italy Sikh Council ONLUS, 2007). The Italy Sikh Council ONLUS is strongly linked to the gurdwara of Cortenuova in the province of Bergamo in the Lombardy region. In fact, its president is also the president of the steering committee of this gurdwara. The association has begun to carry out its work at the local level, becoming a point of reference for Punjabi residents in Lombardy and a representative in the dialog with local institutions, but the association has also presented itself as an interlocutor for the Italian Sikhs at the national level. The birth of this second association has apparently fostered, especially in the north, the rise of informal but distinct alliances and collaborations between those gurdwaras that identify themselves more with the ideas and initiatives of the promoters of the Italy Sikh Council and those others that sympathize instead with Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia. As a result, these two associations seem to be in mutual competition at the national level, separately carrying out public initiatives to support the demands of recognition of Italian Sikhs. As one informant says: “You know, here in Italy there

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is this kind of politics: If you proposed a public initiative, I will not participate . . . If I began, then the others will not [take part . . . ].” We suppose that this is not just the outcome of domestic rivalries but is probably also connected with the expression of different kinds of “authorities” within the Sikh global community. Speaking about internal pluralism among Italian Sikhs, the same informant says: The Sikhs do not go so well together for religious reasons . . . Some say that “Damdam takhsal”17 is “superior” . . . Others say that AKJ18 is [better] . . . we could say that there are different “mentalities” that occasionally [create discussions] . . . (Interview with Jiwan Singh, December 2011)

It is not yet clear how and to what extent this pluralism will affect the struggle for recognition and representation among Italian Sikhs and influence the public actions of the two national associations. What is interesting to underline here is that there is a link among global Sikh communities, processes of identity redefinition, and demands for recognition at a local/national level. This link is strengthened by global mass media, as they create a transnational communicative space where local events may gain global relevance, or international debates may interfere with national affairs. This is what happened in 2011: The issue of Sikh identity surfaced in public discourses in global mass media when Amritinder Singh, the coach of the international golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, was told to take off his turban by the security staff at Malpensa Airport in Milan. Despite his protests, he was obliged to put the turban in the same boxes where shoes and other objects are placed to be screened. After having written a letter to the Indian government protesting about this treatment, the Indian minister of foreign affairs contacted the Italian ambassador and protested formally, while the Italian diplomat assured that this was an isolated case (La Repubblica, 2011a). A few days later, the same episode was repeated, when Amritinder Singh passed the security checks on his way out of Malpensa Airport. Again, the diplomatic channels were activated, while in the Indian parliament the Congress Party and the minister of foreign affairs were challenged and accused of being passive instead of asserting the rights of minorities, and above all the Sikhs. While the case of Amritinder Singh gained attention in the media worldwide (Ani, 2011; Deccan Herald, 2011a; Indian Express, 2011; Moushumi Bora, 2011; The Hindu, 2011; The Siasat Delhi, 2011; Times Now Online, 2011a,b), only local newspapers in Italy reported about the events (La Repubblica, 2011a,b). The events developed into a diplomatic issue between India and Italy and the ministers of foreign affairs from both countries met in Rome to try to solve the matter. Some days later, on June 4, Indian newspapers reported that “Sikhs traveling to Italy will no longer have to remove their turbans at the airport during security screening” (The Times of India, 2011b). This news was claimed to be a great victory of Indian diplomacy, but some weeks later, a Sikh missionary leaving Verona on his way to the United Kingdom was requested to remove his turban. The issues of turbans and of discrimination against turbaned Sikhs in Italy continued to be discussed in global mass media. On September 2011, a satellite

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television channel called “Sikh Channel” proposed the organization of a public demonstration, called “D Day” (dastar day) to take place at the same time in five European cities, to sensitize public awareness to turbans and Sikhs. In Rome, this public event was organized in collaboration with the Italy Sikh Council, while Associazione Sikhismo Italia did not take part. The day after the demonstration, another important meeting was organized in Rome with the Indian ambassador, representatives of the Italian government, and leaders of the security services at Italian airports, members of the British Sikh Council, of Associazione Sikhismo Italia, and of Italy Sikh Council. During this meeting, the deliberate and systematic control of all turbaned Sikhs was condemned as a serious form of discrimination and proposals were made to carry out turban checks randomly and only after having passed other types of screening with a metal detector.19 Apart from the results of this meeting, it is interesting to note that this event was supported by the British Sikh Council, and was linked to the debate on disrespect toward British and Indian Sikhs in Italian airports that had developed in the global mass media during the previous months. In other words, the controversy regarding security checks of turbans gained great importance in public debates within the Italian Sikh communities, but this debate was mostly caused by the attention that the cases gained in global mass media. Both Italian national associations had promoted meetings and initiatives at a local level on this subject, but they had failed to unite the Italian Sikhs on a national level. As they were involved and took part in the meeting, both of them were legitimated to represent Italian Sikhs. Nevertheless, the diplomatic efforts to solve the conflict were sustained mainly by the transnational Sikh community (i.e. the British Sikh Council) that directly interfered in the national affairs. These transnational activities demonstrate the existing link between Italian and global Sikh communities, as well as the constant processes of redefinition of religious symbols and meanings, in relation to representations and discourses on a global level. At the same time, this example highlights that transnational initiatives may empower national leaders of the Sikh community by involving local representatives.

The journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italy The events surroundings the transportation of Guru Granth Sahib that we have described at the beginning of this chapter must be interpreted by considering the existence of two national Sikh associations in Italy. They seem to be in competition to gain visibility, as both are struggling for Sikh demands of recognition at a national level. The president of one of these associations and of the gurdwara of Castelgomberto had applied the SGPC for 200 “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib. In this manner, the association has taken charge to organize the route of Guru Granth Sahib throughout Italy and Europe, responding to the demands and the needs of the growing European Sikh communities.20 This type of seva had strong religious and symbolic significances and could also come to include political effects, reinforcing the reputation of Associazione Sikhismo Italia and its leaders within the local Italian as well as the transnational Sikh

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community. At the same time, this seva could reinforce the importance and the prestige of the gurdwara of Castelgomberto among Italian gurdwaras, where the holy scriptures were to be enshrined. The SGPC determined autonomously to organize the transportation of 450 scriptures of Guru Granth Sahib and sent representatives who, upon their arrival in Italy, decided that 201 of the scriptures were to be accompanied to Castelgomberto and the others should travel to Cortenuova, where they would continue their journey to other gurdwaras in the north of Italy. The resolution sparked the conflicts with the local congregation in Castelgomberto, even though the position of the SGPC was eventually accepted. Apparently, through this decision, the SGPC identified the internal pluralism among Italian Sikhs and recognized the existence and the role of both national associations. By doing so, the SGPC somehow delegated both associations to accomplish the same seva. We can suppose that the conflict between some members of the local community of Castelgomberto and the SGPC was linked to this decision and to its consequences on a political level. Officially, this conflict regarded the matter of respect/disrespect toward the “forms” of Guru Granth Sahib. As we have argued, this question is of utmost importance for Sikhs, who have through time developed rules to express and preserve respect. Those rules—such as those related to the transportation of the physical form of the guru—are somehow related to conventional behaviors, which might be reinterpreted over time, or adjusted to the contemporary needs of Sikh communities. In our opinion, all videos uploaded online concerning the journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italy and showing in a normative way the correct behavior of the community of Castelgomberto, might be linked with dynamics of identity redefinition of Italian Sikhs in the public space, and with the proposal of a leadership for Italian Sikhs: While criticizing the presumed disrespectful behavior of SGPC’s members, these messages seem to have other political motivations. The need to define a leadership for Italian Sikhs is linked to the growing of local communities and to processes of redefinition of Sikhs’ identities in the local public spaces. At a national level, the internal pluralism among Sikhs has caused difficulties in communicating in a unitary way any demands of recognition in relation to the Italian majority society and governmental bodies. During the last months of 2011, Italian Sikhs have gained a more unitary voice as a result of transnational activities by associations like the British Sikh Council, and as a consequence of public debates on the turban, which were sustained by global mass media. These debates have manifested the importance of global communicative processes, which may influence current definitions of religious identity among national Sikh communities. In all these processes, global mass media have played a central role, building a communicative transnational space, acting like a loud-sounding board, amplifying local affairs and translating them in the Sikh communicative arena. The journey of Guru Granth Sahib has been the one important event through which Italian Sikhs have redefined messages, symbols, and interpretations in relation to representations and discourses on a transnational level.

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Notes 1 Both authors have devised this chapter. Barbara Bertolani has written the introduction and the sections “The issue of ‘respect’ for Guru Granth Sahib,” “Being a Sikh in Italy: Different strategies in local contexts,” as well as “The journey of Guru Granth Sahib to Italy.” Iqbal Singh wrote “The growth of the Italian Sikh community: Defining a shared religious identity?” 2 The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is an autonomous organization, which was founded in 1920 to administrate gurdwaras in India. The British recognized its role in 1925 through the Sikh Gurdwaras Act. The SGPC is elected by Sikhs and is provided legal status; it is comparable to a religious government that decides on religious matters and administrates the offerings of the most important Indian gurdwaras (see McLeod, 1997; Restelli, 2005). 3 Harwant Singh Daduwal is the president of the leading committee of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Castelgomberto. 4 On January 17, 2012, members of the leading committee of the Gurdwara of Fiorenzuola (in the province of Parma) defended Harwant Singh Daduwal by sending a public declaration to Punjab Express. They maintain that the president of the gurdwara of Castelgomberto has not in any way offended SGPC’s members, that he is innocent and that, on the contrary, he is distinguished by his tireless and constant commitment to supporting and diffusing Sikhism in Italy (Punjab Express, 2012). 5 The reconstruction of the events is based on seven informal speeches and three semistructured interviews with presidents of gurdwaras in North Italy and Sikh devotees, who were interested in the matter. Moreover, information has been collected through online videos and newspapers and Italian and Punjabi websites (blogs and YouTube). Data on the Sikh community in general have been obtained through previous research studies conducted in Emilia Romagna and Lombardy (see Bertolani, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012). The anonymity of the informants has been protected in the text by the use of pseudonyms. We have indicated family names only while referring to news published by journals, as the identity of protagonists was reported there as well. 6 The Times of India reported the news of another precedent: “In 2004, Sachha Sauda Gurmat Parchar Society, Canada, had airlifted a planeload of copies of Guru Granth Sahib from Amritsar for placing them in gurdwaras across Canada and North America. One copy each was placed on aircraft seats, which had a special canopy and mattresses” (Times of India, 2011a). 7 Amritdharis are those Sikhs who have been initiated to Khalsa by taking amrit (nectar water). They have to follow certain rules of conduct and wear the five symbols of Sikhism (called panj kakke or the five Ks). 8 All these behaviors are traditional signs of respect toward the physical form of the guru. For the same reason, when entering a gurdwara, visitors must cover their heads, remove their shoes, and wash their feet and hands. 9 In general, Amritdharis seem to be historically prevalent under a cultural and political point of view (Peca, 2005). McLeod locates the historical origin of this prevalence to the reform movement of Singh Sabha associations in the late nineteenth century (McLeod, 1997). The prevalence of the Tat Khalsa association led to a political and cultural predominance of the Khalsa: Only Amritdharis could be said to be “true” Sikhs, all others (e.g. Sahajdharis) were placed within the prevailing pattern of the

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Sikhs Across Borders Khalsa, meaning sahaj as “slow,” or called “slow” in adopting the specific Khalsa code of conduct and belief (rahit). Since then, the Sikh identity defined by the Tat Khalsa reformers remained dominant and this interpretation of Sikhism is till today a depositary of Sikh orthodoxy (Khalsa, 1999; Peca, 2005). On the role of the Sikh Panth Sahajdhari, see Lal, 1999. It would, however, be inappropriate to think of this process as something completely approved: The same construction of identity is always proceeding, manipulable, and interpretable from a symbolic point of view, both individually and collectively. Considering the extensive literature on these aspects, we refer to the anthropological school of Manchester and the concept of ethnic identity that emerges not as an ontological essence but as a social and situational construction (see for example, Mitchell, 1956, 1969; Mayer, P. and Mayer, I., 1962; Epstein, 1978). We refer here to a dominant representation of identity in public discourse that is constructed within a transnational communicative space. The differences between migratory patterns in different regional Italian contexts are analyzed in Bertolani et al., 2011. The south still tends to be a territory of passage, where many Sikhs stop in the first phase of their migration and stay, for example, till they have acquired regular residence permits. Settling down there is more difficult because of problematic work conditions. In the north, many Sikhs reunite with other members of their kin networks, as there are more economic possibilities. Previously, there was only one place of worship and meditation run by converted Italians to practice the yoga discipline, and another more informal place, open only occasionally, both in Lazio. On the role of networks based on kinship and affinity of caste in the process of establishing the first Italian gurdwara, see Bertolani, 2004. On the issue of caste in Sikhism, see for example, McLeod, 1996; Ballard, 1989. It is interesting that, initially, the Hindu community had adhered to the collection of money to finance the proposed acquisition of land and construction of a gurdwara in Novellara, believing, in fact, that they would be able to exercise their religious functions too. According to some Hindus interviewed, this hope was later dismissed (although the Sikhs argue that the gurdwara is open to all religions and that every Sunday, even Hindus participate in religious services). This has led in recent years to the opening of a Hindu temple (mandir) in nearby Novellara. The “Charter of values of citizenship and integration” is a document presented by the minister for internal affairs, Amato, in 2006, which aims to summarize and make explicit the fundamental principles of Italian law that regulate collective life, of both Italian citizens and immigrants, to reaffirm the principles of peaceful coexistence and the rights and duties of immigrant communities in Italy, including that of religious freedom (see Ministero dell’Interno, 2006, n.d.). For a critique of the “charter” and of integration policies in Italy in general, see Bertolani et al., 2012. This section of the statute continues stating that Sikhs believe in the existence of a unique God for all human beings and respect all other religions; gurdwaras are defined as places of worship that welcome all religions and all people, even from different social classes. Then, the statute asserts that Sikhs are vegetarians and that the three fundamental values in Sikhism are to pray, to work, and to divide and consume food with others. Moreover, Sikhs must remove their shoes and cover their heads before entering a gurdwara, as well as avoid alcohol and drugs. Damdami Taksal is an organization that has educative and religious facilities in nearby Amritsar. Their followers attribute its foundation to the will of the tenth

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guru, Gobind Singh, who entrusted it with the responsibility of teaching the reading, analysis, and recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib. The Damdami Taksal followers have their own version of the Sikh code of conduct, the Gurmat Rahit Maryada, which differs from the Rahit Maryada published by the SGPC. The Damdami Taksal has been linked to the Khalistan movement (see Damdami Taksal, n.d.) 18 Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ) is an organization “dedicated to the promotion of Tat-Gurmat, Khalsa Rahit, and GurSikhi Jivan. The primary aim of the Jatha is to propagate the message of the Sikh Guru Sahibans, through Gurmat Diwans, Smagams, Akhand Patths, and Amrit Sanchaars. The Jatha encourages the GurSikhi lifestyle through spiritual progression, rehat, bibek, and truthful living. It organizes Gurmat Smagams, Kirtan, and Youth activities under the coordination of local Sangat in Punjab, Europe, and Canada, US, and other parts of the world” (Akhand Kirtani Jatha, 2012). 19 Nevertheless, the issue of checking turbans at Italian airports still appears to be awaiting a solution. On December 2011, even a pilot working for Jet Airlines was told to take off his turban in Malpensa Airport. This news was reported by transnational mass media, while Italian newspapers ignored the matter (see for example, Deccan Herald, 2011b). 20 As a matter of fact, some scriptures have already been accompanied to France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Greece, Germany, and Spain from Castelgomberto.

