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Sikhs in Europe_ Migration, Identities and Representations

Table of contents :
Cover......Page 1
Contents......Page 6
List of Figures......Page 8
List of Tables......Page 10
Notes on Contributors......Page 12
Introduction: Sikhs in Europe......Page 16
Part I: Sikhs in Northern
and Eastern Europe......Page 32
1 Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway: Community Growth
and Generational Transfer......Page 34
2 The Sikh Community in Denmark: Balancing between Cooperation and Conflict......Page 54
3
The Swedish Sikhs: Community Building, Representation and Generational Change......Page 78
4 Sikhs in Finland: Migration Histories and Work in the Restaurant Sector......Page 110
5 The Sikhs in Poland: A Short History of Migration and Settlement......Page 130
Part II: Sikhs in Southern Europe......Page 146
6 Mirror Games: A Fresco of Sikh Settlements among Italian Local Societies......Page 148
7 “Did You Get Papers?”
Sikh Migrants in France......Page 178
8 Caste, Religion, and Community Assertion: A Case Study of the Ravidasias in Spain......Page 194
9
Sikh Immigrants in Greece:
On the Road to Integration......Page 216
Part III: Sikhs in the United Kingdom and Ireland......Page 238
10 Sikh Diversity in the UK: Contexts and Evolution......Page 240
11 Sikh-ing Beliefs:
British Sikh Camps in the UK......Page 268
12 The Valmiki, Ravidasi, and Namdhari Communities in Britain......Page 294
13 The Sikh Diaspora in Ireland:
A Short History......Page 320
Glossary......Page 346
Index......Page 352

Citation preview

Sikhs in Europe

The book refers to the existence of the Sikh community in eleven European countries and represents the contributions of a new generation of scholars in the field. To students of Sikh history, religion, migration studies and sociology, this remarkable book will be extremely relevant. Himadri Banerjee, formerly Jadavpur University, India A ground breaking work. This pioneering study of Sikh communities in eleven European countries, will serve as a landmark contribution to the literature on the development of a global Sikh community. The essays successfully capture the religious, social and political complexity of the lives of the Sikhs in Europe. Required reading for anyone interested in recent experiences in Sikh migration and settlement. Gurinder Singh Mann, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA Sikhs in Europe are neglected in the study of religions and migrant groups. Studies in past decades have focused on the history, culture and religious practices of Sikhs in North America and the UK, but few have focused on Sikhs in continental Europe. This book fills this gap, offering new empirical data and theoretical analyses of Sikhs in eleven European countries. Divided into three sections – Sikhs in Northern and Eastern Europe, Sikhs in Southern Europe, and Sikhs in UK and Ireland – this book examines the broader European presence of the Sikhs in new and old host countries. Focusing on patterns of migration, transmission of traditions, identity construction and cultural representations from the perspective of local Sikh communities in Europe, the authors explore general patterns of settlement, institution building and cultural transmission among the European Sikhs.

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Sikhs in Europe

Migration, Identities and Representations

Edited by

Knut A. Jacobsen University of Bergen, Norway and

Kristina Myrvold Lund University, Sweden

First published 2011 by Ashgate Publishing Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © 2011 KA. Jacobsen, kristina Myrvold and the contributors Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Sikhs in Europe : migration, identities and representations. 1. Sikhs–Europe. 2. Sikhism–Europe. 3. Sikh nationalism–Europe. 4. Sikhs–Migrations. 5. Social integration–Religious aspects–Sikhism. I. Jacobsen, Knut A., 1956– II. Myrvold, Kristina. 305.6’946’094–dc22 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Jacobsen, Knut A., 1956– Sikhs in Europe:migration, identities, and representations/Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4094-2434-5 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Sikhism—Europe. 2. Emigration and immigration—Religious aspects—Sikhism. 3. Sikhs—Europe. I. Myrvold, Kristina. II. Title. BL2018.J335 2011 294.6094—dc22 2011014766 ISBN 9781409424345 (hbk) ISBN 9781315609096 (ebk)

Contents List of Figures    List of Tables    Notes on Contributors    Introduction: Sikhs in Europe   Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold Part I 1 2 3 4 5

1

Sikhs in Northern and Eastern Europe

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway: Community Growth and Generational Transfer   Knut A. Jacobsen

19

The Sikh Community in Denmark: Balancing between Cooperation and Conflict   Helene Ilkjær

39

The Swedish Sikhs: Community Building, Representation and Generational Change   Kristina Myrvold

63

Sikhs in Finland: Migration Histories and Work in the Restaurant Sector   Laura Hirvi

95

The Sikhs in Poland: A Short History of Migration and Settlement   Zbigniew Igielski

Part II 6

vii ix xi

115

Sikhs in Southern Europe



Mirror Games: A Fresco of Sikh Settlements among Italian Local Societies   Barbara Bertolani, Federica Ferraris and Fabio Perocco

7

“Did You Get Papers?” Sikh Migrants in France   Christine Moliner

133 163

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8

Caste, Religion, and Community Assertion: A Case Study of the Ravidasias in Spain   Kathryn Lum

9

Sikh Immigrants in Greece: On the Road to Integration   Niki Papageorgiou

Part III

179 201

Sikhs in the United Kingdom and Ireland

10

Sikh Diversity in the UK: Contexts and Evolution   Eleanor Nesbitt

225

11

Sikh-ing Beliefs: British Sikh Camps in the UK   Jasjit Singh

253

12

The Valmiki, Ravidasi, and Namdhari Communities in Britain: Self-representations and Transmission of Traditions   Opinderjit Kaur Takhar

13

The Sikh Diaspora in Ireland: A Short History   Glenn Jordan and Satwinder Singh

Glossary    Index   

279 305 331 337

List of Figures 1.1

1.2 1.3 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 3.3

4.1 4.2 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6

To the right, Amarjit Singh Kamboz, the first Sikh who arrived in Norway in 1969. In the middle, Santokh Singh, who was for several periods of time the leader of the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and to the left, Darshan Singh. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen, May 2010   The new Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen   The language teachers at the Punjabi School in Oslo, 2010. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen May 2010   Cycle of cooperation and conflict in the Sikh community in Denmark   External influence on the cycle of cooperation and conflict   The night ceremony (sukhasan) at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Gothenburg. Photo: Kristina Myrvold   A female reciter (pathi) at Gurdwara Bibi Nanki in Upplands Väsby, summer 2010. Photo: Kristina Myrvold   Sikh children in Gothenburg learning Punjabi and hymns from the scripture under the guidance of kathavacak Bhai Ranjodh Singh from India. Photo: Kristina Myrvold   The gurdwara in Helsinki (the low building with curtains on the right-hand side). Photo: Laura Hirvi   A Sikh entrepreneur in Helsinki. Photo: Laura Hirvi   The number of Sikh immigrants applying for refugee status or asylum (1994–2004). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw   The number of Sikh immigrants applying for residence permits (1998–2004). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw   The number of Sikh immigrants applying for refugee status or asylum (2004–09). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw   The number of Sikh immigrants applying for the residence permit (2004–09). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw   Map of Sikhs in Poland. The map has been prepared by the author on the basis of the statistical data and interviews with Sikh immigrants   Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Raszyn. Photo: Zbigniew Igielski  

22 25 34 51 52 74 78 85 102 108 117 118 119 120 122 127

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5.7

The interiors of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Raszyn. Photo: Zbigniew Igielski  

128

6.1

Distribution of Indian residents in Italy (December 31, 2008). Source: Istat   Distribution of gurdwaras in Italy  

138 157

6.2

12.1 A number of Kiran’s portraits on the back wall of the Birmingham Valmiki Ashram. Photo: Opinderjit Kaur Takhar   12.2 Young Namdhari boys playing classical instruments and practicing kirtan during a Namdhari camp at Bhaini Sahib. Photo courtesy of Mr. Surjit Singh Jeet of the South Asia Cultural Heritage Centre, London   13.1 Ajit Singh Nagra in his living room with picture of his brother Bahint Singh Nagra, Derry, 2009   13.2 Jagir Kaur Nagra playing harmonium and leading hymn singing, Derry Gurdwara, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan   13.3 Calendar in Sikh home in Dublin depicting Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and events at the Golden Temple, 2009. Photo: Glenn Jordan   13.4 Gurbir Singh Chadha in his mobile phone shop, Dublin, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan   13.5 “Stabbed Sikh Blamed for Attacks,” Irish Examiner, July 15, 2005. Reprinted by permission of Examiner Publications   13.6 Flag Changing Ceremony, Dublin Gurdwara, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan   13.7 Bhangra Dancers, Festival of World Cultures, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, July 2009. Photo: Glenn Jordan   13.8 Darshan Singh, granthi at the Sikh temple in Belfast, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan.  

286

299 309 312 316 317 318 320 323 325

List of Tables 1.1

Registered members of Sikh gurdwara organizations in Norway between 1990 and 2009   

25

7.1

Statistics of immigrants in France according to country of birth, gender and nationality  

165

11.1 Have you ever attended a Sikh camp?   11.2 Of those who have attended camps which of the following camps have you attended?   11.3 The daily routine of Khalsa Camp   11.4 The daily routine at Sikhi Camp 2010   11.5 The daily routine at Sikh Student Camp   11.6 The daily routine at The S.I.K.H. Camp  

259 259 260 263 266 267

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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 the University of Molise and the University of Ferrara (Italy). Bertolani has conducted research on intermarriages and inter-ethnic 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. Bertolani is currently having a research bourse at the University of Padua, Department of Sociology. Federica Ferraris is Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex. She is currently working on a post-doctoral research project focused on the role of pilgrimage/tourism practices and narratives of European Sikhs traveling to Indian and Pakistani Sikh shrines. Since 2009, she is also involved in a research program on religious tourism and sustainability in the Mediterranean at La Sapienza, University of Rome. Her contributions on Sikhism are, “Going Rural and Urban at Once: Reflections from the Roman Sikh Context” (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2009), and (with Silvia M. Sai) “Transnational Khalsa, Rooted Gurdwaras: Sikh Identities in Italy between Migration, Politics and Conversion,” in Ester Gallo and Mark A. Falzon (eds), South Asian Religions and Migration in Southern Europe (forthcoming, Ashgate). 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. She has recently published the article “The Sikh Gurdwara in Finland: Negotiating, Maintaining and Transmitting Immigrants’ Identities” (South Asian Diaspora, 2010). Zbigniew Igielski a freelance lecturer on the history and culture of South Asia and the religions of India. He is also a senior specialist in the field of migration in the Office of Strategic Analysis in Warsaw. Igielski’s doctoral dissertation, defended in 2002, focused on the concept of soul malady (haumai) described in the sacred texts of Sikhism. He has published several articles and books related to Sikh philosophy and language. Helene Ilkjær is a doctoral student in anthropology at the University of Copenhagen. Ilkjær’s research focuses on migration and settlement processes,

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including community building, conflicts and negotiation. Her research interests also include the transmission of traditions and the use of satellite television and the Internet among Sikhs in the diaspora. Knut A. Jacobsen is Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Bergen, Norway, and author and editor of more than 20 books and numerous articles in journals and edited volumes on various aspects on 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 (1999; Indian edition 2002) and Kapila: Founder of Samkhya and Avatara of Vishnu (2008). Other recent publications include the edited volumes South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions (2004) (with P. Pratap Kumar); Theory and Practice of Yoga: Essays in Honour of Gerald James Larson (2005); South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (2008); South Asian Christian Diaspora: Invisible Diaspora in Europe and North America (with Selva J. Raj); and Modern Indian Culture and Society (2009). He is the editor-inchief 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. Glenn Jordan is Reader in Cultural Studies and Creative Practice at the University of Glamorgan and Director of Butetown History & Arts Centre, a communitybased archive, gallery and educational resource in Cardiff, Wales. He has published widely on people’s history, race, visual culture and immigrants and minorities in Wales. His books include Cultural Politics (Blackwell, 1995, with Chris Weedon), and Somali Elders: Portraits from Wales (Butetown History & Arts Centre, 2004). He is currently working on two projects combining photography and oral history: Mothers and Daughters: Portraits from Multi-ethnic Wales and Hineni, a project on elderly Jewish migrants in Wales, some of whom survived the Holocaust. A Sikh Face in Ireland, an exhibition of his photographs accompanied by life stories, ran from May to September 2010 at the prestigious Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle. Kathryn Lum is a doctoral student at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. Her PhD thesis focuses on the themes of caste, religious identity and stigma management among the ex-untouchable Ravidasias in Spain. She completed her undergraduate degree in Anthropology from McGill University, followed by an MA in South Asian studies from Lund University, where her MA thesis focused on the gender ideologies of young female university students. Christine Moliner is a social anthropologist based at the Center for South Asian Studies in Paris. While her doctoral dissertation, based on fieldwork conducted in the UK and France, has focused on the production of Sikh identity narratives in

Notes on Contributors

xiii

the diaspora, her research interests also include the memory of Partition and the evolution of Punjabi identity both in the diaspora and in contemporary South Asia. 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. Myrvold has published several book chapters on Sikh practices in Sweden and India, such as “Death and Sikhism” (M.E. 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 is the editor of the Ashgate publication The Death of Sacred Texts: Ritual Disposal and Renovation of Texts in the World Religions (2010). Eleanor Nesbitt is Professor Emerita in Religions and Education at the University of Warwick, UK. Her ethnographic research has focused on religious socialization in Sikh, Hindu and Christian communities in the UK, and she recently directed a study of the religious identity formation of young people in ‘mixed-faith’ families. Her books include (with Gopinder Kaur) Guru Nanak (Religious and Moral Education Press 1999), The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Community Religions Project, University of Leeds 2000), Interfaith Pilgrims: Living Truths and Truthful Living (Quaker Books 2003), Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Sussex Academic Press 2004) and Sikhism A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press 2005). She co-edited Gemini Four (Only Connect Publishing 2011), a volume of poems. Niki Papageorgiou is Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion and Ethics at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece). She has studied Theology at the same university and Sociology of Religion at the Catholic University of LouvainLa-Neuve. She teaches Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Christianity as well as Introduction to Ethics in the School of Theology. Her research interests focus on Religious Identities in traditional and modern societies, Religion and Gender, Religion and Migration. She is the author of the books The Orthodox Church in the Greek Society, A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Official Letters of Saint Synod (2000), The Metamorphoses of the Sacred, Sociology and Religion in Marcel Mauss (2005) and India: Myth and Reality (2006). Fabio Perocco (PhD in sociology) teaches Sociology of Migrations and Methodology of Social Research at the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, in the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage. At this university, he is responsible for the Laboratory of Research on Immigration and Social Transformations, as well as being the coordinator of the didactics of the Master on immigration. His principal fields of research are migrations, cultural pluralism, and social inequalities.

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Jasjit Singh is a doctoral researcher at the University of Leeds, studying the transmission of Sikhism among young British Sikhs (aged 18–30). The focus of his research is on understanding how young British Sikhs learn about Sikhism and why much of this learning appears to take place outside the religious institution (gurdwara). He has recently published the article “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban” (Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2010). Satwinder Singh is an MPhil student based in the Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland. His MPhil research focuses on the role of the gurdwara in the diasporic Sikh community in Ireland. He is principal researcher to Dr Glenn Jordan on “A Sikh Face in Ireland,” a photographic and life histories project. He is also an active participant in the Irish Sikh Council and Secretary of the Dublin Gurdwara. Opinderjit Kaur Takhar is a researcher and lecturer in religious studies at the University of Wolverhampton, focusing on Indian religions and Sikh studies. Takhar is the author of Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups amongst Sikhs (Ashgate 2005) and has co-authored publications which include a series of textbooks and teacher guides for GCSE Religious Studies: Philosophy and Ethics (Heinemann Educational 2009). She has written a number of articles and course specifications relating to the teaching of Sikhism in British secondary schools and is a board member of several interfaith councils in England.

Introduction: Sikhs in Europe Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold

The Sikhs are a “people on the move”1 and continue to play a significant role in the contemporary phenomenon of global migration. They are historically connected to the Punjab region, a small part of what is today the Indian state of Punjab,2 which they consider their homeland—real or imaginary. Sikhs are also a “mobile people”3 with a history and culture marked by the willingness to travel, adventurousness, and adjustability. At present, the global Sikh population is estimated as between 23 and 25 million people, of which 1.5 million or more are supposedly residing outside of India, scattered around the world.4 Although Owen W. Cole wrote in the early 1990s that “Europe’s Sikh community outside Britain scarcely exists,”5 the demographical picture is quite different twenty years later. Currently, the European Sikhs are estimated at approximately half a million people, with the largest and oldest settlements in Britain and growing communities in many countries of continental Europe. In the beginning of the twenty-first

1 Ian Talbot and Shinder Thandi (eds), People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial, and Post-Colonial Migration (Oxford, 2004). 2 The Punjab region is the land of five Indus tributaries stretching from the Indus in the west to the Yamuna River in the east and approximates more closely the province of Punjab during the century of rule by Britain (1849–1947) than the sum of the two presentday states of Punjab, one in Pakistan and one in India. It not only refers to the territory of both these states, which are also known respectively as West Punjab and East Punjab, but also embraces the Indian states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, which were created out of the Indian state of Punjab in 1966. See Eleanor Nesbitt, “Punjab,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume 1 Regions, Pilgrimage, Deities (Leiden, 2009), pp. 153–69. 3 Hew McLeod, Sikhism (London, 1997), p. 251. 4 It is difficult to estimate the Sikhs in Europe because the countries are using divergent tools to assess the population, and the official statistics seldom include ethnic and religious belonging. This is further complicated by the presence of illegal migrants who are excluded in the statistics. For an overview of how census data was collected on selected measures in some European countries in the beginning of the twenty-first century and different methods to estimate a religious population, see Mark Brown, “Quantifying the Muslim Population in Europe: Conceptual and Data Issues,” International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 3/2 (2000): 87–101. 5 Owen W. Cole, “Sikhs in Europe,” in Sean Gill, Gavin D’Costa and Ursula King (eds), Religion in Europe: Contemporary Perspectives (Kampen, The Netherlands: 1994).

Sikhs in Europe

2

century, a significant segment of the Sikh population has thus made Europe their new home abroad and they intend to stay as European Sikhs. The purpose of this book is to document and analyze different aspects of the Sikh migration to Europe and the Sikhs’ contemporary presence in various European countries. Until recently, the academic interest and study of the Sikhs in Europe has primarily focused on the British context and resulted in a vast body of literature devoted to their culture, religion, and history in Britain.6 However, today the Sikhs reside in almost every country in southern and northern Europe and the research of these settlements is recent and in the process of developing with a new generation of scholars. Much of the research conducted on the Sikhs in countries outside Britain has often been published in European languages other than English and therefore has not been available to a broader readership.7 This book can be seen as a first attempt to bring together a new research field on the European Sikhs in order to understand their wider presence in new and old countries of migration and settlement. The contributions to this volume are based on fieldwork and present new empirical data on patterns of migration and settlement, transmission of traditions, community building, identity construction, relationships with the surrounding society and the state, and cultural representations of the Sikhs in a total of eleven European countries. The Sikhs have an interesting history in Europe and in relation to Europeans. Apparently, one of the oldest records of connections between Sikhs and Europeans can be traced to a seventeenth-century letter by a Portuguese Jesuit father, Jerome Xavier, who wrote about Guru Arjan’s martyrdom in 1606.8 In the following centuries, European soldiers, political reporters, and travelers recounted their experiences of the Sikhs.9 In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab took French, British, German, and Italian soldiers and officers into service to train his Khalsa army in the European military discipline.10 See Eleanor Nesbitt Chapter 10, this volume; and Kristina Myrvold, ‘Bibliography of Studies on Sikhs and Punjabis in Europe’ (2008), available at http://www.sikhs-ineurope.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=55, accessed December 22, 2010. 7 Examples of this, as well as references, are found in most of the contributions in Part I and Part II of this volume. 8 Ganda Singh (ed.), Early European Accounts of the Sikhs (Calcutta, 1962); Darshan Singh (ed.), Western Image of the Sikh Religion: A Source Book (New Delhi, 1999); Darshan Singh, Western Perspectives on the Sikh Religion (New Delhi: Sehgal, 1991); Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh, “Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves”: Eyewitness Accounts of the Sikhs (1606–1809) (New York, 2004). 9 Singh (ed.), Western Image of the Sikh Religion; Singh, Western Perspectives on the Sikh Religion; Madra and Singh (eds), “Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves”; Madra and Singh (eds), Eyewitness Accounts of the Golden Temple of Amritsar (London, 2010) 10 See, for example, Bikrama Jit Hasrat, Life and Times of Ranjit Singh: A Saga of Benevolent Despotism (Hoshiarpur, 1977), pp. 330–33; S.P. Singh and H.C. Sharma, 6

Introduction: Sikhs in Europe

3

As a result of the confrontation between the British and Sikh armies and Britain’s annexation of Punjab in 1849, the Sikhs and the Europeans created a keen interest in each other and eventually established close relations. The recruitment of large numbers of Sikhs to the army and police force opened up possibilities for migration, primarily to serve the British in different parts of the world. As Shinder Thandi writes, “the origins of the Sikh diaspora lie in service to the British empire— as soldiers, civil servants, and skilled laborers; as part of a colonial strategy to divide and conquer.”11 Although the early Sikh travelers to Europe were “transient visitors”—princes, soldiers, and students—who visited Britain and other nearby countries and then returned home,12 they were followed by a large-scale movement of people during the twentieth century, especially after World War II and India’s independence in 1947, when a growing number of Sikhs started to settle in many parts of Europe. The first collective Sikh place of worship—a gurdwara—in the British Isles and Europe was founded in Putney (South London) in 1911, and bears witness to a new presence and representation of the Sikhs.13 A century later, there are close to a hundred collective gurdwaras in continental Europe and presumably double that number in the United Kingdom. In the historiography of European Sikhs, a major tribute and cause for commemoration have also been the efforts and contributions they made during World Wars I and II, when thousands of soldiers fought for the British Indian Army in Belgium, Holland, France, Italy, and other countries. David E. Omissi informs that possibly 683,149 combatant recruits were supplied from the provinces of British India for World War I (1914–18) and during the same period 88,925 Sikhs were recruited to the British Indian Army.14 As the Sikhs have made Europe their home and searched for new historical roots, their sacrifices in both World Wars have become a significant part of their collective memory in Europe.15 As several contributions to this volume reveal, the Sikh migration to Europe during the twentieth century has been conditioned by changing political borders Europeans and Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Amritsar, 2001); Jean-Marie Lafont, Fauj-i-khas Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his French Officers (Amritsar, 2002). 11 Shinder Thandi, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe:

Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 12 Gurhapal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London and New York, 2006), pp. 43–7. 13 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, p. 71. 14 David E. Omissi, “Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the Second World War, 1914– 1918,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 15 See for example, Bhupinder Singh Holland, How Europe is Indebted to the Sikhs? (Waremme, Belgium, 2005); Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh, Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition (London, 1999).

Sikhs in Europe

4

and immigration policies in the different European states. Of the many ethnic and religious groups in South Asia, the Sikhs have often been pioneers in exploring new areas of settlement. Many of the first Sikh migrants in Europe were adventurers, young men who embarked on hazardous journeys to experience the world and find work. Narratives of the early Sikhs in some countries contain elements of male heroism. Such is the case with, for instance, two of the early Sikh settlers in Norway—Tarlochan Singh Badyal and T. Rampuri. Starting in 1971, they bicycled all the way from Punjab to spread the message of peace and international solidarity around the globe. When they arrived in Norway in the fall of 1973, they realized that the last passenger ship to England before the winter season had already left. Within a couple of days, they were offered jobs and decided to stay for a few more months, which eventually led to a permanent settlement.16 The history of many European Sikhs, from some of the early migrants in Britain to more recent settlers in eastern Europe and other parts, contains similar success stories. This migration was voluntary and often undertaken for economic motives. The Sikhs were attracted to Europe, at first primarily to the English-speaking countries but later to other regions, to pursue education, employment, and other opportunities. Stories of the Sikhs’ settlement in Europe also involve more tragic circumstances and events such as displacement, violence, and forced dispersal. The backlash against the Asian minorities in East Africa in the 1970s forced many Sikhs to flee and resettle in Europe as “twice migrants.”17 The political turmoil in Punjab and anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and other parts of India during the 1980s gave rise to a stream of political migrants who escaped state persecution and claimed refugee or political asylum at their new destination. Different and changing immigration policies on the state level and within the Schengen zone, as well as the closing and opening of national borders of countries surrounding Europe, have affected the Sikhs’ routes of migration and their choice of country for settlement. One of the perhaps most crucial political issues at the moment is the irregular or illegal Sikh and Punjabi migration to Europe.18 In 2009, for instance, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that nearly 20,000 youths from the Punjab try to migrate illegally to Europe every year.19 The search for residence and work permits among those who manage to enter Europe on short-term visas or by more clandestine means often involves movements between different countries, Knut A. Jacobsen, Chapter 1, this volume. Parminder Bhachu, Twice Migrants: East African Settlers in Britain (New York:

16 17

Tavistock Publications, 1985). 18 See in particular Christine Moliner, Chapter 7, this volume. The topic has been severely neglected in scholarship, probably because of the methodological difficulties implied when investigating this field. 19 Smuggling of Migrants from India to Europe and in Particular to UK: A Study of Punjab and Haryana (New Delhi: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Regional Office for South Asian, 2009), available at http://www.unodc.org/documents/southasia/ reports/SOM.pdf.

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adjustment to changing immigration policies, and various strategies (such as pro forma marriages with Europeans, the use of other migrants’ legal papers, and legalization programs) to survive and eventually transform temporary visits to more permanent sojourns. The chapters in this book provide examples of how the Sikhs have faced quite divergent challenges within Europe, which have either prevented or encouraged them to stay in a particular location. Wherever the Sikhs have settled, they have been placed in a web of relations to many “others,” such as the majority society, other religious groups and migrant communities, and other Sikhs in local and global settings. The studies in this volume illustrate that the Sikhs’ relationships to the state and the dominant society, as well as the given conditions for their economic, social, and cultural integration, are quite dissimilar between the European countries, depending on national regulations and the changing cultural and political climate in the respective country. In Italy and Greece, for instance, the Sikhs have proved successful in agricultural sectors and created a distinct image of themselves as “good migrants,” especially in comparison to other minority groups. At the same time, they need to relate to dominant discourses on the supremacy of national and religious (Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox) identity that encourages assimilation rather than integration. Even in countries that are characterized by a secularized political culture and have quite recently transformed from homogenous to pluralistic societies with integration policies supporting ethnic and religious diversity, such as the Nordic countries, the Sikhs have received various degrees of state recognition and faced different legal restrictions and attitudes in the majority society. For example, the same year (2006) as the National Police Board in Sweden decided that members of the Swedish police force can wear turbans according to a “British model” if their religious identity is Sikh, the Easter High Court in Denmark decided that wearing the Sikh dagger (kirpan) is illegal and an offense against the Danish gun law, stating that religion is not a valid reason for carrying a knife.20 Although many collective representations of the Sikhs displayed in European media tend to lean towards orientalist discourses and a “politics of difference,” by presenting the Sikhs exclusively from a normative identity as the exotic “other,”21 the Sikhs have in several countries, individually or collectively, responded by adopting a politics of “similarity-within-difference,”22 according to which they espouse aspects that are considered valuable in the dominant culture of location 20 Kristina Myrvold, “Sikhism,” in Dan-Erik Andersson and Johan Modée (eds), Mänskliga rättigheter och religion (Malmö: Liber AB, 2011). 21 See Kristina Myrvold, Chapter 3, and Barbara Bertolani, Federica Ferraris, and Fabio Perocco, Chapter 6, this volume. 22 As Kanpol wrote in the early 1990s in the context of education, “Central to a politics of similarity within differences is empathizing with the ‘other.’ The ‘other’ can be used to refer to the general or specific other—as with marginalized peoples—or to refer to the empathetic incorporation of the attitudes and values of the community within an alternative

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and place them on a par with values in Sikh culture.23 In attempts to integrate as a minority community on the local level, they are thus identifying cultural values that are shared and accepted by other locals and culturally translating them into the Sikh tradition in order to see similarities, enabling the surrounding society to understand them more easily, and making it easier to feel at home in the new country. When mobilizing political support for religious rights on the national level, as in cases concerning their right to wear turbans and the five Ks,24 Sikhs have often been receptive to existing cultural and political discourses and (with or without success) presented divergent arguments depending on with whom they have been negotiating. The European Sikhs are not a homogenous group but comprise people with multiple social and religious identities, belongings, and backgrounds, and different religious and political views. As several chapters in this volume show, Sikh identification is dependent on many different social and cultural components, such as caste and clan, which have caused both tensions and solidarity within the community and created caste-based congregations in many European countries.25 The European Sikhs also have long-lasting interconnections with co-devotees and co-ethnics in various parts of the world through a wide range of transnational practices and activities, such as marriages across borders, global politics, pilgrimages, the use of the Internet, and the like, which provide them with a rich repertoire of cultural experiences and influences.26 It is perhaps important to note that identity is not an essential or stable unity, but a category that is continually constructed, negotiated, protected, and transformed in relation to contextual factors, including the “otherness” and representations of the personal or collective self in particular settings.27 In the contemporary world, individuals adopt situational identities as they selectively construct, choose, and emphasize different identities depending on the social and situational world view”: Barry Kanpol, ‘Postmodernism in Education Revisited: Similarities within Differences and the Democratic Imaginary’, Educational Theory 42/2 (1992): 5. 23 See in particular Knut A. Jacobsen, Chapter 1, Zbigniew Igielski, Chapter 5, and Niki Papageorgiou, Chapter 9, this volume. 24 The five Ks (panj kakke/kakar) are kachha (pair of shorts), kes (hair), kangha (comb), kirpan (sword), and karha (steel bracelet) constitute five items, which Amritdhari Sikhs (men and women) are required to wear. 25 See Kathryn Lum, Chapter 8, and Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, Chapter 12, this volume. 26 Shinder Thandi suggests that the linkages with the Punjabi transnational community can be divided into economic, social/cultural, religious, and political exchanges, and provides a useful map with examples of which kind of exchanges this may include. Shinder Thandi, “Vilayati Paisa: Some Reflections on the Potential of Diaspora Finance in the Socio-Economic Development of Indian Punjab,” in Talbot and Thandi (eds), People on the Move, pp. 210–30. 27 Stuart Hall, David Held, and Tony McGrew (eds), Modernity and Its Future: Understanding Modern Societies. An Introduction (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992).

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setting. In a migrant and minority situation, this transactional aspect of identity is probably even more reinforced as people may fashion their identity in relation to many different cultural others in local, national, and global contexts. Recent scholarship in the UK and the USA has illustrated that Sikhs of migrant families are not necessarily “caught between two cultures” or “live in two worlds,” but engage in many different social and cultural worlds that make them negotiate between divergent fields of power and meaning.28 In one situation they may draw on models that are based on stability and authenticity of traditional cultural elements, and in other situations they fashion more fluid identities in relation to multiple forms of discourses that circulate in their lives. The challenges they are facing in the new countries may also prompt the development of more “strategic retreats,” to the revival of tradition and religious orthodoxy, or the formation of completely new identities.29 Many contributions in this book indicate that religion tends to take precedence over and subsume other identity formations in the public representation of the Sikhs. When Sikhs are required to reflect upon and culturally translate their identity into new contexts, they often do this by using an exclusively religious framework and by reverting to more homogenous interpretations and clear-cut boundaries of a Sikh identity. Their redefinitions of identity are simultaneously formed and transformed by their particular locations, as well as broader diasporic and global experiences among the Sikhs. Young Sikhs particularly, who are born and raised in Europe with multicultural and transnational life-styles, constitute an interesting challenge to collective claims of identity. Although the elder generation is aware of the cultural divide that exists between themselves and their children and has made sincere efforts to educate and foster in them religious and cultural traditions, young Sikhs are often critical of their parents’ interpretations and create their own understanding of religion and culture. This may imply that they “revitalize” tradition and create specific subcultures in youth activities which they organize themselves,30 “deculturalize” and refine a Sikh identity from cultural elements through intensive debates on discussion forums on the Internet,31 or create representations online that are “mandating Sikh orthodoxy.”32 The identities they shape can be at once local and global, traditional and modern, as they are 28 See for example, Kathleen D. Hall, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002); Wendy L. Klein, “Punjabi Sikh Families in Los Angeles: Discourses of Identification and Youth Socialization Practices,” unpublished PhD thesis at University of California, Los Angeles, 2007. 29 Hall et al., Modernity and Its Future. 30 Jasjit Singh, Chapter 11, this volume. 31 Satnam Singh, “Attending the Cyber Sangat: The Use of Online Discussion Boards among European Sikhs,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 32 Doris Jakobsh, “‘Sikhizing the Sikhs’: The role of ‘New Media’ in Historical and Contemporary Identity Construction within Global Sikhism,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and

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embedded in a web of social networks and identifications and negotiate between the contradictory perspectives surrounding them. Despite this diversity, it is still typical that wherever the Sikhs have settled they have invested considerable effort in maintaining cultural, religious, and linguistic traditions by organizing collective worship and establishing gurdwaras as soon as they have gained the required means. In many countries, particularly in eastern and southern Europe, the Sikhs are new migrant groups, as large-scale immigration is quite a recent phenomenon, starting in the 1990s. However, the local communities have already established a considerable number of gurdwaras for congregational worship that function as “comfort zones”33 in which people can meet and share religion, culture, and language. For many Sikh communities in Europe, the gurdwara is the central organizational platform for the maintenance and transmission of religion and a cultural heritage, but also a place in which disagreements, conflicts, and negotiations take place because of the social and religious diversity within the Sikh communities.34 Sikh gurdwaras may appear to represent historical continuity and to store unchanging values and traditions, but at the same time are venues for transnational influences and practices that are accommodated in new local settings. The case studies in this volume may exemplify what Gilroy has termed “the changing same of culture”—the recognition of a shared culture and history also includes deep divergences.35 The Sikhs may acknowledge religious sameness and rally round collective representations of Sikhism and a Sikh identity, while religion and identity are simultaneously embedded with heterogeneity. Thus, the European Sikhs cannot be generalized, but any study of them involves empirical complexities on the local, national, and transnational level. Consequently, researchers need to be context sensitive and consider the unique histories, patterns of migration, and the backgrounds and belongings of people in local settings, as well as take into consideration the divergent and changing social, cultural, economic, and political circumstances in the country of settlement and influences of transnational networks and activities. Structure of this Book The chapters of this book have been arranged into three parts which respectively treat the Sikhs in northern and eastern Europe, southern Europe, and United Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 33 Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations (Walnut Creek, CA, Lanham, MD, New York, Oxford: AltaMira Press, 2000). 34 See Helene Ilkjaer, Chapter 2, this volume. 35 Marie Gillespie, Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change (London and New York: Routledge, 1995).

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Kingdom and Ireland. Part I, “Sikhs in Northern and Eastern Europe,” includes chapters on the Nordic countries and Poland, in which the Sikhs have arrived primarily as labor migrants, adventurers, refugees, and to be united with family members. At present, there are close to 14,000 Sikhs in the Nordic countries (including Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden), and the largest Sikh population can be found in Norway, where the Sikhs constitute the largest group among Indian immigrants. In the opening chapter, Knut A. Jacobsen analyzes the establishment and growth of the Sikh religious institutions in Norway. The first gurdwara was founded 30 years ago, and in 2010 one of the largest gurdwara buildings in continental Europe opened up. In the last decade, the Sikhs in Norway have displayed remarkable growth by establishing religious institutions and organizing a vast number of religious activities in the community. The gurdwaras have a busy ritual calendar and arrange public processions, Punjabi language schools, yoga classes, sports tournaments, dance classes, and the like, to maintain, recreate, and transfer religious identity and spread knowledge about Sikhism and the Sikhs to the community at large. As Jacobsen illustrates, the progression of the Norwegian Sikh congregation is primarily caused by voluntary work and the efforts of active community members and partly because of the recognition and generous support from the Norwegian government. Despite internal conflicts over political issues in the past, such as the support of an independent Sikh state (Khalistan), the Norwegian Sikhs have managed to retain a deeper unity. In Chapter 2, Helene Ilkjaer examines phases of cooperation and conflicts in the only gurdwara of the Sikh community in Denmark. Factional tension is common in many Sikh congregations in Europe, and in this case study Ilkjaer identifies a conflict between two factions which she terms “moderates” and “traditionalists,” based on their differences with regard to religious approaches and practices. As Ilkjaer notes, the moderates often emphasize religious symbols and moral ideals in their approach to Sikhism, while the traditionalists stress the importance of following the Sikh daily prayers, maintaining uncut hair, vegetarianism, and wearing external symbols to display a Khalsa identity. Similar to the Norwegian Sikh community, the conflict in the Danish gurdwara started in the 1980s with disagreements about Khalistan, but in this case the conflict come to include more points of contention over the years and subsequently resulted in the closing of the gurdwara in 2008. Ilkjaer suggests that the Sikh community in Denmark has moved in cycles between phases of cooperation and phases of conflict, and that the dynamics of the community are in many ways influenced by disagreement and opposition. In Chapter 3, Kristina Myrvold analyzes the dynamics of the Sikh presence in Sweden and emphasizes the diversity of migration patterns and histories, and strategies for integration. The Sikh migration to Sweden follows a pattern common to several European countries, that is, a “drop in” model according to which a few individuals arrive every year, often single males first, and when their stay has become legalized through different methods, marriages are organized

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and family members are united. Myrvold also underlines the Sikhs’ successful economic integration into Swedish society, which 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. Myrvold emphasizes that religion has become a key element for organizing collective activities and for representing the Sikhs in the majority society and this search for visibility can be understood as a way to seek public recognition as a community. The younger generation can have different approaches to religion than the first generation, and often try to separate the Punjabi culture from the Sikh religion more clearly. However, collective representations present the Swedish Sikhs exclusively in religious terms, and this illustrates which role religion and discourses on pluralism in Swedish culture have in integration processes. The migration and work history of the small Sikh community in Finland are presented in Chapter 4 by Laura Hirvi. The Sikh migration to Finland started a decade later than the other Nordic countries, and the number of Sikhs is much lower (around 600 compared to around 5,000 in Norway and about 4,000 each in Denmark and Sweden). Hirvi describes the migration history of Finnish Sikhs and focuses on the fact that the majority of them are employed in pubs and bars, several as owners, and these businesses owned by Sikh families derive their main income from selling alcohol. The reason for this pattern has been pragmatic, such as lack of other opportunities in the labor market and the influence of successful role models. In the 1990s, the unemployment rate in Finland was extremely high, peaking at 50 percent for foreign nationals, and accepting jobs in the kitchens of pubs and bars was one of few options available. Having learned the trade, some went on to become owners of their own pubs and bars, and when new migrants arrived they got jobs through the networks that had already been established. As Hirvi notes, owning a bar or a pub has become a future goal of many Sikh workers in Finland. In this volume, one contribution also deals with Sikhs in eastern Europe: In Chapter 5, Zbigniew Igielski describes the Sikhs in Poland, which has the largest Sikh community in eastern Europe. Although a few Sikhs arrived before the collapse of the communist regime in 1989 in “exchange of experts” programs, Sikh migration to Poland started only after this event when the political borders opened, the economy improved, and the country appeared more attractive to migrants. Since then, a small inflow of Sikhs has taken place, either with a purpose to settle in Poland or to use it as a transit country for further travel toward the West. The chapter gives an analysis of the migration patterns, histories, and places of settlement, economic integration, and the role of the collective gurdwara in Poland. Igielski suggests that the presence of the Polish gurdwara, which, with the exception of a gurdwara in Moscow, is the only one in eastern Europe, might encourage Sikhs to choose Poland as a country for transit and settlement. Part II of this book, titled “Sikhs in Southern Europe,” includes contributions on the Sikhs in Italy, France, Spain, and Greece. Chapter 6 by Barbara Bertolani, Federica Ferraris, and Fabio Perocco covers the Sikhs in Italy, who constitute

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one of the largest populations of Indian immigrants in Europe (more than 90,000 in 2008), even if their migration is a recent phenomenon. Many of the Indians in Italy are working in agricultural and the agro-industrial sectors and have been stereotyped by the majority society as a people who are naturally and culturally inclined to engage in agriculture. The authors argue that assimilationism with stigmatization of religious difference characterizes the current situation in Italy. The Sikhs, however, enjoy a fairly positive public image and are generally thought of to be well integrated into society. Particularly in comparison to other migrant groups, Italian society presents them as “good workers,” “peaceful individuals,” and “preferred immigrants”—a public image with which media in many European countries frequently concur. With regards to the majority society, the Italian Sikhs have established good relations and their gurdwaras and religious activities are generally approved of by the local population. Considering that the Sikhs in Italy emphasize their religious identity, Bertolani, Ferraris, and Perocco question to what degree this is a result of the local society’s expectations of exotic spirituality and to what extent the Sikhs have interiorized the gaze of the Italian majority society. In Chapter 7, Christine Moliner gives an overview of the Sikh immigration history in France and focuses especially on illegal or undocumented immigrants. Moliner notes that illegal migration is barely addressed in the scholarship on the Indian diaspora, but is one of the fastest-growing forms of migration around the world. Most of the first-generation Sikhs in France experienced a period of irregular status, whether through illegal entry into France, lack of residence papers, or clandestine work, and several general legalization programs have benefited them. The chapter gives an analysis of the conditions, opportunities, and different ways to deal with the problematic life of being illegal Punjabi migrants in France, the role of kinship and caste networks, and other strong “solidarity networks.” Moliner suggests that there is a need for further studies of networks that are based on mutual obligations and reciprocity and that help illegal Punjabi and Sikh migrants to adapt to their new environment. The migration from India to Spain began in the 1990s and has been dominated by Punjabis belonging to the caste groups Lubana, Jat, and Ravidasia Chamar, who have settled in Catalonia to work chiefly in the construction and catering industries. In Chapter 8, Kathryn Lum describes caste patterns among Punjabis in Spain and in particular how the Ravidasia community experience casteism, the growth of a sharpened community consciousness, and have established a separate gurdwara. Lum argues that their caste background and particular geographical places of origin have shaped their migration experiences. The Chamars in Spain originate from an area in Punjab in which the Ravidasia movement and a politicized Dalit identity were very strongly promoted. For the Ravidasias, the saint-poet Ravidas is given the status of a guru, equal to the ten gurus of mainstream Sikhism, and has become a strong symbol of their social mobilization against caste discrimination. Up until the “Vienna incident” in 2009, when one of the leaders of the Ravidasia movement was killed, many of the Chamars in Spain identified themselves as both

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Sikhs and Ravidasias, but after this incident a more strongly accentuated Ravidasia identity separate from the Sikhs was established by, for instance, removing the Sikh scripture (Guru Granth Sahib) from their gurdwara and replacing it with a holy book containing only the religious poetry of Ravidas. In Chapter 9, Niki Papageorgiou describes how the Sikhs in Greece are an invisible minority between a dominant homogenous ethnic Greek population and a strong Muslim minority. The arrival of Sikhs to Greece is a fairly recent phenomenon, starting in the 1990s when Greece became a member of the European Union and gained greater political and economic stability. Greece has become an important entrance point and transit country for migration to the European Union. However, bureaucratic and other reasons often prevent migrants from proceeding to other European countries and consequently they decide to stay in Greece. As Papageorgiou informs, the first Indian cultural association was established in 1996 and today there are at least ten associations like this in different parts of Greece. Because of bureaucratic regulations, cultural organizations function as places of worship and the Sikhs refer to them as gurdwaras. The chapter illustrates the importance religion can have for preserving a cultural identity in a minority context and how gurdwaras can function as places of resistance to cultural assimilation. Part III, “Sikhs in the United Kingdom and Ireland,” consists of four chapters discussing Sikhs in the British Isles. As has already been mentioned, the United Kingdom presents a different case from the rest of Europe, because of its large Sikh population and historical ties. More than three-quarters of the Sikhs in Europe live in the United Kingdom and they have become a point of reference for Sikhs and others in the rest of Europe. Just to mention a few among many examples: political decisions taken in the United Kingdom about the Sikhs’ right to wear the turban with uniforms and the kirpan have become models for policy makers in other countries, and the Sikh communities in Britain are providing cultural resources, such as religious radio and television stations, Internet websites, traveling teachers and propagandists, which other Sikhs can make use of. The British Sikhs have gained a certain authority among Sikhs in other European countries, but the community is also the most diverse. This diversity, relating to locality, caste, religious and political grouping, generation, language, and appearance, is analyzed in Chapter 10 by Eleanor Nesbitt. Diversity, according to Nesbitt, has characterized the British Sikh society from its beginning, and has increased decade by decade through successive migrations. Nesbitt conceives of the tensions in the British Sikh communities as a triangle with its three sides comprised of the pulls away and towards traditional norms of the Punjabi society, the values enshrined in the Sikh scripture, and modernity and globalization. She suggests the Sikh identities in England are best described as situational and integrated plural identities, which contrast to the often stereotypical images of Sikhs in public representations. In Chapter 11, Jasjit Singh analyzes British Sikh Youth Camps, which are a phenomenon of growing importance in Sikhism in Europe due to the many and complex issues relating to the generational transfer of the religious tradition in a diaspora situation. Young Sikhs who have been brought up in Europe often have a

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different approach to religion than their parents. Singh argues that, among British Sikhs, processes of learning and transmitting religion mostly take place outside of the family while previous research has focused primarily on the family context. By analyzing the history of different Sikh Youth Camps, their structure, participants, ideology, and location, he investigates why young Sikhs attend these events to learn about Sikhism and how they create specific subcultures for young people who are not convinced by their parents’ interpretations. As Singh argues, the Sikh Youth Camps are channels for a revitalization of religious identity which allows young people to set their own terms for learning and interpreting Sikhism. The camps also have many altruistic components and one important motivating factor is the desire to do selfless service (seva) for others. The issue of multiple religious identities, religious boundaries, and the pressure to declare identities is the focus of Chapter 12 by Opinderjit Kaur Takhhar, who examines the well-established communities of Valmikis, Ravidasias, and Namdharis in Britain. These groups are distinct from the mainstream Sikh community, but nevertheless have Sikh or Sikh-related identities. Focusing on generational transfer of religious identities within all three communities, Takhar emphasizes the importance of parents and collective religious places for learning cultural and religious traditions across generations, especially since cultural hybridity is becoming increasingly problematic in the diaspora. With specific regard to the Valmikis and Ravidasias, Takhar argues that their organizations are pressuring the communities to move away from multiple hybrid identities. In Chapter 13, Glenn Jordan and Satwinder Singh present the history of migration and institution building of the small Sikh communities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Most of the Irish Sikhs came as economic migrants and because of forced migration and, as the authors argue, have faced a diminished tolerance for difference in society. For generations, the Sikhs lived outside of a religious community, did not know Punjabi, and most married locally to Irish people or non-Sikhs. However, in more recent years, the Sikhs have founded new institutions and increased their cultural and religious activities. The establishment of the Irish Sikh Council has created greater awareness of the Sikhs, organized efforts of generational transfer, and promoted interethnic understanding. Altogether, the contributions to this volume can be viewed as a preliminary survey and a first attempt to map out the Sikhs in Europe. The book is in no way comprehensive in the range of Sikh groups found in Europe and is not exhaustive in the topics of analysis. Several European countries are not covered and not all groups and voices are represented. One reason for these shortcomings of the book is that in some countries the presence of the Sikhs is a more recent phenomenon. Another reason is that the academic study of the European Sikhs is a new and emerging field and conducting research takes time. For instance, there are pockets of Sikhs in a number of countries, such as in eastern and central Europe, and Russia, which is an important route of migration to Europe. At least 3,000 Sikhs reside in Moscow and the first gurdwara opened there in 2009. The Sikhs can also be found in unexpected places, such as Iceland where around 25

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families of the Sikh faith live. In the wait for empirical studies, the book has not been able to cover significant communities of Sikhs in Germany, Holland, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland (in which the largest gurdwara in continental Europe has been established). Nevertheless, the contributions included can hopefully encourage further academic explorations and provide new knowledge of how Sikh migrants in some countries adapt culturally to societies in Europe, mobilize efforts to understand difference and maintain traditions, and fashion new identities on their journey to becoming true citizens of multicultural societies, that is, European Sikhs. Bibliography Bhachu, Parminder, Twice Migrants: East African Settlers in Britain (New York: Tavistock Publications, 1985). Brown, Mark, “Quantifying the Muslim Population in Europe: Conceptual and Data Issues,” International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 3/2 (2000): 87–101. Cole, W. Owen, “Sikhs in Europe,” in Sean Gill, Gavin D’Costa and Ursula King (eds), Religion in Europe: Contemporary Perspectives (Kampen, The Netherlands: Kok Pharos Publishing House, 1994). Ebaugh, Helen Rose and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations (Walnut Creek, CA, Lanham, MD, New York, Oxford: AltaMira Press, 2000). Gillespie, Marie, Television, Ethnicity and Cultural Change (London and New York: Routledge, 1995). Hall, Kathleen D. Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). Hall, Stuart, David Held and Tony McGrew (eds), Modernity and Its Future: Understanding Modern Societies. An Introduction (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1992). Hasrat, Bikrama Jit, Life and Times of Ranjit Singh: A Saga of Benevolent Despotism (Hoshiarpur: Sadhu Ashram, 1977). Holland, Bhupinder Singh, How Europe is Indebted to the Sikhs? (Waremme, Belgium: Sikh University Press, 2005). Jakobsh, Doris, “‘Sikhizing the Sikhs’: The role of ‘New Media’ in Historical and Contemporary Identity Construction within Global Sikhism,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Kanpol, Barry, “Postmodernism in Education Revisited: Similarities within Differences and the Democratic Imaginary,” Educational Theory 42/2 (1992): 217–29.

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Klein, Wendy L. “Punjabi Sikh Families in Los Angeles: Discourses of Identification and Youth Socialization Practices,” unpublished PhD thesis at University of California, Los Angeles, 2007. Lafont, Jean-Marie, Fauj-i-khas Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his French Officers (Amritsar: Guru Nanak Dev University, 2002). Madra, Amandeep Singh and Parmjit Singh, “Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves”: Eyewitness Accounts of the Sikhs (1606–1809) (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2004). Madra, Amandeep Singh and Parmjit Singh, Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition (London: I.B. Tauris 1999). McLeod Hew, Sikhism (London: Penguin Books, 1997). Myrvold, Kristina, “Bibliography of Studies on Sikhs and Punjabis in Europe” (2008), available at http://www.sikhs-in-europe.org/index.php?option=com_ content&view=article&id=51&Itemid=55, accessed December 22, 2010. Myrvold, Kristina, “Sikhism,” in Dan-Erik Andersson and Johan Modée (eds), Mänskliga rättigheter och religion (Malmö: Liber AB, 2011). Omissi, David E., “Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the Second World War, 1914–1918”, in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Punjab,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Volume 1 Regions, Pilgrimage, Deities (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 153–69. Singh, Darshan (ed.), Western Image of the Sikh Religion: A Source Book (New Delhi: National Book Organization, 1999). Singh, Ganda (ed.), Early European Accounts of the Sikhs (Calcutta: Indian Studies Past & Present, 1962). Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London and New York: Zed Books, 2006). Singh, Satnam, “Attending the Cyber Sangat: The Use of Online Discussion Boards among European Sikhs,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Singh, S.P. and H.C. Sharma, Europeans and Maharaja Ranjit Singh (Amritsar, Guru Nanak Dev University, 2001) Talbot, Ian and Shinder Thandi (eds), People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial and Post-Colonial Migration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Thandi, Shinder, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Thandi, Shinder, “Vilayati Paisa: Some Reflections on the Potential of Diaspora Finance in the Socio-Economic Development of Indian Punjab,” in Ian Talbot and Shinder Thandi (eds), People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial, and PostColonial Migration (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 210–30.

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Part I Sikhs in Northern and Eastern Europe

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Chapter 1

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway: Community Growth and Generational Transfer Knut A. Jacobsen

The first Sikh to settle in Norway reached the country in 1969, and the next to arrive entered the same year a couple of months later. They were part of a larger immigration from greater Punjab to Norway, of which the largest group was Muslims from Pakistan Punjab. These early Sikh immigrants provided the foundation for the establishment of Sikhism in Norway, and at present around 5,000 Sikhs live in Norway. Finding a job and a place to live were the most important issues for the first settlers and they would come to assist other Sikhs and Punjabis who arrived later. The most important organization for Indians in Norway in the early years of immigration was the Indian Welfare Society of Norway (IWS), which was established in 1971. The organization assisted those new arrivals by providing contacts and resources and organized social events that focused on Indian culture and tradition.1 The first settlers were all men; women arrived a few years later, when the males had attained some degree of economic security.2 With the establishment of family life, the Indians started the work of rebuilding many aspects of their social and cultural traditions. Family reunions or the establishment of new families led to a resurgence of religious observances which had previously slid into abeyance. Religion and religious identities attained increased significance, and for many Indians from Punjab, a shared religious identity gradually became the foundation for community building and religion the most important marker of cultural difference. As the majority of the Indian immigrants were Sikhs, the gurdwaras became central institutions for the Indians in Norway. It is noteworthy that the first Hindu temple opened more than a decade after the first gurdwara and even today non-Sikh Indians participate in the activities of the gurdwaras during the Vaisakhi festival and other Sikh events. The central role of the gurdwaras has One of the popular activities in the organization during the 1970s was the showing of Indian movies. The Indians included Hindus and Sikhs, but religion was most probably not a defining characteristic of this group until a few years later. 2 The experiences of the first males who arrived and the first women were therefore quite different. This difference in immigrant experience will not be explored in this chapter. 1

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been important for the strengthening of religious identity and traditions, but the gurdwaras have also been arenas of conflict. Their establishment was moreover a response to the need for spaces in Norway in which Punjabi culture and Sikh religion could dominate. In the Sikh diaspora in Norway, assimilation, as opposed to integration, has been perceived as a threat to cultural heritage, the Punjabi language, and the Sikh religious identity. As there is a close connection between the Sikh religious identity and the Punjabi language and culture, the preservation of language and culture has been vital to the effort of transferring the religious traditions to the next generations. The establishment of gurdwaras has been considered especially important because those who live in areas which contain gurdwaras seem to have had an easier time transferring the Sikh religious identity to the next generation than those living in other parts of Norway. This is especially the case with respect to knowledge of the religious tradition, the Punjabi language, ritual participation, and display of religious identity. Nevertheless, many secondgeneration Sikhs in Norway also have doubts about the close connection between Punjabi cultural identity and Sikh religion, and question the emphasis on external religious symbols that is promoted in the gurdwaras and instead search for and develop their own Norwegian Sikh identities. During the forty years of Sikh presence in Norway, there has been a gradual institutionalization and growth of the religious tradition. This strengthening of the religious tradition is the result of the hard work of members of the community, although the expansion has also been influenced by international developments and events. The establishment of the Sikh religious tradition in Norway and the transfer of the tradition to the next generation have been demanding tasks for the communities. Living in the diaspora has made the generational transfer particularly a challenge, and a remarkable amount of work and energy has been invested to succeed in the maintenance and transmission of the tradition. To teach and foster religion to the youth constitutes a constant worry and demands continuous work. A number of organizations have been established and annual events organized for the sake of relocating Sikhism from Punjab to Norway and teaching new generations. The history of Sikhism in Norway—from the first Sikh arrival in Norway in 1969 to the opening of the largest gurdwara in northern continental Europe in Lier 2010,3 and the celebration of the first Norwegian Turban Day at the central plaza in Oslo the same week,4 —is thus a remarkable story of organizational strength, ability, and hard work. Being Sikh usually entails upholding an ethnic, linguistic, and religious identity. These identities strengthen each other, but their interdependency also means that a lot of work is needed to preserve the identity in the minority and diaspora situation. 3 Its only competitor for being the largest gurdwara in continental Europe is the Gurdwara Sahib in Switzerland which was completed in 2006; see Gurdwara Sahib Switzerland, available at http://www.gurdwarasahib.com/, accessed December 15, 2010. 4 See Javed Shah, “Den første norske turbandagen” (2010), available at http:// www.x-plosiv.no/default.pl?showArticle=4247&pageId=23, accessed December 15, 2010.

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

21

A loss of the Punjabi language and the absence of external religious symbols are perceived by many as a possible result of assimilation, and the prevention of assimilation has been an important motivating factor for the organizational activities in the Sikh communities of Norway. The Sikhs have institutionalized a number of activities to prevent assimilation and secure the maintenance of their Punjabi and Sikh traditions. Sikhs have actively sought and encouraged economic integration into Norwegian society, as work is considered a religious duty, and their level of education is one of the highest of all immigrant groups, with many having pursued university or college education. The strong identification of Sikhism with the Punjabi language and the emphasis on external symbols, such as the turban, means that becoming a Sikh in the diaspora is not only a matter of being born into a Sikh family but also about a more conscious socialization, education, and identity formation on a private and collective level. Over the years a number of Sikh institutions have developed in Norway in answer to the need for a collective transmission of religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions. At present, the organizational activities of the Sikhs in Norway include two gurdwaras, annual processions, Punjabi schools, children’s religious education, Sikh camps, Internet sites, sports events, and other cultural events. Many of these institutionalized activities are organized in or through the gurdwaras. Immigration History and the Establishment of Gurdwaras Sikh immigration to Norway was predominantly labor immigration, even if the first Sikhs to arrive were adventurers. At the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, Norway was still a fairly homogenous society and the Sikhs were among the first immigrant groups to arrive in the wave of immigration that subsequently transformed Norway into a multi-ethnic society. Many of the early settlers were males in their 20s who ended up in Norway by coincidence. This was the case with Amarjit Singh Kamboz, who was the first Sikh to arrive in 1969 (see Figure 1.1), and many others.5 When they left Punjab in order to find work or for other reasons, such as wanting to experience some adventure, Norway was not the intended country of destination. Some had heard little or nothing about the country before they left Punjab, at most they knew it was “the land of the midnight sun.”6 Many of the early immigrants’ narratives contain elements of heroism. They were adventurous young men who had been students and wanted to travel, work, and experience the world before they got a job and settled in Punjab. One of the Amarjit Singh Kamboz settled in Oslo. The first Indian to settle in Norway was Ananda Acharya who arrived in 1917. He was a Hindu guru from Bengal and lived in Alvdal in Eastern Norway from 1917 to 1945. See Knut A. Jacobsen, ”Hinduismen i Norge,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Verdensreligioner i Norge, 2nd ed. (Oslo, 2005), pp. 117–21. 6 Interviews with Amarjit Singh Kamboz, Rupinder Kaur Bains, and Tarlochan Singh Badyal, May and June, 2010. 5

22

Figure 1.1

Sikhs in Europe

To the right, Amarjit Singh Kamboz, the first Sikh who arrived in Norway in 1969. In the middle, Santokh Singh, who was for several periods of time the leader of the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and to the left, Darshan Singh. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen, May 2010

more spectacular arrivals was that of Tarlochan Singh Badyal and T. Rampuri in 1973 who bicycled all the way from Punjab to Norway, a trip that took two years in total. They left Punjab in 1971 with a five-year-plan of biking around the world spreading the message of peace and international solidarity and cooperation, and they biked through Asia and most of Europe. When they arrived in Norway in the fall of 1973 the last England-bound passenger ship for the season had left and thus they thought of returning to Denmark to take a southern route to England. However, within a couple of days in Norway they were offered jobs and decided to stay for a few more months, which eventually led to a permanent settlement. One of the Sikh bikers, Tarlochan Singh Badyal, started a travel agency and has for many years assisted thousands of Norwegians to explore the world. Others tell stories about disappointments and personal crises being turned into tales of heroic success. One early Sikh immigrant who arrived in 1972 had traveled to Germany but was unable to find a job and realized he had to return to India, something he did not look forward to as he thought it was shameful having wasted a large amount of money on a trip that led to nothing. However, a neighbor asked him to deliver a letter to Denmark, and there he learned that getting a job in Norway would be easy. Consequently, he continued to Norway and a few years later brought his wife and children. For those who arrived between 1969 and 1975 there were no legal restrictions on labor immigration, but in 1975 constraints were implemented, although not on

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

23

wives and children of foreigners with work permits.7 Some of the males who were already married and had left their wives and children in Punjab brought them to Norway once the economic situation had stabilized, while others married after the settlement and brought their Indian wives to Norway.8 As is often the case in the diaspora, religious traditions in the new country become fully organized only after the first male settlers build a family and bring their wives and children. In the beginning, the most important festivals were celebrated in schools and other buildings that were rented for the day. The first copies of the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib were brought to Norway in 1979/1980. However, the first Sikhs realized that their religious and cultural traditions would not be transferred to the next generation in Norway without an extraordinary effort. In response to this, the Gurdwara Seva Sabha was founded, and in 1981 money was collected to purchase a building. The following year the congregation bought a property in Oslo, and after refurnishing, the first gurdwara, now called Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, was opened in 1983. At this time the Sikh community in Norway was still quite small. In the first years, only 150 to 200 people would participate in the meetings in the gurdwara. On occasions the gurdwara also had a turbulent history, with political disagreements, battles, and power struggles. However, in spite of these and other difficulties, when examining the 40 years of Sikhism in Norway, the most striking characteristic is its institutional growth. According to the official statistics, on January 1, 2010 there were 9,747 persons living in Norway who had either emigrated from India or were born of parents who had emigrated from India.9 The majority, or just above 50 percent, of the Indian immigrants and their descendants are Sikhs. The membership of the gurdwaras in Norway has varied considerably over the years (see Figure 1.2). At present, there are two gurdwaras in Norway: Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the capital of Oslo and Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier outside the city of Drammen. Both are Sikh “mainstream” gurdwaras in the sense that they

7 This was called “Innvandringsstoppen.” Applications for work permits increased dramatically in the beginning of the 1970s and the parliament decided (St.meld. nr. 39, 1973–74) to stop, with some exceptions, the distribution of new work permits. Important exceptions were wives and children of Norwegian citizens and foreigners with work permits, foreigners born in Norway, refugees, and other foreigners with a long association with the country. Other exceptions were scientists, artists, musicians, trainees, au-pairs, and specialists considered absolutely necessary for an enterprise. See Kommunal- og Regional Departementet, “Ny utlendingslov” available at http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/krd/ dok/nouer/2004/nou-2004-20/4/5/3.html?id=387376, accessed December 15, 2010. 8 That some Sikh men married Norwegian women in order to gain legal status was mentioned in my interviews with Sikhs, but this has not been systematically researched. 9 See Statistics Norway, “Innvandrere fra 216 land” (2010), available at http://www. ssb.no/innvbef/, accessed December 16, 2010.