Bibliography Adinolfi, G. (2011), “Testi sacri sikh sulla nave e al porto 250 fedeli li accolgono” [WWW, online]. La Repubblica. Available at: http://firenze.repubblica.it/cronaca/2011/05/05/ news/testi_sacri_sikh_sulla_nave_e_al_porto_250_fedeli_li_accolgono-15833790/ [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Akhand Kirtani Jatha (2012), “Official website of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://akj.org/skins/one/ [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Ani (2011), “Turban row: Sikh outfit leaders meet Italian envoy in Delhi” [WWW, online]. Newstrack India. Available at: http://newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/211712 [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia (2001), Atto Costitutivo della “Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia.” Arzignano: Paper. Ballard, R. (1989), “Differentiation and disjunction amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. G. Barrier and V. A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora. Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab. Delhi: Chanakya Publications, pp. 200–33. Bertolani, B. (), “I templi sikh e indù in provincia di Reggio Emilia come luoghi per l’autogestione di servizi sociali e assistenziali,” in R. De Vita and F. Berti (eds), Pluralismo Religioso e Convivenza Multiculturale. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. –. — (), “I sikh in provincia di Reggio Emilia: processi di ridefinizione dell’appartenenza religiosa.” Religioni e Società, XIX, , –. — (2005), “Gli indiani in Emilia: tra reti di relazioni e specializzazione del mercato del lavoro,” in D. Denti, M. Ferrari, and F. Perocco (eds), I Sikh. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 163–76. — (2006), “Presi nella rete: migranti e network transnazionali,” in A. Zanotti (ed.), Migranti Globali. Tra Movimento e Sedentarietà. Firenze: Le Lettere, pp. 69–86.

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— (2009), “Reti migratorie, rappresentanze e periferie: riflessioni a partire da uno studio di caso,” in A. Zanotti and R. De Angelis (eds), Periferie e Migranti Globali. Spazio, Conflitto e Rappresentanza. Firenze: Le Lettere, pp. 141–60. — (2011), “Le famiglie indiane,” in M. Tognetti Bordogna (ed.), Famiglie ricongiunte. Esperienze di Ricongiungimento di Famiglie del Marocco, Pakistan e India. Torino: UTET Editore, pp. 183–222. — (2012, forthcoming), “The Punjabis in Italy: the role of ethnic and family networks in immigration and social integration processes,” in I. Rajan (ed.), Migrations, Mobility and Multiple Affiliations: Punjabis in a Transnational World. Delhi, India: Routledge. Bertolani, B., Ferraris, F., and Perocco, F. (2011), “Mirror games: a fresco of Sikh settlements among Italian local societies,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe. Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 133–61. Bertolani B. and Perocco, F. (2012, forthcoming), “Religious belonging and new ways of being ‘Italian’ in the self-perception of second-generation immigrants in Italy,” in R. Blanes and J. Mapril (eds),The Best of All Gods. The Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Brill: Leiden. Damdami Taksal (n.d.), “History of the Damdami Taksal” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.damdamitaksal.org/ [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Deccan Herald (2011a), “Sikh coach’s turban check protested in parliament” [WWW, online]. March 16. Available at: www.deccanherald.com/content/146265/sikh-coachsturban-check-protested.html [Accessed January 3, 2012]. — (2011b), “Sikh pilot, crew asked to take off turbans at Milan airport” [WWW, online]. December 1. Available at: www.deccanherald.com/content/208610/sikh-pilot-crewasked-take.html [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Dusenbery, V. A. (1995), “A Sikh diaspora? Contested identities and constructed realities,” in P. van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration. The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 17–42. — (1999), “ ‘Nation’ or ‘World religion’?: Master narratives of Sikh identity,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity. Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 127–44. Epstein, A. L. (1978), Ethos and Identity. Three Studies in Ethnicity. London: Tavistock Publications. Gallo, E. and Sai, S. (2012, forthcoming), “Should we talk about religions? Migrant associations, local politics and representations of religious diversity in Central Italy,” in R. Blanes and J. Mapril (eds), The Best of All Gods. The Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe. Leiden: Brill. Indian Express (2011), “Turban row: Harsimrat lodges protest with Italian envoy” [WWW, online]. December 3. Available at: www.indianexpress.com/news/turban-rowharsimrat-lodges-protest-with-italian-envoy/883350/ [Accessed January 3, 2012]. International Panthic Dal (2012), “Sikh delegation’s meet postponed to Jan 3” [WWW, online]. International Panthic Dal. Available at: http://panthicdal.com/panjab-news/ sikh-delegations-meet-postponed-to-jan-3/ [Accessed January 4, 2012]. Italy Sikh Council ONLUS (2007), Costituzione di associazione. Romano di Lombardia: Paper. Khalsa, G. S. (1999), “The end of syncretism: syncretism in Sikh tradition,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity. Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 93–107.

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Lal, B. H. (1999), “Sahajdhari Sikhs: their origin and current status within the panth,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity. Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Manohar, pp. 109–26. La Nazione (2011), “Livorno racconta . . . Sikh in preghiera al porto” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.lanazione.it/livorno/cronaca/2011/05/10/503166-livorno_racconta. shtml [Accessed January 10, 2012]. La Repubblica (2011a), “Malpensa, gli fanno togliere il turbante per controllarlo: ‘Mi hanno umiliato’ ” [WWW, online]. March 16. Available at: http://milano.repubblica.it/ cronaca/2011/03/16/news/malpensa_turbante_vietato_umiliato_campione_di_golf13670072/index.html?ref=search [Accessed January 3, 2012]. — (2011b), “Malpensa, i controlli sul turbante scatenano un incidente diplomatico” [WWW, online]. March 23. Available at: http://milano.repubblica.it/ cronaca/2011/03/23/news/malpensa_i_controlli_sul_turbante_scatenano_un_ incidente_diplomatico-13996412/index.html?ref=search [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Leonard, K. (1989), “Pioneer voices from California,” in N. G. Barrier and V. A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora. Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab. Delhi: Chanakya Publications, pp. 120–40. Mann, M. (2011), “450 birs of Guru Granth Sahib to be sent to Italy” [WWW, online]. The Tribune. April 13. Available at: www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110414/punjab.htm#5 [Accessed January 4, 2012]. Mayer, P. and Mayer, I. (1962), “Migrancy and the study of Africans in towns.” American Anthropologist, 64, 576–92. McLeod, H. (1986), Punjabis in New Zealand. Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University Press. — (1989), “The first forty years of Sikh migration,” in N. G. Barrier and V. A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora. Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab. Delhi: Chanakya Publications, pp. 29–48. — (1996), The Evolution of the Sikh Community. Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (1997), Sikhism. London: Penguin Books. Ministero dell’Interno (n.d.), Carta dei valori della cittadinanza e dell’integrazione. [WWW, online]. Available at: www.interno.it/mininterno/export/sites/default/it/ sezioni/sala_stampa/speciali/carta_dei_valori/index.html [Accessed January 3, 2012]. — (2006), Carta dei valori della cittadinanza e dell’integrazione [WWW, online]. Available at: www.interno.it/mininterno/site/it/sezioni/sala_stampa/notizie/ immigrazione/2007_04_23_app_Carta_dei_Valori.html [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Mitchell, C. J. (1956), The Kalela Dance. Aspects of Social Relationships among Urban Africans in Northern Rhodesia. Manchester: Manchester University Press. — (1969), Social Networks in Urban Situations. Analyses of Personal Relationships in Central African Towns. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Moushumi, B. (2011), “Jeev’s coach forced to remove turban at Milan airport” [WWW, online]. Times of India. March 15. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes. com/2011–03–15/top-stories/28690795_1_jeev-milkha-singh-top-golfer-turban [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Myrvold, K. (2007), Inside The Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among Sikhs in Varanasi. Lund: Media-Tryck. — (2010a), “Making the scripture a person: reinventing death rituals of Guru Granth Sahib in Sikhism,” in K. Myrvold (ed.), The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in World Religions. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 125–46. — (2010b), “Engaging with the Guru: Sikh beliefs and practices of Guru Granth Sahib.” Journal of Sacred Texts and Contemporary Worlds, 6.

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News24online (2012), “Italian Sikh faces the ire of SGPC” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://news24online.com/Italian-Sikh-faces-the-ire-of-SGPC_News24_38491.aspx [Accessed January 4, 2012]. Outlook India (2012), “Italian Sikh gets punishment for disrespecting Granth” [WWW, online]. January 3. Available at: http://news.outlookindia.com/items. aspx?artid=746400 [Accessed January 4, 2012]. Panjabi Today (2012), “Thanks to Singh Sikhs and to Panj Piyare that accompanied Dan Dan Shri Guru Granth Sabib Ji from Italy to France” [WWW, online]. September 6. Available at: www.panjabitoday.com/news/9251858778992269 [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Peca, C. R. (2005), “Il Sikhismo. Profilo storico-dottrinale,” in D. Denti, M. Ferrari, and F. Perocco (eds), I Sikh. Storia e Immigrazione. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 43–87. Punjab Express (2012), “The decision against Bhai Daduwal is partial” [WWW, online]. January 7. Available at: www.punjabexpress.info/2010–06–22–12–51–36/4397–2012– 01–07–21–32–32.html [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Rana, Y. (2011a), “Guru Granth Sahib copies to travel like ‘passengers’ ” [WWW, online]. Times of India, April 18. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011– 04–18/india/29443013_1_guru-granth-sahib-maryada-sikh-code [Accessed January 4, 2012]. — (2011b), “Distribution of Birs: Italy chief express inability to appear before clerics” [WWW, online]. Times of India, July 22. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia. indiatimes.com/2011–07–22/india/29803220_1_jathedar-birs-dsgmc [Accessed January 10, 2012]. — (2011c), “Sikh delegation’s meet postponed” [WWW, online]. Times of India, December 24. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011–12–24/ india/30554557_1_sikh-clergy-sikh-high-priests-jathedar [Accessed January 10, 2012]. Restelli, M. (2005), “Il sikhismo nell’India di oggi,” in D. Denti, M. Ferrari, and F. Perocco (eds), I Sikh. Storia e Immigrazione. Milano: Franco Angeli, pp. 89–113. Rondone, R. (2011), “Sikh d’Italia: ‘Non vogliamo toglierci il turbante,’ ” 06blog.it, Weblog [Online], September 26. Available at: www.06blog.it/post/11855/sikh-ditalia-nonvogliamo-toglierci-il-turbante [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Singh, J. (2012), “Akal Takht imposes tankhah on Italian Sikh Harwant Singh Daduwal” [WWW, online]. Punjab Newsline, January 4. Available at: http://punjabnewsline.com/ content/akal-takht-imposes-tankhah-italian-sikh-harwant-singh-daduwal/35127 [Accessed January 4, 2012]. Singh, K. H. (2011), “450 Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib Ji travelling to Italy by passenger ship” [WWW, online]. April 18. Available at: http://harjinderkukreja. com/2011/04/450-saroops-of-guru-granth-sahib-ji-travelling-to-italy-by-passengership/ [Accessed January 3, 2012]. The Hindu (2011), “Akali Dal leaders register protest with Italian envoy” [WWW, online]. March 25. Available at: www.hindu.com/2011/03/25/stories/2011032554100500.htm [Accessed January 3, 2012]. The Siasat Delhi (2011), “SAD MPs meet Italian envoy over turban issue” [WWW, online]. March 24. Available at: www.siasat.com/english/news/sad-mps-meet-italian-envoyover-turban-issue [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Times of India (a), “Guru Granth Sahib copies to travel like ‘passengers’ ” [WWW, online]. April 8. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011–04–18/ india/29443013_1_guru-granth-sahib-maryada-sikh-code [Accessed December 23, 2011].

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— (2011b), “Sikhs will no longer have to remove turbans in Italy” [WWW, online]. June 4. Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011–06–04/ india/29620413_1_turbans-religious-symbol-italy [Accessed January 3, 2012]. — (2011c), “Sikh delegation’s meet postponed to Jan 3” [WWW, online]. December 24. Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Sikh-delegationsmeet-postponed-to-Jan-3/articleshow/11226144.cms [Accessed December 24, 2011]. Times Now Online (2011a), “Govt to take up turban issue with Italy” [WWW, online]. March 16. Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_Ux_4KF3AY [Accessed January 3, 2012]. — (2011b), “Jeev’s coach humiliated again” [WWW, online]. March 22. Available at: www. youtube.com/watch?v=dOcAq6UirK4 [Accessed January 3, 2012]. Van der Veer, P. (1995), “Introduction: The diasporic imagination,” in P. van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration. The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 1–16. YouTube (2011a), “450 Maharaaj de Saroop in Italy” [WWW, online]. Available at: www. flvmp3.org/video/xToBQD6No_0/450%20Maharaaj%20de%20Saroop%20in%20Italy. html [Accessed December 23, 2011]. — (2011b), “Maharaaj de Saroop in Vicenza” [WWW, online]. Available at: www. flvmp3.org/video/4qR3WKfY-y0/Maharaaj%20de%20Saroop%20in%20Vicenza.html [Accessed December 23, 2011]. — (2011c), “Maharaaj de Saroop in Vicenza 2” [WWW, online]. Available at: www.flvmp3. org/video/jzE9xhl783w/Maharaaj%20de%20Saroop%20in%20Vicenza%202.html [Accessed December 23, 2011]. — (2011d), “Maharaaj de Saroop in Vicenza 3” [WWW, online]. Available at: www. flvmp3.org/video/-bataZ2a_Vc/Maharaaj%20de%20Saroop%20in%20Vicenza%203. html [Accessed December 23, 2011].

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Contesting and Confirming Religious Authority in the Diaspora: Transnational Communication and the Dasam Granth Controversy in the Nordic Countries Knut A. Jacobsen, Kristina Myrvold, Ravinder Kaur, and Laura Hirvi

When an interview with a Sikh man in Oslo about the role of the gurdwara in the shaping of his Sikh identity was coming to a close, he started to talk about the Dasam Granth.1 His advice was that scholars should write about the different views and interpretations of the Dasam Granth that are currently developing in the Sikh community. The Dasam Granth, or “the book of the tenth (guru),” is the scripture attributed in whole or part to Guru Gobind Singh. During the last century, several Sikhs have debated the text and questioned its authenticity, and within the last ten years, controversies around the text have become more noticeable. The young man in Oslo was convinced, he said, that sooner or later Sikhism would split into two religions due to the conflicting views on the Dasam Granth. He thought one religion would worship the Guru Granth Sahib as the only sacred scripture, while the other would worship the Dasam Granth in addition to the Guru Granth Sahib.2 While this does not seem a likely scenario at the present,3 his worries nevertheless illustrate the impact of transnational exchanges and communication on local Sikh communities and how difficult it has been for some Sikhs to make sense of the position of the Dasam Granth. Sikhs residing in the Nordic countries have encountered the controversy differently and have also responded in their various ways.4 Their encounters and responses exemplify both how local Sikh communities worldwide have tried to understand and deal with discourses, debates, and events in Punjab, North America, and the United Kingdom, and also the transnational character of the transmission of the Sikh tradition in a global world. The objectives of this chapter are to illustrate the ways in which Sikh communities in the Nordic countries have responded to the transnational communication about Sikh history and tradition, negotiated identifications, and as part of this process contested and confirmed religious authority. In particular, the chapter attempts to explore what role transnational practices have played in identity and learning processes. By transnational practices, we refer to an “ongoing exchange among non-state actors . . . across national borders” (Vertovec, 2009, p. 3). As our

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case study, we consider the controversy surrounding the Dasam Granth and describe how Sikhs in the Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden—have responded to or been influenced by it.5 The Sikhs in each of the countries encountered the controversy in diverse ways through transnational practices and also handled and responded to the various positions differently. Many of the Sikhs in these countries have experienced the controversy as an urgent issue within global Sikhism but not necessarily relevant to the daily affairs of their local communities and therefore did not want to get involved in the matter. Nevertheless, finding a way to deal with the issue without taking a position was not easy. The article illustrates how small communities in the diaspora can sometimes be drawn into transnational conflicts of authority and scriptural interpretations and issues which some have felt are not relevant to their interpretation and understanding of what it means to be a Sikh. Before presenting and analyzing the empirical findings of the four individual case studies of Sikh communities in the Northern European countries, it is necessary to provide a short overview on some aspects of the Dasam Granth controversy and its recent developments. Our intention is consequently not to present any arguments regarding the very complex textual issues of the Dasam Granth but rather examine from an ethnographic perspective how some ordinary Sikhs in small communities in Europe have related to transnational concerns of authority regarding Sikh scriptures, doctrines, and practices.