24

Sikhs in Europe

do not identify along caste lines but are open to all.10 The gurdwara organization in Lier was established in 1991. Previously, the Sikhs residing in and around Drammen had attended the gurdwara in Oslo, but the geographical distance made this impractical. They bought a property with a small house which was used as a gurdwara for some years. They then decided to construct a completely new gurdwara from scratch and bought the neighboring property. After a long struggle to get permission to build and an enormous effort in terms of contributing money, time, and work, the gurdwara was ready and opened on April 11, 2010, and today is one of the largest gurdwaras in continental Europe (see Figure 1.2).11 The cost of the gurdwara construction was 24 million Norwegian kroner, or around 3 million euros and stands as an example of the trend of “imposing grand ‘new cathedrals’” noted by Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla in Britain.12 The number of members in the Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier is less than 1,000,13 in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo less than 2,000;14 in total 2,713 for both gurdwaras. The difference in the number of registered members of the two gurdwaras is just an indication of the geographical settlement of the Norwegian Sikhs, with the majority residing in Oslo (see Table 1.1). The total number of members of the two gurdwaras is an indication of the Sikh population in Norway, since there is an economic incentive for the gurdwaras to report as many members as possible as the size of grants from the state and the municipality are based on membership and thus increase with a larger number of registered members (around 100 Euros per member). However, some Sikhs choose not to register since they never visit any of the gurdwaras or live outside of the Oslo and Drammen area. For several years (between1992 and 1998) only a small minority of Sikhs attended the gurdwara due to conflicts over the issue of Khalistan. It seems that in the years 1991, 1992, and 1993 claims for membership support were either not filed or not accepted. In 1996, many members withdrew their support from the gurdwara by revoking their membership and stopped attending the congregational worship, as a result of the conflicts surrounding the issues of gurdwara management. In the 1980s and early 1990s, a number of persons involved in the political struggle for Khalistan had arrived in Norway with refugee status. Even though they were in a minority, they managed to take control of the gurdwara management with the 10 Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London, 2006), p. 77. 11 Kristine G. Kjelsrud, “Klare til åpningsfest” (2010), available at: http://dt.no/ nyheter/klare-til-apningsfest-1.5160680, accessed December 15, 2010. 12 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain. 13 In 2009 it had 890 members. 14 For the statistics of registered members of Sikh gurdwaras in Norway, see Statistics Norway, “Medlemmer i tros- og livssynssamfunn utenfor Den norske kirke” (2010), available at http://www.ssb.no/emner/historisk_statistikk/tabeller/6-1.html, accessed December 15, 2010.

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

25

Figure 1.2

The new Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen

Table 1.1

Registered members of Sikh gurdwara organizations in Norway between 1990 and 2009. • 1990

1078

•1999

158

•2005

2298

• 1994

1333

•2000

1772

•2006

2257

• 1995

1334

•2001

1974

•2007

2440

• 1996

147

•2002

2172

•2008

2537

•1997

116

•2003

2404

•2009

2713

•1998

455

•2004

3110

Source: Statistisk Sentralbyrå

consequence that most members refused to attend the gurdwara. Some individuals were also denied access, which led to a conflict entailing police presence and news reports about the violence outside the gurdwara.15 Thus, for several years many From 1989 (July 24) to 1997 (February 24), the major Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten published a number of news items about the gurdwara which focused on the conflict. Most of the news coverage was from 1993 and 1994. In the newspaper it was presented both as a conflict between orthodox and liberal Sikhs and as a conflict between supporters of Khalistan and the others. 15

Sikhs in Europe

26

families did not visit the gurdwara and religious life suffered. As the teaching of Punjabi was connected to the gurdwara, the children’s training in the language also stopped. Many Sikhs in Norway say that the children growing up during those years lost great parts of their Sikh identity, that is, they blame the gurdwara management for their children’s loss of Punjabi education. What is perhaps most notable about this gurdwara conflict is that, considering the long period of the struggle, it did not lead to the founding of a second gurdwara in Oslo. In other religious communities, disagreements and clashes like these might have been solved by one faction simply leaving and starting their own institution. That this did not happen in Oslo shows that there is a deeper unity in the Sikh community in Norway in spite of the conflicts. The reduction of numbers between 2004 and 2005 was due to a new system of registration. The numbers reported in the statistics are not necessary exactly the same as the number of members for which the gurdwara receives economic support. The Oslo gurdwara did not receive economic support for 2008 and 200916 because of a power struggle in the gurdwara. This struggle is based on different factions and their leaders wanting power and is not centered on differences in religious views and interpretations. As Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla write about the situation in Britain, the “basic organizing structure of Sikh society is the faction centered on an individual leader.”17 The reason for the struggle becoming part of the gurdwara is, according to Singh and Tatla, that community leadership “can emerge only from within gurdwaras, and, as the popular adage goes ‘those who control the gurdwaras control the Sikh community’.”18 Political struggles are a part of the politics of the gurdwara in Oslo, as it is in most gurdwaras. In 2010, the leadership of Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is constituted by only women, which is partly due to the recent Dasam Granth controversy. The five male members who comprised the board withdrew from the governing board following the decision to deny Professor Darshan Singh, who had been invited to preach in the gurdwara, the right to speak there. Other community members had consulted the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in Amritsar on this matter and were advised not to invite Professor Darshan Singh because of his controversial views.19 As the constitution of the gurdwara in Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib in Lier states that in case of disagreement the SGPC should have the final word, the congregation decided to follow this advice and here it did not develop into a controversy. Many of the Sikhs connected to Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib spend a significant time in the gurdwara. It is considered important that the children frequent the gurdwara as it is looked upon 18 19 16

Negotiations about this were still ongoing in August 2011. Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, p. 83. Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, pp. 69–70. Professor Darshan Singh argues that Dasam Granth is inconsistent with Guru Gobind Singh’s other teachings and therefore could not have been written by him. He has been condemned by SGPC for these views. 17

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

27

as a “mini-Punjab,” which gives the children an opportunity to receive influences beneficial for the formation of their Sikh identity. It is notable that the construction and presence of the gurdwaras in Oslo and Lier have produced different Sikh identities than in Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, where there is no gurdwara. According to the view of many Sikhs in Oslo and Lier, however, those Sikhs who were most interested in religion remained in Oslo and Drammen and those who live in Bergen or other places in Norway consciously made the choice to live in these areas in order to avoid the influence of the gurdwaras. From 1999 onwards, as part of the reconstruction of the gurdwara tradition in Oslo after the destructive conflicts of the 1990s, three ragis from India have always been present in the gurdwara and skilled kathavachaks visit regularly. The weekday program of Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is framed by the prakash and sukhasan ceremony and the daily prayers (nitnem), and on weekends recitations of Sukhmani Sahib and kirtan are added to the program. Most Sikhs come to the gurdwaras on Sundays and during festivals, which are often celebrated over several days. The Oslo and Lier gurdwaras sometimes celebrate festivals on different days to make it possible for people to take part in the festivals at both gurdwaras. Festivals celebrated in the gurdwaras in Norway include Vaisakhi in April, the martyrdom of Guru Arjan in June, Guru Nanak’s birthday in November, and Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday in January. To give an example, the program of the Vaisakhi celebration of Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji on April 14–18, 2010, started with an unbroken reading of Guru Granth Sahib (akhand path) from Wednesday, April 14 at 8 a.m. to Friday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m., and continued on Friday, April 16 at 11 a.m. with a change of the Sikh flag’s (nishan sahib) cloths, and then at 4 p.m. with the Khalsa initiation ceremony (amrit sanskar). On Saturday, April 17 at 11 a.m. a procession was arranged in the center of Oslo with buses transporting people from the gurdwara to the procession and back. The celebration ended on Sunday, April 18 at 11 a.m. with the completion of a reading of Guru Granth Sahib (sahaj path bhog), devotional music (kirtan), and singing and preaching of historical stories (tadhi varan). The gurdwara emphasizes the Khalsa norm and an Amritdhari identity. The annual Vaisakhi procession through the main parade street of Oslo is particularly important for displaying the Sikh identity to the Norwegian public and to spread knowledge about Sikhism. Approximately 1,000–2,000 Sikh women and men participate in this procession. As the festival celebrates the foundation of the Khalsa in 1699, five people dressed up to symbolize the “five beloved ones” (panj piare) walk at the front wearing orange clothes and displaying swords. Five women dressed in blue uniforms also walk together behind the “five beloved ones,” symbolizing the female Khalsa identity. Some Sikhs have felt that the display of swords by the panj piare and the gatka fighting during these processions convey the wrong idea about Sikhism in Norwegian society. They thought it gave the impression that Sikhs focus on conflict rather than social harmony. In response to the criticism, the panj piare did not carry the swords in a raised position during the Vaisakhi procession in 2010.

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Sikhs in Europe

Other important items carried in the procession are banners. During the early years, the Guru Granth Sahib was moved by car in the procession, but after a few years the leaders of the gurdwara decided that it was not necessary to include the Sikh scripture in the procession. The removal of the Guru Granth Sahib from the procession was to make the arrangement less complicated to organize. The banners display verbal statements, in Norwegian, describing the good qualities of the Sikhs. They may state that Sikhs believe in peace, justice, and equality of men and women, that it is part of the Sikh religion to earn a living from hard and honest work, that the Sikhs have to deal with racial prejudice and discrimination based on gender, and that Sikhs pray every day for global peace and welfare for all. During the procession, young adults and children often distribute flyers about the teaching of Sikhism, written in Norwegian, to the audience. The banners and the flyers show that an important objective of the procession is the presentation of Sikhs and Sikhism and to spread information about the Sikh tradition to the Norwegian public. The procession celebrates the presence of the Sikhs in Norway and attempts to improve knowledge about Sikhism among Norwegians. It signals that the Sikhs constitute a significant minority and that the Norwegian public does not know who they are. Many Sikhs believe that Norwegians often mistakenly think of them as Muslims. The banners are thus directed at perceived prejudices about immigrants among Norwegians and express that the Sikhs perceive their religion to be invisible in Norwegian public life and that they are not recognized as an important religious group.20 This self-perception seems to be quite correct, as the Sikhs are hardly ever mentioned on Norwegian television or in newspapers (except when they are associated with violence) and there is a general ignorance about their identity in Norway. In 2010, the Norwegian Sikhs introduced “Turban Day” (“Turbandagen”) during the Vaisakhi celebrations. It was organized at the Plaza in central Oslo where the procession ended and speeches, games for children, and free meals were organized. One purpose of Turban Day is to familiarize the Norwegian public with the Sikh turban and it is a response to the larger international effort to make people aware of the turban as a symbol of Sikh identity.21 The idea is that the turban can become a source of prejudice and discrimination only when it is not wellunderstood or known. As a result of the public debates about hijab and the recent decision to prohibit the wearing of hijab and the turban with the police uniform in Norway, the Sikhs feel that their particular viewpoints are not being heard or

20 Knut A. Jacobsen, Sikhismen: Historie, tradisjon, kultur (Kristiansand, 2006); Knut A. Jacobsen, “Processions, Public Space and Sacred Space in the South Asian Diasporas in Norway,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (London, 2008), pp. 191–204. 21 Sikhi Wiki, “International Turban Day,” available at http://www.sikhiwiki.org/ index.php/International_Turban_Day, accessed December 16, 2010.

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

29

understood.22 Regulations intended to control some Muslim customs also affect the Sikhs. By focusing on one religious and cultural symbol, the Turban Day event also builds community. During this event, the turban functions as a metonym for the Sikhs and the Sikh presence in Norway and symbolizes a Sikh unity.23 On Turban Day in 2010, a team of Sikhs offered to tie turbans on people passing by or interested onlookers. Those participating walked away still wearing their turbans and many probably wore them for the rest of the day.24 Turban Day also functions to encourage the youth to keep their hair uncut. Many young people do make the choice to have their hair cut, but some who have not followed other normative rules make the choice to keep their hair unshorn. Turban Day was organized by Unge Sikher (“Young Sikhs”), which is an important gurdwara-based organization that arranges activities to educate young people, such as classes in Sikhism once a month and Sikh camps during the school holidays. In addition to the daily ritual program, the Norwegian gurdwaras organize several other activities, such as weekly yoga classes for women and the celebration of children’s birthdays, during which the parents of the celebrating child take the main responsibility of the langar for the whole congregation on Sunday. In the last few years, there have emerged a number of Norwegian Sikh Internet sites. The gurdwaras have their own Internet sites that are used to announce activities in the gurdwaras and present the Sikh teaching and history.25 During the last six to seven years there has been an increase in the number of people visiting the gurdwara in Oslo, most probably because of less conflict and a better atmosphere in the congregational life. There are several reasons for this. Besides the fewer conflicts and better atmosphere in the gurdwara, the presence of professional ragis and kathavachaks from India also attracts the audience. More people have also grown older and become parents (and grandparents) and they attend the gurdwara with their children and family. Parents are concerned that the

Trond Lepperød, “Storberget: Fortsatt nei til politihijab,” Nettavisen (August 20, 2010), available at http://www.nettavisen.no/nyheter/article2966357.ece, accessed December 16, 2010. For a Sikh response, see Sundeep Singh, “Ikke bare Islam,” Aftenposten (November 5, 2010), available at http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/debatt/ article3646506.ece, accessed December 16, 2010. 23 For the turban as a symbol of Sikh identity, see W. H. McLeod, “The Turban Symbol of Sikh Identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), pp. 57–68. For a recent study of symbolic behavior of British Sikhs regarding hair and turbans, see Jasjit Singh, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair, and the Turban,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 25/2 (2010): 203–20. 24 Photos of persons with turbans were posted on the web the next day, see Unge Sikher, “Den Norske Tubandagen” (2010), available at http://www.ungesikher.no/ turbandagen/index.htm, accessed June 2, 2010. 25 Sikher.no, available at http://www.sikher.no/index.html; Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Niwas, available at http://www.gurudwara.no/main.php?action=home. 22

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Sikhs in Europe

children are taught a Sikh and Punjabi way of living and the gurdwara is believed to be the primary tool to achieve this. Organizing the Youth: Unge Sikher In 2005, the vice-president of the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Darbara Singh, encouraged five young people to establish the Gurmat Naujovan Sabah (GNS), which later adopted the Norwegian name Unge Sikher in 2010.26 This organization was founded to deal with the problem of growing up Sikh in Norway. The goal was to serve as a meeting place in which young people could share the experience of growing up as Sikhs in Norway and educate themselves about the teachings of Sikhism. The Sikhs have not settled as a group in particular areas of Oslo or anywhere else, and Sikh children growing up in Norway may often find themselves the only Sikh in their classroom or school. The boys especially stand out because of their uncut hair and patka or turban. Many young Sikhs do not want to wear the turban, which is obviously considered a problem.27 The purpose of Unge Sikher is to act as a network for young Sikhs in Norway and to make it possible for young Sikhs to have a dialog about questions of identity and faith. Part of the work of Unge Sikher is to inform the gurdwara about the needs of young Sikhs.28 For instance, responding to the wishes of Unge Sikher, a plasma screen has been installed in the gurdwara to be used in kirtan to show the text both in Punjabi, in transliteration, and in English translation. The reason for installing it was that this would make visiting the gurdwara more interesting for young people, who often stop attending the gurdwara during their late teenage years. The goal of Unge Sikher is thus twofold: first, to offer resources to children and young adults in order to make Sikh philosophy easily accessible so that they can effectively deal with the challenges of being Sikhs in Norway; and secondly, to display Sikhism to Norwegian society. Both of these goals function to build bridges to Norwegian

26 The reason it changed its name to Unge Sikher was that a Norwegian name was deemed better as the group was aimed at young Norwegian Sikhs: “After several years of activities and developing in the right direction we saw a need for renewal and development of a clearer profile. Therefore, in April 2010 we changed the name form GNS to UNS (Unge Sikher). Since the organization is primarily established for young Norwegian Sikhs it was important to have a name that reflected this group” [translation from Norwegian by the author]. See Unge Sikher, “Om oss,” available at http://www.ungesikher.no/omoss.html, accessed May 12, 2010. 27 This is an issue for Sikh communities worldwide. See for example Rama Lakshmi, “India’s young Sikhs defy tradition, doff turbans” (March 30, 2009), available at http:// www.thestar.com/article/610277, accessed May 12, 2010. 28 Sikher.no, “GNS – Gurmat Nojovan Sabah,” available at http://sikher.no/5GNS. html, accessed May 12, 2010.

Institutionalization of Sikhism in Norway

31

society. Unge Sikher, it is stated, “shall be a Norwegian resource for Sikhs and a Sikh resource for the Norwegian society.”29 Unge Sikher focuses on a few activities. Foremost, they organize a program once a month (on Saturdays) for young Sikhs in the gurdwara. Children older than seven years and youths can participate. No adults are allowed. The idea is that young people who themselves have the experience of growing up in Norway can give advice to other children and youths.30 The language used at the Unge Sikher meetings is Norwegian and this is seen as important since young Sikhs need to be able to express their religion in the Norwegian language. The responsibility of the Unge Sikher for presenting Sikhism to Norwegian society means presenting Sikhism on web pages and producing other written materials, receiving school classes in the gurdwara, and visiting schools to give presentations on Sikhism. Unge Sikher uses the Internet to present their activities.31 There are also pointers to English-language Sikh Internet sites on the Norwegian sites. Young persons also use the Internet to educate themselves about Sikhism. The daily hukam is available on the Internet and many young people access Internet pages to read it. There are also forums for Indians in Norway, such as http://desinorway.com/forum/, with a lot of information related to Sikhism. Educating Sikhs is also seen as having a function in informing Norwegian society about Sikhism, as they can teach Norwegians about Sikhism, and through their example they can also show what Sikhism is.32 In addition, Unge Sikher organizes Seva projects for non-Sikhs to emphasize the principle that Sikhs shall help others and show solidarity. In 2010, the philanthropic project was the collection of money for the victims of the earthquake

Unge Sikher, “Om oss.” The organization aims at being dynamic and adapting to the changing needs of young Norwegian Sikhs. Unge Sikher deals with the cultural distance between parents, whereby at least one of them usually comes from Punjab, and the children who are growing up in Norway. 30 “Many of the Sikhs born and grown up in Norway have parents who do not understand or have knowledge of the different problems children experience in Norwegian society. Therefore, we are interested in offering the young the opportunity to seek their peers and get advice. We focus on giving the young the ability to handle the prejudices and problems that they meet in Norwegian society in a good and sensible way. Because of the prejudices and problems it is important that they are offered resources that make this possible” [translation from Norwegian by the author]. See Unge Sikher ‘Aktiviteter’, available at: http://www.ungesikher.no/aktiviteter.html, accessed May 12, 2010. 31 Unge Sikher, available at: http://ungesikher.no/. 32 “Internally our activities are structured for Sikhs who have grown up in Norway. We view these activities as an investment for the future because we believe that bridges are built on knowledge—and then it is important that young Sikhs have enough knowledge to inform the rest of society about Sikhism. We believe that young Sikhs will be able to build bridges by being good models and good Sikhs” [translation from Norwegian by the author] (Unge Sikher, “Aktiviteter.”) 29

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in Chile.33 This was organized on Turban Day to emphasize that the turban is a symbol of solidarity.34 Gurdwara Camps Unge Sikher also organizes Sikh camps during some of the school vacations, one or two or more every year (during either the Christmas, Easter, or the summer vacations). The camps build on the same principles as the monthly meetings of Unge Sikher, but they last for several days. The camps have around a hundred participants and include different activities, ranging from the opening of the Guru Granth Sahib, reading of the ardas, and performing kirtan, to making the langar, and so on. At these camps, young Sikhs learn the ritual skills of being Sikh and the history of the Sikh tradition. The camps are based on the underlying precept often stated by Sikhs that, since Sikhism does not have priests, every Sikh should know how to perform all the tasks in the gurdwara.35 The idea in the camps is to offer teaching on Sikhism in Norwegian, but speakers from England and other countries with a lot of experience of Sikh camps are invited to speak about religion and Sikh identity in English and Punjabi. A three-day-long Sikh camp in April 2010, organized by Unge Sikher in the Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in Oslo, can function as an example of a typical event in Norway. This camp had a specific theme, which was a shabad written by Guru Arjan (“Pori Asa Ji Mansa Mere Ram”) about the joy of being united with God. Four sevadars with experience of many camps came from England to assist. The camp was for children over seven years old and youths; around 130 people attended this camp.36 Different groups were organized: those younger than 12 learned how to tie the turban, make Indian dishes, and sing kirtan, and those older than 12 discussed different themes and hymns in the Guru Granth For philanthropy in the Sikh diaspora, see Verne A. Dusenbery and Darshan S. Tatla (eds), Sikh Diaspora Philanthropy in Punjab (New Delhi, 2010). 34 “One of the three fundamental principles is that Sikhs should share with others— and therein show solidarity. Therefore, philanthropy is an important part of UNS. On the Turban Day we wish to help earthquake victims in Chile. This earthquake was the fifth strongest in history and Chile was hit hard. Part of the infrastructure is badly damaged and the people of Chile need help with their daily needs. We will have collection boxes and sell lottery tickets to support the victims of the earthquake. We wish to re-launch the turban as a symbol of solidarity and because of this it is important for us to support a worthy cause on Turban Day” [translation from Norwegian by the author]. Unge Sikher, “Veldedighet,” available at: http://www.ungesikher.no/veldedighet.html, accessed May 12, 2010. 35 However, the Sikhs have many religious specialists, such as the granthi, ragi, kathavachak, and so on. The fact that Sikhism does not have priests represents an emic understanding. 36 Sikher. no, ‘Sikh Camp’ available at http://www.sikher.no/Nyheter/indexny1.html, accessed May 12, 2010. 33

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Sahib, such as heaven and hell, the web of illusion (maya jal), desire (kam), anger (krodh), greed (lobh), confusion (moh), and pride (hankar), and purity and wisdom. Each group made a presentation about the theme of the group and some also made videos. An element of competition was also introduced with rewards given to the presenters and the one considered to be the best was awarded first prize. The camps are very popular among the children, but a general problem is that many lose interest in attending the gurdwaras as they get older and reach high school age. Punjabi Schools Most Sikhs in Norway consider some knowledge of the Punjabi language as necessary for being a Sikh. This means that considerable energy is invested in teaching Punjabi to the younger generations.37 The largest Punjabi school in Oslo was founded in 1996 by Avtar Singh38 and in the year 2009–2010 the school had around 300 students in 14 classes and 19 teachers (see Figure 1.3). Around half of the children are second generation, the other half are third generation.39 The school meets for three hours once a week and according to one the teachers “the children have created their own Punjab in the school.”40 The children usually speak Norwegian to each other, but use only Punjabi at the school, where both written and spoken Punjabi is taught. Many of the parents spend time together doing different activities at the school while the children attend the language classes and this is also an important function of the school. Apart from teaching the Punjabi language, the school also focuses on teaching the culture and history of Punjab.41 A cultural event is organized annually as a Vaisakhi festival.42 The Punjabi schools also celebrate Vaisakhi as a family event with dance and other performances. In Drammen area, there are currently two Punjabi schools, the Khalsa Punjabi School 37 Information on the web page Punjabskolenorge, available at http://www. panjabiskolenorge.com/news.php, accessed May 5, 2010. 38 For an interview with Avtar Singh, see Jacobsen, Sikhismen (Kristiansand, 2006), pp. 114–16. From mid-1990s, the language education of the students in the mother tongue of their parents was no longer considered a responsibility of the public school system. This might have been one reason for the necessity of having a Punjabi school. In high school in Norway, students can choose Punjabi as their second foreign language, instead of French or German. 39 Estimate by Balwinder Kaur, interview, April 30, 2010. 40 Interview with teachers, March 30, 2010. 41 For an interview with the principal of the Punjabi school in an Indian newspaper, see The Hindu, “Punjabis foray into Norway municipalities” (April 21, 2008), available at http:// www.thehindu.com/2008/04/21/stories/2008042150762000.htm, accessed May 5, 2010. 42 Desinorway, “Panjabiskolenorge Visakhi Celebration 2010” (2010) available at http://desinorway.com/forum/?p=684, accessed June 2, 2010.

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Figure 1.3

The language teachers at the Punjabi School in Oslo, 2010. Photo: Knut A. Jacobsen May 2010

in Lier and the Mata Gujri Punjabi School in Drammen,43 and there are also other smaller Punjabi schools around the country. Sports Melas and Dance In the regulations of the gurdwara in Oslo, it is stated that one of the functions of the gurdwara is to encourage and promote sports activities.44 Sports activities have therefore been considered as one of the responsibilities of the gurdwara, and an annual event was organized called “Gurdwara Sports Tournament.” The first sports mela was organized in 1989 by the gurdwara in Oslo and was open to all Indians, not only Sikhs. The annual sports melas (Gurdwara Sports Tournament) was later lifted to a new level with an international Kabaddi competition that has since become an important part of the events.45 The Indian Youth Sports and Cultural Association Norway (IYSCA) was established in 1986, but was active since 1982 and has cooperated for several years with the gurdwara in Oslo in the organization 43 Khalsa Punjab School, available at http://www.khalsapunjabischool.no/news. php, accessed June 6, 2010. For a YouTube presentation of their Vaisakhi celebration, see Buskerudportalen, “Sikhs in Norway,” available at http://www.buskerudportalen.no/video. php?n=701, accessed June 2, 2010. 44 http://www.sikher.no/Nedlastning/Diverse/vedtekter.pdf, accessed December 12, 2010. 45 For the extensive program for the sports mela 2010, see F.S.F. Norway, available at http://fsfnorway.com/Program%20F.S.F%202010.pdf, accessed June 2, 2010.

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of the Gurdwara Sports Tournament.46 One reason for organizing the sports mela was to create unity among the Sikhs and provide opportunities for networking among the Indians. However, the international Kabaddi competition led to a conflict between factions about which team from India should be invited and the gurdwara withdrew from the organization of the mela in 2008 as its leaders did not want the congregation to become part of the conflict. The Sports Tournament is nevertheless an important annual event with a large number of Sikhs attending. Dance groups and performances can also be considered an important part of the sports culture of Sikhs in Norway. While the sport melas are dominated by men, the dance performances, especially classical dance forms, are dominated by women. Bhangra classes attract both genders. The Gurdwara, the Punjabi schools, the Sports and Cultural Federation (SCF), as well as other institutions, organize dance and music performances.47 Conclusion Sikhism in Norway has shown a remarkable growth in the last decade compared to the problematic years of the 1990s. The last decade can be understood as a period of recovery and growth. Organizations and annual events function to maintain and form religious identity. The Sikhs in Norway are probably one of the strongest Sikh communities in Europe outside of Great Britain. Sikhism in Norway has been characterized by impressive institution building. The activities are directed at gurdwara rituals, maintenance of religious identity, identity formation, and generational transfer of the traditions, the spreading of knowledge (both about Sikhism to the Sikhs and to the community at large), and to present Sikhism. For many Sikhs in Norway, religious practice often involves more in terms of time and energy than it does for many Norwegians. Sikh religious identity in Norway can be quite demanding due to the centrality of external symbols such as uncut hair and turbans which in Norway sets the person apart and may confirm a diasporic identity. The learning of the Punjabi language is also a demanding task. However, many Sikhs in Norway emphasize that Norwegian culture and Sikhism share some fundamental values such as equality, which also includes gender equality, “jordnærhet” (“down to earth-ness,” or the practical approach), a strong work ethic, honesty, and education. “Dugnad,” voluntary work for the community, is a traditional Norwegian value and “dugnad” is closely related to seva. Both Punjab and Norway (until quite recently) were peasant societies, and Sikhs argue that the similarities between the two cultures are due to this. Nevertheless, maintenance Indian Youth Sports & Cultural Association Norway, available at http://www. indians.no/HovedSiden.php?CONT=Gurudwara, accessed June 3, 2010. 47 Desi.no, available at http://www.desi.no/forum/forum_posts. asp?TID=5231&title=indian-girls-scf-norway-vaisakhi-mela-may-2010, accessed June 3, 2010. 46

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and formation of an identity that sets the person apart is an important purpose of much of the organizational work. One reason for spending a lot of time in the gurdwara is that it is a wholly Punjabi culture, language, and Sikh environment and that people here can be 100 percent Punjabis and Sikhs and be comfortable with their Punjabi Sikh identity. In the Sikh diaspora in Norway, the gurdwaras play a fundamental role in achieving this. Bibliography Ballard, Roger, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab (Delhi: Chanakya, 1989), pp. 200–32. Buskerudportalen, “Sikhs in Norway,” available at http://www.buskerudportalen. no/video.php?n=701, accessed June 2, 2010. Desinorway, “Panjabiskolenorge Visakhi Celebration 2010” (2010) available at http://desinorway.com/forum/?p=684, accessed June 2, 2010. Dusenbery, Verne A. and Darshan S. Tatla (eds), Sikh Diaspora Philanthropy in Punjab (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010). F.S.F. Norway, available at http://fsfnorway.com/Program%20F.S.F%202010.pdf, accessed June 2, 2010. Gurdwara Sahib Switzerland, available at http://www.gurdwarasahib.com/, accessed December 15, 2010. Gurdwara Sri Guru Nanak Niwas, available at http://www.gurudwara.no/main. php?action=home, accessed December 15, 2010. The Hindu, “Punjabis foray into Norway municipalities” (April 21, 2008), available at http://www.thehindu.com/2008/04/21/stories/2008042150762000. htm, accessed May 5, 2010. Indian Youth Sports and Cultural Association Norway, available at http://www. indians.no/HovedSiden.php?CONT=Gurudwara, accessed June 3, 2010. Jacobsen, Knut A. ”Hinduismen i Norge,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), Verdensreligioner i Norge, 2nd ed. (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2005), pp. 79–132. Jacobsen, Knut A., “Processions, public space and sacred space in the South Asian diasporas in Norway,” in Knut A. Jacobsen (ed.), South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 191–204. Jacobsen, Knut A., “Scandinavia,” in Brij V. Lal, Peter Reeves and Rajesh Rai (eds), The Encyclopedia of the Indian Diaspora (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2006), pp. 361–3. Jacobsen, Knut A., Sikhismen: Historie, tradisjon, kultur (Kristiansand: Høyskoleforlaget, 2006). Jacobsen, Knut A. (ed.), South Asian Religions on Display: Religious Processions in South Asia and in the Diaspora (London: Routledge, 2008).

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Khalsa Punjab School, available at http://www.khalsapunjabischool.no/news.php, accessed June 6, 2010. Kjelsrud, Kristine G., “Klare til åpningsfest” (2010), available at http://dt.no/ nyheter/klare-til-apningsfest-1.5160680, accessed December 15, 2010. Kommunal- og Regional Departementet, “Ny utlendingslov,” available at http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/krd/dok/nouer/2004/nou-2004-20/4/5/3. html?id=387376, accessed December 15, 2010. Lakshmi, Rama, “India’s young Sikhs defy tradition, doff turbans” (March 30, 2009), available at http://www.thestar.com/article/610277, accessed May 12, 2010. Lepperød, Trond, “Storberget: Fortsatt nei til politihijab,” Nettavisen (August 20, 2010), available at http://www.nettavisen.no/nyheter/article2966357.ece, accessed December 16, 2010. McLeod, W.H., “The Turban Symbol of Sikh Identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999), pp. 57–68. Punjabskolenorge, available at http://www.panjabiskolenorge.com/news.php, accessed May 5, 2010. Shah, Javed, “Den første norske turbandagen” (2010), available at http://www.xplosiv.no/default.pl?showArticle=4247&pageId=23, accessed December 15, 2010. Sikher.no, “GNS – Gurmat Nojovan Sabah,” available at http://sikher.no/5GNS. html, accessed May 12, 2010. Sikher.no, “Sikh Camp,”, available at http://www.sikher.no/Nyheter/indexny1. html,accessed May 12, 2010. Sikhi Wiki, “International Turban Day,” available at http://www.sikhiwiki.org/ index.php/International_Turban_Day, accessed December 16, 2010. Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London: Zed Books, 2006). Singh, Jasjit, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair, and the Turban,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 25/2 (2010): 203–20. Singh, Sundeep, “Ikke bare Islam,” Aftenposten (November 5, 2010), available at http://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/debatt/article3646506.ece, accessed December 16, 2010. Statistics Norway, ‘Innvandrere fra 216 land’ (2010), available at http://www.ssb. no/innvbef/, accessed December 16, 2010. Statistics Norway, ”Medlemmer i tros- og livssynssamfunn utenfor Den norske kirke” (2010), available at http://www.ssb.no/emner/historisk_statistikk/ tabeller/6-1.html, accessed December 15, 2010. Unge Sikher, “Aktiviteter,” available at http://www.ungesikher.no/aktiviteter. html, accessed May 12, 2010. Unge Sikher, “Den Norske Tubandagen” (2010), available at http://www. ungesikher.no/turbandagen/index.htm, accessed June 2, 2010.

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Unge Sikher, “Om oss,” available at http://www.ungesikher.no/omoss.html, accessed May 12, 2010. Unge Sikher, “Veldedighet,” available at http://www.ungesikher.no/veldedighet. html, accessed May 12, 2010.

Chapter 2

The Sikh Community in Denmark: Balancing between Cooperation and Conflict Helene Ilkjær

The Sikh community in Denmark has been shifting between phases of cooperation and conflict since the first Sikhs arrived in Denmark at the end of the 1960s. Using the only Sikh gurdwara in Denmark as a vantage point, this chapter analyzes the dynamics and development of the Sikh community in Denmark and discusses how the internal conflicts among the Sikhs in Denmark can serve as ways to understand negotiations about community, identity, and how to be Sikh in the “right” way.1 Socio-demographic Profile of the Sikh Community in Denmark Religion is considered a private issue in Denmark and there are laws prohibiting the registration of people’s religious beliefs.2 This makes it impossible to put together a census specifically counting the number of Sikhs in Denmark, and the number of Sikhs must, therefore, be extracted from the overall number of Indians in Denmark. The statistics from 2007 indicate that there are 3,596 migrants from India and 1,045 children of migrants from India in Denmark—in total, 4,641 persons.3 However, Sikhs living in Denmark can also have come from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and so on. Thus there are no official numbers of how

1 This chapter is based on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork among the Sikh community in Denmark in 2007. During the fieldwork, qualitative methods of data collection were used including participant observation, interviews (14), home visits and online participant observation at the discussion forum Khalsa.dk. In total, more than 150 Sikhs have contributed to my fieldwork, and of these I had regular contact with approximately 60 informants. Around 25 of these became key informants. The gurdwara in Denmark served as the anchor point for establishing contact with informants. All names of informants in this chapter are pseudonyms. 2 Tim Jensen, ”Statistik over religiøst tilhørsforhold i Danmark,” Religion.dk (March 26, 2004), available at http://www.religion.dk/artikel/117924:Spoerg-om-tro-og-viden-Statistik-over-religioest-tilhoersforhold-i-Danmark, accessed October 24, 2007. 3 The numbers are extracted from Statistics Denmark, available at www. statistikbanken.dk.

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many Sikhs live in Denmark and the estimates vary from 2504 to 1,0005 or even 4,000 people.6 The great variation in these estimates underlines the uncertainty about the number of Sikhs in Denmark. When asked, the Sikhs themselves estimated that there are between 500 and 800 Sikh families living in Denmark, not specifying how many persons make up a family. Most of the Sikhs have settled in the Greater Copenhagen area in suburbs like Ballerup, Ishoej, Hoeje Taastrup, and Farum. There are also small groups of Sikhs in other parts of Denmark, primarily in the Horsens and Aarhus areas. The Sikhs in Denmark occupy a wide variety of jobs, for example, as public servants (bus drivers, nurses, nursery assistants, and so on), employees in private businesses (marketing assistants, mechanics, cleaning assistants, IT engineers, and so forth), and as self-employed businesspeople (shopkeepers and restaurant owners). Migration Patterns The Sikhs started to arrive in Denmark in the late 1960s and early 1970s as labor migrants. In some cases, however, Denmark might not have been the desired destination, as one of my informants from the older generation, Uttampal, explains: In 1973 I had just finished my education and got married and I wanted to try my luck in Canada. I had a cousin who lived there. She told me that it was better to come to Canada via Europe because if I came directly from India the immigration control would be very strict. Therefore, I came to Denmark with a friend. When we arrived we found out that we could not just go on to Canada. From another friend I learned that the chance of getting a residence permit in Norway was bigger, so I went there. After some years, I came back to Denmark.7

Uttampal decided to stay in Denmark and he also managed to bring his wife here through a family reunification program. Similarly, other Sikh labor migrants have been able to bring their wives and children to Denmark from Punjab, but the regulations on family reunification have been tightened over the years, and permits are increasingly difficult to obtain.

4 DACOREC ved Tim Jensen, Religionsguiden – en vejviser til flygtninges og indvandreres religioner og trossamfund i Danmark (København, 2000), p. 97. 5 Tim Jensen, ”Er det mono-religiøse Danmark blevet multi-religiøst?,” Chaos. Dansk-norsk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, 41 (2004): 126. 6 See Shinder Thandi, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 7 Conversation, May 29, 2007.

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In the 1980s and 1990s, Sikh refugees escaping the violent conflicts in Punjab started to arrive in Denmark. Currently, few Sikhs come to Denmark as asylum seekers; instead most Sikhs enter Denmark via specialist programs set up to import skilled migrants, or they come for educational purposes under student exchange programs.8 These diverse migration stories among the Sikhs in Denmark, ranging from labor migration, family reunification to forced migration as refugees, and to skilled migration as IT professionals or students, contribute significantly to the heterogeneity of the Sikh community in Denmark. Heterogeneity and Disunity The only Sikh gurdwara in Denmark is located in Vanloese, a suburb of Copenhagen. For Sikhs living outside the Greater Copenhagen area, the geographical distance to the gurdwara makes access difficult. The congregation at the gurdwara, thus, usually consists of Sikhs living in the Greater Copenhagen area.9 The sociologist Roger Ballard has claimed that it is usual for Sikh communities to be torn apart by severe factional conflicts.10 The Sikhs in Denmark pose no exception and they have religiously grouped themselves along the same lines of differentiation that exist in Punjab and elsewhere in the Sikh diaspora. This means that there is an overall opposition between the main group of SGPCs and the smaller, termed by some as more “fundamentalist” groupings of Damdami Taksal and Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ). Instead of using the term “fundamentalist,” which carries strong negative connotations, I will use the term “traditionalists,” and the two factions in the Sikh community in Denmark are hereafter termed the “moderates” (the SGPCs) and the “traditionalists” (the Damdami Taksal and AKJs).11 8 The number of Indians arriving in Denmark as specialists/skilled migrants has risen from 101 persons in 2001 to 546 persons in 2006. Similarly, the number of students arriving from India has gone up from 61 persons in 2001 to 228 persons in 2007. See Udlændingeservice, Tal og fakta på udlændingeområdet 2006 (København, 2007), p. 49. Only a minority of these Indians are likely to be Sikhs. 9 As the gurdwara served as my main anchor point for establishing contact with informants, I naturally gained most contact with Sikhs who came there regularly, whereas it was more difficult to come into contact with Sikhs who never visited the gurdwara. With regard to laic associations, there exists a Punjabi Cultural Association in the Greater Copenhagen Area through which I also met some informants. However, I already knew most of these from the gurdwara. The cultural association focuses on music, dance and the teaching of the Punjabi language. 10 See for example, Roger Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab (Delhi, 1989). 11 It should be underlined that I have rarely met Sikhs in Denmark who directly exclaimed that they adhered to either the Damdami Taksal or AKJ teachings. Instead, they

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The main issue dividing the Sikhs in Denmark into moderate and traditionalist factions is a difference in opinion regarding the correct religious approaches and practices. Both groups consider their own practices to be the right ones and are thus convinced that they represent the true version of Sikhism. In interviews, Sikhs from the moderate faction expressed that they focused less on religious practice and instead emphasized the ideals and symbolism in the religion. They contended that the version of Sikhism they represented was more advanced because it focused on the metaphysical and philosophical aspects of the religion. They contrasted this to what they termed the traditionalists’ “simple and primitive” approach, the essence of which my informant Nonnihal sarcastically described as “just say God’s name with every breath and then you will be home safe.” The moderates preferred to speak about Sikhism on a spiritual level and they underlined that Sikhism for them is a way of life and a basis for thinking and acting in the world. Regarding the role of Sikhism in his everyday life, the moderate Ramanjit explained to me that besides wearing a turban, he does not carry out other activities related to Sikhism on a daily basis. Instead, he explained the role of Sikhism in his life as a set of religious guidelines: Sikhism provides the framework for me. We all have to adjust ourselves to the world and think about how we should do things. I use Sikhism for that purpose because it gives me the overall framework for what I think is appropriate and reasonable. If I doubt what to do, I ask myself “what would be the right thing to do for a Sikh?”12

Like Ramanjit, many Sikhs from the moderate faction considered Sikhism an important part of their background as individuals, but they did not find it necessary to follow the normative code of conduct and carry out daily recitations (nitnem). The traditionalists did not reject the moderates’ focus on the philosophy of Sikhism, but emphasized that following the Sikh rules of daily prayers and refraining from cutting their hair were very important in order to live up to the religion’s ideals and be a good Sikh. Furthermore, the traditionalists also adhered to the Sikh principles of vegetarianism13 and the banning of alcohol and explained it as a matter of being more in line with this reading of the religion than with the SGPC tradition. Often, the Sikhs themselves simply said “us” and “we” in opposition to “the others” or “the other group.” Yet, one of the Sikhs coined the terms “the moderates” (about the faction he belonged to) versus “the fundamentalists” to describe the internal groupings in the Sikh community in Denmark. 12 Interview, March 20, 2007. 13 The Sikhs do not agree whether or not Sikhism prohibits the eating of meat. Some Sikhs argue that they are allowed to eat meat from animals slaughtered in a specific way, distinctive from the halal method of slaughter customary to Muslims. However, meals served in a gurdwara are always strictly vegetarian. See W.H. McLeod, Sikhism (London, 1997), p. 140.

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tobacco.14 It was important for many of the traditionalists to wear the external symbols of Sikhism, the so-called “five Ks.” The traditionalists believed that this physical dimension of the religion was an important way to concretely and consciously show one’s faith and devotion to the philosophy and ideals of Sikhism. Yet, this does not mean that all the Sikhs in Denmark with turban and uncut beard can automatically be termed traditionalists or that all Sikhs with cut hair are moderates. Neither the traditionalist nor the moderate group of Sikhs was a completely bounded unit with fixed members. The large group of Sikhs in Denmark who did not wish to take a permanent stand could align with either one of the groups in relation to specific points of discussion. However, in both the moderate and the traditionalist groups, there was a permanent core of families. Building a Sikh Community in Denmark The Sikh community in Denmark achieved official recognition as a religious community from the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs in 1985,15 and was thus able to benefit early on from the related advantages of tax redemption, and so on. Yet, even before the official recognition was sought, the Sikhs had been active as a community for years—first in establishing religious services and later in acquiring a permanent place to host these services. One of my informants, Trikal, has lived in Denmark for more than 35 years, and he has always been very committed to the running of the gurdwara. One afternoon in the gurdwara, we talked about its history. Trikal narrated: In the beginning of the 1970s, we rented a room once a month and met there to carry out religious activities. First, we rented different rooms on Nørrebro in Copenhagen, among others at Jagtvej 69, which later became the so-called “Youth House” but was then used as premises being rented out for parties. For a while, we also rented another room at Jagtvej and then later at Stengade [in Copenhagen]. Then, in 1980, we bought the premises at Groennehoej in Vanloese where the gurdwara was located until we bought and renovated this new building [in Vanloese]. I think this place has been made really nice, but we generally have a problem with parking on Sundays, so we would like to find another place for the gurdwara with more peace and quiet and better facilities for parking. Only, I do not know when that will happen.16

See, for example, Knut A. Jacobsen, Sikhismen: Historie, Tradisjon og Kultur (Kristiansand, 2006), p. 49. 15 In Danish, the term is “godkendt trossamfund.” See Kirkeministeriet, Vejledende retningslinjer udarbejdet af det rådgivende Udvalg vedr. Trossamfund (2nd rev. edn, January 2002), available at http://www.km.dk/fileadmin/share/dokumenter/Vejledende_ etningslinier.pdf, accessed September 19, 2007. 16 Conversation, February 3, 2007. 14

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Trikal’s account highlights the changeability that has dominated the process of establishing religious services for Sikhs in Denmark, and he also suggested that the future might hold another change of location for the gurdwara. His account reflected the gradual development within the Sikh community, starting from a loose structure with meetings only once a month in rented premises and continuing into a situation where more permanency was desired. The wish for a permanent meeting place for the Sikh community was also affected by the continued growth of the community due to the arrival of both family members through reunification programs and new migrants. After collecting funds, the Sikhs then purchased an old building in Vanloese, a suburb of Copenhagen, in 1980 and converted it into a gurdwara.17 Sometime in the late 1990s, this building was sold and instead an old rubber factory at another location in Vanloese was purchased. The Sikh community initiated the renovation of the old factory and the gurdwara relocated to these new premises. According to my informants, things went relatively well in the gurdwara and for the Sikh community in Denmark in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, homeland affairs soon started to interfere as events in Punjab developed dramatically. Both Sikhs in Punjab and the Sikh migrant communities worldwide became involved in and influenced by heated discussions about the right of demanding a Sikh homeland, the legitimacy of armed struggle, and so on.18 For the Sikhs in Denmark, the events in Punjab in the 1980s highlighted the role of the homeland. It became clear that although they had migrated from Punjab, they did not constitute an independent or disconnected unit. Rather, the Sikhs in Denmark can be portrayed as one small segment in a worldwide mosaic of diasporic Sikh segments—and all these segments refer to and are connected with Punjab. When the situation in Punjab escalated, internal conflicts and discussions relating to the state of affairs in the homeland became prevalent among the Sikhs in Denmark, thus exemplifying the continued entanglement. Below, my informants Chirjeevan and Nonnihal describe the events of this hectic period for the Sikhs in Denmark. They were both children at the time of the events, yet they were able to recollect the events from their own memories and from stories told by their parents who were and remain very active players in the Sikh community conflicts. Chirjeevan remembered: When we were young [25 years ago], there was this big group of Sikhs who socialized with each other. We were in the gurdwara, we were at parties, and we met in each other’s houses and had big sleepovers. It was like a big, big family. And, it is not just me who has this rosy picture of a childhood that was fun and

Stig Toft Madsen and Kenneth Nielsen, “Political Culture and Organized Hinduism in Denmark: A Preliminary Account,” Paper presented at the 19th ECMSAS Conference in Leiden, June 2006, p. 30. 18 Darshan Singh Tatla, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (Seattle, 1999), pp. 105–11. 17

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nice. Our parents and people from their generation also remember this period as a really good one. Unfortunately, we were split by the events in the gurdwara.19

The events that split the Sikh community in the gurdwara at the time were disagreements about Khalistan. This resulted in the crystallization of two factions of Sikhs in Denmark: the moderates and the traditionalists. Nonnihal supplemented Chirjeevan’s account, explaining: At the end of the 1970s, most Sikhs in Denmark had cut their hair and had a relatively relaxed attitude to Sikhism. Then, they start having children and new Sikhs arrived from India, for example, in connection with marriages. Internal power struggles started to occur and then stricter religious views reached Denmark as the fight for a sovereign Sikh state, Khalistan, escalated in Punjab. Disagreements over Khalistan got really big … and some Sikhs became extremely religious and started to think that they were better Sikhs than others. My parents were in a group, which opposed this “sovereigntycrap.” Because there were so many fights in the gurdwara my parents’ group decided to leave and let the extremists keep the gurdwara. We did not want to have our own gurdwara, but we rented a room once a month and held our own religious activities … So after the gurdwara was bought in 1980, there started to be internal conflicts and struggles for power and this was then affected by the whole Khalistan polemic. You could say that big politics entered the power struggles in our small community.20

The Sikhs who broke out from the gurdwara formed an association called the Sikh Foundation and its members more or less corresponded to the group described here as the moderates. The Sikh Foundation met regularly in rented premises but Nonnihal underlined that they never aspired to make a second gurdwara because, by principle, they wanted only one gurdwara to exist in Denmark.21 However, the Sikh Foundation had only existed for a few years when a fresh internal split occurred within this new unit. Nonnihal continued his account of the events: Around 1987–1988, something strange happened in the Sikh Foundation. Some of the Sikhs in the Sikh Foundation are actually Namdhari Sikhs, which is a

Interview, March 27, 2007. Interview, March 27, 2007. 21 It is unique that there is only one Sikh gurdwara in Denmark. In most other countries 19

20

where Sikhs have settled, there are at least two gurdwaras, simply because the different groupings in the Sikh community have difficulties getting along. See Jacobsen, Sikhismen, p. 113; Kristina Myrvold, ”Sikhism i Sverige: Att bygga guruns tron genom hängivenhet och social tjänst,” in D. Andersson and Å. Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: ett landskap i förändring (Lund, 2005), pp. 299–300; Gurharpal Singh, ”Gurdwaras and Communitybuilding among British Sikhs,” Contemporary South Asia 15/2 (2006): 147–64.

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special branch of Sikhism where the followers believe in a living Guru. Until then, they had not wished to underline their Namdhari identity; they were just part of Sikhism. However, at the end of the 1980s, the living Guru that the Namdharis believe in visited Denmark and, therefore, they suddenly became more conscious of their particular branch of Sikhism. So they started to aim for power in the Sikh Foundation and this resulted in several rows. As a consequence, the Sikh Foundation was parted in two; I think it was in 1987 or 1988.22

However, being split into three groups, each with their own meeting place to manage, did not work out financially for the Sikhs, and at some point in the 1990s, they decided to gather in the gurdwara in Vanloese again. Depending on which group I talked to, the story was that it was the other group who had not been able to make ends meet and who had been forced to suggest that the groups patched up their differences and got back together as one united community. The Struggle for Control of the Gurdwara “Those who control the gurdwaras control the Sikh community,” predicts a Punjabi proverb,23 and thus both authority and power are associated with being on the committee of a gurdwara. As it happened, there was an election for the committee of the gurdwara in Denmark during my fieldwork.24 It was in relation to this election that the extent of the heterogeneity of the Sikh community really became apparent to me. According to Roger Ballard, “Every Sikh community is riven by severe factional conflicts. But the depth and the bitterness of these conflicts is not necessarily immediately apparent. Great efforts usually are made to conceal them from outsiders.”25 The electoral conflict in the gurdwara clearly revealed the factions and their issues of conflict, which had until then seemed hazy to me. The electoral conflict also proved to be a window of opportunity for me to investigate the mobilization of the factions and their arguments and strategies to gain the upper hand. Leading up to the scheduled Election Day in the gurdwara, there were weeks of mobilizing support by convincing Sikhs from one’s own faction to attend the Election Day and thereby attain power by numbers. This was also a period of speculating about the activities of the other factions and trying to muster support from the Sikhs who tried to stay neutral, for example, by saying such things as “If the others get the power they will ruin the gurdwara.” In the weeks before the Election Day, several Sikhs advised me against coming to the gurdwara on that day. As we were eating langar one Sunday three weeks prior to the Election 24 25 22 23

Interview, March 27, 2007. Singh, “Gurdwaras and Community-building among British Sikhs,” p. 148. Usually, there are elections for the committee of the gurdwara every two years. Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” p. 201.

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Day, my informant Chitpreet repeated these warnings and said, “There will be lots of arguments and discussion, so I think you should not come,” and then she continued with a laugh, “but if you like throwing things, then you should definitely come.” I was not discouraged by the many warnings; instead, I wrote in my field notes from that day: “I think I should definitely go because it sounds like a really interesting meeting for me to attend. I wonder what they disagree so much about.” The Election Day On Saturday, March 3, 2007, I arrived at the gurdwara in the morning as usual to participate in the children’s Punjabi lessons. As the day proceeded, the excitement started building up among the people who arrived. The election meeting was scheduled to take place from 3 to 5 p.m. and approximately 70 men and 20 women arrived. Shortly after the opening of the meeting, the atmosphere was tense. On behalf of the outgoing committee, Trikal presented the gurdwara’s accounts for 2006, and another member of the outgoing committee tried to establish an order of speakers. However, this effort was in vain, as many participants did not even bother to go to the platform to speak. Some shouted from their seated positions and others stood up or walked around to give their words more power. From the nearby women’s translations, I grasped that there were several contested issues up for discussion, among them Khalistan, admittance of Hindus to the gurdwara, the gurdwara constitution that only allows Amritdhari Sikhs to serve on the committee, and then a number of “lame topics,” as one Sikh girl later described them to me. What she described as “lame topics” included whether it should be allowed to wear socks in the gurdwara or whether bare feet should be demanded, and whether caps and hats should be permitted, and so on. At this point, the meeting was running into its fourth hour. A group of three men stepped forward to oversee the election of a new committee. This immediately created new tension and arguments, as the three men announced that only Amritdhari Sikhs would be allowed to stand for election.26 The moderates had argued against this rule, but on this day they were outnumbered and could not raise backing for their case. The moderates’ protests were thus disregarded. Eventually, four Amritdhari men and three Amritdhari women stood up to declare their candidature for the committee. Yet, with more candidates than seats on the committee (which should have five members), it was decided—after new, lengthy discussions—to draw lots. The names of the seven candidates were put in a bowl and placed before the Guru Granth Sahib. A prayer was conducted and then the youngest person present was asked to draw five lots. As he drew each lot, the name on the paper was read aloud and the piece of paper was shown to the gathering of Sikhs. In the end, the names of three women and two men had been drawn from the bowl and they were, therefore, declared to constitute the new committee. Some people from the moderate faction checked Very few from the moderate faction are Amritdhari Sikhs.

26

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that the last two papers in the bowl had the names of the last two candidates on them, and finding no option to complain of cheating with the names, the moderates left the meeting in protest and with loud cries of anger and resentment. At the langar afterwards, Roopmeet, a girl from the traditionalist faction, said about the course of events on the Election Day: “I am ashamed by this meeting; it is so embarrassing that we [the Sikhs] cannot agree. The same goes for Sikhs all over the world. We can never get along. Although we are not a lot of Sikhs in Denmark, we cannot even manage to stick together.” After the Election Day, the moderate Nonnihal was very frustrated that his faction had apparently lost their bid to elect Sikhs from the moderate faction on to the committee and he complained to me: They [the traditionalists] keep getting at our bad conscience by saying that they are better Sikhs than us because they have uncut hair and most moderates have cut hair. Then they say that if we want power in the gurdwara we should first prove that we are good Sikhs by taking amrit. That is just a ridiculous argument and a religious bunch of crap.27

With this statement, Nonnihal aired his disagreement with the rule that only Amritdhari Sikhs were allowed to run for election to the committee. Like Nonnihal, Chirjeevan contended that this was not the first time that the moderate faction, which she and her family belonged to, had been deprived of power in the gurdwara. She said: At the moment, a lot of old enmities have reappeared and many still hold a grudge against each other. Therefore, a new clash is inevitable. Also because our parents [moderates] have fought with these people [traditionalists] about the same issues for 30 years. Now, we just want change.28

In trying to obtain the desired change, the moderates refused to acknowledge the result of the committee election and they presented a financial and institutional countermove. On a Sunday in April, two Sikhs from the moderate faction asked to speak. They presented accusations that money was missing from the gurdwara funds and that the accounts were in a mess. However, the traditionalists countered these accusations and invited the moderates to go through the gurdwara accounts in detail. As their next move, the moderates claimed that the constitution of the gurdwara was illegal, and, therefore, the rule that only Amritdhari Sikhs were allowed to serve on the committee should not stand. Thus, the moderates demanded a re-election. The discussions volleyed back and forth for some time, and the mutual accusations can be summarized with the moderates accusing the traditionalists of bad management and religious extremism while the traditionalists Interview, March 27, 2007. Interview, March 27, 2007.

27 28

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accused the moderates of being more interested in power than in Sikhism. While I later conducted fieldwork in Punjab and after my fieldwork had ended,29 I continued to hear news about the election conflict, which worsened during the fall months of 2007. Verbal attacks became mixed with actual physical beatings and the atmosphere was dense with hostility. This situation is not unique for the Sikhs in Denmark, as the Sikh scholars, Karen Leonard and Gurharpal Singh, for example, have described similar episodes in the US and Great Britain, where elections for gurdwara committees have ended in heated internal disputes, violence, arrests, and lawsuits.30 Furthermore, internal conflicts have also been noted in relation to elections in religious institutions among other migrant groups, for example, Muslims in Great Britain and Hindus in Denmark.31 Although the discussions in the gurdwara in Denmark also concerned what one Sikh girl termed “lame topics” such as whether or not to allow the wearing of socks and hats, I believe that there were also larger issues at stake; for example, to which extent the Sikhs in Denmark should stick to standards from Punjab, or adapt their gurdwara rules and religious practice to the Danish context. The arguments about the election of a new committee were, therefore, not only internal conflicts for leadership and power in the gurdwara but also struggles about the right to represent and define the Sikh community and its future course in Denmark. Thus, the actual points of contention in the election conflict covered several fundamental discussions for the Sikhs in Denmark, and this could explain the engagement and perseverance invested in this election conflict. Violence and Vandalism—The Gurdwara Closes Down Since the completion of my fieldwork in the summer of 2007, some rather drastic events have taken place in the gurdwara. I have regularly received updates from some of the Sikhs who were key informants during the fieldwork. During the fall I conducted fieldwork in Punjab from May to August 2007, researching Sikhism and meeting with Sikhs from Denmark on their holiday visits to Punjab. This change of context provided me with important perspectives on other ways of organizing and defining Sikh communities and a heightened awareness of the particularities of the Sikh community in Denmark, as well as its similarities with other Sikh communities. It would have been difficult to understand the Sikhs in Denmark and their negotiations of community without understanding the historic, religious, and social context in Punjab. 30 Karen Leonard, “Second Generation Sikhs in the US: Consensus and Difference,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity. Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), p. 276; Singh, “Gurdwaras and Community-building among British Sikhs,” p. 156. 31 See for example, Pnina Werbner, Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims: The Public Performance of Pakistani Transnational Identity Politics (Oxford, 2002); Stig Toft Madsen and Kenneth Nielsen, “The Political Culture of Factionalism among Hindu Nationalists in Denmark,” Critical Asian Studies 41/2 (2009): 255–80. 29

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months of 2007, the conflicts between the moderate and the traditionalist factions gradually escalated and the disagreements seemed increasingly difficult to resolve. For the celebration of Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday (gurpurub) in the first weekend of January 2008, I visited the gurdwara to donate a large framed puzzle of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to the Sikh sangat, as a sign of my appreciation for the help they have offered me during this project. On this particular Sunday, I noticed that the atmosphere was very tense and after the religious service some men began arguing loudly in Punjabi. As this had often happened during my fieldwork, I did not foresee the violent developments soon ahead. In the weeks that followed my visit, Sundays in the gurdwara began to include mutual beatings with coat hangers, tearing off turbans, kicks to the stomach and regular fistfights between Sikhs from the moderate and traditionalist factions. Outside the gurdwara, other means of action were applied as both factions reported members of the other faction to the police for various kinds of fraud, illegal entry to Denmark, possession of weapons, and so on. Due to the beatings in the gurdwara, the Danish police became involved and up to 20 police officers were present at the gurdwara for several weekends. Some of the Sikhs were arrested, and the media coverage increased as the level of violence accelerated. The conflicts thus ceased to be an internal issue isolated from Danish society to being a matter of high public and media interest. After the violent month of January 2008, the Sikhs decided to close down the gurdwara, as this was the place where the factions met and argued. The factions split up and the overall Sikh community has thus dissolved into smaller communities based on the factions. The traditionalists now meet in rented facilities about once a month, and the moderates have formed a new association as they did in the 1980s when they created the Sikh Foundation. Since the factions split, there has been a break-in at the gurdwara where water pipes were tampered with, resulting in the malfunction of the electrical equipment in the langar kitchen among other things. Furthermore, the large box containing donations from the Sikh sangat was removed and—considered by some Sikhs—stolen by members of the opposing faction. This vandalism in the gurdwara has become another point of accusation between the factions and an issue in the ongoing trial. Phases of Cooperation and Conflict Putting the latest election conflict in the gurdwara in historical context, it is my hypothesis that the Sikh community in Denmark has moved in cycles between phases of cooperation and conflict since the 1980s. I propose Figure 2.1 to illustrate my point.32 The cyclical figure draws inspiration from the anthropologist Roy Rappaport’s analysis of a ritual cycle among the Tsembaga from New Guinea. See Roy Rappaport, “The Ritual Cycle,” in Roy A. Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People (New Haven, CT, 1968); and Roy Rappaport, “Ritual, Sanctity, and 32

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Figure 2.1

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Cycle of cooperation and conflict in the Sikh community in Denmark

The issues triggering an abandonment of a cooperative phase are the internal disagreements about religious practice, politics, power, and leadership, and so on. As a result of these disagreements, the factions crystallize and the community splits into smaller groups. However, economic and demographic factors, such as small congregations and mutual economic dependency, affect the viability of the conflict phase, and ultimately initiate the creation of a new phase of cooperation.33 This new phase of cooperation is different from the previous one because the memory of the newly ended conflict and the factional splits creates another background for this new one. In phases of cooperation, internal disagreements, thus, still exist but they are in a latent state. Hence, the cycles should not be understood as a circle with shifts between two phases that remain identical over time; rather, the past developments are influencing the foundation of the following phase. As I argued earlier, the Sikh community in Denmark is not an isolated entity. It is related to and intertwined with other diasporic Sikh communities, to the Punjab, and to Danish society. Figure 2.2 illustrates how various external factors can possibly influence the cycle of cooperation and conflict.

Cybernetics,” in William Lessa and Evon Vogt (eds), Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach (New York, 1979 [1971]). 33 In his study of the cyclical changes between the gumsa and gumlao systems among the Kachin of Highland Burma, the anthropologist Edmund Leach similarly pointed to economic, demographic, and external political factors as issues generating change in the cycle from one social system to another: Edmund Leach, “Gumlao and Gumsa,” in Edmund Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure (London, 1977 [1964]).

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Figure 2.2

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External influence on the cycle of cooperation and conflict

Events in Punjab can spark new discussions about religious conduct or revive old discussions about politics and sovereignty. Intervention or attempts at mediation by other Sikhs, for example, from the diaspora in Great Britain or Sweden, may disturb the existing local power balance between the moderate and traditionalist factions if, for instance, one of the factions receives moral support or visits from similar factions from other countries. This external support could prolong the conflict phase as the small local congregation could thereby be enlarged or financed via transnational help. Yet, external mediation could also accelerate a development towards gathering the factions together in a new phase of cooperation, for instance, if a neutral outsider agreed to act as mediator. Also, a change in Danish immigration policies, for example, easing the rules for admission, could mean that more Sikhs enter Denmark and hereby change the demography of the community. An enlarged congregation could possibly enhance the potential for the factions to survive on their own, thus preventing the reoccurrence of the cooperative phase. Other factors may also influence the cycle, such as, for example, communities of Sikhs on the Internet, which I will come back to later. Hence, the cycle of cooperation and conflict among the Sikhs in Denmark is not entirely self-regulatory and it is also difficult to give an estimate of what would be the time-frame for the shifts to occur in the cycle. When outlining the history of the Sikh community in Denmark, Chirjeevan said to me in a despairing tone: “It is as if we Sikhs have a melt-down of our brain every fourth year or so.” This does not mean, however, that the cycle would move from cooperation to conflict every fourth year since, for example, the preliminary phases leading up to the conflict phase also take some time.