Overview of the Dasam Granth controversy That the Dasam Granth has been a controversial text in Sikhism is a historical and well-established phenomenon within the larger community. As Gurinder Singh Mann writes, “the status of the literary corpus during the period of leadership of Guru Gobind Singh has been under dispute since the early eighteenth century and there seems to be no resolution in sight” (Mann, 2005, p. 8). On a general level, the controversy engendered questions of whether the Dasam Granth should be considered a religious scripture of the Sikhs or a literary heritage of a broader Indian cultural tradition. In a recent study, Robin Rinehart argues that the book is so controversial that “some Sikhs assert it not as a ‘holy book’ at all but part of a scheme to discredit Sikhism” (Rinehart, 2011, p. 4). Today, a wide range of divergent opinions about the Dasam Granth are circulating within the Sikh community which do not reflect simple for and against positions but rather a nuanced spectrum of views on the authenticity and identity of the text (Rinehart, 2011, p. 40ff.). At the heart of these debates were issues regarding both the content and the authorship of the Dasam Granth and its spiritual status and authority within the community, and especially in relation to the Guru Granth Sahib which is generally perceived to be the historically sanctioned scripture and guru of the majority of Sikhs (see Myrvold, 2007; Bertolani and Singh, Chapter 11 in this volume). Considering that textual parts of the Dasam Granth have been well integrated in the ritual life of the Sikhs, the controversy has not merely been a scholastic debate among intellectuals but has involved central issues of defining a religious identity of the Sikhs on a grassroots level. As a part of the “daily routine” (nitnem), for example, Sikhs

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who are initiated into the Khalsa (Amritdhari) should read three compositions (Jap Sahib, Tav Prashad Savaiyye, and Chaupai Sahib) in the morning,6 and three different poetic verses (a Chaupai, Savaiya, and Dohra) in the evening that are derived from the Dasam Granth.7 The standardized prayer ardas, which Sikhs worldwide recite daily in a similar manner, opens with a prelude to the composition Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki (also called Chandi di/ki Var), which is a poem written as a trilogy about goddess Durga in the Dasam Granth (Myrvold, 2007, p. 323). During the khande di pahul ceremony, when Sikhs are initiated into the Khalsa, the neophytes are sprinkled with water over which JapJi Sahib from the Guru Granth Sahib, Jap Sahib, Tav Prashad Savaiyye, and Chaupai Sahib from the Dasam Granth, and Anand Sahib from Guru Granth Sahib have been recited. Although many practicing Sikhs do not always have knowledge of the larger corpus of the Dasam Granth, the legitimate reason for reciting parts of the text as a daily worship is based on a fundamental belief that Guru Gobind Singh, like the other historical Sikh gurus, had the spiritual authority and knowledge to compose and sanction the verses. To question the authenticity of the text can thus be perceived by many Sikhs as a disgraceful attempt to cast a haze of doubts on their history, the gurus, and a Khalsa identity. The issues that have surfaced in the debates have often focused on the content and authorship of the text. The Dasam Granth is a large corpus containing heterogeneous materials that in its present version can be classified into four different parts: two components that are considered autobiographical (Bachitar Natak and Zafar-nama, a total of 73 pages); four compositions expressing the militant piety of Guru Gobind Singh (Jap, Akal Ustati, Gian Prabodh, and Shabad Hazare, totaling 68 pages); two miscellaneous works (Savaiyye and Shashtar Nam-mala, totaling 96 pages); and the lengthy portions relating to “legend and anecdote” (Chandi Charitra, Chandi ki Var, the Chaubis Autar (Avtar), and the Charitropakhyan, all together 1,185 pages) (McLeod, 1975, p. 80; Deol, 2001; Rinehart, 2011, pp. 23–35). What have perhaps created the most heated debates are the detailed expositions of the avatars (descents to earth) of Vishnu, goddess Durga, and other deities as well as the composition Charitropakhyan (“stories about behavior/character”), which includes a series of tales about women who, by various means, try to pursue illicit liaisons with men. In some printed editions and translations of the Dasam Granth, the Charitropakhyan has been excluded because the stories conveyed have apparently been considered too controversial and obscene (Rinehart, 2011, p. 113). When analyzing the content of the Dasam Granth, some Sikh intellectuals have raised several questions about the authenticity and authorship of the text: Did Guru Gobind Singh actually compose everything in the text or only some parts of it, or was the text the work of someone else entirely? Was the content of the different sections of the text in line with the spirit of the compositions of the earlier Sikh gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib? How should the Sikhs interpret verses that celebrate the Hindu avatars, the goddess Durga, and the apparent celebration of illicit sex relations? Why would Guru Gobind Singh write this, or if he did not write it, why did he sponsor it? Rinehart identifies several factions among Sikh authors during the twentieth century, among others, those who either believed that Guru Gobind Singh indeed composed the entire text or those who ascribed some sections of the text to the guru while asserting that the majority has been written by unknown authors

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(Rinehart, 2011, p. 45). As Eleanor Nesbitt suggests, the judgment on which parts can be credited to the guru appears to have been driven mostly by “an ‘orthodoxy’ that dictates that Guru Gobind Singh could not have sounded like a Hindu worshipper of Durga” (Nesbitt, 2005, p. 46). The textual parts that include Hindu mythologies have also been interpreted as merely a re-narration of various ancient Indian scriptures to which the guru attributed new meanings and interpretations. In particular, the content of Charitropakhyan made some Sikh scholars draw the conclusion that Guru Gobind Singh could not have been the author of this text and thus did not compose the entire Dasam Granth (Rinehart, 2011, p. 141). A reason why the authorship of the Dasam Granth has continued to incite controversies in the Sikh community is that it has invoked significant historical and theological concerns. For instance, if Guru Gobind Singh did compose a text on Hindu avatars and goddesses, this could have implications for Sikh perceptions of the divine (Rinehart, 2011, p. 8). It could possibly imply a different theology, akin to theologies found in the Hindu Puranas, and could challenge the idea of God as nirguna (without attributes) as well as God’s singularity. Furthermore, the issue has raised questions as to whether the Dasam Granth as a whole or some verses of the text should qualify as genuine or sachi (“true”) gurbani, that is, divinely inspired words uttered by the historical guru and in the same spirit as his predecessors. The controversy has also involved questions about the authority and status of the present guru within the Sikh community. Although mainstream Sikhism considers the Guru Granth Sahib as the guru, there have been several debates over religious practices that place other texts, such as the Dasam Granth and Sarab Loh Granth, on a par with the Guru Granth Sahib in Sikh shrines. According to some scholars, the Dasam Granth was historically accepted as the work of Guru Gobind Singh and often placed on the same level as the Guru Granth Sahib during religious meetings and in ritual practices (McLeod, 2003, p. 62), while others have argued that “there is absolutely no evidence that the Dasam Granth ever competed with the Guru Granth’s authority” (Mann, 2004, p. 77). Scholarship has also paid attention to the impact of the Sikh reform movement Singh Sabha in the late nineteenth century and argued that the dominant Tat Khalsa faction, which was critical of the strong Hindu influence on large parts of the Dasam Granth, relegated the text to a lower status (Oberoi, 1994, p. 319; Singh, P., 2003, pp. 279–80). Determining the authorship of the Dasam Granth and its relation to the Guru Granth Sahib has been a part of much larger religious and political endeavors to define the spiritual authority of the Sikhs and their religious identity. In more recent years, various events related to the controversy of the Dasam Granth have displayed the importance of transnational practices among the Sikhs and the influences of Sikh diasporas. Individual preachers and scholars residing in and outside of the Punjab have by various means challenged the legitimacy of the Dasam Granth and through an active literary production and live and recorded lectures circulated more radical positions far and wide within the global community. One person often mentioned in contemporary debates is Gurbaksh Singh Kala Afghana,8 a retired police officer settled in Canada, who has argued in several publications (such as Bippran ki rit ton sach da marg or “From Rituals of Brahmins to the True Path” in ten volumes) that Guru Gobind Singh was not the author of the Dasam Granth and urged the Sikhs

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to purge their practices of Hindu rituals. Because Singh Kala Afghana criticized Sikh leaders and the religious authority in Amritsar for supporting Brahmin practices and beliefs, the Akal Takhat eventually excommunicated him.9 Similarly, in 2006, Jasbinder Singh Khalsa published a book with the provocative title Dasam Granth Da Likhari Kaun? (“Who Wrote the Dasam Granth?”) in which he claimed that the Dasam Granth was wrongly attributed to Guru Gobind Singh for the purpose of ridiculing the Sikh religious tradition. Singh Khalsa apparently also promised a monetary award to anyone who could prove that Guru Gobind Singh wrote the Dasam Granth. Another person who attracted a lot of publicity was the former jathedar (“commander”) of Akal Takhat, Ragi Darshan Singh (often referred to as Prof Darshan Singh), who is based in Canada and has worked as a ragi (Sikh musician) and kathavacak (professional exegete) and traveled worldwide. Darshan Singh provocatively called for an inquiry into the authenticity of the Dasam Granth and openly criticized ritual practices that place the text alongside the Guru Granth Sahib. In 2009, he was consequently declared tanakhahia (a person guilty of religious misconduct) by an edict issued from the Akal Takhat and was excommunicated one year later, which was the first time a former jathedar had been expelled from the Sikh community in modern times. Moreover, the edict advised the global Sikh community neither to invite nor accommodate Darshan Singh at Sikh shrines and urged individual Sikhs not to keep any relation with him. Behind the recent disagreements over the authorship and authenticity of the Dasam Granth were much broader conflicts over interpretations of Sikh history and sources, and the legitimacy of the current religious and political authority within the community. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which was formed in 1925 to provide a self-reliant system for the management of Sikh shrines and gurdwaras in the state of Punjab, has often perceived itself as a democratically based religious “government” of the broader Sikh community with jurisdiction far beyond the state borders. As the SGPC has sanctioned texts derived from the Dasam Granth and stipulated ritual procedures for Khalsa Sikhs in the current Sikh code of conduct (Sikh Rahit Maryada) of 1950, the controversy has called into question the organization’s authority, interpretations, and claims of representing the broader Sikh community. In 2000, the jathedar of the Akal Takhat, Joginder Singh Vedanti, issued a statement that exhorted the Sikhs not to publicly comment on the Dasam Granth. If they were to do so, they could be excommunicated from the Panth (Rinehart, 2004, p. 135). During a meeting of the SGPC in June 2008, the Sikhs were similarly asked not to criticize the Dasam Granth and its content, while it was reiterated that the text was an “inseparable Scripture of the Sikh panth” (Panthic.org, 2008a). Within the Sikh community, the authorship of the Dasam Granth has thus been judged as a sensitive issue, to such an extent that the traditional authorities disapproved of it becoming a subject of public discussion (Grewal, 2011, p. 251; Mann and Singh, 2011). This also generated discussions about authority, tolerance, and freedom of thought and speech within the Sikh community, especially among Sikhs interacting on the internet. Were the Sikhs free to question knowledge that had been sanctioned by religious tradition? To what extent should traditional authorities exert influence on the Sikhs globally and exercise the right to censor certain interpretations and debates on Sikh history and religion?

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Finland: The change of the ardas and the transnational reaction The first Sikhs migrated to Finland in the late 1970s and since then the number has increased steadily. By now, around 600 Sikhs have settled in the country and there is only one official gurdwara, which opened in 2006 in the capital, Helsinki (see Hirvi, 2010). Three years later, in 2009, some members of the Finnish gurdwara committee made the controversial decision to change part of the ardas, the Sikh supplication or prayer which is recited at the closing of congregational worship in gurdwaras and frames all religious events in Sikh life (Myrvold, 2007, pp. 322–35). According to Ranjit,10 who has lived in Finland for more than 20 years and has established himself as a successful entrepreneur in the restaurant business, the ardas “is a prayer. You say it when you ask God that all should go well. When you ask God for something, we say this prayer.”11 The standardized text of the ardas that is used by Sikhs worldwide consists of two separate parts: The first part is a prelude to the composition Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki (or Chandi ki/di Var), which is a poem about goddess Durga and included in the Dasam Granth. The prelude to this poem is an invocation to the timeless God and all the human Sikh gurus up to the ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur, as it is assumed that his son, Guru Gobind Singh, was holding the pen. The second part of the ardas text is a longer section that epitomizes various events and sacrifices in Sikh history and recounts symbols, places of worship, and values that are considered significant in the Sikh tradition. Most probably, this text evolved during the eighteenth century and over the course of time has underdone amendments because it also includes events that happened during the twentieth century. The committee of the Finnish gurdwara changed the first stanza of the ardas derived from the Dasam Granth from pritham bhagauti simar kai (“first remember Bhagauti”) to pritham akal purakh simar kai (“first remember the Timeless Being”); in other words, they replaced the word bhagauti with akal purakh. In a broader Indian cultural and religious tradition, the word bhagauti or bhagavati usually refers to goddess Durga. In the writings ascribed to Guru Gobind Singh, the word bears this connotation and has simultaneously been interpreted as signifying an almighty God and the sword (bhaugati) as a symbol of the divine.12 Depending on how the Sikhs choose to interpret the word, bhagauti can thus either signify a goddess of the Hindu tradition, a divine power, or the consecrated sword. The Sikhs in Finland apparently chose to follow the first interpretation. Ranjit, who is one of the key figures of the local gurdwara supporting this substitution, explained that they changed the line of the ardas because they “don’t accept Bhaugti [sic]. It is some kind of DEVI (goddess) as in Hindu Religion” (e-mail correspondence, May 28, 2009). Furthermore, the gurdwara committee enforced a ban on the singing and recitation of all compositions derived from Dasam Granth inside the gurdwara, as they did not believe that Guru Gobind Singh has written it. In their opinion, the guru could not have written such obscene things and in such a degrading manner about women as they appear in some parts of the Dasam Granth. Crucial to understanding how this now much-disputed decision to change the ardas emerged is the visit of Inder Singh Ghagga to the gurdwara in Finland one Sunday

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in April 2009. When the Sikhs in Finland were celebrating Vaisakhi in 2009, Inder Singh Ghagga, whose point of view was similar in many regards to Kala Afghani’s, had been invited to give lectures to the congregation. Mahaan, a Sikh residing in Finland who was jointly responsible for implementing the changes to the ardas, had apparently initiated the visit of the kathavacak and he considered Ghagga to be a learned and wellread scholar who knew about “real Sikhism” (field notes, April 26, 2009). According to both Mahaan and Ranjit, Ghagga was an educated person, who had read a lot and written many books. In their view, he was different from those uneducated Indian babas or sants who only seek to make money by exploiting other people’s ignorance. Following extended discussions with Ghagga, the Finnish gurdwara committee eventually decided to implement the above-described changes. Within the committee, the decision was not welcomed unanimously, and, as it appears, the committee did not ask the congregation for its opinion. The decision made by some of the members of the Finnish gurdwara committee to change the ardas provoked various kinds of reactions, not only from the local Sikhs but also from the transnational Sikh community. Owing to the internet, the news of this locally based event spread fast and provoked heated debates in online forums, where supporters, but mostly opponents, of this action expressed their point of view on the events that had taken place in Finland. Some of these discussions obviously got out of hand, as the list managers of Sikhnet.com and Sikhphilosophy.net both decided to lock the discussion threads only a month after they had been started. Among those entries, one can also find the voices of individual Sikhs living in Finland, who expressed opinions that deviated from the decision made by the Finnish gurdwara committee. One of those individuals was of the opinion that, in order to secure the proper religious education of their children in the future, Sikh families in Finland should unite and prevent the gurdwara—as a result of a few people’s decision—turning into a house of “Ghagga” instead of the guru’s house. Other Finnish Sikhs sought support and advice from fellow Sikhs in the virtual domain, who were geographically distant but shared an ideological position. As a visible sign of their discontent with the present state of affairs, some of the Finnish Sikhs who had resisted the change to the ardas also stopped visiting the local gurdwara. One of the committee members resigned from his position as an expression of his opposition and to show his dissatisfaction with the decision made by the other committee members. Several other members of the community joined the boycott of the gurdwara immediately after the implementation of the changes, but possibly due to a lack of adequate alternatives for engaging in congregational worship, most of them seemed to have found their way back to the gurdwara by winter 2011. After all, it appears that, besides the key figures responsible for enforcing the change to the ardas and a few persons who vehemently opposed it, the majority of Sikhs in Finland, like many of the Sikhs living in the other Nordic countries, did not really seem to know what to think of this whole matter or perhaps did not want to engage in what they might consider as gurdwara politics. Observations online revealed that Sikhs from all over the world were opposing the action of the gurdwara in Finland, while a few organizations and websites such as Sikhmarg.com, as well as Ragi Darshan Singh, seemed to be in favor of the change

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of the ardas. The Akal Takhat in India has, so far, apparently not taken action with regard to these particular events in Finland,13 but in the event of the Akal Takhat requesting the Finnish gurdwara committee to appear before it, Mahaan and Ranjit said the committee would refuse to go. In their opinion, they had not done anything wrong, and thus they saw no reason why they should go there. Mahaan was of the opinion that the representatives of the Akal Takhat should instead come to Finland and explain their position on Finnish territory with the Finnish media present. “We would even offer to pay for their flight tickets,” said Ranjit, “but they are not coming. They do not know what to say, they have no answers to our questions” (field notes, July 4, 2010). It is important to note in this context that while Mahaan did not respect the authority of the Akal Takhat because, for him, this institution of power was contrary to the Sikh teaching of equality, Ranjit had expressed his support of the authority of the Akal Takhat. What he did not acknowledge, however, was the authority of the individual people who were at the time representing the institution and whom he did not consider to be respectable religious leaders. What Mahaan and Ranjit both wished was that the global Sikh community could and would engage in an open discussion concerning the Dasam Granth and that all Sikhs could participate in such a discussion on an equal footing. In order to engage in such a dialog on the local level, the gurdwara committee persisted in inviting kathavacaks from abroad, such as Gurcharan Singh Jeonwala, who was also known for his critical stance toward the Dasam Granth. In the longer term, Ranjit perceived the decision by the Finnish gurdwara to change the ardas as the start of some sort of a revolution, which would gradually develop but after which all Sikhs would acknowledge that Guru Gobind Singh did not write the Dasam Granth.

Sweden: Bringing Punjabi politics to diasporic congregations Unlike the Finnish Sikhs, the gurdwara committees in Sweden did not reach any collective or public agreement with regard to the Dasam Granth controversy but rather responded more spontaneously and intermittently whenever the issue was raised in different contexts. The community at the time of writing consisted of about 4,000 individuals who immigrated from the 1970s onwards. The first public gurdwara, Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, was inaugurated in 1997, and in 2012, there were in total four congregations in the larger cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö (Myrvold, 2009, 2011).14 In contrast to co-devotees in Denmark and Finland, the Swedish Sikhs were not only concentrated in the capital but also resided and had constructed gurdwaras in different parts of the country. What they did share with their neighboring Sikhs, however, was the regular interaction with transnational kathavacaks or preachers who provided knowledge on the Sikh teaching, scripture, and history (see Myrvold, Chapter 10 in this volume). Frequently, the Sikh congregations, especially in Stockholm and Gothenburg, hosted kathavacaks from India, the United Kingdom, and North America, who delivered lectures for a couple of days and sometimes for several weeks in the gurdwaras. The performers were either specially invited while on tour in Sweden and other European countries, or simply arrived at the gurdwaras unexpectedly when

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visiting community members whom they knew. As local Sikhs were intertwined in transnational networks, they quite often cooperated and jointly arranged the tours of the traveling preachers with Sikhs in the other Nordic countries. Although the Dasam Granth controversy had not been publicly debated in Swedish Sikh congregations, the issue had occasionally surfaced in local discourses when kathavacaks from abroad delivered lectures. Fully aware of sensitive matters within the mainstream community, many transnational Sikh preachers strategically avoided certain controversial topics, including the authenticity and authorship of the Dasam Granth, in order to satisfy their audience, be invited again, and not create disputes in the local congregations they were visiting (Myrvold, Chapter 10 in this volume). Other preachers might, on the other hand, have seen it as their duty and responsibility to “awake” the Sikhs in the diaspora by addressing issues they considered critical for the future of Sikhism. On a few occasions, Darshan Singh was invited as a preacher to the collective gurdwara in Stockholm (see for example, fanatism.net, n.d.). Due to the disagreements surrounding the Dasam Granth controversy in the past years, however, the congregation more recently decided against hosting his talk inside the gurdwara. Consequently, when Darshan Singh visited Sweden during summer 2011, he delivered discourses for a couple of days in rented school premises.15 A popular theory that has flourished among Sikh preachers supporting the so-called pro–Kala Afghana fraction, critical to the content and authenticity of the Dasam Granth, has claimed that the controversy is the result of a “conspiracy” by the Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and especially its Sikh wing, Rashtriya Singh Sangat, which has tried to destroy the Sikhs by replacing the Guru Granth Sahib with the Dasam Granth as their “guru” (see Rinehart, 2001, p. 48).16 The conspiracy theory asserts that, in attempts to alienate the Sikhs from their scripture, which was historically sanctioned and authorized as their living guru, the Hindus compiled the Dasam Granth with Puranic literature included and ascribed the text to Guru Gobind Singh. According to this theory, the RSS has portrayed Guru Gobind Singh as a hero of the Hindu faith and given authority to the Dasam Granth for the purpose of dividing the Sikhs and assimilating them with the Hindu tradition. Many political and religious Sikh leaders of today are believed to have become corrupted by the alliance between the Punjabi party Shiromani Akali Dal and the Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that was established in the 1990s and through which various lobby activities are believed to be conducted under the guidance of RSS in attempts to “Hinduize” the Sikhs. As Christine Moliner points out, conspiracy theories like this are not new inventions but can be traced to the Sikh reform movement Singh Sabha in the nineteenth century. The fear of being absorbed by Hinduism through a hidden infiltration of Sikh institutions has become a recurrent theme in modern Sikh discourses. As she continues with regard to contemporary discourses, “The ‘RSS agent’ label is frequently used to weaken and discredit opponents while the theme of ‘Sikhism in danger’ (of being swallowed up by Hinduism) is used to impose orthodox beliefs and practices onto the Sikh masses” (Moliner, 2011, p. 308). The conspiracy theory has encountered resistance and occasionally fierce responses from Sikhs worldwide. For example, representatives of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), including some Swedish Sikhs, organized a public boycott of Darshan Singh and the Punjabi newspaper Rozana

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Spokesman, which has been a keen supporter of the theory. In the view of Sikhs affiliated to AKJ, the conspiracy theory constituted a serious attack on the Rahit Maryada, the Sikh history, and the authority of Akal Takhat by “spreading poison against Dasam Granth” (Panthic.org, 2008a).17 Over the years, the conspiracy theory has been introduced to the Swedish Sikhs when traveling kathavacaks have elaborated public discourses in the gurdwaras. When a preacher from India visited Gothenburg in 2009, he presented the theory in extensive lectures that explained the contemporary controversy in light of historical events in the Sikh tradition and defended the position and work of Darshan Singh. A shorter excerpt from one of his lectures may exemplify this: . . . There are plenty of conspiracies to destroy the Sikhs. Three hundred years ago the RSS [the Hindus] had already made plans to create another granth [book] similar to Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. That was Dasam Granth. Dasam Granth is not equal to Guru Granth Sahib ji. It will never be equal. Yes, the Sikhs are accepting the content of Dasam Granth, which is in accordance to the bani of Guru Granth Sahib. . . . But, the writing, which is not in accordance to the bani of Guru Granth Sahib ji, the gurus did not accept. The RSS is behind a deep conspiracy and created another granth to spiritually kill the Sikhs. The Sikhs who follow one granth have to leave the other. If you believe that you have to read the Dasam Granth, then studies can be an eye-opener. All Sikhs should read it in order to understand the conspiracies by RSS. By attaching the Sikhs to this other granth the Manu-followers try to kill the Sikhs. That is why all Sikhs should try to understand the content [of Dasam Granth]. (Recorded katha held on July 23, 2009)

In the hour-long talk that followed, he compared the conspiracy theory with the historical rivalry over the succession to the office of the guru and the threat of kacchi bani (“unripe utterances”), that is, compositions that claimed to be created in the spirit of Sikh gurus but were false poetry by rivals, and repeatedly emphasized the order of Guru Gobind Singh to treat the bani (speech of the gurus enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib) as the only guru. Since the kathavacak radically questioned the authenticity of the major parts of Dasam Granth, a few members of the local community fiercely confronted him and called up a Punjabi radio station in the United Kingdom to ask if his arguments were correct. As a consequence, the radio station broadcast a warning to Sikhs all over Europe, announcing his name and exhorting congregations to be aware of his preaching on the Dasam Granth. When asked why people react strongly to his lectures, the kathavacak explained his point of view in this way: Their whole life they have lived and listened to these stories, but when we [kathavacaks] come and condemn that, their ego will be hurt. [They will say] “Does it mean that what we have been listening to for 20 years was wrong?” That’s why they don’t accept. Their ego does not allow them. (Interview, July 23, 2009)

These cases may illustrate how Swedish Sikhs have been involved in the process of negotiating tradition and identity and have occasionally acted and reacted when

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exposed to theories and arguments that fundamentally question their religious beliefs and practices. Without national leadership and representation, individual Sikhs make use of their extensive transnational networks to search for answers and support for different positions among co-devotees in other countries. However, those who have, in different ways, responded to critical stances in the controversy belong primarily to the first-generation Sikhs, many of whom have been brought up to believe in the authenticity of the Dasam Granth and retained an interest in the regional and national politics of India. Young Sikhs of the second generation may, in contrast, have found it frustrating to comprehend what the Dasam Granth controversy is really about. In their view, the elder generation often teaches religion through the lens of a collective Punjabi culture, and conspiracy theories about an imagined threat of Hindu politicians feel very distant from their everyday concerns.

Norway: Transnational Sikhism and local responses Like the Swedish Sikhs, the Sikh institutions in Norway have also had to act in response to the issues regarding the Dasam Granth, but did not wish to be embroiled in the controversy. The first priority seems to have been to ensure that the gurdwaras avoided being drawn into disagreements because the controversy does not really touch on the central religious issues of what it means to be a good Sikh. There are around 5,000 Sikhs in Norway and most belong to the two gurdwaras, one in Lier close to the city of Drammen and one in Oslo. In an interview with members of the governing board of the Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier, the researcher was told that during a visit to Punjab, two members of the governing board had a photo taken by a local newspaper of their meeting with Ragi Darshan Singh. In the photo that was printed in a newspaper in Punjab, they were identified as members of the management committee of the Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier. The spokesperson of the gurdwara emphasized that it was wrong that they identified themselves as members of the management committee of the Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier to the journalist. The spokesperson stressed that these persons had been in Punjab as private individuals and not as representatives of the gurdwara. As private persons they could do as they liked, but they were wrong to identify themselves as members of the management committee of the gurdwara in their meeting with Darshan Singh. As mentioned in the overview of the Dasam Granth controversy, Darshan Singh is famous among many Sikhs for his outspoken criticism of the Dasam Granth, but the SGPC has asked people not to discuss the issue in public. Darshan Singh sees himself as a spokesperson for one sacred scripture only, the Guru Granth Sahib, and speaks against those who maintain that the Dasam Granth is also a Sikh sacred scripture. Singh has been accused of using derogatory language about the Dasam Granth, and it is not least because of this that he has become a controversial figure in the dispute surrounding the Dasam Granth. The spokespersons of the Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier emphasized that the gurdwara had no view on this issue but that private persons were free to have any view they wished. In

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conclusion, they stressed that they thought it was not an important issue and that, in their opinion, it did not remark on what it means to be a good Sikh. The most dramatic consequences of encountering the controversy have been on the situation in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo. The situation illustrates that the current controversies regarding the Dasam Granth seem to be partially driven by persons who operate globally, individuals who operate on the internet, and those who visit the different diaspora communities. Most Sikhs probably do not have any strong opinion or do not want to have any opinion on the issue. The event in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo was not directly about the Dasam Granth but concerned the right of Darshan Singh to speak about the Dasam Granth at the gurdwara. Darshan Singh had been invited by someone to speak in spring 2010. Some members then informed the management committee that the SGPC had prohibited Darshan Singh from speaking at the gurdwara. The manager of the gurdwara at that time therefore decided that even if they wanted Darshan Singh to speak at the gurdwara, they would nevertheless have to disallow it. Others were of the opinion that since it was the gurdwara that had invited him, they should give him the opportunity to speak since everything had already been arranged. As a protest against the final decision, which had forbidden Darshan Singh to speak at the Oslo gurdwara, all male members of the gurdwara’s management board withdrew and the management committee had after that only female members. The decision to forbid Darshan Singh to speak was motivated by the SGPC’s instructions, announced by its president in 2008, to ban Darshan Singh from speaking at gurdwaras that were under the management of SGPC. Both gurdwaras in Norway are under SGPC management. This was decided some years ago in order to avoid conflicts in the gurdwaras that might last for many years. According to a rule in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, when there are insoluble disagreements, they must call a representative of the SGPC who would then come to Norway and settle the issue. The initial paragraph of the rules of the gurdwara states that the guidelines are in accordance with Sri Akal Takhat’s oral and written directives that were given in a representative’s visit to Oslo (Sikher.no, n.d.). Rule 7.9 states that Gurdwara Sahib’s property is registered in the name of Gurdwara Sahib, but in a crisis situation, Sri Akal Takhat Sahib/SGPC shall have all the rights (ibid.). In other words, the gurdwaras in Norway should follow the decisions made by the SGPC. It is a pattern noted by Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla in Britain—when there are conflicts in a gurdwara, the management committee will have mostly or only female members (Singh and Tatla, 2006), as became the case in Oslo. The conflict in Oslo was not about the controversies of the Dasam Granth, because very few people felt qualified to claim knowledge on the issue. The issue was created by the global controversy about Darshan Singh’s view on the Dasam Granth. The gurdwara, however, is accustomed to handling conflicts and it did not lead to fewer people visiting the gurdwara, but it did cause some young persons to question what they perceived was a discrepancy between the Sikh religious teaching and the politics of the gurdwara and other Sikh organizations.