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Conflict as Cohesion What are the consequences of community conflicts for the Sikhs in Denmark? As I have shown, the conflicts do not stand alone but are part of a cycle also involving cooperative phases. What then are the meanings of the conflicts? The anthropologist Max Gluckman has analyzed the consequences of conflicts in some African societies; he focused on the ability of these societies to create social cohesion and uphold social order. According to Gluckman, conflicts are not just disruptive events that express conflicting loyalties. Rather, conflicts remind people of their multiple obligations and the people involved in conflict will, therefore, resist a total destruction of the social order. Thus, the result of conflict is cohesion.34 According to this perspective, internal conflicts are not necessarily destructive for communities; instead, they may be a factor holding communities together over time. The explanation lies in the dual nature of conflicts, initially explored by the sociologist Georg Simmel, who contended that it is a misunderstanding to believe that society results only from positive social forces.35 In reality, both positive and negative social forces are necessary in order to attain a stable structure in society. Harmony and disharmony, association and disassociation, liking and disliking, conflict and cohesion balance each other, and life constantly moves between these two tendencies.36 Hence, opposition and conflicts are actually important correctives that provide a way for people to express disagreement, and this possibility to express opposition hinders larger and irremediable breaks.37 Thus, what at first glance appears to be dissociation is actually one of the elementary forms of sociation.38 Social life would not be fuller or richer if there were no conflicts, because this contrast between positive and negative, attraction and aversion is expedient to create form in society.39 Simmel further argued that conflict binds its participants together as strongly as more positive interactions, and that the true antithesis of conflict is not lack of conflict but indifference.40 For the Sikhs in Denmark, it seems that the conflicts about Khalistan in the 1980s and 1990s first created social change instead of cohesion, as the empirical data shows that the factions divided and the community split up—thus creating social change. Earlier, I argued that structural issues such as the size of the community and the mutual economic dependency were factors influencing the Max Gluckman, “The Peace in the Feud,” in Thomas Hylland Eriksen (ed.), Sosialantropologiske grunntekster (Oslo, 2001 [1956]), pp. 321–22, 331. 35 Georg Simmel, “Conflict,” in Georg Simmel, Conflict and the Web of GroupAffiliations (New York, 1955), p. 15. 36 Georg Simmel, “The Sociology of Conflict (I),” The American Journal of Sociology 9/4 (1904): 490–525, p. 491; and Simmel, “Conflict,” p. 16. 37 Simmel, “The Sociology of Conflict,” p. 493. 38 Simmel, “Conflict,” p. 20. 39 Ibid., p. 15, 18. 40 Ibid., p. 14, 20. 34

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Sikh community to recreate a phase of cooperation. However, the development from a phase of conflict to one of cooperation can also be explained by the fact that opposition and contrast were lacking—when the Sikh factions had split up in the phase of conflict, there was simply less chance of meeting someone to disagree and argue with. This may have become too dull and, therefore, a phase of cooperation was established again. Hereby, I contend that the dynamics of the Sikh community are largely based on disagreements and opposition, and the dynamics consequently diminished when the community was split into factions because then there was no one with whom to have discussions. This was when the risk of indifference occurred because without opposition and discussion, the Sikhs, and especially the younger generation, were not challenged to take a stance and thereby become involved in Sikhism. Because of their position as a minority, indifference and lack of involvement could actually prove more fatal to the Sikh community in Denmark than the actual conflicts. During my fieldwork, I noticed that very few Sikhs visited the gurdwara during the week but 5–25 Sikhs usually came on Saturdays for the children’s activities, to meditate and to have langar. On Sundays, 100–150 Sikhs usually participated in the religious services and langar. On more important days in the Sikh calendar, such as the festivals celebrating the historical gurus (gurpurubs), 300–400 Sikhs came to the gurdwara. In the weeks leading up to and following the Election Day, the attendance at the gurdwara was higher than usual and the conflicts thus drew more Sikhs to the gurdwara. Others may, of course, have stayed home due to the conflicts, but overall the number of Sikhs coming to the gurdwara was higher during the weeks of conflict. The Role of the Internet It was primarily the older generation of Sikhs that were involved in the discussions in the gurdwara. The younger generation of Sikhs had another forum where they could interact and debate. In June 2006, the discussion forum Khalsa.dk was created by two young Sikhs in Denmark with the goal of engaging the younger generation in Sikhism by offering a “virtual place” where the younger generation could ask questions in Danish about Sikhism and start debates on subjects that were of particular interest to them. Hereby, Khalsa.dk served as a new arena through which the Sikh community in Denmark could be created, recreated and negotiated with the participation of the younger generation. Khalsa.dk was established before the outburst of conflict at the election in 2007, but Khalsa.dk did not steer clear of the conflicts in the gurdwara. Indeed, Khalsa.dk became a virtual part of the local conflict zone and served as another arena for heated community discussions. To participate at Khalsa.dk, users must register and create a profile. Most users opt for fictive Punjabi names on their profile. One of the users, Ritinder, explained to me in an interview why the users of Khalsa.dk value the anonymity of the fictitious names:

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It is in our culture that you do not talk in front of adults, but here [on khalsa.dk] questions can be posed in writing and [it is] even better when it is anonymous. Especially because, you know, everything that is written on khalsa.dk is being discussed in all Sikh families in Denmark—they all know what is going on. The topics on khalsa.dk are “masalas”—“hot topics”—and the parents will always ask their children “has anything new been written today?” So if you have a question that you fear is stupid it is better to ask it anonymously.41

Ritinder’s statement mirrored my experience that the topics from Khalsa.dk were often discussed when I visited families or when we sat talking in the gurdwara after the religious service on Sundays. Even when I met with some Sikh families from Denmark on their holiday in Punjab, they confided their anger over opinions expressed in a recent topic on Khalsa.dk. These are examples of how Khalsa.dk developed from being a virtual meeting point for the younger generation—part of, yet somehow separated from, the local community—into being a subject of discussion in Sikh families and in the gurdwara. Hereby, the virtual forum actively interacted with the local community. An example of this intertwining of local and virtual community forums was a discussion of Baba Deep Singh Ji and what was termed “the headless body at war.” Depending on the sources consulted, there are small variations in the story of Baba Deep Singh Ji, but the central point—that he continued to fight on without his head—is common,42 and it was precisely this issue which was being discussed on Khalsa.dk. Here are excerpts from a debate on May 8, 2007 in a topic called “If Baba Deep Singh Ji could … run around without his head and not die”: Singhy: … It differs from person to person whether one believes in the story of Baba Deep Singh and the headless body in war. I believe in it. Can it be proved? No, probably not, but it is a question of belief … KhalsaSingh: I also believe that Baba Deep Singh could do that. I-Iarami: I think that all these supernatural stories are symbolic to show how big and fantastic these people were … I-Iarami: … I don’t think that he or the Gurus could actually do this.43

The same discussion continued on May 9 and 10, 2007, in a new topic on Khalsa. dk called “Sikhism and Miracles”: Storm: From a perspective of common sense, it is not possible to run around without your head …

Interview, March 24, 2007. See for example, Cynthia K. Mahmood, Fighting for Faith and Nation:Dialogues

41 42

with Sikh Militants (Philadelphia, PA, 1996), p. 40. 43 http:,//www.khalsa.dk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=338&postdays=0&postorder=asc&st art

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Bindu: … Maybe Gurbani is not a magic formula that one can repeat 100 times and then get supernatural powers … Just as Vahiguru, Vahiguru is not a magic formula … Maybe Punjabis by nature have a tendency to exaggerate stories and have an unbridled imagination. Maybe Punjabis use a lot of figurative language in their poetry, and this should not be understood literally … Bindu: Would it change something if Baba Deep Singh had not become a superman after repeating Japji Sahib 100 times every day? … Truthseeker: No, it would not change anything for me. But now that it did actually happen, I am not going to reject that it did J. Storm: … Maybe our Gurus could not perform miracles and abolish the forces of nature … Maybe they thought that miracles were completely idiotic. Maybe they laughed at those who believed in miracles. Maybe … .44

This discussion about Baba Deep Singh Ji was initiated on Khalsa.dk but then it transferred into discussions in the gurdwara and in family homes. Based on these discussions in the local community, further comments were added to Khalsa.dk. There was thus a back-and-forth dynamic going on for several days, where the virtual forum set the stage for local debates; however, the local acted back on the virtual when topics raised in local discussions were debated in the virtual forum. Such an intertwining of the virtual and the local drove the debate further, and rather than deconstructing each other, the local and the virtual could in communion spark more engagement and involvement in the local community by initiating and continuing discussions. There are other examples of Khalsa.dk being the site for heated debates where the younger generation picked up on discussions and actions from the gurdwara and continued them online. One such example is the topic on Khalsa. dk called “Rahit Maryada,” which was initiated on March 20, 2007, parallel to the discussions about the Sikh code of conduct (Rahit Maryada) in the gurdwara. Below are extracts from the debate: Storm: For some time I have been wondering why the committee of the gurdwara has become so extreme in their way of thinking and acting … Now there are bans on all kinds of weird things … I would like to ask whether you follow other Rahit Maryadas than I do? I believe that the gurdwara is part of SGPC and they only have one official Rahit Maryada. Singh: … I think that extreme politics are being discussed too much in the gurdwara … and I think that it has become too focused on Amritdharis. I believe

“Bindu” is referring to a discussion that has taken place in the gurdwara about the correct way to meditate. The traditionalists practice a form of meditation that entails the repetition of the name Vahiguru many times and “Bindu” implicitly criticizes this practice with her above statement. See http://www.khalsa.dk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=339&postday s=0&postorder=asc&start. 44

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that most people in the gurdwara follow the Maryada of AKJ or have an approach to Sikhism, which is influenced by the AKJ Maryada. Storm: … We should not discuss politics in the gurdwara because the official position from the gurdwara is that we do not support Khalistan … Also, everyone should be eligible to serve on the committee, why is it only Amritdharis that are allowed? … And where is it stated that one is not allowed to wear socks in the gurdwara? In the SGPC Rahit Maryada it is written that one should wash one’s feet IF they are dirty … Kaur: I do not consider the committee to be extreme and I cannot follow your attitudes Storm. It is nonsense to say that there are bans on all sort of things now, all are still welcome to cook langar, clean and do sewa. Also it is not a ban that one has to remove one’s socks—they [the committee] just encourage that we do it and wash our feet before going up to the guru hall. Is it so dreadful to take off your socks? … It is a question of respect and nothing else. Storm: … We should not accept something that we do not agree with … If we want change we have to stand together … The current committee does not even follow the regulations for the gurdwara and you should try to take a look at the yearly accounts. Something is VERY wrong. Storm: The problem is really the ones who control the gurdwara at the moment. They have to be stopped. And they will be! Anjaan: … AKJ does not have their very own Rahit Maryada, it is just stricter than the SGPC version … And Storm how are you going to stop the current committee? Anjaan: … I do not have the impression that our gurdwara follow the AKJ Rahit Maryada … Storm: If the gurdwara does not follow the AKJ Rahit Maryada why is there then talk of keshki being kakkar [one of the 5 Ks] in the gurdwara? … There is a reason I did not write here how I will stop the current committee. Don’t underestimate me. I am not that stupid. Anjaan: I have not underestimated you. And I am not a spy for the gurdwara, if that is what you think … .45

This virtual discussion culminated in the local community when the Sikh with the screen name “Storm” played a part in distributing the SGPC Rahit Maryada in the gurdwara one Sunday in April, while loudly insisting that this was the code of conduct to be followed in the gurdwara. I contend that the younger generation often reproduced the opinions and bonds of loyalty existing in their parents’ generation in their postings on Khalsa.dk, as for example “Storm’s” parents are in the moderate faction opposing “Anjaan’s” and “Kaur’s” parents in the traditionalist faction. Hence, the internal factions in the Sikh community were passed on from generation to generation. The debates on Khalsa.dk do not entail disengagement in the local community negotiations, but rather symbolize the opening of a new front http://www.khalsa.dk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=286.

45

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on which to negotiate and discuss Sikh community. New media like the Internet can hereby contribute new arenas for community creation and recreation, and in the case of the Sikh community in Denmark, the Internet discussion forum became a virtual part of the community negotiations going on in the gurdwara. The Internet forum Khalsa.dk thus influenced and acted on the cycle of cooperation and conflict for the Sikh community in Denmark, and it also opened up an understanding of the ways different generations get involved in the Sikh community, and arenas in which to debate and negotiate Sikh identity, approach to religion, and the future course of the community. The role of the Internet is thus especially interesting in relation to research on the second and third generation of Sikhs in the diaspora. What Does the Future Bring? Since the closing of the gurdwara, there have been several attempts at reconciliation between the moderate and the traditionalist factions. The committee election continues to be the main point of contention, and in the fall of 2008, alterations were made to the elected committee to comply with the complaints from the moderate faction. Two from the moderate faction were given seats on the committee replacing two of the originally elected committee members who did not have permanent residency status in Denmark and were, therefore, not actually eligible for election to the committee. Despite this, the fights have continued and the court has ordered that none of the parties should use the gurdwara as long as the trial is ongoing (because the trial is supposed to clear up the matter of the rightful rules, regulations, ownership, and leadership of the gurdwara). Notwithstanding the orders from the court, it seems that the gurdwara has been open since January 2011; however, since not all parties agree with this opening of the gurdwara, only a few people visit it, as of August 2011. There are still occasional meetings arranged between the two factions but, according to one of my informants, the meetings are “without agenda and without output.” He contends that neither of the factions is thus far willing to compromise and concludes that both groupings desire to have total control and power. According to him, the meetings are merely set up to “burst off some steam. Tensions keep building up and the meetings are just necessary to get that tension out.” It still remains to be seen whether the future will bring a situation of cooperation among the Sikhs in Denmark again or whether the conflicts will keep the factions apart. The negotiations of a Sikh community in Denmark thus continue. Conclusions In this chapter, I have discussed how the Sikhs in Denmark have created, recreated and negotiated a Sikh community and I have argued that the Sikh community is constituted through the internal discussions of that community, its meanings

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and future course. The internal discussions sometimes cause the community to dissolve into factions, yet, rather than deconstructing the Sikh community I have shown how the conflicts and internal differences are actually important dynamics that define and help maintain a community of Sikhs in Denmark. I have presented the hypothesis that the negotiations of community have occurred in a cycle that shifts between phases of cooperation and conflict. In this cycle, internal differences in religious approach can spark a shift from a phase of cooperation to one of conflict. On the other hand, demographic and economic factors creating mutual dependency between the conflicting factions help to establish a new phase of cooperation. I have discussed how conflicts are not necessarily destructive for a community, as conflicts provide essential outlets to express disagreement and this possibility to convey opposition hinders larger and irremediable splits. Conflicts engage members of a community and inspire them to take an active stance. Internal conflicts among the Sikhs, thus, make people talk about Sikhism, the Sikh community, the gurdwara, and so on, and therefore the internal disagreements may actually be constructive for the community because the discussions and conflicts counteract indifference, especially among the younger generation. I have highlighted the role of the Internet as an arena engaging the younger generation of Sikhs in Denmark in their community. My study has therefore shown how the Sikh community in Denmark is also being created and recreated in an interactive process between local and virtual arenas for discussion and negotiation. Bibliography Ballard, Roger, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab, (Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1989), pp. 200–34. Basran, Gurcharn C. and B. Singh Bolaria, The Sikhs in Canada: Migration, Race, Class, and Gender (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003). Cole, W. Owen and Piara Singh Sambhi, A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism (Chicago, IL: NTC Publishing Group, 1997). DACOREC ved Tim Jensen, Religionsguiden : en vejviser til flygtninges og indvandreres religioner og trossamfund i Danmark (København: Dansk Flygtningehjælp, 2000). Gluckman, Max, ”The Peace in the Feud,” in Thomas Hylland Eriksen (ed.), Sosialantropologiske grunntekster (Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk, 2001 [1956]), pp. 321–35. Jacobsen, Knut A., Sikhismen: Historie, Tradisjon og Kultur (Kristiansand: Høyskoleforlaget, 2006). Jensen, Tim, ”Er det mono-religiøse Danmark blevet multi-religiøst?,” Chaos: Dansk-norsk tidsskrift for religionshistoriske studier, 41 (2004): 115–34.

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Jensen, Tim, “Statistik over religiøst tilhørsforhold i Danmark,” Religion.dk (March 26, 2004), available at http://www.religion.dk/artikel/117924:Spoergom-tro-og-viden--Statistik-over-religioest-tilhoersforhold-i-Danmark, accessed October 24, 2007. Khalsa.dk, Danish Forum available at http://www.khalsa.dk/forum/viewforum.ph p?f=149&sid=fb85c778fd4d66bd3aa1cc20b50b33a6. Kirkeministeriet [The Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs], Vejledende retningslinjer udarbejdet af det rådgivende Udvalg vedr. Trossamfund (2nd rev. edn, January 2002), available at http://www.km.dk/fileadmin/share/dokumenter/ Vejledende_etningslinier.pdf, accessed September 19, 2007. Leach, Edmund, “Gumlao and Gumsa,” in Edmund Leach, Political Systems of Highland Burma: A Study of Kachin Social Structure (London: The Athlone Press 1977 [1964]). Leonard, Karen, “Second Generation Sikhs in the US: Consensus and Difference,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 1999), pp. 275–97. Madsen, Stig Toft and Kenneth Nielsen, “Political Culture and Organized Hinduism in Denmark: A Preliminary Account,” Paper presented at the 19th ECMSAS Conference in Leiden, June 2006. Madsen, Stig Toft and Kenneth Nielsen, “The Political Culture of Factionalism among Hindu Nationalists in Denmark,” Critical Asian Studies, 41/2 (2009): 255–80. Mahmood, Cynthia Keppley, Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996). McLeod, W.H., Sikhism (London: Penguin Books, 1997). Myrvold, Kristina, “Sikhism i Sverige: Att bygga guruns tron genom hängivenhet och social tjänst,” in D. Andersson and Å. Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: ett landskap i förändring (Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2005), pp. 285– 326. Rappaport, Roy A., “The Ritual Cycle,” in Roy A. Rappaport, Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968). Rappaport, Roy A., “Ritual, Sanctity, and Cybernetics,” in William Lessa and Evon Vogt (eds), Reader in Comparative Religion: An Anthropological Approach (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979 [1971]), pp. 254–66. Simmel, Georg, “Conflict,” in Georg Simmel, Conflict and the Web of GroupAffiliations (New York: The Free Press, 1955). Simmel, Georg, “The Sociology of Conflict (I),” The American Journal of Sociology, 9/4 (1904): 490–525. Singh, Gurharpal, “Gurdwaras and Community-building among British Sikhs,” Contemporary South Asia, 15/2 (2006): 147–64. Tatla, Darshan Singh, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999).

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Thandi, Shinder, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Udlændingeservice [The Danish Immigration Service], Tal og fakta på udlændingeområdet 2006 (København: Udlændingeservice og Ministeriet for Flygtninge, Indvandrere og Integration, 2007). Werbner, Pnina, “Factionalism and Violence: Connecting Social Spaces,” in Pnina Werbner, Imagined Diasporas among Manchester Muslims: The Public Performance of Pakistani Transnational Identity Politics (Oxford: James Currey, 2002).

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Chapter 3

The Swedish Sikhs: Community Building, Representation and Generational Change Kristina Myrvold

It is Sunday in November 2009. About fifty people have gathered in a basement in the outskirts of Malmö and sit on the floor facing the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. During the morning hours, families arrived at the gurdwara and showed respect to the scripture by giving a monetary offering, kneeling down and bowing deeply until their foreheads touch the ground. After reciting and singing hymns from Guru Granth Sahib, a woman gathers together a group of ten children and requests them to read the first verse of the scripture, the mulmantra. A young boy starts to pronounce “God is one” (ik onkar) memorized in Punjabi, whereupon the whole congregation repeats the words in unison. In the same manner, the children each lead the adults through one rendition of the mulmantra. Women, men, and children then rise to a standing position, turn towards the scripture and read the Sikh supplication. Afterwards, the Guru Granth Sahib is ceremonially packed in the white cloth to be carried out of the room on the head of one attendant and later transported by car to a private house. The installation of Guru Granth Sahib in a basement in Malmö is not merely an example of how Sikhism is practiced today, but alludes to the fact that the Sikhs are a part of Swedish society in the beginning of the twenty-first century. By establishing religious organizations and building gurdwaras in the larger cities of Sweden, the Sikhs have made it clear to themselves and the public that they are here to stay and want visibility in society. From this perspective, and particularly with regard to the younger generation born and brought up as Swedish citizens, it is more relevant to talk about the Swedish Sikhs rather than the Sikhs or Sikh immigrants in Sweden. This chapter aims to provide an introduction to the Swedish Sikhs and their ongoing interpretations and adaptations of religion in a continuous interplay with the majority society. After a discussion about the problem of quantifying the Sikh population and an overview of the migration and integration of a fairly heterogeneous community, the chapter illustrates how the Sikhs have established religious organizations, gurdwaras, and more homogenous collective worship in Sweden, primarily for the purpose of preserving and transmitting religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions to their children, but also to make claims for recognition in Swedish society. While Sikhs in the first generation have made sincere efforts to recreate traditional practices, their children as well as public

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regulations in Swedish society have simultaneously enforced negotiation and adaptation. The chapter will also pay attention to Swedish representations of Sikhism and how second-generation Sikhs have responded to these depictions and created new spaces for understanding religion, culture, and identity.1 Estimating the Sikh Population—A Methodological Challenge The venture to estimate the population of religious communities in Sweden is entangled with methodological difficulty. Sweden has not registered people by religion since the 1930s, because it is considered to be at odds with the constitutional freedom of religion. Similarly, Sweden does not measure the population by collecting data based on ethnicity. The only available constructs to approximate the number of immigrant groups in the census data is country of birth and nationality.2 Another way to collect statistics of religious groups is to consult The Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities (SST), which is a governmental body providing financial support to religious communities other than the protestant Church of Sweden. For religious groups to be eligible for state grants and thereby incorporated in the statistics, however, it is required that they have organized themselves nationally with a registration of more than 3,000 members.3 Since many religious groups are undersized and unable to measure up to these requirements, they fall outside governmental support and statistics. Given this vacuum of data, researchers investigating the number of people affiliated to religious groups have generally been careful with estimations. The Swedish Sikhs constitute one example of a group that is absent in public statistics, as Sikh congregations are too small to fulfill the basic requirements for state recognition. Looking at the statistics of non-governmental bodies, The 1 The empirical data on which this chapter is based have been collected from conversations and interviews with representatives and numerous members of the Sikh congregations in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö as well as my own participation in religious and cultural activities between 2003 and 2008. In-depth interviews with 14 young Swedish Sikhs were conducted in 2009 and 2010 for an ongoing project about Sikh identity formation in Sweden which is funded by The Councils for Research in Humanities and Social Sciences (2009–13). 2 There have been attempts to calculate how many individuals could be associated with a particular religious group by calculating the number of immigrants from a country where a specific religion or culture is predominant. See, for example, the contributions in Daniel Andersson and Åke Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: Ett landskap i förändring (Lund, 2009). Regarding the Sikhs, however, it is impossible to trace the number of individuals with ethnic links to Punjab since census records for country of birth only mention India without geographical specification. 3 The Swedish Commission for Government Support to Faith Communities, available at http://www.sst.a.se/inenglish.4.7f968fc211eeec933de800011945.html, accessed May 31, 2010.

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Immigrant Institute,4 an organization with the aim of documenting immigrants, briefly states that there were between 500 to 600 Sikhs in Sweden by the end of the 1980s and most of them arrived because of the political turmoil in Punjab. Similarly, an estimation made by The Research Institute of the Church of Sweden in 2002 asserted that about 800 to 1,000 Sikhs lived in Sweden.5 When the Sikhs have been introduced in other public contexts, such as in the media and school books, they have generally been estimated to comprise about 1,000 individuals. My suspicion of this speculative figure grew ten years ago when I got to know Sikh families and communities in different parts of Sweden and asked direct questions about the number of members. In the absence of census data, another way to calculate the number of people in a religious group is to use self-reckoning methods whereby religious institutions are required to quantify their members. This method needs to be treated with care considering that people may exaggerate the numbers to substantiate their presence, just as they may exclude others who are not affiliated to the congregations, barely observe Sikh practices, or are not known to them. Self-estimations by religious representatives will include or exclude members on the basis of their own criteria for defining a Sikh identity and may fluctuate between normative and nominal positions depending on who is being asked. To ask anyone if he or she is a Sikh involves the problem of determining the criteria for group membership, as there is more than one definition for inclusion. Assessments made by community members can still give an idea of families who are loosely or tightly affiliated to religious institutions and social networks. As I was told by representatives of the Sikh congregations, there should be at least 1,000 Sikhs in the capital of Stockholm, about 75 families in the city of Gothenburg and its neighboring towns, and 35 to 40 families in and around the city of Malmö. In addition, a smaller number of Sikh families reside in more sparsely populated areas of Sweden. In total, the numbers indicated that there could be around 2,000 Sikh individuals if an average family included two children. Another method is to search for individuals by their names in available registers and personally contact those who could be affiliated to the religion and culture. In 2009, Statistics Sweden reported that there were 1,154 persons with the surname Singh and 504 persons with the surname Kaur registered by the Swedish Population Register,6 excluding Sikhs who use their Punjabi caste and clan names.7 In the same year I searched for individuals with Punjabi surnames in the Swedish telephone directory and located 705 persons, to whom a questionnaire The Immigrant Institute, available at http://www.immi.se/index-en.htm, accessed May 31, 2010. 5 Ola Björlin, Människan och tron (Stockholm, 2003), p. 191. 6 Statistics Sweden, “Namnstatistik,” available at http://www.scb.se/Pages/ NameSearch.aspx?id=259432, accessed April 23, 2010. 7 Far from all were Sikh names as Kaur is a common name among Estonian people and Singh is shared by many Hindus. 4

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was subsequently sent out. In total, I received 182 valid responses from males and females of all ages who answered 12 questions about their social and religious identity, migration experience, language knowledge, religious learning, and use of religious media. The sample suggests that Swedish Sikhs adopt quite different stances toward religion and define their identity in many diverse ways.8 One-fourth (24 percent) of all respondents in this survey stated they were Amritdhari Sikhs who had undergone the khande di pahul ceremony and observed the normative Sikh code of conduct. The individuals included in this group were males and females in all age groups, with men above the age of 40 somewhat over-represented. The majority of respondents, however, perceived themselves as non-Amritdhari Sikhs (67 percent), even if this sample does not elucidate in which ways they observe Sikh practices, but only provides information about the regularity of their gurdwara attendance and means for religious learning. It is noteworthy that some stated they were Christians (2 percent) and a few did not feel comfortable with the pre-fixed categories of religion but marked “other” (2 percent) as their religious identity. Respondents in the latter category added comments to clarify their selfunderstanding of religious affiliation, such as “spiritual” or “Christianity mixed with Hindu and Sikh beliefs.” Another group which is often neglected in studies of the Sikhs consists of those who have little or no interest in religion and perceive themselves as being non-confessional or secular. In this survey, they constituted a smaller group (11 percent) and included individuals from the first and second generation. Some of the respondents, especially those of younger age, assumed more categorical positions by defining themselves as “atheists” or “agnostics.” Estimations of the Swedish Sikh population in the past years, including my own estimates, have thus ranged between 750 and 2,000 individuals and reveal the methodological problems involved when a religious group is to be quantified without reliable data. Based on the responses received in the 2009 questionnaire (which included information about family structures), my estimation of the Swedish Sikh population in 2010 would amount to between 3,000 and 4,000 individuals if persons with a more secular and nominal Sikh identity are included. Reasons and Routes of Migration In comparison to some other European countries, the first Sikhs arrived fairly late in Sweden. Except for a few individuals who entered or visited the country

The respondents were asked to complete the sentence “I consider myself to be … ” by filling in one or more options for their religious identification. Pre-stated options were “Sikh amritdhari,” “Sikh non-amritdhari,” “Christian,” “Hindu,” “Jain,” “Secular,” and “Other,” which the respondents could mark and/or write personal comments about their religious identity. 8

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during the first part of the nineteenth century,9 a more tangible immigration began in the 1970s and somewhat increased in the following decades, especially in the 1980s when many escaped the political turmoil in Punjab and sought asylum.10 It is, however, characteristic of the Sikh migration to Sweden that it has never been particularly intense or extensive, in comparison to other immigration groups, but followed a “drop-in” model, with a few individuals or families arriving each year and involving several to and fro movements. The data collected suggests that more than half of the first-generation Sikhs originate from Punjab and immigrated either directly to Sweden or through one or several neighboring countries (such as Finland, Denmark, Norway, Poland, and Germany). The reasons and routes of migration have been many and diverse and can only be simplified in a presentation such as this. When respondents of the 2009 questionnaire were asked to impart their reasons for moving to Sweden, one-third of those who were born in a foreign country stated it was because of marriage (33 percent). Other reasons mentioned were studies (8 percent), work opportunities (11 percent), and political matters (17 percent).11 A high proportion of the first generation followed a traditional model of migration organized by gender and patriarchy. The early immigration consisted of mostly single males, who gained residence and work permits and established themselves in the new country, sometimes by entering into real or pro forma marriages or partnerships12 with Scandinavian spouses. After the man had achieved legal status, he would let his family arrange a traditional marriage with a Punjabi woman from India or elsewhere, either by free will or under social pressure from the family. Following patrilocal practices, the Punjabi woman married to the Sweden-based man would consequently, in a second migration phase, obtain permits for family reunification and move to his home. Unlike the more challenging and hazardous journeys which the pioneering men embarked on, most women arrived and settled as wives and under the protection of their spouses. Apart from this generalized migration pattern, a considerable number of my informants asserted that they moved to Sweden solely because of love and 9 Perhaps one of the earliest accounts of a Punjabi visiting Sweden is given by Prakash Thandon, who writes evocatively and amusingly about his cultural encounter with Swedish people and traditions. See Prakash Tandon, Punjabi Century 1857–1947 (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968). 10 Between 1984 and 2009, a total of 1,888 asylum seekers from India entered Sweden and one can presume that a substantial part of them were Sikhs: The Migration Board, “Asylsökande till Sverige under 1984–2009,” available at http://www.migrationsverket.se/ download/18.78fcf371269cd4cda980004204/tabs2.pdf, accessed September 15, 2010. 11 Seven percent of the respondents stated “other reasons” and 8 percent preferred not to declare their reasons for migration. 12 Partnership without a formal marriage (living with a so-called “sambo,” or cohabitant) is not a juridical civil status in Sweden but is treated as similar to marriage by the Swedish Migration Board.