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Denmark: Ethnography of a conflict As the project of tracing the transnational contours of the conflict over the Dasam Granth began, its absence within the Sikh community’s concerns in Denmark was most striking. To begin with, not many had heard about the controversy, and in many instances, the researcher was the primary source through whom the information was obtained and circulated. At least two kinds of responses were prominent. First, the lack of awareness of a debate that was otherwise raging on the internet amidst the transnational Sikh community, and second, an ambivalence or outright absence of any specific opinion for or against the authenticity of the Dasam Granth and forms of ardas. The various factions and micro-groups within the community were seemingly mostly unaffected by the cyber arguments within Sikh intelligentsia. In short, it was as if the controversy had entered into a void among the Sikh community in Copenhagen. This discursive void, then, is the analytical space through which we attempt to make sense of identity and authority construction among a diasporic community of transnational Sikhs. Perhaps an account of the local setting within which differing responses to the controversy are shaped would be in order. In 2007, the only gurdwara sanctioned and permitted by the municipality of Copenhagen was closed down in violent circumstances. The local tabloids reported how some of the key members of a minority Indian religious community—that has, unlike Islam, always had a low profile in the Danish media—had come to physical blows and disrupted the congregations on more than one occasion. The actual manifestation of violence was both a matter of curiosity and shock for the Danish public, many of whom had never before heard of the Sikh religion. The immediate reasons for the internal breakdown within the community were charges of mismanagement and corruption in everyday transactions. A deeper cause of the rift was the differences between the longsettled Sikhs who had migrated to Denmark during the 1960s postwar construction boom in Europe and those who had arrived post-1984 as asylum seekers from Punjab. The latter were seen as more radical and more skeptical of the Indian state, and many were said to have been proponents of a separate Sikh state. The former viewed themselves, in contrast, as more cosmopolitan and their version of Sikhism as more permissive and viable in a European context. The permissive behavior, also termed as vice by the more devout, included drinking alcohol, eating meat, trimming beards, as well as not wearing a turban. A few among them were Amritdharis, while a large number of the latter group who arrived more recently had taken initiation in the Khalsa prior to their arrival or received initiation in Copenhagen. Yet, these differences were not enough to capture the roots of the conflict that split the Sikh community into more or less two halves. The allegations of personal corruption, moral deficiency, and a lackadaisical attitude toward the community fuelled the seemingly irreparable outrage gripping the two factions. The broader moral–political differences were entwined with more specific personal enmities and mistrust. It is in this setting that the efforts to understand the diasporic transmutations of the debate around the Dasam Granth began. After several enquiries, the researcher was eventually led to the leader of the Sikh school, who is considered a bipartisan figure between the two factions. His legitimacy is drawn from the fact that he has taught young Sikh children (aged 4–14 years) the

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foundational principles of Sikh belief, basic knowledge of Gurmukhi, as well as practical aspects of living “differently” within a majority Danish context. The group of children assembled every Saturday and the curriculum has been a mix of lessons in literacy as well as fun activities that can retain the attention of very young participants. The remarkable aspect of this group has been that the parents of these children have been split into two opposing factions and some of them have barely spoken to each other. The school, on the other hand, had been an oasis of harmony in this acrimonious situation—the only institution that had remained unaffected by the conflict, and had developed a decidedly bipartisan approach acceptable to both parties. The lack of interest on both sides meant that, in effect, the task of forming an opinion about the Dasam Granth conflict was essentially left to this consensual figure. It is here that we encounter how knowledge and authority are produced and circulated within disaporic communities, and how key decisions on matters of faith and everyday practice are accepted and reified as the essence of Sikhism. The main general source of information about the conflict was a number of websites that are produced transnationally—in India as well as abroad—and regularly accessed within the diaspora. The most frequently used sites are sikhmarg.com and sikhsangat.com, in addition to the Rozana newspaper. The speeches, sermons, and interviews with key participants in the debate are widely available on sites such as YouTube, among others, acquiring an even longer existence on the internet than they would otherwise receive via other forms of media. The key location of the researcher’s interaction was the local gurdwara, which was dramatically reopened in 2011. Visits had also been paid to the “other” makeshift gurdwara, which assembles once a month in a rented school hall in a Copenhagen suburb. Interestingly, the conversations with the Sikh school leader have been both one-to-one as well as group discussions where curious members of the congregation who were eager to participate or at least sit in on our conversation joined us. Most surprising was that anyone rarely offered their opinion on what was being said. It seemed that theological discussions had been outsourced and hardly anybody wanted to take a stand on this even when directly invited to participate. Most would reply with a smile and say “What do we know of these matters?” and direct the researcher back to the school leader. While the reluctance to take a position on a matter of religious importance was one factor, the other was deference to a figure, who was, in their eyes, an authoritative and knowledgeable person. Another aspect of this disinterest was that it was not merely a product of lacking an opinion, but rather a result of emotive preoccupation with a more worldly and immediate conflict the congregation was involved in at that time. Most seemed wary of engaging themselves in yet another disagreement and wanted to show their accommodative side in this situation. While most members were popularly identified as strong personalities with almost nonnegotiable beliefs on the matter of gurdwara management, here they chose to be open toward differing opinions. It was as if the Dasam Granth controversy had given them an opportunity to show their affectionate and progressive side—to balance out the viciousness of the ongoing conflict in the community. Thus, the “Copenhagen view” on this matter was eventually offered by the leader of the school in a public setting where we were joined by many members. The view

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heavily favored the status quo advocated by Damdami Taksal and was derived more from a position of academic observation rather than active participation. The source of the information was the various websites mentioned above where preachers and their critics routinely shape opinion. This meant that all differing viewpoints were presented and it ended with a conclusion of maintaining the status quo. For a community that was divided by internal ruptures, the controversy around the Dasam Granth almost appeared to have an unintended effect of repairing the rifts.

Actions and reactions of the Nordic Sikh communities The four case studies discussed here demonstrate that the recent controversy surrounding the Dasam Granth, which has its roots in India and diasporas outside of the Nordic countries, did also influence these local communities. Interestingly, the empirical findings presented in this chapter highlight that the recent controversy created quite different events and responses in the Nordic countries. While the Sikhs in Denmark were generally unaffected by the controversy, most likely due to their own local conflict, Sikhs in Sweden boycotted the attempts of visiting kathavacaks from India who have tried to convey and impart a critical stance toward the Dasam Granth. In Norway, a few individuals supported the standpoint that Darshan Singh should have the right to present his views, but officially, the gurdwara committee of the Sikh temples in Oslo and Lier preferred to distance themselves from such a stance in order to comply with the mandate of the SGPC to not speak in public about this matter. In doing so, the Norwegian case highlights how the religious authority of the homeland may still be relevant across national borders and influence the actions of diasporic Sikh communities. Another form of impact from the homeland can be documented in the case of Finland, where a kathavacak from Punjab significantly influenced individual members of the gurdwara committee. As a consequence, the gurdwara committee implemented a change to the Sikh prayer ardas which caused vehement reactions both in the local and the global Sikh community. The case study of the Sikhs in Finland is illuminating insofar as it shows how a local event motivated by individual Sikhs, who engaged in a transnational exchange of ideas, caused a transnational response in the online world, thus bringing to life a transnational Sikh community. In this vein, the case study proves how a “transnational public sphere” enabled “the creation of forms of solidarity and identity that do not rest on an appropriation of space where contiguity and face-to-face contact are paramount” (Gupta and Ferguson, 1992, p. 9). Sikhs worldwide reacted to the events in the gurdwara of Helsinki by using the tools that the internet offers and thus highlighting the important role that the internet can play in facilitating transnational religious dialogs. Secondly, the Finnish and the Swedish cases demonstrate how transnational links and exchanges with Punjab were active and materialized in the form of visits by religious specialists such as the kathavacaks. But in Sweden, the kathavacaks and their messages were rejected, while the visiting preacher played a vital role in motivating the change of religious practice in the Sikh diaspora in Finland. In particular, this case illustrates the impact a sending country might have on religious communities in the diaspora.

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When controversies of the broader Sikh community have surfaced and become concerns of local communities in the diaspora, the Sikhs seem to have searched for legitimate answers and have used different strategies to respond, either by following and sometimes requesting the SGPC to act and exercise power outside their jurisdiction, or by establishing new authorities in the diaspora. More radical critics of Singh Kala Afghana, Darshan Singh, and others questioning the legitimacy of the Dasam Granth have sometimes taken action against them. On the internet, there have been a large number of news items reporting on specific events when Sikhs at various locations have demonstrated, created petitions, boycotted, and even physically attacked individual preachers during their visits. But diasporic Sikhs may also have experienced a fear of having their more vulnerable communities divided on complex issues like the Dasam Granth controversy and therefore might have hesitated to express their views and interpretations. All the diaspora communities discussed in this article are small communities and, as we have often seen, the decisions of a few individuals have had consequences for the whole community. Although their geographical distance to Punjab is great, frequent travel to Punjab, visits from kathavacaks and other religious specialists who have traveled around the globe to present their point of view, and the discussions on the internet have all made this distance less relevant and highlight the transnational dimensions that this conflict gained. As has been vividly demonstrated in the Finnish case, the internet made news travel fast and gave persons the opportunity to influence the transnational debate concerning religious authority in the Sikh religion. This article illustrates how a controversy, which was historically rooted in India, acquired a transnational dimension thanks to individual travelers as well as online tools and domains used by individual Sikhs. As a result of being transnationalized, the conflict had an impact on Sikh religious communities located outside of Punjab, as the empirical findings discussed in this article have illustrated. At the same time, the Nordic case studies highlight the manner in which religious authority was contested but also confirmed in the diaspora on a local level, either with a transnational response, as in the case of Finland, or by seeking help to cross national borders, as in the Swedish case where the local Sikhs contacted a radio station in the United Kingdom. The empirical case studies discussed here highlight well the complex process through which Sikhs have negotiated their religious identities with reference to religious practices—not only on a local but also on a transnational level.

Notes 1 Interview conducted by Knut A. Jacobsen, June, 2010. 2 The interviewee’s dramatic view of the Dasam Granth issue might have been influenced by his own personal experience of how intense conflicts about leadership in gurdwaras may arise and how difficult they might be to resolve. Due to the conflict in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo in the 1990s, which was caused by groups with different views on certain issues, his family, like many others, had stayed away from the gurdwara during those years, visiting only occasionally. He was convinced that just as the Sikh community in Oslo was divided into opposing groups in the 1990s, so would the global Sikh community become divided into two religions because of the differing views on the Dasam Granth.

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3 It should be noted here that in some gurdwaras, like those associated with the Nihangs, the Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth are sometimes placed beside each other. 4 Sikh migration to the Nordic countries started when the first migrants arrived in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and later also in Finland. Today, the Sikhs in the Nordic countries are estimated to comprise about 14,000 persons and in each country they have established collective gurdwaras (Jacobsen and Myrvold, 2011). 5 This research is part of the Nordic collaborative research project (Nordcorp) “Sikh Identity Formation: Generational Transfer of Traditions in the Nordic Countries” funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS) 2009–13. The research on Sikhs in Finland is conducted by Laura Hirvi; on Sikhs in Sweden by Kristina Myrvold; on Sikhs in Norway by Knut A. Jacobsen; and on Sikhs in Denmark by Ravinder Kaur. The authors thank Eleanor Nesbitt for valuable discussions during the project meetings and for her helpful comments on a draft of this chapter. 6 After recitation of the 40-verse JapJi Sahib written by Guru Nanak, which is presented as an opening hymn of Guru Granth Sahib (in pages 1–8) and before the 40 stanzas of the composition Anand Sahib by Guru Amardas in the Guru Granth Sahib (in pages 917–22). 7 The three verses are included in Rehras Sahib, a prayer that opens with a shalok (couplet) by Guru Nanak, followed by nine stanzas of Guru Nanak, Guru Ramdas, and Guru Arjan that are presented in the Guru Granth Sahib (in pages 8–12). The three verses of the Dasam Granth are recited at the end of Rehras Sahib, followed by the first five stanzas and the fortieth stanza of Anand Sahib and a couplet (shalok) by Guru Arjan. 8 For more information about Kala Afghana, see for example, Lamba, 2004; Kala Afghana, 2012. Among other things, he has criticized the jathedar of Akal Takhat for editing the book Gurbilas Patshahi 6, which many Sikhs have viewed as a key source for normative practices of the Guru Granth Sahib in Harimandir Sahib at Amritsar. 9 As early as 1920, Babu Teja Singh was excommunicated partly for changing the ardas and casting doubt on some of the content of the Dasam Granth (Mann and Singh, 2011, pp. 65–6). 10 All names in this chapter are pseudonyms to protect informants’ anonymity. 11 Ranjit made this comment when Hirvi showed him what she had written on the change of the ardas (field notes, October 2010). 12 In the writing of Bhai Gurdas, for example, the word bhagauti is used as an equivalent of a sword (see for example, var 25 pauri 6 in Singh, J., 1998, p. 93), which later in the writing attributed to Guru Gobind Singh was associated with a divine power. 13 This is what the committee members, who were responsible for the change of the ardas, told Hirvi. However, in online discussion forums on the internet where Finnish Sikhs had posted what they knew about the affair, it was argued that the gurdwara in Finland had received letters from the Akal Takhat dated June 23, 2009, and August 26, 2010, in which they were asked to clarify their stance in this affair. Apparently, the Akal Takhat has received petitions from Sikhs worldwide concerning this issue (see Walia, 2009). 14 There are two gurdwaras in the area of Stockholm: one is located in Tullinge in the southern part of the city and another in Upplands Väsby in the northern part. 15 Information provided by participants of the Sikh camp in Stockholm, June 2, 2011.

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16 When Darshan Singh presented this theory during his visit to Germany in 2008, the Sikh congregation in Hamburg protested and forced him to sign an agreement that prohibited him from mentioning the Dasam Granth controversy in his lecture (see Panthic.org, 2008c). 17 Interestingly, representatives of AKJ have presented a counterconspiracy theory according to which Darshan Singh is an agent of India’s intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), whose mission is to collect external intelligence about terrorists (see Panthic.org, 2008b).

Bibliography Deol, J. (2001), “Eighteenth century Khalsa identity: discourse, praxis and narrative,” in C. Shackle, G. Singh, and A-P. Mandar (eds), Sikh Religion, Culture and Ethnicity. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon, pp. 25–46. Fanatism.net (n.d.), “Foundation of ‘Sikh Temple Sweden’ ” [Online]. Fanatism in Sikhism. Available at: http://www.fanatism.net/foundation_of_sikh_temple.htm [Accessed February 2, 2012]. Grewal, J. S. (2011), Recent Debates in Sikh Studies: An Assessment. New Delhi: Manohar. Gupta, A. and Ferguson, J. (1992), “Beyond ‘culture’: space, identity, and the politics of difference.” Cultural Anthropology, 7(1), 6–23. Hirvi, L. (2010), “The Sikh gurdwara in Finland: negotiating, maintaining and transmitting immigrants’ identities.” South Asian Diaspora, 2(2), 219–32. Ilkjær, H. (2011), “The Sikh community in Denmark: balancing between cooperation and conflict,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 39–60. Jacobsen, K. A. and Myrvold, K. (2011), “Introduction: Sikhs in Europe,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham: Ashgate. Kala Afghana (2012), “Books” [WWW, online]. Available at: http://www.kalaafghana.com/ site/?cat=4 [Accessed February 23, 2012]. Lamba, P. S. (2004), “Gurbakhsh Singh Kala Afghana: an Adi Granth purist” [Online]. The Sikh Times, July 10. Available at: http://www.sikhtimes.com/bios_071004a.html [Accessed February 23, 2012]. Mann, G. S. (2004), Sikhism. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice. — (2005), “Sikh Educational Heritage,” Journal of Punjab Studies Mann, G. S. and Singh, K. (2011), Sri Dasam Granth Sahib: Questions and Answers. London: Archimedes Press.12(1), 1–28. McLeod, W. H. (2003), Sikhs of the Khalsa: A History of the Khalsa Rahit. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. — (1993), “Studying Sikh literature,” in J. S. Hawley and G. S. Mann (eds), Studying the Sikhs: Issues for North America. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 47–68. — (1975). The Evolution of the Sikh Community. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Moliner, C. (2011), “The boa and its petty enemy: contemporary relationships between Hindu nationalists and the Sikhs,” in D. Berti, N. Jaoul, and P. Kanungo (eds), Cultural Entrenchment of Hindutva: Local Mediations and Forms of Convergence. London: Routledge, pp. 308–28. Myrvold, K. (2007), Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual uses of texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi. Lund: Media-Tryck.

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— (2009), “Sikher och sikhism: med gurun installerad på en tron och svenska poliser i turban,” in D. Andersson and Å. Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: ett landskap i förändring. Lund: Studentlitteratur, pp. 285–338. — (2011), “Swedish Sikhs: community building, representation, and generational change,” in K. A. Jacobsen and K. Myrvold (eds), Sikhs in Europe: Migration, Identities and Representations. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, pp. 63–94. Nesbitt, E. (2005), Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Oberoi, H. (1994), The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition. Delhi: Oxford University Press. Panthic.org (2008a), “Sri Dasam Granth Sahib is an inseparable scripture of the Sikh panth” [Online]. June 6. Available at: http://panthic.org/articles/4147 [Accessed February 18, 2012]. — (2008b), “Sikh organizations call for action against spokesmen supporters & sympathizers” [Online]. May 30. Available at: http://www.panthic.org/articles/4140 [Accessed January 15, 2012]. — (2008c), “Heretic ragi attempts to spoil gurta-gaddi celebrations in Europe” [Online]. Editorial, October 17. Available at: http://www2.panthic.org/articles/4452 [Accessed January 15, 2012]. Rinehart, R. (2011), Debating the Dasam Granth. New York: Oxford University Press. — (2004), “Strategies for interpreting the Dasam Granth,” in P. Singh and N. G. Barrier (eds), Sikhism and History. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp. 135–50. Sikher.no (n.d.), “Vedtekter” [pdf, online]. Available at: http://www.sikher.no/ Nedlastning/Diverse/vedtekter.pdf [Accessed February 18, 2012]. Singh, G. and Tatla, D. S. (2006), Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community. London: Zed Books. Singh, J. (1998), Varan Bhai Gurdas: Text, Transliteration and Translation (vol. 2). Patiala, New Delhi: Vision & Venture. Singh, P. (2003), Guru Granth Sahib: Canon, Meaning and Authority. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. Vertovec, S. (2009), Transnationalism. London and New York: Routledge. Walia, V. (2009), “Finland gurdwara faces takht action for changes in ardas.” The Tribune, May 24. Available at: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090525/punjab.htm#7 [Accessed February 23, 2012].

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Glossary Adi Granth “the first book”: the Sikh scripture also known as the Guru Granth Sahib. Akal Takhat “throne of the timeless”: historically came into being as the seat of the temporal authority of Guru Hargobind, and later developed into the central place from where communal decisions are announced. It is located on the premises of the Golden temple in Amritsar. Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ) a Sikh devotional organization which started in the early 1900s by Bhai Sahib Randhir Singh in Punjab. akhand path “unbroken reading”: an uninterrupted recitation of the entire text of the Guru Granth Sahib by a group of readers. amrit “immortal”: sweetened water (nectar) that is used during the ceremony of khande di pahul. Amritdhari “the bearer of the nectar”: Sikhs who have undergone the ceremony of khande di pahul and follow the Rahit Maryada in its entirety. amritvela the nectar hours during the last watch of the night. ardas “petition”: the prayer at the closing of congregational worship. arth interpretation. Baba “father/grandfather”: a term of affection and respect often used for religious figures. bani sound, speech, designates the utterances of the historical Sikh gurus. beadbi “disrespect,” often referring to the disrespect of Guru Granth Sahib. bhagat saint poet. bir a collection of compositions bound in a single book or volume. Chandi di Var a poem about goddess Durga and included in the Dasam Granth. chanwar whisk made of yak hair or peacock feathers which is waved over the Sikh scripture to give respect, also called chaur or chauri. Darbar Sahib “honorable court”: originally built in the 1580s in Amritsar, the site now serves as the center of Sikh sacred geography. Dasam Granth “the tenth book/the book of the tenth guru”: a text containing the compositions attributed to Guru Gobind Singh. dastar the Sikh turban. dharmsala “place for temporary residence”: in early Sikh usage, a place for congregational worship. gatka wooden sword used for training in fencing, usually referring to the Sikh martial art of sword dancing and battle technique. giani “a learned man”: a scholar well versed in Sikh scriptures. got exogamous subdivision of a caste group, family, subcaste, clan. granth “book”: scripture. granthi keeper/custodian of the Guru Granth Sahib: the official in charge of the gurdwara, who leads congregational worship, and performs ceremonies, such as weddings and the naming of newborn children. gurbani the guru’s utterances, compositions credited the status of being composed by the Sikh gurus.

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gurdwara “guru’s house”: Sikh place of worship. The key area of a gurdwara is a spacious room housing the Guru Granth Sahib, where people sit and listen to scriptural recitation and singing. Gurmukhi “the script of the Gurmukhs/Sikhs”: the script of the Punjabi language and the Guru Granth Sahib. gurpurb (gurpurab) “the festival of the guru”: celebration of the anniversary of the birth or death of the historical gurus. guru “preceptor”: the mode of Vahiguru as teacher which in the past was revealed to the Sikhs through ten human gurus, and persists in the form of the Guru Granth Sahib. Guru Granth Sahib “the respected guru book”: Sikh scripture contains compositions of six Sikh gurus, a group of bards from within the Sikh community, and selections from the writings of 15 saints with Hindu and Sufi backgrounds. hukam “order”: the command of Vahiguru; the reply from the Guru Granth Sahib to supplication at the closing of worship. izzat honor. Janam-sakhi “birth story”: traditional narratives of Guru Nanak. Japji Sahib a composition of Guru Nanak which is recited by Sikhs every morning. This is the most commonly known Sikh prayer. Jat landowning caste from a nomadic background which the majority of Sikhs belong to. jatha “military detachment”: an organized group of Sikhs with a particular mission of preaching and reform or political agenda. jathedar “commander”: a leader of a group (jatha) or the head of a Takhat, a seat of authority: see Akal Tahkat. kachha “pair of shorts”: kachha, kes, kangha, kirpan, and karha constitute five items, which Amritdhari Sikhs (men and women) are required to wear. kacchi bani “unripe utterances”: compositions falsely attributed to the Sikh gurus. kangha “comb”: see kachha. karha “steel bracelet”: see kachha. katha “story”: stands for exposition, narration, exegesis, and oral discussion of sacred texts. kathavacak “speaker of katha”: a professional exegete who delivers a religious exposition in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib and a holy congregation. Kaur “princess”: used as a name by female Sikhs, parallel to Singh for men. kes “hair”: see kachha. keski head covering smaller than the turban. Keski is often used by boys before they begin wearing turbans, and by Sikh women following the Akhand Kirtani Jatha. Kesdhari “the bearer of hair”: the Sikhs who keep their hair uncut. Khalistan “country of the Khalsa”: the proposed name for a Sikh state independent of India. Khalsa “pure”: the term implies a pure status for the Sikh community and reiterates its belief in the authority of the Vahiguru, the revelatory content of the Guru Granth Sahib, and the creation of the Khalsa Raj. khanda double-edged sword and name for the Sikh insignia. khande di pahul “the nectar made with the double-edged sword”: the ceremony instituted by Guru Gobind Singh at the time of the declaration of the Khalsa in 1699. Those who undergo this ceremony constitute an elect group called the Amritdharis. khulla path “open” recitation of the complete Sikh scripture. kirpan “sword”: see kachha. kirtan “praises”: devotional singing which is a significant part of Sikh piety.

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langar “community kitchen”: attached to every gurdwara, food is served to all regardless of age, creed, gender, or social distinctions. maryada see Rahit Maryada. mona clean shaven Sikh. nagar kirtan “town praising”: processions arranged during celebrations of Gurpurbs. nam simran the act of remembering the divine by repetition of the divine name. Nihang warrior Sikhs. nishan sahib “honorable symbol”: a saffron-colored flag with the Sikh insignia. nitnem “daily rule”: the daily discipline of reciting gurbani hymns which particularly Amritdhari Sikhs follow. panj kakke “five Ks”: the five items, whose names begin with the letter “k,” that an Amritdhari should wear (see kachha). panj piare “the beloved five”: represent the Sikh community. This designation recalls the five men who offered their lives for the sake of the community in response to Guru Gobind Singh’s call. parchar propagation. path reading/recitation. patit one who commits a religious misdemeanor or transgression. prakash “the light”: morning ceremony in the gurdwara during which Guru Granth Sahib is installed on a royal throne and opened. prashad “blessed food”: The food especially associated with the Sikh tradition is the karah prashad, or a pudding made of flour, sugar, and clarified butter that is prepared in a cauldron (karah) and served daily in gurdwaras. rag musical mode in North Indian classical music. The major portion of Guru Granth Sahib is arranged in 31 ragas. ragi Sikh musician performing devotional music. ragi jatha an ensemble of usually three Sikh musicians. rahit Sikh beliefs and practices. Rahit Maryada Sikh code of conduct, often referring to a specific text on normative Sikh beliefs and practices that was published by SGPC in 1950. Rahitnama a manual on normative Sikh beliefs and practices. rainsbhai programs of devotional singing and meditation which start in the early evening and continue without a break for a whole night. Ravidasias “the followers of Ravidas”: people who consider Ravidas, a fifteenth-century saint and poet, as their religious leader. A set of Ravidas’s compositions appears in the Guru Granth Sahib, and some of the Ravidasias in the Punjab consider themselves as part of the Sikh society. sabha association. Sahijdhari (Sehajdhari) “the bearers of slowness”: those who have not undergone the khande di pahul do not keep their hair uncut, do not use Singh/Kaur in their names, but affirm allegiance to the Guru Granth Sahib. sangat “congregation”: congregational worship constitutes the heart of Sikh devotion. sant “saint”: a title for a Sikh holy person. sarop/sarup the bodily “form” or “appearance” of the ten Sikh gurus and the Sikh scripture. seva “service”: service to other people that should be selfless and voluntary. sevadar a person who performs seva, an attendant in the gurdwara. sharam shame. shastar vidiya martial arts.

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Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) a Sikh organization that was formed in 1925 to manage all Sikh shrines and gurdwaras in the state of Punjab. Sikh “disciple/learner”: follower of the Sikh teaching. simran remembrance of the divine. Singh “lion”: the title used by male Sikhs. Singh Sabha “the Singh society”: a late nineteenth-century reform movement within Sikhism. sukhasan “the comfortable posture”: night ceremony in the gurdwara during which Guru Granth Sahib assumes a closed position and leaves the throne for rest in the bedroom. tanakhah religious punishment. tanakhahia a person guilty of religious misconduct. Vahiguru “wonderful sovereign”: the most commonly used epithet for God in the Sikh tradition. Vahiguru ji ka Khalsa Vahiguru ji ki fateh the Khalsa salutation meaning “Hail to the Guru’s Khalsa, Hail to the Guru’s victory.” Vaisakhi a spring festival during which the Sikhs celebrate new year and the formation of the Khalsa in 1699. viakhia commentaries. vichar reflection. yatra travel, journey, pilgrimage. zat position fixed by birth, community, or caste group.

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Index abortion 176 Adams, Daniel 150 Adi Granth 213 Afghana, Singh Kala 234, 236, 240, 247, 248n8 Africa 13, 14, 15, 94 agricultural work 17 Akal Academy, Baru Sahib 174 Akal Takhat 111, 126, 130, 155, 205, 212, 224, 236, 239, 241, 243 Akali movement 48 Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ) 123, 170, 172, 173, 182, 222, 227n18, 240, 241, 249n17 akhand path 114 alcohol 25, 53, 124, 153, 199, 206, 244 Amar Chitra Katha 167 Amritdhari body 150, 152–6 Sikhs 11, 20, 72, 78, 79, 92, 97, 98, 112, 116n7, 133, 142, 143, 155, 170, 199, 214, 215, 217, 221, 225n7, 234, 244 Amritsar 96, 101n11, 113, 145, 180, 195, 197, 198, 211, 212, 236 Anand Sahib 234, 248n6 Anandpur 93, 195, 198 Anglo-Sikh relationships 30 anhad shabad 114 ardas 96, 202, 212, 234, 237–9, 244, 246 Arnett, Jeffrey 168 arth 200 Arya Samaj 146 Asa di Var 201, 206 Associazione Sikhismo Religione Italia 211, 212, 218–21 asylum seekers 13, 26, 51, 53, 54, 55, 57, 59, 244 Athens 17, 21 Australia 173 Austria 12, 14, 16, 108, 113, 172 Axel, Brian 131, 132, 150, 155, 156

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Baba Balaknath 157 babas 238 Badone, Ellen 87 Baltic route 14 Banda Singh 157 bani 241, 251 Barrier, Norman Gerald 107 Barthes, Roland 154–6 Baumann, Gerd 23 beadbi (“disrespect”) 134 behzti (“dishonor”) 25 Behzti affair 4, 25–7 Belarus 15 Belgium 1, 4, 14, 16, 48, 51–67, 108, 113, 137, 172 Bergamo 211, 221 Bergen 112, 114 Berger, John 153 bhagat 213 bhagauti 237, 248n12 Bhai Gurdas 116n10, 125, 248n12 Bhai Gurdas Gurmat Missionary College, Ludhiana 198, 199 Bhai Nand Lal 116n10, 125 Bhai Rajinder Singh 172, 183 bhangra 93 Bhasaur, Teja Singh 154, 155 Bhatia, Shyamala 144 Bangkok 15, 203 Bhindranwale, Sant Jarnail Singh 181 Birmingham 21, 25, 112, 172 birth anniversary Guru Nanak’s 96 birthdays, children’s 112 Bobigny 27 Bradford 113, 167, 177 Brah, Avtar 23 British Indian Army 1, 4, 37–9, 48 British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS) 170, 176, 177 see also Sikhi Camp

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256 British Sikh Council 223, 224 Bunt, Gary 150, 176, 178 Burma 19 burqa 24 California 41 Camp Miri Piri 171 Canada 19, 20, 21, 22, 28, 41, 62, 63, 72, 97, 105, 141, 173, 174, 182, 196, 201, 204, 235, 236 cartoons (online) 153, 154 Cartwright, Lisa 155 caste differences 23, 29, 54, 145, 216 endogamy 70, 77, 80n5 gurdwaras 108, 109 and marriage 78, 79 networks 226n13 practices 175 rejection of 79, 121 reservation policy 14 war 34n24 casteism 132, 136 Castelgomberto 211, 212, 214, 215, 218, 223, 224 Catholic Church 22 Central Gurdwara, London 176 Chadha, Gurinder 91, 94, 98, 99 Chalda Vaheer Jatha 172–3, 182 Chamar Sikhs 34n24 Charitropakhyan 234, 235 Chaupai Sahib 234 Christian missionaries 147 values 55 Christian Democrats (Belgium) 58 Christianity conversion to 145 City Sikhs Network 173 Cold War 14 Cole, Owen W. 52 Coles, Tim 89 collective history 90, 193 identity 72, 216, 217 memory of the Sikhs 1, 30 motherland 99 practices 2, 90 representations of the Sikhs 217 worship 120, 121, 133