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partnership with a Scandinavian spouse they had chosen without family mediation. A few admitted that they entered into marriage with a Scandinavian for the initial purpose of gaining a residential permit but later became emotionally attached to the partner and decided to continue the inter-ethnic relationship and build a family. The major part of the pro forma relationships, however, seems to have resulted in separation and remarriage with Punjabi spouses. There are also a few Sikh women belonging to the first generation who initiated migration processes by marrying Sikh men from India and other countries. A man in Stockholm, for example, said on a more jocular note that he was “imported” by his Sweden-based wife and broke patrilocal traditions when he moved to the family and new home of his wife. The first-generation Sikhs also include individuals with high educational backgrounds who migrated as students or were professionals granted residence permits through employment in educational institutions, hospitals, and companies. Some considered Sweden as a “transit country” in which they could gain experience and merits for future job opportunities at other and more attractive destinations, while others decided to settle and build their career with Scandinavia as the base. Many of the first migrants have gained important social status within the Swedish Sikh communities as they have pursued linguistic and cultural knowledge in order to deal with the authorities and society. They frequently act as resource persons for newcomers by introducing them to the social networks and guiding them through the processes of gaining citizenship, jobs, and social rights in the new country. A small number of the Swedish Sikhs are “twice migrants,”13 whose families had migrated to East Africa to work in railway construction during the colonial period and settled in Uganda. Due to the expulsion of the Asian Ugandan population by Idi Amin in August 1972, they were forced to escape the country within 90 days. That same year Sweden received about 700 Asians with refugee status (of whom 100 were quota refugees) from Uganda, a few of whom were Sikhs.14 Similarly, another group of twice migrants who have arrived as asylum seekers during the past 15 years are the Afghan Sikhs. Many of these families belong to the Khatri caste and had settled in Kabul, Kandahar, and other cities as traders and businessmen in the nineteenth century. During the civil war in the 1990s and, later, the Taliban regime they fled Afghanistan due to persecutions of Sikhs and Hindus.15 In 2010, at least 30 Afghan Sikh families were estimated to be living primarily in the Stockholm area.

Parminder Bhachu, Twice Migrants: East Africa Settlers in Britain (New York,

13

1985).

The Immigrant Institute, “Asiater från Uganda” available at http://www.immi.se/ alfa/as.htm, accessed May 10, 2010. 15 See, for example, Alfred de Tavares, “Indian Afghan Asylum Seekers Languish in Swedish Prison”(2008), available at http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/india-news/ indian-afghan-asylum-seekers-languish-in-swedish-prison_10039956.html, accessed April 23, 2010; and Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Mänskliga rättigheter in Afghanistan 14

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Although Sweden has never been a popular or well-known destination for Sikh migration, stricter immigration policies in other member states of the European Union have had an impact on legal and illegal migration in the past years. In 2008, three men were arrested and later sentenced to prison by a district court for having smuggled more than 50 Punjabi men. The court procedures revealed that between 2006 and 2008 they had cooperated with European networks of smugglers and arranged fake marriages between Indian men and Swedish, Spanish, and Portuguese women in order to provide the former with residence permits to countries in the Schengen zone. Because of stricter laws for marriages with foreigners in other northern European countries, the small towns in the middle of Sweden functioned as transit stations for illegal immigration into Europe.16 Human smuggling has also become noticeable in other ways. In 2008, nine Sikhs concealed themselves in a sealed Volvo trailer that was supposedly transporting loads from Luxemburg to Arvika in western Sweden. The Sikhs had paid smugglers large sums of money to be brought to London, but were trapped in the trailer for almost a week before they ended up in the small Swedish town.17 The destiny of these men, as with many others entering the country without documents, is to be held at detention centers, sometimes for years, before they are granted asylum or returned to their home country. Integration into a Multicultural Society Given the diverse migration histories of the first generation, it is obvious that the Swedish Sikhs do not constitute a homogenous community but consist of people with different social identities and cultural backgrounds. While many individual collaborations and conflicts within the community seem to be anchored in social variables other than religion, such as caste, educational status, and regional 2007” (2007), available at http://www.manskligarattigheter.gov.se/dynamaster/file_archive /080317/2eb6cd7f3c3b800c3e84bff43a50e219/Afghanistan.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. 16 Mattias Frödén, “Tre örebroare dömda för människosmuggling,” Närkes Allehanda (January 21, 2010) available at http://na.se/nyheter/2.2503/1.712743-treorebroare-domda-for-manniskosmuggling, accessed April 23, 2010; Tommy Karlsson, “Åtalas för människosmuggling,” Närkes Allehanda (April 28, 2009) available at http:// na.se/nyheter/1.175565-atalas-for-manniskosmuggling, accessed April 23, 2010; Erik Magnusson, “Skenäktenskap vägen in i EU för tusentals,” Sydsvenskan (April 27, 2008) available at http://www.sydsvenskan.se/sverige/article319044/Skenaktenskap-vagen-in-iEU-for-tusentals.html, accessed April 23, 2010. 17 Johan Arkert, “Misstänkt människosmuggling i Arvika,” Expressen (January 14, 2008) available at http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/1.1004008/misstanktmanniskosmuggling-i-arvika, accessed April 23, 2010; Jonas Brandt, “Sikherna betalade smugglare stora pengar,” Värmlands Folkblad (January 16, 2008) available at http://www. vf.se/Arkiv/Nyheter/Arvika/2008/Januari/Vecka-3/Sikherna-betalade-smugglare-storapengar.aspx, accessed April 23, 2010.

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belonging, religion has become a key element for organizing collective activities and representing the Sikhs in the majority society. It is characteristic for most firstgeneration Sikhs to search for their roots in the state of Punjab, which is perceived as their real or symbolic “homeland,” even if some have to trace the out-migration three or more generations back. Most maintain strong transnational links with kinship members and co-devotees in India and other countries by a circulation of goods, people, and information. What appears to set the Swedish Sikhs apart from many other migrant groups in the country is their successful economic integration. The 2009 questionnaire indicated that a high proportion of the respondents—including first- and secondgeneration Sikhs in all age groups—had pursued college or university studies (45 percent) in Sweden or the country of origin and were currently occupied with studies (18 percent), employed work (46 percent), or entrepreneurship (13 percent).18 Occupations specified in this survey were both low and high-skilled jobs within trade, education, industry, transport, medicine, and the public sector. When the financial crisis increased the national unemployment rates to 9 percent in the summer of 2009, only a small group of the Sikh respondents (7 percent) stated they were in search of jobs. Furthermore, the popular perception that Sikhs who have adopted the normative Amritdhari identity face more difficulties in finding jobs because they wear turbans and the five Ks has little bearing on the data of this survey. The majority of those who asserted an Amritdhari identity were occupied with studies, business, or work (82 percent) and the percentage of unemployed in this subgroup followed the same pattern as the sample at large. The reasons behind this successful economic integration of people with quite different social identities seem to be a combination of their own efforts to adapt and changing policies in Swedish society. While the first turban-wearing migrants often faced discrimination in working life and society at large,19 the establishment of The Office of the Ombudsman against Ethnic Discrimination (DO) in 1986 and a law passed in 1999 against ethnic discrimination in working life have been governmental attempts to tighten the legal reins in an increasingly multi-ethnic The remaining respondents of the survey stated they were on maternity or paternity leave (1 percent) or have retired (7 percent), while a group chose not to state their occupation (7 percent). 19 A well-known case in 1984 was that of the tram driver Inderjit Singh Parmar who could not wear a turban because of the company’s regulations and was consequently dismissed. Although the case led to a personal tragedy for Parmar, it played a symbolic role in public discourses on discrimination and integration in Sweden. Twenty years later, in 2004, the tram company decided to include the turban in its uniform. See CarlMagnus Löfström, “Det började med en turban,” Suntliv.nu (September 24, 2007) available at http://www.suntliv.nu/Teman/Destination_svenskt_arbetsliv/Det-borjade-med-enturban/, accessed April 23, 2010; Jan Sprangers, “Turban-mannen rånmördad på väg från flygplatsen,” Expressen (January 30, 2004) available at http://www.expressen.se/1.77114, accessed April 23, 2010. 18

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society. Over the years, DO has successfully intervened in several disputes over the wearing of turbans and kirpan in schools and in the Swedish police and military, and criticized governmental bodies for maintaining regulations that prevent ethnic diversity.20 Partly as a result of this, the National Police Board formally decided in 2006 that Swedish policemen can wear a turban if the size and color are properly adjusted to the uniform. The arguments imparted with this decision stated that it would broaden the base for recruitment to the police and create new role models within the police as an authority for people of all ethnicities.21 However, it remains difficult to evaluate to which extent these public debates have influenced the daily lives of the Sikhs. Even if governmental efforts have contributed to a gradually changing cultural climate in society at large, many Swedish Sikhs experience a more subtle discrimination in the form of verbal comments about the turban or people staring in the streets. Sikh representatives often respond to this situation by referring to a lack of knowledge among the public and emphasize that they themselves have the main responsibility to work against prejudices and transmit knowledge.22 Although more studies are needed to elucidate how Swedish Sikhs have socially and culturally integrated into society, one important strategy to improve the status in the new country on a collective level has been to establish religious organizations and localities for worship. This collective “place-making,” with religion as the base, can be viewed as quests for recognition by moving

Tomas Bengtsson, “Polisen får bära turban och huvudduk,” Aftonbladet (March 9, 2006) available at http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article359793.ab, accessed April 23, 2010; Katrin Krantz, “Försvaret tillåter turban,” Svenska Dagbladet (May 12, 2005) available at http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/forsvaret-tillater-turban_412255.svd, accessed April 23, 2010; Johanna Melén, “DO: Motståndet handlar om ovana,” Aftonbladet (March 9, 20069) available at http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article359791.ab, accessed April 23, 2010; Panthic Weekly News Bureau, “Sikhs in the Swedish Army,” The Sikh Bulletin, 8/1–2 (2006): 13–14; Erik Sidenbladh, “Religiös symbol knivig fråga för DO,” Svenska Dagbladet (May 4, 2002), available at http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/ religios-symbol-knivig-fraga-for-do_51839.svd, accessed April 23, 2010; Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, “Soldat får bära turban,” Expressen (September 11, 2003) available at http:// www.expressen.se/1.47452, accessed April 23, 2010; Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå-Dn, “Sikh får bära dolk i skolan,” Dagens Nyheter (May 27, 2002), available at http://www. dn.se/nyheter/sverige/sikh-far-bara-dolk-i-skolan-1.84314, accessed April 23, 2010. 21 Mattias Wising, “Poliser får bära turban,” Svensk Polis (March 9, 2006) available at http://www.svenskpolis.se/sv/Artikelarkiv/Artiklar-20061/mars20062/polisfarbaraturban/, accessed April 23, 2010; Mattias Wising, “Turban kontra Bollmorahättor,” Svensk Polis (March 28, 2006) available at http://www.svenskpolis.se/sv/Artikelarkiv/Artiklar-20061/ mars20062/bollmorahatta/, accessed April 23, 2010. 22 It is noteworthy that in Swedish discourses about ethnic diversity the turban has been presented as a religious signifier of all the Sikhs and used more broadly to represent religious freedom of other minorities and a new multiculturalism in society. 20

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cultural heritage from invisibility to spatial visibility and from the private sphere to public representation.23 Establishing Religious Institutions In religious life, the Sikh community and congregation (sangat) provide an important place for maintaining and nurturing cultural and religious values and identities. Like Sikhs in many other countries, the first Swedish Sikhs have displayed self-conscious reflections on religion and invested considerable effort in maintaining the traditions of the homeland by establishing social infrastructures based on a shared ethnicity and religion and successively building up gurdwaras. Many of the first migrants have followed a typical “three ladder” pattern,24 according to which they first congregate in private homes to conduct recitations from the Guru Granth Sahib and other religious ceremonies. When a group of co-devotees within a geographical area has become large enough and has collected funding, they search for premises to rent and transform into a place of worship which they can attend on a regular basis. Finally, by means of donations, they buy a property or a house and erect a permanent gurdwara with weekly or monthly meetings and distribution of food from the communal kitchen (langar). Gradually, they adapt the “congregational structure” of the host society by introducing membership fees and registering the members, who elect a local governing board.25 The establishment of the Swedish Sikh congregations has followed this pattern and today there are four public gurdwaras concentrated in the larger towns of Stockholm on the east coast, Gothenburg on the west coast and Malmö in the south. The first Swedish gurdwara—Gurdwara Sangat Sahib—was constructed in Tullinge, south of Stockholm, and formally inaugurated during the Vaisakhi festival in 1997. During an early phase in the 1980s, the congregation in Stockholm rented either a weekend cottage or an apartment in the suburbs, before purchasing a property with a small house 30 square meters in size. For more than seven years, about a hundred people gathered in this space and prepared food in the garden 23 Gertrud Hüwelmeier and Kristine Krause (eds), Traveling Spirits: Migrants, Markets and Mobilities (New York, London, 2010), p. 8. 24 See, for example, Hüwelmeier and Krause, Traveling Spirits, p. 8; Gurinder Singh Mann, “Sikhism in the USA,” in H. Coward (ed.), The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States (Albany, 2000), p. 265. 25 Helen Rose Ebaugh and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations (Walnut Creek, CA, Lanham, MD, New York, Oxford, 2000). As Martikainen observes, congregational structures are often based on Christian models and norms for religious organization and are alien to immigrants, but still important for the “structural adaptation” to the host society: Toumas Martikainen, “Religious Diversity beyond the Cosmopolis: Immigration and the Religious Field in the City of Turku, Finland,” Religion, 39 (2009): 176–81.

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during the summer. Because of spatial and sanitary problems, the congregation was advised by the local authority to build the gurdwara as a large detached house in line with other properties in the residential area. The opening of a new and public place of worship provided the congregation in Tullinge a central function to represent Sikhism in Swedish society. During the past years, the gurdwara has regularly received visitors from outside the community and some of the key individuals in the organizations have repeatedly figured in various public discourses on religious pluralism. Over time, the congregation has become influenced by the Sikh movement Akhand Kirtani Jatha, which is noticeable in the religious practices of the gurdwara. At weekends, the congregation may gather for collective meditation in the early morning hours (simran sadhana) and occasionally organize nightlong programs with devotional singing (rainsbhai kirtan). In comparison to other Sikh communities in Sweden, a large amount of the members have undergone the khande di pahul ceremony and follow the normative Sikh code of conduct. When the congregation celebrated the tercentenary of Khalsa in 1999, it was the first time this ceremony was performed in Sweden, under the guidance of co-devotees invited from Britain and other countries. Every year the congregation organizes Sikh youth camps for children; these include studies in Sikh history and Punjabi, as well as practical exercises in devotional singing, recitations of the scripture, and Sikh martial arts. In order to provide a congregational space for Sikhs residing in the northern part of Stockholm, a second gurdwara was established in 2002 in a purchased and renovated summer cottage outside Upplands Väsby. The Sikhs in this area decided on the name Gurdwara Bibi Nanki Sahib, after Guru Nanak’s sister, as most of the gurdwara’s active members were women, who were responsible for the religious activities such as unbroken recitations of Guru Granth Sahib (akhand path). The gurdwara attracts about 30 families who gather every Sunday for religious programs and Punjabi classes for the children. The congregation is currently applying for building permission to construct a larger gurdwara on the premises. In the western part of Sweden, Sikh families initially celebrated festivals together with the Hindus, but in the 1980s they created a separate organization, the Sikh Cultural Association, for preserving and representing the religious values of the Sikhs. For many years, the members of the association rented apartments at different places in Gothenburg which functioned as provisional gurdwaras. In the beginning of the twenty-first century, they purchased the premises of a closed-down plastics factory in Hammarkullen outside the city and renovated the industrial hall into a two-storey gurdwara. The building was inaugurated on Vaisakhi in 2002 and named Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha. Similar to the Sikhs in Stockholm, the congregation in Gothenburg has been active in inter-faith dialogs and regularly invites educational, religious, and political representatives for study visits. In order to educate the children in the Punjabi language and Sikh tenets, the community occasionally arranges youth camps with Sikh missionaries and preachers (kathavacak) from India as teachers.

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Figure 3.1

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The night ceremony (sukhasan) at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Gothenburg. Photo: Kristina Myrvold

In the 1980s, the Sikhs in southern Sweden organized themselves in the Sikh Cultural Association Lund and Malmö. With assistance from the local authorities, they rented different types of rooms and halls for religious services. The congregation purchased a small cellar apartment in a residential area of Malmö in 2006 and renovated it into an assembly room and temporary gurdwara. Since the congregation meets only on Saturdays or Sundays once a month, one family has the responsibility to transport the Guru Granth Sahib from their home to the gurdwara that day. Members of the Sikh Cultural Association have close connections to the Sikhs in Denmark and cooperate with the Danish co-devotees when it concerns arrangements of festivals, readings from the scriptures, life-cycle rites, and other events. Like other Sikh organizations in Sweden, the congregation in Malmö and Lund has established active dialogs with the public and other religious communities to represent Sikhism in Swedish society. It is typical of the Swedish gurdwaras that the first-generation Sikhs have made sincere attempts to recreate ritual patterns from the homeland and maintain monolingual environments with Punjabi as the religious and social language. The functions of the gurdwaras extend far beyond religion and provide important social

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spaces and “comfort zones,” in which individuals residing at different places can gather to speak Punjabi, build social networks, gain information, and retain links with the homeland and Sikhs in other countries.26 In this sense, the gurdwaras “are bounded jurisdictions that overlap with de-localized imaginations of religious life and thus belong to multiple spaces at once.”27 When the pioneering migrants explain the reasons for constructing gurdwaras, transmitting religion, language, and culture to their children are frequently presented as the motivating force. The religious congregation is considered to constitute an important space in which young people can gain social and cultural capital for maintaining a Sikh identity and a linguistic and cultural heritage. Different collective practices that have been created within these religious settings are perceived as more timeless cultural forms which offer historical continuity between generations and geographical settings. Simultaneously, the congregations have become important sites for negotiating traditions and practices, both in relation to the majority society, the Sweden-born children, and other co-devotees. Negotiating Religious Practices and Cultural Traditions People may lay claim to tradition and identity by recreating ritual practices which are perceived as more permanent and stable cultural forms that provide historical continuity. At the same time, these practices, constructed and enacted by people, are always exposed to dynamic change and accommodated to new needs and cultural settings. It is typical of the religious life of the Swedish Sikhs that they have maintained ritual elements from their home culture and simultaneously displayed positive attitudes to ritual change in the encounter with the majority society. The most evident alterations of religious practices can be characterized as internally voluntary—the religious congregation or the individual family decides to alter or renew practices by free will and sometimes after negotiations with codevotees—and externally regulative—the congregation or the family needs to compromise and make arrangements that meet state guidelines.28 Within the Swedish Sikh congregations, the migrant situation has highlighted a need to differentiate religious elements in Sikhism from inherited cultural customs and to identify what is essential to the tradition. In the process of distinguishing religious elements from the cultural, the questions posed in discourses have often been practical in character: can Swedish vegetarian food be served in the communal kitchen or should it be traditional Indian food? Should men and women with religious functions in the gurdwara wear Punjabi dress or is it acceptable to wear Ebaugh and Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants. Hüwelmeier and Krause, Traveling Spirits, p. 8 28 See Kristina Myrvold, “Sikher och sikhism: Med gurun installerad på en tron och 26 27

svenska poliser i turban,” in Daniel Andersson and Åke Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa

Sverige: ett landskap i förändring (Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2009), pp. 285–338.

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jeans and other western clothes? Is it possible to use chairs inside the gurdwara or should everyone sit on the floor like in India? The first generation seems to have considered these and other questions more pragmatically whenever they have been brought to the fore. On an institutional level, early on, the Sikhs in Malmö and Lund decided to arrange all religious activities within the Sikh organization and manage cultural activities, such as the celebration of Divali, within an Indian cultural organization that was shared with members of other faiths. On some occasions, the gurdwara members were not able to reach a consensus but engaged in heated discussions about the proper conduct because of different interpretations of Sikh norms. This notwithstanding, there has been a strong tendency among the first generation to bring together religious and ethnic elements when staging religious programs and to maintain the ritual structures of the homeland. In light of the importance of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Swedish Sikhs perform services to the scripture and recite hymns from the text according to ritual patterns that are almost identical to performances in India. Similarly, they have maintained the practice of social service (seva) and public distribution of food (langar) which consists more exclusively of Indian dishes. A more forced adaptation of practices has transpired in the context of lifecycle rituals which are dependent on the majority society and need to conform to national guidelines. A typical example of this emerges in the context of death ceremonies.29 According to the Swedish model, local government has a financial responsibility for funerals for all people registered within a municipality, while the Church of Sweden works as the executive institution, guaranteeing burial or cremation and a room which each community can decorate with religious symbols for their death ceremonies. Instead of the customary practice of cremation in the open air, security regulations have forced the Sikhs to place the deceased in a coffin and conduct the final ceremony in a crematorium. If the eldest son or other male mourner traditionally offers fire to the deceased in Punjab, he would do this symbolically by opening the furnace door or pressing the button of the cremator.30 Sikh practices have also transformed customs and localities in the host country into more multi-religious spaces. Today, funeral directors and personnel at crematoria need to be acquainted with Sikh ways of managing death formalities.31 In 2009, See Sewa Singh Kalsi, “Change and Continuity in the Funeral Rituals of Sikhs in Britain,” in Glennys Howarth and Peter C. Jupp (eds), Contemporary Issues in the Sociology of Death, Dying and Disposal (New York, 1996), pp. 30–43; Kristina Myrvold, “Sikhism and Death,” in K Garces-Foley (ed.), Death and Religion in a Changing World (New York, 2006), pp. 178–204. 30 For detailed descriptions of Sikh cremations and death ceremonies in India and in Sweden, see Myrvold, ‘Sikhism and Death’; Kristina Myrvold, Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi (Lund, 2007). 31 This is reflected in a handbook on funeral customs that includes an introduction to Sikh beliefs and practices, Bengt Erman and Gunnar Nordgren, Begravningsskick (Stockholm, 2000). For similar reasons undertakers in Sweden often publish brief 29

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the first Sikh memorial park in Scandinavia was inaugurated on church grounds in Tyresö outside Stockholm.32 Rather than bringing the ashes of deceased family members to India for immersion into rivers, the Swedish Sikhs can now spread the deceased’s ashes on a separate area within a Christian cemetery which has been consecrated by Sikh prayers. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the first-generation Sikhs is the cultural divide that has arisen between themselves and their own children, who are being socialized in another context. As inter-generational studies in other countries have shown, the first generation may perceive religion as a normative structure that has a bearing on all aspects of life, while the younger generation has access to multiple cultural influences and develops a more analytical way of thinking about religion which favors critical inquiry.33 If one challenge is to make the children take an interest in religious practices, which at times can be perceived as irreconcilable with their world-views, it is quite another to provide reasonable explanations which young people find legitimate. From interviews with young Sikhs, I have found that they are instructed early on how to perform ritual acts in the gurdwara, but feel they are not provided satisfying ritual and religious exegeses. Parents are concerned about teaching their children proper conduct according to a Punjabi culture to ensure that acceptable standards of behavior are maintained in the foreign setting, while it is precisely these cultural practices that are questioned and even provoked by the young people who tend to draw a clearer line between religion and culture. A recurrent issue of contestation and criticism is gender and power relations in the practices of the gurdwaras. As the migration experience takes family members out of the fixed perimeters of Punjabi culture, it has provided new opportunities for women to improve their position in social and religious life. In the Swedish Sikh congregations, women have obtained a larger space within religious services and sometimes taken over ritual roles that have been traditionally ascribed to men. Since many women have higher education and better skill in the gurmukhi script than their husbands, they are frequently invited as professional reciters of the Guru Granth Sahib. At the same time, the gurdwaras have recreated traditional information about Sikhism. See for example the chapter on Sikhism in Fonus, “Respekt och Hänsyn,” (2007), available at http://fonus.se/uploads/media/13_sikhismen.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. 32 The initiative to establish a Sikh memorial park was taken by the Swedish Indian Association (SIA). See Swedish Indian Association, “Första svenska sikhernas ceremoniplats invigdes idag” (April 15, 2009), available at http://groups.google.se/group/ sia-swedishindians-federation/browse_thread/thread/497a075a84b344d2#, accessed April 23, 2010. 33 Kamala Elizabeth Nayar, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: The Generations amid Tradition, Modernity and Multiculturalism (Toronto, 2004); Kamala Elizabeth Nayar, “Sikh Women in Vancouver: An Analysis of their Psychosocial Issues,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience (New Delhi, 2010), pp. 252–75.

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Figure 3.2

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A female reciter (pathi) at Gurdwara Bibi Nanki in Upplands Väsby, summer 2010. Photo: Kristina Myrvold

spaces in which normative behaviors are maintained. Although men and women in the first generation may critically reflect upon the patriarchal foundation of many practices,34 they adjust themselves to traditions and the social pressure of the collective to a much greater extent than their children. Sikh young people may outspokenly question why men have assumed leading positions in the gurdwara committees and religious services, while women are restricted to duties such as preparing food in the communal kitchen.35 Young men who wish to do selfless service (seva) in the communal kitchen have expressed feelings of exclusion, especially after reaching puberty, as their parents have already gendered spaces and practices: women are preparing the food inside the

34 In interviews some women from the first generation have also explained that they have gained a new independence and social freedom in Swedish society. When visiting Punjab they need to readjust to gender roles, duties, and expectations they no longer feel comfortable with and for this reason they do not wish to move back. 35 See also Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, “The Role of Sikh Women in their Religious Institutions: A Contemporary Account,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience (New Delhi, 2010), pp. 234–51.

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kitchen while men are distributing food outside.36 The tradition of dividing the congregational space during services into two gender-based areas, with men sitting to the right and women to the left, remains inexplicable to many young people who have been brought up with different views on gender relations. Young women on their part may perceive that female roles within the gurdwaras are preconditioned, implying inferior positions and a strict control over their behavior and bodies. The critical voice of a Sikh woman in her early 20s can illustrate how some young people question the gendered practices of their parents and simultaneously endeavor to search for new explanations for themselves: What is there [in the gurdwara] for me [as a woman]? I can’t be elected to the board if I wish. There is nothing there for me. Yes, the women are preparing food before akhand path. That’s what they do. They are slandering. That’s what they do. When I go there they say “what are you wearing,” “you are showing your breasts too much.” … When I was younger I always went to the gurdwara. We had fun together. But I think I was about 14 years old when I realized how important it is to be a man. Women do not have the same value and this changed my view. It was too much. A woman should be a certain way, be a virgin, remain silent, and not go out [with friends] … I began studying Sikhism, parts of Guru Granth Sahib and Sukhmani Sahib, made notes and showed them [the parents]. I told them that the message to follow the path of your inner heart does not agree with your values. If I would follow you I would go against my heart … Culture and traditions can be good and Sikhism is definitely a good religion, but theory and practice do not walk hand in hand.37

Young people being brought up to believe that their religion advocates equality between the sexes find contradictions in cultural practices that support gender segregation and sometimes think their parents have misled them to believe that Punjabi customs are a part of the Sikh religion.38 As they do not always find the elders’ explanations acceptable, they choose to create their own understandings of what Sikhism is and which practices should be observed, sometimes by returning to the Sikh scripture and other religious sources.

In a discussion forum on the website Sweden Sikhs in 2007, young participants referred to the gender divisions in the communal kitchen as “mutual sexism” which, in their view, both men and women from the first generation supported: Sweden Sikhs, ‘Swedish Forum,” available at http://forum.sikh.se/, accessed April 23, 2010. 37 Interview, December 28, 2009. 38 These views were expressed on Sweden Sikhs, ‘Swedish Forum,” available at http://forum.sikh.se/, accessed April 23, 2010. 36

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Representing Sikhism in Sweden The general picture of Sikhism which has appeared in Swedish discourses over the years can be characterized as double-edged. On the one hand, there are globetrotting Swedes with first-hand experience of Sikhs at different locations who can tell anecdotes about the fascinating generosity they have witnessed. On the other hand, the media has contributed to creating images of Sikhs as “separatists” and a somewhat violent people from the Indian subcontinent, partly because of the political events at the end of the twentieth century. When approaching cultural images and stereotypes of any group, it is important to remember that these are interpretations that occur in relational contexts and depend on the positions, interests, and assumptions of the interpreters. The images become simplified representations of oneself and the “other” which reproduce ideas and values of some kind and change over time. With a growing presence of the Sikhs in Sweden and a growing knowledge of India, images of the regional separatist have during the last decade transformed into images of a more spiritual member of a global minority religion. What is typical of collective representations of the Sikhs in Sweden is the precedence of religion. When the Swedish Sikhs themselves and the majority society have translated the Sikh tradition and culture into public discourse they have done so exclusively in religious terms. If Sikh identification in Punjabi society was dependent on many different social and cultural variables, the migration experience seems to have promoted images of a homogenous religious community with more clear-cut boundaries and norms. Studies of other migrant groups suggest that this development occurs when national politics of recognition and struggles over representation in pluralistic societies privilege religion and require migrants to actively reflect upon their religion.39 What was taken for granted in the homeland has to be articulated and explained to oneself and to others by adapting to western and sometimes Christian terminologies and ideologies of what a “real” religion is or should be. This was exemplified by the traveling national exhibition “God has 99 Names,” which started in 2000 and selected “multi-religious guides” from congregations of six world religions to interactively explain religious beliefs and worship to the

Aisha Khan, “Homeland, Motherland: Authenticity, Legitimacy, and Ideologies of Place among Muslims in Trinidad,” in Peter van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora, (Philadelphia, PA, 1995), pp. 93–131; Walter Shiffauer, “Migration and Religiousness,” in Tomas Gerholm and Yngve Lithman, The New Islamic Presence in Western Europe (London, 1988), pp. 146–58; Steven Vertovec, “Hindus in Trinidad and Britain: Ethnic Religion, Reification, and the Politics of Public Space,” in Peter van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora (Philadelphia, PA, 1995), pp. 132–56. 39

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public in original and artificial settings.40 Sikhism was included and represented as a world religion, and the gurdwaras in Stockholm and Gothenburg regularly admitted inquisitive visitors. Although the exhibition had a noble purpose of creating cultural understanding and exchange, it ended up presenting normative and rather cursory images of religion that were largely colored by cultural Christian views. The Sikhs constituted a more exotic element in this public display and were exclusively portrayed from a normative Amritdhari identity, with a biased attention focused on the Sikh turban and the five Ks.41 Another example of how the majority society has represented the Sikh tradition is provided by Swedish textbooks for religious education in upper secondary school. In line with the curriculum of 1994, religious education is a core subject which pupils, irrespective of educational program, are expected to study. The general purpose is to create knowledge and awareness of fundamental values that are shared by all members of society and ensure that students develop respect for and understanding of other people and cultures.42 Although textbooks belong to a special genre and are not the sole teaching media in Swedish schools, they continue to be an important working tool for teachers and students.43 A brief analysis of four popular textbooks that were published between 2003 and 2009 reflect ambivalent attitudes among the authors towards the Sikh tradition.44 Typical of all the textbooks is a preoccupation with the history of Sikhism and key religious concepts, which are explained in comparison to Hinduism and Islam. The religion is presented as a syncretism that blended Hindu and Muslim elements into a new system in the sixteenth century. The belief in one God is simply described as an influence from Islam, whereas karma and rebirth are Hindu traits. Another common feature is to distinguish Sikhism from the Hindu tradition by asserting that Guru Nanak and his religion rejected or “protested against” the 40 Gud har 99 namn, available at http://gudhar99namn.se/bloggen/, accessed April 23, 2010; Moa Mansén, “Släng kristallerna- gud är på återtåg,” Aftonbladet (January 6, 2000), available at http://wwwc.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/0001/06/gud.html, accessed April 23, 2010; Monica Havström and Katarina Hallingberg (eds), Oh My God. En glimt av Göteborgs religiösa mångfald (Göteborg, 2005); Christina Zaar, “Många vägar leder till Gud,” Dagens Nyheter (January 12, 2003), available at http://www.dn.se/insidan/mangavagar-leder-till-gud-1.146180, accessed April 23, 2010. 41 At some places the touring exhibition created heated discussions about who were the “proper” Sikhs to represent the community at large. 42 Skolverket, “Läroplan för de frivilliga skolformerna Lpf 94’(2006), available at http://www.skolverket.se, accessed April 23, 2010. 43 Skolverket, Läromedlens roll i undervisningen: Grundskollärares val, användning och bedömning av läromedel i bild, engelska och samhällskunskap (Rapport 284) (Stockholm, 2006). 44 Björlin, Människan och tron; Olov Jansson and Linda Karlsson, Religionskunskap A: En mosaik (Stockholm, 2009); Börge Ring, Religion och sammanhang: Religionskunskap kurs A och B (Stockholm, 2007); Sten Rodhe and Bo Nylund, Religionskunskap (Stockholm, 2007).