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Index “comfort zone” 110–11 conflict of authority 233, 236, 243 Dasam Granth 243, 244, 245, 247 among elders 6 family 71 intergenerational 19, 20, 80, 125 of management of gurdwaras 107, 109, 111, 133 of respect of Guru Granth Sahib 224 between secular values and religion 26 between Sikhs and the Indian state 53 social 56 converts, to Sikhism 98, 108, 174, 179 Copenhagen 172, 244, 245 corruption 25, 206, 244 Coventry 21 cultural transmission 17–19 “culture of migration” 1, 13, 201 Daduwal, Harwant Singh 211, 212 Damdami Taksal 123, 174, 180, 226n17, 246 Damdami Taksal Maryada 170, 174 Darshan Singh, Professor/Ragi 236, 238, 240–3, 246, 247, 249n16 Dasam Granth 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130, 138n4, 205, 206, 232–47 Delhi 15, 38, 48, 92, 94, 110, 204 Denmark 16, 108, 121, 137, 170, 172, 176, 203, 204, 233, 239, 244–6 detention (of migrants) 12, 15, 16 death of Guru Gobind Singh 213 of Osama bin Laden 58 of Sikh migrants 12 of Sikh soldiers 36, 43 shooting of Balbir Singh Sodhi 141 dera/deras (religious centers) 206 Dera Sachkhand Ballan 34n24 dharamsala 107 Dhesi, Manvir Singh 109, 113 diaspora, Sikh 2, 4, 5, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 25, 29, 30, 31, 59, 60, 87, 88, 89, 90, 97, 99, 100, 105, 107, 110, 112, 120, 143, 149, 150, 153, 155, 157, 158, 169, 176, 182–4, 198, 202, 203, 204, 206, 214, 216, 235, 240, 246, 247 identities 19–24, 151 spaces 89 tourism 89, 99

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Index discrimination religious and cultural 3, 206, 216, 217, 222, 223 diversity, religious and social among the Sikhs 1, 13, 17, 18, 79, 108, 109, 129, 135, 136, 147, 151, 153, 157, 180, 193 Diwali 27 dowry 27, 72, 75, 76, 81n7 Drammen 242 drugs 25, 199, 206 Duff, Beauchamp 38, 45 Durga 234, 237 Dusenbery, Verne 22, 23, 220 East Africa 13, 29 Eastern route (of migration) 15 Elliot, Richard 154 “emerging adulthood” 168 England 40, 94, 109, 110, 203, 218 English identity 94 language 121, 167, 171, 175, 176, 182, 198, 200 translations of Sikh texts 6, 115, 178, 180 Espanola 171, 172, 173, 174 “ethicization” of religious behavior 78–9 European Union 14, 27, 54, 69 euthanasia 176 Facebook 52, 120, 137, 167, 171, 177, 181, 183, 203 factionalism 119 factions 235, 244, 245 family conflicts 71 customs 70, 73, 74, 77, 80 history 5, 89, 91, 94, 99 honor 20, 72, b1n7 network 69, 80, 98 nuclear 71, 72 reunions/reunification 16, 30, 51, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74, 88 roles 69, 72, 76, 80, 169 roots 90, 94 social pressure from 74 socialization 183 Fenech, Louis 128 Finland 15, 108, 111, 233, 237–9, 246, 247 first generation 20, 30, 61, 110, 111, 216

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257

First World War, Sikhs in 36–50 “five Ks” 41, 92, 98, 124, 142, 143, 145, 221 France 1, 4, 14, 16, 27, 28, 30, 36, 38, 39–48, 52, 58, 62, 108, 109, 113, 137, 141, 171, 172, 204 Frankfurt 16, 17, 21, 108, 171, 172 French ban on religious symbols 11, 24, 25, 27–8, 62, 152 language 47, 200 women 47 Gajjala, Radhika 156 Gallo, Ester 217 gatka 97, 139n11 Geaves, Ron 157 gender conflicts 125 differences 99, 100, 182 discussions among Sikhs 54, 176 equality 198 identity 69, 107 practices of 75 Sikh images of 153 transfer of traditions 5, 105, 110, 115 Generation-K 149, 154 Generation-X 149, 154 Germany 14, 16, 30, 51, 52, 53, 108, 109, 113, 121, 123, 137, 141, 142, 170, 172, 204 Ghagga, Inder Singh 237, 238 GHANAIA 152 giani 147, 148, 196, 198 Gibson, Margaret 22 Gillespie, Marie 23, 91 Glasgow 92, 93 glocal 142 glocalization, processes of 207 Golden temple 27, 111, 130, 172, 180 Gothenburg 239, 241 granthi 96, 106, 113, 122, 136, 147, 174, 195, 196, 197, 201, 211 Greece 14, 15, 16, 17, 59, 106, 108, 113 Gulf states 14 gurbani 108, 112, 114, 115, 196, 200, 206, 207, 235, 252 Gurbanifiles.org 176 Gurmukhi 128, 245 Gurmukhi schools 197 Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Oslo (Norway) 110, 111, 243

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258

Index

gurdwara/s 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 18, 22, 25, 28, 44, 52, 53, 55, 59, 60, 89, 90, 98, 119, 120, 121, 125, 133, 134, 137, 144, 155, 157, 167, 178, 180, 181, 194, 195, 196, 197, 200, 201, 202, 204, 205, 214, 215, 236 associated with a particular caste 109 in Austria 108 in Belgium 53–4, 108 in Canada 173, 176 in Denmark 108, 172, 244–6 in Europe 105–15 in Finland 108, 111, 237–9, 246 in France 108, 109, 212 in Germany 108, 109, 172 in Greece 108, 113 historical 89, 93, 94, 96, 97, 109 in Ireland 108 in Italy 108, 109, 211, 212, 215, 218, 219, 221, 223, 224 management of 59, 107, 111, 122, 125, 133, 134, 135, 136, 198, 205, 243 in the Netherlands 108, 109, 172 in Norway 108, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 172, 242–3, 246 in Poland 108, 113 in Portugal 108 in Russia 108 in Spain 108, 109, 113 in Sweden 108, 239–42 in Switzerland 108, 109, 110 in United Kingdom 92–3, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112, 113, 133, 174, 176 in the United States 134 Gurdwara Sahib (Switzerland) 109, 110 Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, Tullinge, Stockholm (Sweden) 239 Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall (UK) 109, 110 Gurmat Gian Missionary College, Ludhiana (India) 198, 200 Gurmat Learning Zone 177 Gurmat Vidhyale 197 gurpurab 96, 113 Guru Angad Dev Institute of Religious Studies, Khadur Sahib (India) 200 Guru Arjan 114 Guru Gobind Singh 92, 132, 145, 146, 157, 213, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 239, 240, 241

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Guru Granth Sahib 7, 41, 88, 93, 96, 106, 107, 108, 112, 113, 119, 124, 127, 128, 129, 130, 146, 149, 155, 175, 180, 195, 206, 211, 212, 217, 233, 234, 242 as a living guru 7, 25, 34n24, 106, 212–14, 221, 235, 240, 241 readings from 114, 157, 234 respect and disrespect to 25, 125, 134, 212, 213–16 the use of English translations 176, 180 transportation of 214–15, 223–4 worship of 54, 108, 112, 214, 232, 235, 236 Guru Hargobind 107 Guru Kashi Gurmat College, Talwandi Sabo (India) 198 Guru Nanak 92, 96, 114, 120, 125, 129, 137, 195, 213, 221 Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 198, 200 Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Amsterdam 172 Guru Tegh Bahadur 213, 237 hair 33n20, 40, 46, 53, 98, 124, 141, 142, 143, 152, 153, 155, 156, 167, 175, 179, 195, 199, 206 Hall, Kathleen 19, 22, 23, 24 Halmaal 52, 53, 54, 56 Hampton, Keith 142 Harbhajan, Singh Yogi 108 Haryana 110, 198 Haywood, Trevor 149 headscarves, ban on 62 Healthy, Happy, Holy organization (3HO) 176 Helsinki 111, 237, 246 Hesbaye 532 heterogeneity within the Sikh community 18, 144 Heule, Harjinder Singh 56 Himachal Pradesh 174 Hindu avatars 234, 235 fundamentalist 153 mythologies 235 rituals 236 scriptures 127, 128, 235 tradition 129, 130, 131, 200, 237, 240 Hindus 19, 26, 27, 48, 98, 110, 126, 129, 145, 157, 216, 240

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Index Holland see Netherlands homeland, of Sikhs 2, 3, 5, 7, 17, 30, 87, 88, 89, 94, 95, 99, 100, 106, 108, 137, 143, 194, 202, 203, 207, 246 culture 23 identity 31 homosexuality 25 honor killing 27, 54 Hoshiarpur 196 hukam 96, 119, 178, 180 human rights 11, 17, 131, 132, 134, 135, 136, 142, 152 human trafficking 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 husband and wife, redefinition of the roles between 75 identity/identities construction of 3, 6, 91, 144, 145, 147, 148, 149, 153, 154, 155, 156, 175, 219 collective 72, 217 diasporic 24 ethnic 24, 105 formation of 23 fractured 27 gender 69, 154, 155 hybrid 19, 61 Indian 132, 136 Kesdhari 143 Khalsa 6, 43, 60, 98, 143, 144, 146, 147, 150, 151, 152, 153, 156, 157, 234 mistaken 25, 58 narratives of 90 negotiations of 213, 224, 241 normative 6, 176, 206 passports 204 politics 26, 145, 220 Punjabi 61, 105 religious 5, 18, 43, 53, 56, 78, 97, 100, 212, 213, 216, 217, 218, 233, 235 Sahijdhari 143 Sikh 6, 7, 20, 61, 98, 107, 111, 122, 130, 132, 137, 141, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 150, 151, 153, 154, 156, 157, 167, 203, 206, 216, 219, 222, 232 social 216 transmission of 19 transnational 105 Igielski, Zbigniew 108

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259

“in-between” diasporic 31 generation 51, 61, 62 position 60, 61 India, colonial 1, 144, 146 family members in 73, 74, 76, 77 human rights violation in 134 independence of 1, 132 migration from 13, 15, 51, 68 partition in 87, 89, 94, 95, 98, 175 return to 59, 60, 61, 62 Sikh musicians and preachers from 112, 113, 239, 241, 246 travels to 53, 93, 94, 95, 97, 98, 99, 173, 174 Indian army 27 arts 129, 221 brides and grooms 62, 73, 74, 77, 79, 80 cavalry (in WWW1) 45–7 community 26, 29 corps (in WWW1) 39–45 culture 106, 136, 221, 233, 237 festivals 132, 136 government 11, 17, 97, 130, 131, 172, 222 migrants 11, 15, 57, 61, 70, 72, 218, 220, 221 newspapers 222 Punjab 89, 125 scriptures 128, 235 soliders (in WWW1) 4, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 42, 44, 46, 47, 48 integration, of Sikhs 12, 20, 21, 22, 27, 30, 51, 56, 58, 68, 70 intergenerational conflicts 19, 20, 80 expectations 27 internet 3, 6, 17, 52, 110, 115, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 126, 128, 131, 136, 137, 141, 144, 148, 149, 153, 155, 156, 167, 169, 171, 172, 174–83, 194, 203, 204, 236, 238, 243–7 Islamophobia 4, 12, 24, 27 “Italianicity” 156 Italy 7, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 52, 59, 68–80, 108, 109, 113, 123, 137, 172, 211–24 Italy Sikh Council 221, 223 izzat (reputation/honor) 20, 25, 69, 72

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260

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Jalandhar 195, 198, 204, 208n10 Janam-sakhis 206 Jap Sahib 134 Japji Sahib 112, 195, 234, 252 jathedar 111, 172, 212, 236, 248n8 Jats 47, 49, 54, 72, 78 July 7 (7/7, 2005), in UK 19, 26 Jutla, Rajinder S. 88 karha 30, 142 Karva Chauth 132 katha 112, 119, 121, 137, 178, 180, 193, 194, 195, 196, 199, 200, 201, 203, 205, 206, 207, 208n4 kathavacak 6–7, 106, 112, 180, 193–210, 236, 238, 239–42, 246, 247, 252 Kaur, Palwinder 56 Kaur, Rajinder 145 Kaur Singh, Nikky Guninder 114 Kenya 94 Kesdhari 142, 143, 155, 252 keski 27, 58, 124, 208n10, 252 Khabra, Gurdeep John Singh 117n11 Khalistan 26, 130–3, 135, 136, 175, 227n17, 252 Khalsa 126, 132, 142, 143, 145, 146, 157, 167, 199, 219, 221, 225–6n9, 234, 236, 244, 252 Khalsa Camp 170, 172, 173 Khalsa Camp Australia 173 Khalsa College 195 Khalsa identity 6, 38, 43, 98, 142, 143, 144, 146, 147, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 221, 234 Khalsa Jatha, London 113n3 Khalsa normative ideals 60 Khalsa Raj 132 Khalsa-centric perspective 149 Khalsa.dk 121, 176 khalsa-isms 156, 157 khanda 92, 185n25 khande di pahul 234 see also amrit sanskar kin/kinship networks 3, 5, 68, 69, 71–2, 80, 216, 226n11 kirpan 24, 26, 28, 30, 55, 64n2, 92, 124, 142, 151, 181, 219, 220, 221 kirtan 5, 91, 92, 96, 97, 106, 108, 112–14, 115, 116n10, 117nn11–12, 119,

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123, 129, 137, 139n11, 171, 176, 178, 180, 181, 196, 199, 200, 208n3, 214, 253 kirtanis 172 Kolkata 15 Labana 54, 78 laïcité 27, 141 langar 97, 105, 112, 116n11, 253 Latina 217 Latvia 14 Lazio 217, 218, 226n12 Leeds 23, 174 Leonard, Karen 216 Levitt, Peggy 105 Lier 110, 114, 242 Limburg 54 Lisbon 17 Lithuania 14, 15 “little India” 80 Livorno 211, 214 Lohri 132 Lombardy 218, 221 London 1, 11, 26, 40, 44, 95, 109, 113, 116n3, 171, 176, 183 Ludhiana 198 Luxemburg 172 McLeod, W. H. 128, 216, 225n9 McLuhan, Marshall 149 Madrid 17 Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Dharamsala 107, 110 Maira, Sunaina 23 Malaysia 18, 19 Malmö 239 Malwa 20 Mann, Gurinder Singh 115, 197, 233 marriage arranged 5, 62, 68–83, 125 of convenience 60 delay of 168 interdiasporic 4, 61, 62, 63 rules, negotiations of 76–80 transnational 5, 62, 68–83 martial arts 129, 138n11 “martial race” 4, 37, 38 martial traditions 128, 129, 139n11, 145 Martiniello, Marco 60

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Index martyrs, Sikh 96, 109, 130, 131, 175, 193, 198 maryada 119, 126, 135, 142, 143, 170, 173, 205, 227nn9, 17, 236, 241 “matrimonial market” 79 Mazbi 39 memorial, Sikh 4, 31n4, 48, 152 migration chain 68 circular 4, 51, 59 “culture of ” 201 “drop-in” 52 female 72–5, 76 highlighting the negative side of 51 histories 51, 52–4, 68–83 illegal/irregular 14, 31n2, 61 internal 218 intradiasporic 51 kinship networks and 3, 5, 61, 68, 69, 71–2, 74, 75, 76, 80, 217 male 12, 17, 30, 71, 76, 81n11 marriage 5, 68–83 political 14 due to regularization policy 59, 60 return 51 routes 14–17 second, secondary 61, 64n6 skilled 15, 70 from Southern Europe 59 stressing the criminal nature of 57 transit 51, 63 transnational 68, 70, 72 undocumented 59, 60, 61 see also family reunification “mini-Punjab” 5, 105 mobility 13–17, 21, 51–67, 69, 87–104 Moliner, Christine 240 mona Sikhs 143, 144 Mooney, Nicola 72 Morocco 15 Moscow 15 Mozambique 13 multiculturalism 4, 20, 21, 25, 26, 55, 56, 57, 58 multilocality 105 multiple belongings 3, 91, 98, 100 multiple consciousness 61 mulitiple identities 19 Mumbai 214