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Hindu caste system. Only one textbook briefly dwells on Sikh devotion, without making comparisons, and includes a Swedish translation of a few hymns from the Sikh scripture.45 The textual and visual representations in the textbooks bring out a normative Khalsa identity and the external symbols are from a male perspective.46 Six of the ten illustrations included in the books depict men wearing turbans and daggers while pictures of women are completely absent. Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that Swedish textbooks are permeated with orientalism and the politics of difference, which separates the rational “us” from the traditional collective “other,” with men as the norm.47 From a christocentric perspective, the books often view Christianity as “our” religion and the norm for what constitutes a good religion.48 Perhaps one cannot expect too much of textbooks as they are “compromise products” that are written in relation to educational steering documents and should cover an extended content in a limited space.49 But it becomes problematic when the selection and interpretations of knowledge in the books conflict with individual and collective self-representations of religious people. The theory of syncretism, repeated in all the textbooks, contests fundamental Sikh beliefs in the uniqueness of Guru Nanak and self-representations of Sikhism as a distinct world religion with an authentic ideology and history.50 Considering that textbooks in religious education Ring, Religion och sammanhang, p. 201. Just as Brian Keith Axel has argued that the body of the male Amritdhari and a

45 46

masculinist discourse has become hegemonic in the imagery of the Sikh diaspora, the textbooks seem to have embraced these images of Sikhism uncritically. See Brian Keith Axel, The Nation’s Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and the Formation of a Sikh “Diaspora” (Durham and London, 2001). 47 See for example, Kjell Härenstam, Skolboks-islam. Analys av bilden av islam i läroböcker i religionskunskap (Göteborg, 1993); Christina Osbeck, “Unintended Learning in Religious Education,” in Geir Skeie (ed.), Religious Diversity and Education: Nordic Perspectives (Münster/New York/München/Berlin, 2009), pp. 43–54; Jonas Otterbeck, “Stereotyper styr vår syn på islam,” Pedagogiska magasinet, 4 (2001): 39–45. 48 M. Kamali, “Skolböcker och kognitiv andrafiering,” in Rapport av Utredningen om makt, integration och strukturell diskriminering (SOU 2006: 40), Utbildningens dilemma: demokratiska ideal och andrafierande praxis (Stockholm, 2006). 49 Kjell Härenstam, En granskning av hur religion/trosuppfattning framställs i ett urval av läroböcker (Stockholm, 2006), available at http://www.skolverket.se/content/1/ c4/75/09/Religion.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. 50 See Verne A. Dusenbery, “‘Nation’ or ‘World Religion’?: Master Narratives of Sikh Identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 2009), pp. 127–144. G.S. Khalsa suggests that the theory of syncretism has been used to assert the superiority of western religions: Less known and geographically distant traditions were depicted as being exposed to different influences, while the teaching and history of western religions were described in purer and well-reasoned terms. He further argues that syncretism as a descriptive category could be used for any religion, not Sikhism in particular, since no religious traditions emerge in a social and cultural vacuum: G.S. Khalsa,

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are also used by Swedish Sikh young people to learn about their own tradition at school, textual representations can be at dissonance with their lived experiences of religion outside of the school.51 When I requested, in an experimental fashion, eleven young Sikhs between the ages of 15 and 25 to review and give feedback on the selected textbooks, they thought much of the content was contradictory to their own understanding of Sikhism. The young reviewers were primarily critical of the ways in which the origin and history of Sikhism was presented, as exemplified by the following statement: It says that Nanak wanted to protect Hindus from Muslim oppression, but as far as I have read and know this was not the motive of Nanak. He was a man of God, who wanted everyone to get closer to God because they had gone astray in different ceremonies and forgotten the right way to God. He was not against Islam or Hinduism but only [opposed] wrong conducts that all these people made in the name of God.52

Another salient criticism that surfaced in these reviews was the lack of religious plurality and the insistence on a Khalsa identity and normative conducts. A woman in her early 20s expressed her wish for more nuanced images: The pictures show that Sikhs are very believing and dedicate themselves to religion to the utmost possible extent. They do not illustrate that one can believe in many different ways and that there are those who do not wear the five Ks.53

The discrepancies between representations constructed by the majority society and the Sikhs themselves raise fundamental questions about cultural translations and whose interpretation has the right to be heard. While the first migrants seem to have accepted many stereotypes and sometimes used them as vehicles to embed themselves in a secure cultural landscape and gain recognition in a new country, the second generation adopts a more critical stand. As the final section of this chapter will illustrate, attitudes towards religion and culture among the youth are many and diverse, but some young Sikhs have created new social spaces for educating themselves and representing their religion as full members of Sikhism and Swedish society.

“The End of Syncretism: Anti-Syncretism in Sikh Tradition,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 2009), pp. 93–107. 51 See, for example, Eleanor Nesbitt, “‘My Dad’s Hindu, My Mum’s Side are Sikhs’: Issues in Religious Identity” (1993), available at http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/savifadok/ volltexte/2009/234/pdf/identity.pdf, accessed September 15, 2010; Eleanor Nesbitt, Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Brighton, 2004). 52 Email correspondence, January 5, 2010. 53 Email correspondence, December 28, 2009.

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The Second Generation and New Cultural Translations Some issues that have been debated for decades within Sikh communities concern the transmission of linguistic, religious, and cultural traditions to second and third generation Sikhs. If the first generation may have nurtured nostalgic memories of Punjab and the “myth of return,” young people of the second generation are Swedish citizens who intend to stay and work in the country. A major challenge for the Swedish Sikh youth is to learn the Punjabi language and the Gurmukhi script. Language differences are often a dividing line between the first- and second-generation migrants and can become an issue of struggle within religious organizations.54 Since text recitation is so fundamental to Sikh religious life, people have feared that the linguistic barriers will cause major implications for future developments in the community.55 The situation in Sweden has been somewhat different compared to many other countries as the government provides “home-language education” for children so that they can learn the native language of their parents while attending primary school. In many places these programs have functioned very well, while at others it has been difficult to gather together the number of pupils required for setting up courses in Punjabi (that is, five pupils within a municipality). Nonetheless, the parents remain the most significant agents for a linguistic education that takes place primarily in the home environment. Since Swedish is the dominant language in other contexts, Sikh youths tend to use this vernacular as the primary means for interacting with people in their daily lives and even perceive it as their mother tongue. The data from the 2009 survey reflects the hardship of developing language skills, especially the ability to write, in a minority language that is foreign to the country of residence. A high proportion of the respondents with Sweden as their country of birth knew spoken Punjabi (40 percent), while considerably less stated full literacy in the vernacular (23 percent). The remaining part had not pursued any knowledge of Punjabi (37 percent). Since young people have little use for written Punjabi in their daily lives, they develop speaking skills first, even if the script can be attached with symbolic importance and represent religion and the culture of their parents.56 In fact, the Punjabi language in itself seems to have assumed a stronger representational function among young Sikhs as signifying religion and a religious identity, quite regardless of their own linguistic skills. It is also noteworthy that young Amritdhari Sikhs seem to have acquired better literacy in the Punjabi language than others who have little interest in religion. Ebaugh and Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants. W. Owen Cole, “The Settlement of Sikhs in the United Kingdom: Some Possible

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Consequences,” The Panjab Past and Present, XVI–II (1982): pp. 417–24; Verne A. Dusenbery, 1992. “The Word as Guru: Sikh Scripture and the Translation Controversy,” History of Religion, 31/4 (1992): 385–402. 56 See Susan Jones, “Shaping Identities: The Reading of Young Bilinguals,” Literacy, 38/1 (2004): 40–46.

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This occurrence could possibly support the scholarly claim that religion is a strong motivator for language acquisition.57 The generational changes taking place within the Swedish Sikh communities, however, suggest that young Sikhs who adopt an Amritdhari identity and learn the Punjabi language well are also the ones who challenge the monolingual environments created by their parents. This is illustrated by how young people in Stockholm and Malmö convinced their elders of the importance to use Roman transcriptions and English translations of Guru Granth Sahib. As a result, the gurdwaras at these places regularly screen translations of scriptural hymns on PowerPoint before the congregation while the texts are simultaneously recited in the original language.

Figure 3.3

Sikh children in Gothenburg learning Punjabi and hymns from the scripture under the guidance of kathavacak Bhai Ranjodh Singh from India. Photo: Kristina Myrvold

The second generation represents both a continuance of the Sikhs in Sweden and an increased plurality within the community. Embedded in a web of cultural identifications and social networks, the Swedish Sikh youth engages in many Michael Jones-Correa, “The Study of Transnationalism among the Children of Immigrants: Where We Are and Where We Should Be Headed,” in Peggy Levitt and Mary C. Waters (eds), The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation (New York, 2002), p. 235. 57

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different worlds and negotiates between different fields of power and meaning at the local and global level. Previous studies of how young Sikhs maintain traditions and relate to religious identities have often focused on their relationships with their parents, with the normative identity and the maintenance of external symbols as criteria and measure of religious conformity.58 In the face of an increasing individualization and detraditionalization of religion in pluralistic postmodern societies,59 religious identification among young people can rather be viewed as emergent processes in which they act and express ideas in relation to numerous identities and discourses that circulate in their lives. In one situation, they may draw on models that are based on stability and authenticity of traditional cultural elements, while in others they may fashion more fluid identities.60 Many young Swedish Sikhs seem to be fairly well aware of the normative codes of conduct pertaining to tradition, but form individual interpretations of the self and religion that are greatly dependent upon relational contexts. For example, a young woman explained that she would present herself as a Sikh when interacting with Swedish friends and emphasize what in her view were positive values of the religion, such as keeping certain moral values, believing in a higher divine power and always helping others in society. When meeting Sikhs with more conservative views she would, in contrast, downplay her Sikh identity and espouse ideas about religion as a matter of individual choice and inner belief rather than adhering to tradition. In similar ways, many young people seem to continually negotiate identity in relation to many different “cultural others” and construct their own meanings by drawing upon multiple discourses from their cultural repertoire. The past years have also witnessed an increasing self-consciousness among young Sikhs, who by themselves have taken the initiative to learn and teach about the Sikh religion. In 2004, a group of teenagers in Stockholm founded the Swedish Organization of Sikh Students (SOSS), later renamed “Sweden Sikhs,” for the dual purpose of gathering the youth in social and religious activities and creating new representations of Sikhism in Swedish society.61 The association reflects a growing demand for new social spaces among the young generation 58 See, for example, Beatrice Drury, “Sikh Girls and the Maintenance of an Ethnic Culture,” New Community, 17/3 (1991): 387–99. 59 Paul Heelas et al., Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity (Cambridge, 1996). 60 See, for example, Kathleen Hall, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia, PA, 2002); Wendy L. Klein, “Punjabi Sikh Families in Los Angeles: Discourses of Identification and Youth Socialization Practices,” unpublished PhD thesis at University of California, Los Angeles, 2007. 61 See for example, Sweden Sikhs, available at www.sikh.se; Karin Svanebro, “Unga sikher tar kål på fördomar,” Fria Tidningen (November 3, 2005), available at http://www. fria.nu/artikel/5735, accessed April 23, 2010. Interestingly, the logo of SOSS is the Swedish flag decorated with the Sikh emblem degh-tegh-fateh (cauldron-sword-victory), popularly called the khanda sign.

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and has brought about a revitalization of religion. Over the years, Sweden Sikhs has engaged about forty members who have organized kirtan programs, gatka training, discussion evenings, and leisure activities. To implement the Sikh concept of selfless service (seva), they have collected funding for the Swedish Red Cross to aid the victims of the Japanese tsunami and the earthquake in Pakistan. These voluntary acts of charity have also been a way of representing Sikhism as an egalitarian religion that encourages civic work for the betterment of all in the society. A highlight of the activities is the yearly summer camp in Stockholm when youths from Sweden and other countries get together to discuss history, beliefs, and ethics in the Sikh religion and practice Punjabi, recitation (path) of the Sikh scripture, kirtan, and gatka. Except for serving didactical functions, the events have become important meeting places where young Sikhs can find social support and give vent to topics they have found contradictory or rendered taboo by their parents. Several intriguing questions may surface in these discussions; during the Sikh camp in 2009, some of the questions debated were: can Sikhs divorce if they have entered an arranged marriage? What is the point of washing dishes by hand in the communal kitchen when there are dishwashers? Why are there no female gurus in the Sikh tradition? Even if the participants may not always find satisfying answers, the discussions provide opportunities to exchange views and treat problems that many have been struggling with in solitude. As a Sikh woman highlighted in a discussion on the Internet: Many have been able to open up and talk about their problems thanks to the Sikhi camp … but the most important is that the next generation has someone to talk with … and this someone must be us … we must support those who do not always have an adult to talk with … their parents do not really know how it is to live as a Sikh in Sweden … but we know that … and we must share our experiences and show them that we have faced similar things which they are undergoing right now.62

The Sikh camps function as self-help activities through which young people find support and learn from each other. Occasionally, the association’s members participate in Sikh and Khalsa camps in other European countries and invite teachers from abroad to teach Punjabi and Sikhism. Another way to create a new presence of Sikhism in Swedish society and bridge the distance between devotees in different geographical locations is the use of the Internet. The Sikh congregations in Sweden have been fairly successful in adopting the new technology by establishing websites to inform community

62 Posted at Sweden Sikhs, “Swedish Forum” (August 26, 2007), available at http:// forum.sikh.se/viewtopic.php?f=116&t=2181&sid=2c5891d9b1c00576721631e360696a 8e, accessed April 23, 2010.

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members and the surrounding society about the gurdwaras and their activities.63 Simultaneously, the Internet has become an important social arena where young people especially interact and construct interpretations of religion and identity.64 In cooperation with Sikh youth in Denmark and Norway, the members of Sweden Sikhs created The Scandinavian Sikh Forum in 2007 as a more interactive space in which young Sikhs can exchange ideas about the Sikh way of life and share news and religious material. The Swedish section of this forum has functioned as a meeting place to inform about and comment on offline practices and discuss topics which the youth find confusing or unanswered by traditional authorities.65 For instance, two sections of the forum titled “venture-ask-answer” (våga-frågasvara) and “discussion” reflect that many young people are struggling with existential questions which their parents often evade. As one participant wrote: … I have asked my parents several times, but they tell me that I am too young to bother about this and should think of my studies instead. But where will we end up after death? (Do we believe in heaven and hell?). Will our souls continue to live? Is there a life after death?66

Through these online discussions young people can explore questions that might be considered too private for public discussions, such as what should be the Sikh attitude towards homosexuality, abortion, menstruation, tattoos, and marriage with non-Sikhs, and express opinions that might be at dissonance with the views of their elders. What seems characteristic of discourses among the second generation today is the construction of new cultural translations of religion.67 In relation to multiple cultural resources, young people modify interpretations of Sikh beliefs and practices and create new understandings that suit their own needs. Frequently, the young See, for example, the websites www.sikh.se, www.gurdwara.se, www.bharavashi. com, www.sikhtemple.se, accessed April 23, 2010. 64 Stewart M. Hoover and Knut Lundby (eds), Rethinking Media, Religion and Culture (London, 1997). 65 See also Doris R. Jakobsh, “Authority in the Virtual Sangat: Sikhism, Ritual and Identity in the Twenty-first Century,” Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 2/1 (2006): 24–40. In the beginning of 2010, the Swedish Forum included 243 topics with 1,775 posts. 66 Posted at Sweden Sikhs, ‘Swedish Forum’ (October 11, 2007), available at http:// forum.sikh.se/viewtopic.php?f=116&t=2277&sid=46c7965c48a699fe78e8b7d84d46ec2a, accessed April 23, 2010. 67 For general discussions on cultural translation, see, for example, Talal Asad, “The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology,” in James Clifford and George E. Marcus (eds), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley, Los Angeles, CA, 1986), pp. 141–64; Bella Brodzki, Can These Bones Live? Translation, Survival and Cultural Memory (Stanford, CA, 2007); Peter Burke and R. Pochia Hsia (eds), Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge, 2010). 63

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people will voice interpretations of Sikhism as a highly personal way of believing and viewing all as equal rather than a tradition to observe. Unlike their parents, the younger generation does not necessarily identify with a Punjabi culture; they think of themselves as Swedish Sikhs and quite often assert that Sikhism should be refined from cultural practices and return to the beliefs enshrined in Guru Granth Sahib. With Swedish as the primary language of communication, they also give new meanings to Sikh concepts and practices that are adjusted to their cultural understandings. For instance, the name-giving ceremony (nam karan) for a child and the Khalsa ceremony (khande di pahul) are often referred to as the first and the second “dop” (baptism). Similarly, young Sikhs will favor semantic and ideological aspects of Guru Granth Sahib and disregard other properties which the scriptural words are believed to possess in the Indian context.68 The scripture is often presented as a “helig skrift” (holy book), comparable to the Bible and other sacred texts, which should be read, explicated, and comprehended as a moral teaching, rather than worshipped. As young Sikhs are learning and translating their religion to Swedish society, they contribute to the formation of new interpretations of Sikhism that are shaped by and adapted to the cultural setting. Bibliography Andersson, Daniel and Åke Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: Ett landskap i förändring (Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2009). Arkert, Johan, “Misstänkt människosmuggling i Arvika,” Expressen (January 14, 2008), available at http://www.expressen.se/nyheter/1.1004008/misstanktmanniskosmuggling-i-arvika, accessed April 23, 2010. Asad, Talal, “The Concept of Cultural Translation in British Social Anthropology,” in James Clifford and George E. Marcus (eds), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986), pp. 141–64. Axel, Brian Keith, The Nation’s Tortured Body: Violence, Representation and the Formation of a Sikh “Diaspora” (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001). Bengtsson, Tomas, “Polisen får bära turban och huvudduk,” Aftonbladet (March 9, 2006), available at http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article359793.ab, accessed April 23, 2010. Bhachu, Parminder, Twice Migrants: East African Settlers in Britain (New York: Tavistock Publications, 1985). Björlin, Ola, Människan och tron (Stockholm: Bonnier utbildning, 2003). Brandt, Jonas, “Sikherna betalade smugglare stora pengar,” Värmlands Folkblad (January 16, 2008), available at http://www.vf.se/Arkiv/Nyheter/Arvika/2008/ Januari/Vecka-3/Sikherna-betalade-smugglare-stora-pengar.aspx, accessed April 23, 2010. See Myrvold, Inside the Guru’s Gate.

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Brodzki, Bella, Can These Bones Live? Translation, Survival and Cultural Memory (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007). Burke, Peter and Hsia, R. Po-chia (eds), Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Cole, W. Owen, “The Settlement of Sikhs in the United Kingdom: Some Possible Consequences,”, The Panjab Past and Present, XVI–II (1982): 417–24. de Tavares, Alfred, “Indian, Afghan Asylum Seekers Languish in Swedish Prison,” Thaindian News (April 20, 2008), available at http://www.thaindian.com/ newsportal/india-news/indian-afghan-asylum-seekers-languish-in-swedishprison_10039956.html, accessed April 23, 2010. Drury, Beatrice, “Sikh Girls and the Maintenance of an Ethnic Culture,” New Community, 17/3 (1991): 387–99. Dusenbery, Verne A., “‘Nation’ or ‘World Religion’?: Master Narratives of Sikh Identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1992), pp. 127–144. Dusenbery, Verne A., “The Word as Guru: Sikh Scripture and the Translation Controversy,” History of Religion, 31/4 (1992): 385–402. Ebaugh, Helen Rose and Janet Saltzman Chafetz, Religion and the New Immigrants: Continuities and Adaptations in Immigrant Congregations (Walnut Creek, CA, Lanham, MD, New York, Oxford: AltaMira Press, 2000). Erman, Bengt and Gunnar Nordgren, Begravningsskick (Stockholm: Verbum Publisher, 2000). Fonus, “Respekt och Hänsyn” (2007), available at http://fonus.se/uploads/ media/13_sikhismen.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. Frödén, Mattias, “Tre örebroare dömda för människosmuggling,” Närkes Allehanda (January 21, 2010), available at http://na.se/nyheter/2.2503/1.712743-treorebroare-domda-for-manniskosmuggling, accessed April 23, 2010. Gud har 99 namn, available at http://gudhar99namn.se/bloggen/, accessed April 23, 2010. Hall, Kathleen D., Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). Härenstam, Kjell, En granskning av hur religion/trosuppfattning framställs i ett urval av läroböcker (Stockholm: Swedish National Agency for Education, 2006), available at http://www.skolverket.se/content/1/c4/75/09/Religion.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. Härenstam, Kjell, Skolboks-islam. Analys av bilden av islam i läroböcker i religionskunskap (Göteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1993). Havström, Monica and Katarina S. Hallingberg (eds), Oh My God. En glimt av Göteborgs religiösa mångfald (Göteborg: Göteborgs stad, Levande historia och Sensus studieförbund Västra Sverige, 2005). Heelas, Paul et al., Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity, (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996). Hoover, Stewart M. and Knut Lundby (eds), Rethinking Media, Religion and Culture (London: Sage Publications, 1997).

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Hüwelmeier, Gertrud and Kristine Krause (eds), Traveling Spirits: Migrants, Markets and Mobilities (New York, London: Routledge, 2010). The Immigrant Institute, available at http://www.immi.se/index-en.htm, accessed May 31, 2010. Jakobsh, Doris R., “Authority in the Virtual Sangat: Sikhism, Ritual and Identity in the Twenty-first Century,” Online – Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet, 2/1 (2006): 24–40. Jansson, Olov and Linda Karlsson, Religionskunskap A: En mosaik (Stockholm: Bonnier utbildning, 2009). Jhutti-Johal, Jagbir, “The Role of Sikh Women in their Religious Institutions: A Contemporary Account,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010). Jones, Susan, “Shaping Identities: The Reading of Young Bilinguals” Literacy, 38/1 (2004): 40–46. Jones-Correa, Michael, “The Study of Transnationalism among the Children of Immigrants: Where We Are and Where We Should Be Headed,” in Peggy Levitt and Mary C. Waters (eds), The Changing Face of Home: The Transnational Lives of the Second Generation, (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2002). Kalsi, Sewa Singh, “Change and Continuity in the Funeral Rituals of Sikhs in Britain,” Glennys Howarth and Peter C. Jupp (eds), Contemporary Issues in the Sociology of Death, Dying and Disposal (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996), pp. 30–43. Kamali, M., “Skolböcker och kognitiv andrafiering,” in Rapport av Utredningen om makt, integration och strukturell diskriminering (SOU 2006:40), Utbildningens dilemma: demokratiska ideal och andrafierande praxis (Stockholm: Fritze, 2006). Karlsson, Tommy, “Åtalas för människosmuggling,” Närkes Allehanda (April 28, 2009), available at http://na.se/nyheter/1.175565-atalas-formanniskosmuggling, accessed April 23, 2010. Khalsa, G.S., “The End of Syncretism: Anti-Syncretism in Sikh Tradition,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2009), pp. 93–107. Khan, Aisha, “Homeland, Motherland: Authenticity, Legitimacy, and Ideologies of Place among Muslims in Trinidad,” in Peter van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), pp. 93–131. Klein, Wendy L., “Punjabi Sikh Families in Los Angeles: Discourses of Identification and Youth Socialization Practices,” unpublished PhD thesis at University of California, Los Angeles, 2007. Krantz, Katrin, “Försvaret tillåter turban,” Svenska Dagbladet (May 12, 2005), available at http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/forsvaret-tillaterturban_412255.svd, accessed April 23, 2010.

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Löfström, Carl-Magnus, “Det började med en turban,” Suntliv.nu (September 24, 2007), available at http://www.suntliv.nu/Teman/Destination_svenskt_ arbetsliv/Det-borjade-med-en-turban/, accessed April 23, 2010. Magnusson, Erik, “Skenäktenskap vägen in i EU för tusentals,” Sydsvenskan (April 27, 2008), available at http://www.sydsvenskan.se/sverige/article319044/ Skenaktenskap-vagen-in-i-EU-for-tusentals.html, accessed April 23, 2010. Mann, Gurinder Singh, “Sikhism in the USA,” in H. Coward (ed.), The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000). Mansén, Moa, “Släng kristallerna- gud är på återtåg,” Aftonbladet (January 6, 2000), available at http://wwwc.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/0001/06/gud.html, accessed April 23, 2010. Martikainen, Tuomas, “Religious Diversity beyond the Cosmopolis: Immigration and the Religious Field in the City of Turku, Finland,” Religion, 39 (2009): 176–81. Melén, Johanna, “DO: Motståndet handlar om ovana,” Aftonbladet (March 9, 2006), available at http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article359791.ab, accessed April 23, 2010. The Migration Board, “Asylsökande till Sverige under 1984–2009,” available at http://www.migrationsverket.se/download/18.78fcf371269cd4cda980004204/ tabs2.pdf, accessed September 15, 2010. Myrvold, Kristina, Inside the Guru’s Gate: Ritual Uses of Texts among the Sikhs in Varanasi (Lund: Media-Tryck, 2007). Myrvold, Kristina, “Sikher och sikhism: Med gurun installerad på en tron och svenska poliser i turban,” in Daniel Andersson and Åke Sander (eds), Det mångreligiösa Sverige: ett landskap i förändring (Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2009), pp. 285–338. Myrvold, Kristina, “Sikhism,” in Ingvar Svanberg and David Westerlund (eds), Religion i Sverige, (Stockholm: Diaologos Förlag, 2008). Myrvold, Kristina, “Sikhism and Death,” in K Garces-Foley (ed.), Death and Religion in a Changing World (New York: ME Sharpe, 2006), pp. 178–204. Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: The Generations amid Tradition, Modernity and Multiculturalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004) Nayar, Kamala Elizabeth, “Sikh Women in Vancouver: An Analysis of their Psychosocial Issues,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 252– 75. Nesbitt, Eleanor, Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2004). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “‘My Dad’s Hindu, my Mum’s side are Sikhs’: Issues in Religious Identity” (1993), available at http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/savifadok/ volltexte/2009/234/pdf/identity.pdf, accessed September 15, 2010.

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Osbeck, Christina, “Unintended Learning in Religious Education,” in Geir Skeie (ed.), Religious Diversity and Education: Nordic Perspectives (Münster, New York, München, Berlin: Waxmann, 2009), pp. 43–54. Otterbeck, Jonas, “Stereotyper styr vår syn på islam,” Pedagogiska magasinet, 4 (2001): 39–45. Panthic Weekly News Bureau, “Sikhs in the Swedish Army,” The Sikh Bulletin, 8/1–2 (2006): 13–14. Ring, Börge, Religion och sammanhang: Religionskunskap kurs A och B (Stockholm: Liber, 2007). Rodhe, Sten and Bo Nylund, Religionskunskap (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksellm 2007). Shiffauer, Walter, “Migration and Religiousness,” in Tomas Gerholm and Yngve Lithman (eds), The New Islamic Presence in Western Europe (London: Mansell, 1988), pp. 146–58. Sidenbladh, Erik, “Religiös symbol knivig fråga för DO,” Svenska Dagbladet (May 4, 2002), available at http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/religios-symbolknivig-fraga-for-do_51839.svd, accessed April 23, 2010. Skolverket, Läromedlens roll i undervisningen: grundskollärares val, användning och bedömning av läromedel i bild, engelska och samhällskunskap, Rapport 284 (Stockholm: Skolverket, 2006). Skolverket, “Läroplan för de frivilliga skolformerna Lpf 94” (2006), available at http://www.skolverket.se, accessed April 23, 2010. Sprangers, Jan, “Turban-mannen rånmördad på väg från flygplatsen,” Expressen (January 30, 2004), available at http://www.expressen.se/1.77114, accessed April 23, 2010. Svanebro, Karin, “Unga sikher tar kål på fördomar,” Fria Tidningen (November 3, 2005), available at http://www.fria.nu/artikel/5735, accessed April 23, 2010. Sweden Sikhs, “Swedish Forum” (August 26, 2007), available at http://forum. sikh.se/viewtopic.php?f=116&t=2181&sid=2c5891d9b1c00576721631e3606 96a8e, accessed April 23, 2010. Sweden Sikhs, “Swedish Forum” (October 11, 2007), available at http://forum. sikh.se/viewtopic.php?f=116&t=2277&sid=46c7965c48a699fe78e8b7d84d4 6ec2a, accessed April 23, 2010. Swedish Indian Association, “Första svenska sikhernas ceremoniplats invigdes idag” (April 15, 2009), available at http://groups.google.se/group/siaswedishindians-federation/browse_thread/thread/497a075a84b344d2#, accessed April 23, 2010. Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Mänskliga rättigheter in Afghanistan 2007” (2007), available at http://www.manskligarattigheter.gov.se/dynamaster/ file_archive/080317/2eb6cd7f3c3b800c3e84bff43a50e219/Afghanistan.pdf, accessed April 23, 2010. Tandon, Prakash, Punjabi Century 1857–1947 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968).

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Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå-Dn, “Sikh får bära dolk i skolan,” Dagens Nyheter (May 27, 2002), available at http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/sikh-far-baradolk-i-skolan-1.84314, accessed April 23, 2010. Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå, “Soldat får bära turban,” Expressen (September 11, 2003), available at http://www.expressen.se/1.47452, accessed April 23, 2010. Vertovec, Steven, “Hindus in Trinidad and Britain: Ethnic Religion, Reification, and the Politics of Public Space,” in Peter van der Veer (ed.), Nation and Migration: The Politics of Space in the South Asian Diaspora (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), pp. 132–56. Wising, Mattias, “Poliser får bära turban,” Svensk Polis (March 9, 2006) available at http://www.svenskpolis.se/sv/Artikelarkiv/Artiklar-20061/mars20062/ polisfarbaraturban/, accessed April 23, 2010. Wising, Mattias, “Turban kontra Bollmorahättor,” Svensk Polis (March 28, 2006) available at http://www.svenskpolis.se/sv/Artikelarkiv/Artiklar-20061/ mars20062/bollmorahatta/, accessed April 23, 2010. Zaar, Christina, “Många vägar leder till Gud,” Dagens Nyheter (January 12, 2003), available at http://www.dn.se/insidan/manga-vagar-leder-till-gud-1.146180, accessed April 23, 2010.