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261

music 5, 17, 19, 91, 93, 108, 112, 113, 114, 115, 117n11, 128, 180, 181, 195, 196, 253 Muslims, (Sikh relations/comparisons to) 25, 26–7, 28, 57–8, 63, 98, 141, 145, 216 nagar kirtan 19, 96, 217, 253 nam simran 112, 253 Nankana Sahib 96–7 Nankana Sahib Yatra Committee UK 97 Nayar, Kamala 19–20, 21, 22, 23 Nesbitt, Eleanor 235, 248n5 Netherlands 1, 13, 14, 16, 52, 53, 108, 109, 137, 172 networks 2, 5, 8, 15, 18, 21, 26, 60, 61, 63, 68–9, 71–2, 74, 75, 76, 77, 80n1, 105, 111, 120, 176, 181, 193, 194, 196, 198, 201, 202, 203, 204, 207, 216, 217, 218, 226nn11, 13, 240, 242 Neuve Chapelle 41, 48 New York 25, 28, 151, 170 New Zealand 170, 173, 201, 203, 216 newspapers 46, 54, 146, 222, 227n19 Nihang tradition 129, 135, 138n10, 248n3 niqab 24 Nirmala tradition 128 nishan sahib 97, 253 nitnem 112, 199, 233, 253 North Africa-Italy-Spain route (of migration) 15 North America 13, 105, 156, 170, 173, 183, 194, 198, 200, 204, 225n6, 232, 239 Norway 5, 7, 16, 108, 110, 112, 113, 114, 115, 121, 171, 172, 233, 242–3, 246 Norwegian language 115 Oberoi, Harjot 126, 145, 146, 147, 150, 157, 159n11 O’Leary, Stephen 144 Ong, Walter 144 Operation Bluestar 30 Osama bin Laden 28, 58, 141 Oslo 110, 111, 114, 115, 116nn7, 9, 171, 172, 232, 242, 243, 246 “other”/”otherness” 20, 24, 29 Pakistan 88, 89, 90, 91, 94, 95–7, 98, 99 Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) 96

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262 Pakistan Yatra Committee 95–7, 98 Panch Khalsa Diwan 154, 155 panj piare 97, 253 Panth Parkash 128 Papageorgiou, Niki 106 parchar 167, 172, 182, 184 Paris 17, 21, 27, 171 Parmesan cheese production 17 path 112, 214, 253 Patiala 198 patka 11, 12, 33n20 patriarchy/patriarchal 62, 132 peddlers 17 persecution, of Sikhs 13 Phaghura, Amrit 121 pilgrimage 5, 87–90, 91, 92, 95–9, 107 Pingalwara Charitable Society 195 plurality 18, 115 Poland 14, 15, 16, 108, 113 politics of recognition 216, 220 Portugal 13, 14, 16, 59, 108 prakash (opening ceremony of Guru Granth Sahib) 111, 112, 205, 253 processions (nagar kirtan) 96, 253 Punjab Radio 16, 171 Punjabi appearance 105 bubble 20, 22 cultural practices and Sikh religion 175 cultural tradition 23, 111 culture, mobile dimension of 88 culture of migration 201 diaspora 216 DVDs 91 films 72 food 99, 105 homeland 87, 88–90 language 105, 108, 121, 128, 171, 182, 193, 198, 200 language schools 115 marriages 62, 73, 74, 76 politics 239–42 teaching of 91, 97, 105, 108, 110, 115, 121, 128, 171, 176, 179, 182, 193, 198, 200, 205, 252 Punjabi identity 68, 105 coexistence of convert (ghora) Sikhs and 90, 179

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Index distinguish between Sikh identity and 61 fracturing of 27, 32n18 kin network 75, 81n7 maintain and transfer 105 promotion of a common 32n17 Punjabi Sikh space 110 Punjabi University, Patiala 198 Puratan Sikhs 123, 135 “pushing” and “pulling” factors for migration 13 Putnam, Richard 21 racism 4, 12, 19, 20, 24, 29, 57 ragi jatha 112, 113, 115, 253 ragis 106, 112, 113, 196, 236, 253 rahit 107, 119, 129, 130, 221, 226n9, 253 Rahit Maryada 119, 126, 142, 143, 205, 227nn9, 17, 236, 241 Rahitnamas 126 rainsbhai kirtan 172, 173 Rajasthan 198 Raksha Bandhan 132 Ramayana 27 Ramdasia 39 Rashtriya Singh Sangat 240 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) 240, 241 Ravidasis/Ravidasias 34n24, 109, 253 Rea, Andrea 60 Reggio Emilia 71, 217, 218, 219 regularization 12, 14, 17, 30, 53, 54, 59, 60, 61, 70 Rehras Sahib 112, 248n7 religious artifacts 46 capital 199, 208n9 clashes 54 education 169, 197–201, 238 rights 12 symbols 7, 12, 17, 18, 24, 27, 30, 57, 78, 125, 141, 212, 219, 223 remittances 58, 73, 74, 198 representations, of Sikhs authoritative 115 global 7, 223, 224 on the Internet 3, 6, 119–40, 141–64 in media 212 in practices 87–104

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Index public 109, 216 in public discourses 222 in textbooks 157 Respect for Guru Granth Sahib group 25 reunification family 51, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 81n6 of parents 71 Rinehart, Robin 233, 234 ritual 107, 200 activities 111, 132 culture 110 Dasam Granth integrated in 233, 235, 236 as exemplary sacred performance 111 festivals 19, 33n19, 89, 92, 93, 217, 238 for Guru Granth Sahib 106, 214 in the gurdwara 108, 112–15, 121, 204–5 Hindu 236 initiation 142, 145, 146 learning to perform 200 lifecycle 112, 145 patterns of Punjab 115, 121 performance 112 processions 96, 253 space 154 weddings 25, 47, 71, 72–3, 75, 77, 78–9, 251 worship 108 Rome 16, 17, 216, 219, 220, 222, 223 Roseman, Sharon S. 87 Russia 15, 37, 108 Sahibzada Jujhar Singh Gurmat Missionary College 195, 198, 199, 200, 203, 208nn8, 11 Sahijdhari 143, 144, 146, 154, 158n1, 159n16 Sai, Silvia 217 Saldef 181 Samrela 92 Sanatan Sikhs 127, 145, 146, 157, 158 Sandhu, Kernail Singh 18, 29 sangat 5, 61, 62, 100, 110, 119–40, 173, 174, 181, 193, 201, 204, 205, 206, 215, 253 Sant Singh Maskin 195, 196, 197, 198, 203, 208n4 sant/sants (venerated spiritual master/s) 54, 158n9, 176, 196, 238, 253

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Sarbloh Granth 128, 129, 130, 235 Sayers, Matthew 155 Schengen zone 15, 59 Scotland 92 second generation 19, 20, 25, 30, 32n17, 61, 75, 80, 95, 106, 107, 110, 182, 242 self-representation 3, 216 September 11 (9/11, 2001), in USA 4, 19, 24, 25, 26, 28–9, 57–8, 63, 141–2, 151, 153 seva (selfless service) 92, 93, 112, 125, 133, 195, 202, 214, 223, 224, 254 sevadar 97, 124, 254 shabad kirtan 112, 113, 114, 117nn11–12 Shahid Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar 198 sharam 72 Shiromani Akali Dal 240 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) 96, 100, 111, 115, 153, 198, 208n5, 211–12, 214, 215, 223–4, 225nn2, 4, 236, 242, 243, 246, 247, 254 Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib, Lier (Norway) 110, 242 S.I.K.H. camp 170 Sikh camps 134, 169–74, 182, 184 Sikh Channel 11, 16, 134, 223 The Sikh Coalition 142, 150, 151, 181 Sikh community change of authority in 136 competition for leadership 218 controversies within the global 3, 212, 233–6 dialectics within 221 “diseases” within the 206 diversity within 7, 20, 193 divisiveness of 143 gender equality in 198 getting full recognition within 144, 146 global 6, 7, 12, 105 global anger among 27 impact of female presence on 53 leadership 7, 11, 18, 29, 107, 135, 136, 144, 146, 211–31, 233, 242, 247n2 media representing the 56 monument of the achievements of 110 new media and 11, 17, 119–40, 141–64, 175–82

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264 organizing help and support for fellow Sikhs 111 providing religion to 112 questioning claims of representing 236 right to represent and define 146, 152, 157, 158n1 service (seva) to 195, 202 Sikh preachers representing authority within 193 targeting 57 transnational 223, 238, 239, 244, 246 victim of policies 58 Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) 29, 198 Sikh Foundation, Switzerland 111 Sikh Media Watch and Taskforce (SMART) 29, 142 Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar (India) 198 Sikh Missionary College, Ludhiana (India) 198 Sikh Missionary Colleges 180, 194, 197, 198, 199, 200, 203 Sikh Missionary Society (UK) 90, 167, 171, 184n1 Sikh population, estimation of 1, 16, 52 Sikh Research Institute, San Antonio 173 Sikh Retreat 173 Sikh Student Camp 170, 172, 173, 184n10 Sikh technocrats 6, 142, 144, 148, 158 Sikh TV 134 Sikh veterans 48 Sikhawareness.com 119–20, 124, 126–30, 132, 134, 135, 136, 176 Sikh-Diaspora Forum 144, 177 Sikh-Hindu Punjabi tensions 27 Sikhi Camp 169–74 Sikhism as a world religion 132 Sikhitothemax.com 176, 180 Sikhiwiki 177 Sikhmarg.com 238, 245 Sikhnet.com 119, 172, 173, 174, 176, 178, 180, 238 Sikhphilosophy.net 238 Sikhsangat.com 119–20, 123–6, 127, 129–32, 134–6, 176, 245 Sikhscape 5, 88–100

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Index Sikh.se 121, 176 Sikhsocs 177 Sikhs.org 175, 185n16 Sikhspirit.com 176 simran 112, 254 Sindhis 117n13 Singapore 19, 22, 29, 41 Singh, Darshan 236, 238, 240, 241, 242, 243, 246, 247, 249nn16–17 Singh, Gurharpal 107, 108, 133, 168, 243 Singh, Jasjit 23 Singh, Pashaura 159n11 Singh, Vishavjit 153, 154 Singh Sabha 6, 225n9, 235, 240, 254 Skype 17 Smith, Christian 168 social capital 21, 22 social networks 2, 18, 69, 120, 201, 203 soc.religion.sikhism 175, 176 Sodhi, Balbir Singh 25, 28, 141, 153 Soho Road Gurdwara, Birmingham (UK) 112 soldiers, Sikh 1, 4, 13, 36–50, 52 solidarity networks 111 Southall 21, 32n12, 94, 95, 109, 110, 112 Soviet 14 Spain 12, 14, 15, 16, 22, 59, 108, 109, 113, 172, 204, 227n20 Spanish language 200 spirituality 99, 128, 134, 158n9 Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall (UK) 109, 110, 112 Srigranth.org. 176 stereotypes images of Punjabi women 75 of Sikhs 29, 38, 63 Stockholm 170, 201, 204, 239, 240, 248nn14–15 Sturken, Marita 155 sukhasan (closing ceremony of Guru Granth Sahib) 111, 112, 205, 254 Sukhmani Sahib 112 Suraj Parkash Granth 128 Sweden 7, 15, 16, 108, 121, 137, 171, 172, 176, 194, 202–4, 207n1, 233, 239–42, 246, 248nn4–5 Swedish Organisation of Sikh Students (SOSS) 171

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Index Switzerland 16, 108, 109, 110, 172 Sydney 173 Taliban 57, 131, 134 tanakhah (“religious punishment”) 212 tanakhahia (a person guilty of religious misconduct) 236 Tat Khalsa 146, 150, 154, 225–6n9, 235 Tatla, Darshan Singh 107, 108, 109, 168, 170, 243 Tav Prashad Savaiyye 234 “territorialization” 7, 212, 216, 217 terrorists 20, 28, 116n9, 131, 249n17 Thakar, Opinderjit Kaur 146 third generation 19, 20, 87, 115, 182 Timothy, Dallen J. 89 Toronto 170, 173, 176 tourism 88 ancestral 93 diaspora 89, 99, 100 genealogical 91, 99 pilgrimage 5, 98 religious 5 trafficking 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 31nn1, 3 transit country 15 transit migration 51, 63 transit route 216 transmigrants 2 transnational activities 3, 8, 223, 224 aspiration 201–4 diaspora 202 learning 173–4 marriages 68–83 mobility 51–67 movements 201 networks and links 2, 3, 4, 5, 61, 63, 105, 193–4, 198, 202, 203, 204, 207, 240, 242 practices 1, 2, 3, 27, 232, 233, 235 religious dialog 246 response 247 social fields 69, 72, 73, 75, 116n1 spaces 2 transnationalism definitions of 2, 68, 169 “from below” 68 transnationals 2 travel narratives 89, 90–5, 99, 100

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265

trice migrants 24 Tunisia 15 turban 42 at airports 222, 223, 227n19 article of faith 153, 175 ban of 4, 11, 12, 24, 25, 26, 27–9, 30, 33nn20–1, 58, 152 and discrimination 57, 62, 216, 222–3 disputes over the wearing of 4, 11, 12, 24, 25, 26, 27–9, 30, 33nn20–1, 58, 152, 182 female wearing of 152, 154–5, 159n15 and helmets 12, 46 identification cards 219 as mandatory 151 mythologized 156 not wearing 244 political decisions about 25, 26, 27–9, 30, 33nn20–1 public debates on 224 as a show of solidarity 159–60n16 styles of 124, 152, 167, 208n10 as a symbol of Sikh identity 24, 53, 57, 107, 116n9, 141, 143, 144, 152, 153–4, 199 tying of 181 twice migrants 13, 24, 95 Uganda 52 unemployment 26, 111, 194 United Arab Emirates 11 United Kingdom 25, 27, 30, 31n5, 58, 63, 64n3, 68, 87, 91, 95–6, 99, 105, 108, 109, 110, 115, 116nn2, 5, 123, 124, 126, 134, 137, 138n2, 139n11, 142, 156, 167–92, 222, 227n20, 232, 239, 241, 247 United Nations 12, 27 UNITED SIKHS 11, 151–3, 159n14, 181 Vaidyanathan, Brandon 169 Vaisakhi 19, 92, 93, 154, 217, 238, 254 van der Veer, Peter 207 Vancouver 19–22, 41 Var Sri Bhagauti Ji Ki 234, 237 Vedanti, Joginder Singh 236 Veneto 218 Vertovec, Steven 169 vichar 119, 121, 200 “Vienna incident” 29, 34n24

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266 Vilvoorde 52, 53 visa 12, 14, 15, 51, 60, 113, 203, 204 visibility 4, 12, 18, 24, 223

Index World War I and II, Sikhs who fought in 1, 4, 13, 31n4, 28, 36–50, 52 xenophobia 19, 24

Waheguroo network 176 waheguru.demon.co.uk 176 Walter-Roberts, Margaret 194 warrior traditions of the Sikh religion 43 Warsaw 117n13 Wattanasuwan, Kritsadarat 154 wedding traditions 78–9 weddings 25, 47, 71, 72–3, 75, 77, 78, 251 Wellman, Barry 142 Wolverhampton 21 women 38, 47, 53, 60, 62, 63, 68–83, 126, 138nn2, 4, 152, 154–5, 159n15, 168, 179, 198, 206, 234, 237

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yoga 226n12 Yogi Bhajan 108, 184n6 see also Harbhajan Singh Yogi youth camps see Sikh camps young Sikhs 19, 20, 23, 33n20, 61–2, 63, 77, 78, 79, 80, 115, 119–40, 142, 145, 152, 167–92, 242 YouTube 6, 91, 114, 119, 123, 172, 177, 180, 245 Ypres 39, 41, 42, 48 Zee Punjabi 16

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