Chapter 4

Sikhs in Finland: Migration Histories and Work in the Restaurant Sector Laura Hirvi

Mahaan Singh, a Sikh man from India, left his country to “see the world,” as he says, and ended up in Finland in the beginning of the 1980s after falling in love with a Finnish woman. In the beginning, he studied philosophy at the University of Helsinki but in order to earn a living he interrupted his studies and started work as a kitchen helper in a restaurant in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. In addition to this job, he earned a second wage as a cleaner. In 1987, Mahaan decided to become an entrepreneur and opened up a pub together with a friend. Since then, his business has grown considerably and by now he owns numerous bars and nightclubs that employ more than a hundred people, the majority of whom are ethnic Finns. He came to Finland with almost nothing, but worked hard and took a risk and thus was able to integrate quite successfully1 into the Finnish working life. Mahaan managed to rise from rags to riches, or at least from “dishwasher to proprietor.”2 As the research conducted for this article shows,3 Mahaan’s extreme success story might be rather unique, but his occupational field as well as his career path is very common amongst Sikhs in Finland, especially for men. Apart from some individuals who work in the garment industry or as nurses, teachers, shop assistants, or bus drivers, an overwhelming number of Sikh immigrants encountered in this research project stated they were employed or self-employed in Finland’s restaurant sector.4 This might come as no surprise, since, according to a study In this chapter, success is measured in economic terms. For a more nuanced and detailed discussion on how “success” can be defined, see Pnina Werbner, “What colour ‘success’? Distorting value in studies of ethnic entrepreneurship,” Sociological Review, 47/3 (1999): 548–79. 2 Monder Ram et al., “Apprentice Entrepreneurs? Ethnic Minority Workers in the Independent Restaurant Sector,” Work, Employment and Society, 15/2 (2001): 353–72. 3 This study is part of a larger anthropological PhD research that explores how Sikhs living in Helsinki, Finland and Yuba City, California negotiate their identities. 4 Twelve of the 27 persons I interviewed work in the restaurant sector, and nine (eight female and one male respondent) had at least one close relative (mother, father, or husband) working in this field of business. The other six people had arrived in Finland as expatriates, or as the wife of an expatriate. 1

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conducted by Annika Forsander, “the restaurant industry is the main employer of immigrant labor” in Finland and especially men of “Mediterranean or Asian origin” who “have some restaurant experience in the course of their careers.”5 So far, however, the number of qualitative case studies that concentrate on one particular immigrant group working in the restaurant sector in Finland has been small.6 In order to contribute to this emerging field of research in Finland, this chapter sets out to examine one particular religious group of Asian immigrants working in the restaurant industry, namely the Sikhs from northern India. By doing so, I hope to add valuable knowledge to a continually growing body of literature on South Asian immigrants living in Finland.7 Gathering more knowledge on Indian immigrants is of significance for the Finnish context, in which the number of Indian immigrants—after the Afghanis—has increased at the fastest rate in Finland within the last eight years, as an analysis of the statistical data of the period between 2000 and 2008 reveals.8 The specific aims of this chapter are twofold: first, to give an overview of the Sikh migration history to Finland in order to position them into the larger context of Sikh migration. Based on qualitative data, the second part of the chapter seeks to clarify for what reasons and in what manner Sikh immigrants, especially men, end up initially working as employees and later on as entrepreneurs in the Finnish restaurant sector. After that, I will address in brief more specifically the findings concerning Sikh women in Finland and their participation in the local labor market. In the conclusion, this contribution offers some thoughts concerning the future of Sikh immigrants and their children in Finland. The data for this research was collected by means of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in numerous phases in the metropolitan area of Helsinki9 during the period January 2008 to October 2010. The length of the repeated fieldwork trips 5 Annika Forsander, “Glocalizing Capital and Labour: Old Structures, New Challenges,” in Annika Forsander (ed.), Immigration and Economy in the Globalization Process: The Case of Finland (Helsinki, 2002), p. 110. 6 Wahlbeck’s studies on Turkish immigrants working in the Finnish kebab industry are an exception. See Östen Wahlbeck, “Work in the Kebab Economy. A Study of the Ethnic Economy of Turkish Immigrants in Finland,” Ethnicities, 7/4 (2007): 543–63; Östen Wahlbeck, ‘Turkkilaiset maahanmuuttajat yrittäjinä Suomessa: paikallinen ja transnationaali sosiaalinen pääoma,” JANUS, 13/1 (2005): pp. 39–53. 7 See for example, Akhlaq Ahmad, Getting a Job in Finland. The Social Networks of Immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent in the Helsinki Metropolitan Labour Market (Helsinki, 2005); Toumas Martikainen and Lalita Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland: Patterns of Integration, Family Life, Employment and Transnationalism among Marriage Migrants. Working Papers E 27 (Helsinki, 2007); Laura Hirvi, “The Sikh Gurdwara in Finland: Negotiating, Maintaining and Transmitting Immigrants’ Identities,” South Asian Diaspora, 2/2 (2010): 219–32. 8 See Statistics Finland, available at http://www.stat.fi/index_en.html, accessed February 2, 2010. 9 This area includes Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen.

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from my hometown Jyväskylä to Helsinki varied depending on the situation, lasting between one to ten days. The local gurdwara, children’s birthday parties, and the informants’ workplaces as well as their homes provided the most significant venues for my participant observation, which was recorded in the form of a field diary and numerous photographs. In addition, 27 semi-structured interviews were conducted with established members, newcomers, young people, and expatriates and their wives, whom I met at the gurdwara or found with the help of mailing lists and the social networking website Facebook. Most of the interviewees had their roots in the Punjab, especially in the eastern districts of the state, such as Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Rupnagar, and Patiala. However, five had also lived in Delhi prior to emigration and traced their family roots to the pre-Partition Punjab that nowadays belongs to Pakistan; in three cases the informants originated from the Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Jammu Kashmir. During the course of my fieldwork, I encountered only one woman who had been born and raised in another European country prior to her migration to Finland. Out of the 27 interviews, 12 were conducted with females and 15 with male Sikhs. The interviews were recorded when possible. The topics addressed in the interviews revolved around the respondents’ migration processes, and their religious, cultural and social lives in Finland, as well as their transnational activities. The questions were partly adapted to the informant’s age, gender, and migration history. Eight interviews were conducted in English, and the rest in Finnish, which I translated into English afterward. The limitation of this research arises from my insufficient language skills in Punjabi and Hindi, and because of a lack of resources that would not allow the hiring of an interpreter. Therefore, respondents who were only able to converse in Punjabi or Hindi are not included in this set of data. In addition to the interviews, a short questionnaire was distributed at the gurdwara in order to gather more data that would particularly concern the work histories and experiences of Sikhs living in Helsinki. Thirteen men and two women filled out the questionnaire. To ensure the informants’ anonymity, their names have been altered in this chapter by using pseudonyms in the form of Sikh names. The History of Sikh Migration to Finland Prior to the 1980s, Finland was a country characterized by a strong outward migration. Finns had been migrating to the US and Australia since the beginning of the twentieth century, and after World War II, many also migrated to Sweden. However, the early 1980s marked a turning point when the net migration rate to Finland became positive, which means that more people migrated to Finland than emigrated from it.10 However, as Jouni Korkiasaari and Ismo Söderling highlight, 10 Statistics Finland, “Immigration and Emigration in 1971–2008” (2009), available at http://www.stat.fi.ezproxy.jyu.fi/til/muutl/2008/muutl_2008_2009-05-20_kuv_001_ en.html, accessed February 19, 2010.

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until the end of the 1980s “some 85 percent of the immigrants coming to Finland were return migrants (mostly from Sweden)” and only in the 1990s has the number of immigrants with foreign origin significantly increased.11 Sitting on the floor in the gurdwara’s kitchen, sipping Indian tea (chai) and eating a biscuit, I asked an elderly Sikh man seated opposite me why he had migrated to Finland. He gave me the following answer: “All Sikhs have their own reasons why they came here, and they are all different; some came because of work, some because of marriage and some because of their relatives.”12 The quote suggests some of the main reasons why Sikhs have migrated to Finland and, as will be elaborated in the following, those reasons oftentimes overlap and are gender dependent. The first Sikh immigrant men allegedly arrived in Finland in 1979, which is considerably later than the start of Sikh migration to North America and Britain, and a decade later than the other Nordic countries. Those early pioneers in Finland entered the country primarily in search of better opportunities. Reportedly, the first Sikh men traveled to Finland in a small group and, like the early Sikh immigrants in the UK and East Africa, the members of this group shared an apartment in Helsinki to reduce their living costs.13 Mahaan, who arrived in Finland in the early 1980s, only a couple of years after the pioneers, explains that he ended up in Finland because he had been working on a ship. Once the ship had docked in Helsinki, he got off, started to study at the local university and then settled down permanently after marrying an ethnically Finnish woman. Gagandeep also entered Finland quite soon after the first Sikh immigrants had arrived. A friend living in Sweden had recommended Finland to him as an alternative destination for migration. Thus, he applied for a place to study in both Sweden and Finland, and after receiving just a letter of acceptance from the university in the latter country, he came to Helsinki. Both cases vividly demonstrate that the final migration destination is not necessarily defined a priority, but is rather influenced by chance, opportunity and suggestions from others. Other Sikhs, who have been migrating since the first settlers, chose Finland as a destination mostly because of family reunification or because of the information they received via a relative or friend already living in Finland. Frequently, the latter mentioned contacts had been able to provide a job or promised to assist in the search for employment. Thus, in some of these cases, work and family are the overlapping reasons that explain why male Sikhs in particular leave India in order to migrate to Finland. For instance, one Sikh man decided to move to Finland at Jouni Korkiasaari and Ismo Söderling, “Finland: From a Country of Emigration into a Country of Immigration,” in Ismo Söderling (ed.), A Changing Pattern of Migration in Finland and Its Surroundings (Helsinki, 1998), p. 14. 12 Field notes February 5, 2008. 13 Gurharpal Singh and Darshan S. Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London, 2006); Parminder Bhachu, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain (London, 1985). 11

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the end of the 1980s after his uncle, who was already living the country, had told him how beautiful it was and that it was possible to find work there. A couple of years later, his brother also followed him, bringing along his wife and children. While the majority seems to migrate directly from India to Finland, some Sikhs have also been coming to Finland via a transit country, such as Sweden or Germany. These journeys do not always run as smoothly as the traveler wishes, as Sagar’s migration story reveals. Sagar left India in the late 1970s by accepting a job on a ship. In those times, he recalls, the rumor in Punjab said that access to European countries was only possible via the UK or by working on a ship. Sagar chose the latter option but was constantly seasick and finally decided to disembark in Germany, where he applied for political asylum. He liked it there, but after one of his cousins in Finland persistently invited him to visit, he decided to do so in order to see what the country was like. When he reached the Finnish border, however, immigration control did not allow him to enter the country, and neither could he return to Germany, as he had unknowingly broken his residency obligation. Looking back at this experience today, Sagar seems to regard his past hardship with humor, when he laughingly summarizes: “At the Finnish border they told me to go back to Germany or India, and at the German border they told me to go back to Finland or to India.”14 Fed up, and with no other alternative, he eventually returned to India with the intention of staying there for the rest of his life. However, after getting married and having a family, he returned after a couple of years due to his brother’s migration to Finland. Those who, like Sagar, were already married prior to migration, usually brought their families to Finland only after finding a regular job that enabled them to provide for their families’ livelihoods. Furthermore, bringing over a large family all at once was often financially challenging for the first wave of Sikh immigrants and, therefore, some families migrated gradually, leaving behind, as in one couple’s case, for example, their two oldest children with a relative in India, only to reunite with them a few years later in Finland. Consequently, families were sometimes separated in the initial phase of migration, a fact well remembered by Komal. She was five years of age when her father left India to look for work in Finland: I remember, when I was little, we always waited that my father would come from Finland to India. He did not come every year, there was a smaller break, I do not remember that, but I always remember how I slept and my father woke me up and took me on his lap, I still remember that. Because there [India] you have these mosquito nets, and I slept in such beds, where there was such a shelter on top so no mosquitoes would come in. And my father took me on his lap, and I was little, this is what I always remember that my father came from Finland to

Field notes July 6, 2009.

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India. But I did not know what Finland was at that time, of course, a small child cannot know because we did not talk about it in this way.15

Several male Sikhs also arrived in order to marry Sikh women already living in Finland. Besides work, family and marriage, only two of my male informants gave the turmoil in India in the 1980s as a reason to leave their original home country. While one of my male informants also mentioned “looking for an adventure,” study was only once explicitly indicated as a cause for coming to Finland. Quite a number of my informants emphasized in the interviews that they did not leave India because of poverty or unemployment. Nalin, who came to Finland as a marriage migrant, explains that some Finns, whom she encounters through her customer service-orientated work, think of India solely in terms of it being a poor country. They do not understand that she actually had a well-paid job prior to migration, and thus did not move to Finland for the purpose of escaping poverty. Nalin blames documentaries shown on Finnish television for portraying simplified images of India and creating such opinions. Similarly, Jai stresses that he and his family did not emigrate from India because of poverty, but rather in order to improve their chances to progress in life. In India, as several interviewees explained, financial progress was hard to achieve due to corruption. The dominant reason given by female Sikhs who had migrated to Finland independently of their parents was marriage to a Sikh man already settled in the country. In this context, it is significant to point out that none of the women in this study was married to an ethnic Finn. The argument that marriage is the main reason for South Asian women to migrate to Finland is supported by Toumas Martikainen and Lalita Gola’s study of Indian and Nepalese women in Finland. All the women who participated in their research entered Finland mainly because of marriage or their husband’s work.16 In addition, I know of only one case where a Sikh woman migrated as the grandmother of a family, and one case where a woman came to Finland as the home help of an Indian expatriate. None of the other Sikh women I interviewed mentioned paid work, political turbulence, or study as a reason for their migration to Finland, but stated marriage as their primary reason. Since the beginning of the Sikh migration to Finland in the 1980s, the community has grown considerably in size. In 2007, Martikainen and Gola estimated the number of Sikhs living in Finland to be somewhere between 100 and 200.17 Based on my fieldwork observations, I would claim that this number is an underestimate. This argument is further corroborated by the fact that in 2010 there were 421 people registered in Finland with the last name Singh and 154 with the last name Kaur,18 both of which are typical Sikh surnames. Furthermore, the fact 17 18 15

Interview June 9, 2009. Martikainen and Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland, p. 41. Ibid., p. 34. Population Register Centre, available at http://www.intermin.fi/vrk/home.nsf/ pages/index_eng, accessed August 11, 2010. 16

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that in 2009 there were 678 people listed in Finland as speaking Punjabi,19 which for many Sikhs is their mother tongue,20 could also support the argument that the number of Sikhs living in Finland is much higher than 200. Based on the presented figures, I thus estimate that there could be around 600 Sikhs currently living in Finland. Today, the Sikh community consists of men, women and children of all ages. Except for a few who wear a turban, the majority of male Sikhs have cut their hair. The number of Amritdhari Sikhs is minimal.21 Like other South Asian immigrants, the majority of Sikhs have settled down in the metropolitan area of Helsinki,22 which is also the location of the only existing gurdwara in the country (see Figure 4.1.).23 The gurdwara was opened in 2006, and has since then served as a center for the religious activities of the community. However, in May 2009, some members of the gurdwara organization decided to change part of the ardas (the prayer at the closing of congregational worship) after a visit by Inder Singh Ghagga from India. The first line of the ardas text has been altered from “Paratham Bhagautee Simar Ke” to “Paratham Akal Purakh Simar Ke.” Ranjit, who is one of the key figures of the local gurdwara supporting this substitution, explains that they did so because they “don’t accept Bhaugthi. It is some kind of DEVI as in Hindu Religion” (capital letters in original).24 Moreover, the gurdwara has enforced a ban on singing hymns from the Dasam Granth. On a local level, the modification of practices performed at the gurdwara has caused a severe controversy, which seems to have deepened the already existing split within the Finnish Sikh community. In addition, the alterations have also provoked a reaction within the wider Sikh diaspora, as demonstrated by the entries in various online discussion forums related to the topic.25 Finding Work in Finland A majority of Sikh immigrants are employed in the restaurant business in Finland. Before further exploring the reasons behind this occupational clustering, let me briefly specify what sort of restaurants are meant in this case in order to reveal a 19 Statistics Finland, “Online service” (2009), available at http://pxweb2.stat.fi/ database/StatFin/databasetree_en.asp, accessed August 6, 2010. 20 Regarding this factor, however, it has to be taken into consideration that many people from other religious backgrounds also speak Punjabi, such as Hindus from Punjab in India, and Muslims from Pakistan. 21 I only encountered two in the course of my fieldwork. 22 See Martikainen and Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland, p.32. 23 Hirvi, ”The Sikh Gurdwara in Finland”. 24 Email correspondence, May 28, 2009. 25 Sikh Philosophy Network, “Ardaas Changed’ (2009), available at http://www. sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/25092-ardaas-changed.html, accessed August 5, 2010.

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Figure 4.1

The gurdwara in Helsinki (the low building with curtains on the right-hand side). Photo: Laura Hirvi

particularity of this research. Most studies that concentrate on immigrants working in the restaurant sector use the term “restaurant” to refer to some sort of eating place, such as a diner or a fast food establishment.26 Unlike the English language, the term “restaurant” in colloquial Finnish refers not only to an eating place but can equally signify localities that English speakers would call a bar, pub, or nightclub.27 Indeed, as it became clear to me in the course of my fieldwork, the majority of Sikhs in Finland work in pubs or bars. In conversations and interviews, however, See for example, Ayse Caglar, “McDöner: Döner Kebap and the Social Positioning Struggle of German Turks,” in Janeen A. Costa and Gary J. Bamossy (eds), Marketing in a Multicultural World: Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Cultural Identity (Thousand Oaks, 1995), pp. 209–30; Wahlbeck, “Work in the Kebab Economy”; Wahlbeck, “Turkkilaiset maahanmuuttajat yrittäjinä Suomessa.” 27 See, for example, how Pécoud distinguishes between restaurants and bars when discussing German-Turkish entrepreneurs in Berlin: Antoine Pécoud, “Entrepreneurship and Identity: Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Competencies among German-Turkish Businesspeople in Berlin,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30/1 (2004): 10. 26

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they prefer to describe their workplace by using the Finnish term for restaurant (ravintola).28 For the sake of simplicity, this study also uses the word restaurant as an umbrella term which semantically includes bars, pubs, discotheques, and eating places, or a combination of any of these. Although most businesses owned by Sikh families seem to derive their main income from selling alcohol, a few places do in fact serve lunch or pizza throughout the day. But unlike other studies focusing on immigrants working in the hospitality sector,29 the Sikhs in Finland hardly ever capitalize from selling their “own unique national-regional” cuisine.30 Of the 15 Sikh-owned places I know of, only one offers Indian food on its menu alongside pizza and steaks, of which the latter dishes are considered necessary by the owner in order to attract Finnish customers and run the business successfully. The findings of this research seem very particular when contrasted to Annika Forsander and Anne Alitolppa-Niitamo’s argument that most immigrant-owned restaurants31 in Finland are either ethnic food restaurants or fast food places.32 The businesses owned by Sikhs are scattered all over the metropolitan area of Helsinki and do not have, or only partly specialize in, Indian and Punjabi cuisine. Thus, it can be concluded that Sikh immigrants in Finland do not work in an ethnic enclave, for whom a geographical clustering has been defined as characteristic,33 but instead work in a business sector that has transformed into a common field of occupation for this particular ethnic minority group. The reason why a great majority of Sikhs ends up in the Finnish restaurant business seems to be the prospect of getting a job. The interviews in my study reveal that Sikh immigrants, independent of gender, face a variety of challenges when trying to enter the Finnish labor market. Finding a job proved to be especially hard for those who had arrived in Finland during the time of the economic recession in the early 1990s. In 1994, for example, the general unemployment rate rose to 20.1 This preference might be explained by the possible negative connotations associated with a pub or a bar, namely the selling and consuming of alcohol, which Amritdhari Sikhs in particular would not consider as an appropriate practice. 29 See, for example, Christian Kesteloot and Pascale Mistiaen, “From Ethnic Minority Niche to Assimilation: Turkish Restaurants in Brussels,” Area, 29/4 (1997): 325–34; Monder Ram et al., “Ethnic Minority Business in a Comparative Perspective: The Case of the Independent Restaurant Sector,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26/3 (2000): 495–510. 30 Ram et al, “Ethnic Minority Business in a Comparative Perspective,” p. 498. 31 Forsander and Alitolppa-Niitamo do not specify in their study written in Finnish whether their usage of “restaurant” also includes bars and nightclubs. However, Forsander discusses in another study’s footnote the problem of defining an “ethnic restaurant”: Forsander, “Glocalizing Capital and Labour,” p. 100 (footnote 171). 32 Annika Forsander and Anne Alitolppa-Niitamo, Maahanmuuttajien työllistyminen ja työhallinto-keitä, miten ja minne? (Helsinki, 2000), p. 27. 33 Ivan Light and Steven J. Gold, Ethnic Economies (San Diego, CA and London, 2000). 28

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percent and as high as 50.4 percent for foreign nationals.34 In general, immigrants’ options in finding employment are limited due to insufficient language skills and work experience, paired with educational backgrounds that are not always acknowledged in Finland.35 When “previous skills are no longer valid in the new context,” a “human capital mismatch” is said to occur.36 Devpreet, for example, came to Finland during the recession, after marrying a Sikh woman who was already living in Helsinki. As a graduate of a technical college in India, Devpreet had worked for six months in India as a mechanical engineer prior to his emigration. In the initial phase of his job search in Finland, he still hoped to find a job in his own field of education, but encountered problems with the language and evaluations of his previous education. Devpreet recalls his job search: The first problem was the language. I went to the labor force bureau and they said, or recommended, that I should take a Finnish language course, which would last a few years, and then go to some school, to some technical school, I should go there. But I did not want to study again for another three years.37

Annika Forsander notes that “education attained in Finland seems to help immigrants cross the threshold into the labor market,”38 which explains the recommendation of the Finnish labor force bureau to receive additional schooling from a Finnish educational institution. But as Devpreet’s last comment illustrates, the Finnish job market’s requirements to learn the Finnish language, as well as to receive further education, are problematic for a newly arrived immigrant since they demand time and effort. Earning money without any possible delay caused by additional schooling seems to be crucial for many of the Sikhs I talked with, especially for those who have to secure the welfare of their families. The latter was true in Devpreet’s case and he therefore accepted the offer to work as an intern in a restaurant, since this appeared to be his best option and opportunity to immediately enter the Finnish labor market. Similar to other participants in this research, he felt there were no other choices than the job he was offered. Ramjeet, who graduated from an Indian university with a master’s degree in economics, 34 Statistics Finland, Unemployment Rate and Employment Rate by Nationality in Finland by the End of Year 1987–2007 (Helsinki, 2007). 35 Tuula Joronen, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Finland in the 1990s,” in Annika Forsander (ed.), Immigration and Economy in the Globalization Process: The Case of Finland (Helsinki, 2002), p.127; Akhlaq Ahmad, Getting a Job in Finland, p.11 36 Martikainen and Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland, p.14, italics in original. 37 Interview June 9, 2009. 38 Annika Forsander, “Insiders or Outsiders Within? Immigrants in the Finnish Labor Market,” in Ismo Söderling (ed.), Yearbook of Population Research in Finland (Helsinki, 2003), p. 66.

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describes his job history as a dishwasher in Finland as follows: “I had no flat, I had no money, I had no food, so I had to work. That was important, then we [Sikhs] forgot everything we did [before] and I started to wash dishes. From there it started.”39 Accepting work as a dishwasher or as a kitchen helper in the restaurant sector was for many informants the only alternative they saw to escape unemployment and financial misery. Thus, the accounts above suggest that certain factors, such as a lack of education and skill in the Finnish language were disadvantages in the Finnish labor market, which eventually pushed the arriving Sikhs to accept jobs in the restaurant sector, engaging in work that was outside and sometimes below their previous education and occupation. For those who arrived in Finland without any prior professional education, working in the restaurant business was the “easiest available job,” as Amandev explains. Occupational Clustering of Sikhs in the Finnish Restaurant Sector Working as a restaurant’s kitchen helper does not require any prior work experience nor advanced language skills. Thus, in terms of required educational qualifications, the restaurant sector belongs to those markets that have “low barriers of entry.”40 For this reason, as Forsander and Alitolppa-Niitamo point out, the restaurant sector, together with the cleaning sector, provide immigrants with entry-level jobs into the Finnish labor market.41 In the case of South Asian immigrants in Finland, including the Sikhs I interviewed, this argument is particularly true with regards to the restaurant sector.42 In particular, after the first Sikh-owned restaurants had been established, later waves of incoming male Sikhs had an easier time finding work in the restaurant industry through their social networks. Ramjeet, for example, started as a dishwasher and today owns, together with his brother, a successful and wellknown restaurant in Sörnäinen, Helsinki; he helped a close relative migrate to Finland by offering him a job in their restaurant. This procedure is usual and reflects the process through which many male Sikhs enter Finland and find work. The Sikh case also exemplifies what Ivan Light and Steven J. Gold reveal in their comprehensive study on ethnic economies about how families play a crucial role in explaining patterns of economic integration.43 Interview January 7, 2009. Robert Kloosterman, Joanne Van der Leun, and Jan Rath, “Mixed Embeddedness:

39 40

(In)formal Economic Activities and Immigrant Businesses in the Netherlands,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23/2 (1999): 254. 41 Forsander and Alitolppa-Niitamo, Maahanmuuttajien työllistyminen ja työhallinto, pp. 4, 28. 42 See also Ahmad, Getting a Job in Finland. 43 Light and Gold, Ethnic Economies, p. 161.

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Others who arrive without a prearranged job offer often find work via their networks of friends or relatives already living and working in Finland. In the questionnaire distributed to Finnish Sikhs, the respondents were asked to explain why in their opinion so many Sikhs are working in the restaurant sector. A few examples of the answers listed below illustrate well the findings depicted above: Friends and relatives help to start work in restaurant business and this way it just continues (Yakin, male). Many Sikhs help each other: help to find a job in a bar they are working at (Kanwar, male). All help each other: Sikhs help to find a job (for a Sikh they know) from friends who already have a restaurant or who work in a restaurant (Gurinder, male).

These findings confirm that immigrants’ own social networks play a crucial role in the process of finding work, as previous studies have already pointed out,44 and thus explain the occupational clustering of Sikhs in the restaurant industry.45 The next section will explore the motives Sikh men may have for becoming entrepreneurs by starting their own restaurant business in their new home country. Sikh Men as Entrepreneurs For those starting work in the restaurant industry, the classic entrance job is in the kitchen, where Finnish language skills are not essential for performing the role. However, there are also some exceptions, when, for example, a small business needs the labor of a family member without delay. Jhallu, for instance, ended up working in the service area of her husband’s restaurant almost immediately after her arrival: I was only in Finland three days when I started working. My husband gave me a paper and taught me some important phrases. I learned “January” and “February” and some numbers. That is it. In the restaurant I learned talking and I understand a lot, but sometimes when the clients talk too much I cannot follow them.46

For example, Light and Gold, Ethnic Economies, pp. 119–20; Forsander and Alitolppa-Niitamo, Maahanmuuttajien työllistyminen ja työhallinto, p. 31; see also Martikainen and Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland, p. 60. 45 Ahmad, Getting a Job in Finland, p. 109. 46 Field notes June 6, 2008. In my forthcoming dissertation I plan to discuss in more detail the important role work plays for the process of learning the Finnish language. 44

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Once language skills have improved, workers often get the chance to acquire more service-oriented jobs where they are allowed to interact with customers. Arjan, who worked in a restaurant owned by a fellow Indian prior to opening up his own business, describes his initial work experience in a restaurant as follows: I was in the kitchen all the time without any work to do and so I went to the side with the customers and watched how the chef was doing things … And then he realized that I had been following him all the time and that I learned quite quickly. Then he said: “You can be on the side with the customers, I will teach you,” and it did not take long. Maybe a few days, he showed me “this is this” and “that is that” and then he said “Ok, you take care of this now.” After that, I was on the side working with the customers and I was there for almost two years.47

Arjan opened up his own restaurant later on and, therefore, his work history seems to support Thomas Bailey’s observation that “perhaps the most important advantage available to workers in immigrant restaurants is the opportunity to learn both cooking and entrepreneurial skills.”48 Once these skills are acquired, male Sikh employees leave the restaurant to start their own restaurant business in the same branch. These findings might contrast with Light and Gold’s argument, which states that due to ethnic solidarity, “employers can be confident that trained workers will not leave.”49 On the other hand, they are consistent with Forsander’s50 observation that “Entrepreneurs who are already in the industry hire co-ethnics, who, once they have acquired enough capital and experience in the field, often start their own businesses.”51 However, in the context of this discussion, it is also important to point out that restaurants owned by members of the mainstream society have provided Sikhs with their first job opportunities in this business sector. This has been particularly the case for those Sikhs who arrived in Finland at a time when networks based on ethnicity or religious affiliations did not yet exist. But why do Sikh men want to become entrepreneurs in the first place? Previous studies on ethnic entrepreneurship have shown that this is a way many low-paid immigrant workers choose to advance from their initial, menial positions with the prospect to “better themselves financially.”52 In the beginning, they agree to work for a low salary at the bottom of a workplace’s hierarchy. Interview August 7, 2008. Bailey, Immigrant and Native Workers (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987) cited in

47 48

Ram et al., “Apprentice Entrepreneurs,” p. 356. See also Min Zhou, “Revisiting Ethnic Entrepreneurship: Convergencies, Controversies, and Conceptual Advancements,” International Migration Review, 38/3 (2004): 1051. 49 Light and Gold, Ethnic Economies, p. 118. 50 Forsander, “Glocalizing Capital and Labour.” 51 Ibid., p. 110. See also, Wahlbeck, “Work in the Kebab Economy.” 52 Anuradha Basu, “An Exploration of Entrepreneurial Activity among Asian Small Businesses in Britain,” Small Business Economics, 10/4 (1998): 319.

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By becoming an entrepreneur, after acquiring the necessary start-up capital and skills, they can enhance their upward socio-economic mobility. This chronology also confirms Tuula Joronens’s findings that an immigrant’s entrepreneurial activity can be expected to rise with the number of years he or she has spent in the country (see Figure 4.2).53

Figure 4.2

A Sikh entrepreneur in Helsinki. Photo: Laura Hirvi

Furthermore, it can be argued that in contrast to Turkish immigrant entrepreneurs in Finland,54 the Sikhs do not turn towards entrepreneurship because of unemployment, but rather because they considered their initial jobs to be of low quality in terms of payment and status. Inspired by the success stories of other Sikhs who, like Mahaan and Ramjeet, managed to rise from dishwashers to restaurant owners, many of the workers I talked to indeed dream of having their own restaurant one day. On the one hand, this desire can be explained by the fact that being an entrepreneur in the restaurant sector has already been shown as an efficient way to enhance an immigrant’s socioeconomic position in Finland. On the other hand, entrepreneurship is considered by Sikhs, as well as by immigrant entrepreneurs in other studies,55 to offer a certain degree of independence since “you do not have to work for anybody else,” as Joronen, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Finland in the 1990s,” p. 139. Wahlbeck, “Turkkilaiset maahanmuuttajat yrittäjinä Suomessa,” p. 46. 55 Sharam Khosravi, “Displacement and Entrepreneurship: Iranian Small Businesses 53

54

in Stockholm,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25/3 (1999): 500.

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Ramjeet puts it. To one day own a restaurant is the dream that many Sikh families in Finland nourish, and which is based on and inspired by the success stories of the early Sikh pioneers that came to this country. These results also resemble Östen Wahlbeck’s study, in which he argues that for Turkish immigrants’ occupational choices, “the example set by immigrants who had arrived in Finland earlier has been crucial for those arriving later on.”56 Owning a restaurant is an established path set and proven as successful, and therefore other immigrants are tempted to follow it.57 This may explain why the majority of male Sikh entrepreneurs can be found in the Finnish restaurant business. Once they have started working in the restaurant sector, few South Asian immigrants seem to be able to leave the business.58 As explained, lacking knowledge of the Finnish language was one of the critical factors that hindered Sikhs from finding work according to their educational backgrounds. Even when their language skills have improved, none of those better-educated Sikhs has left the restaurant business. Ramjeet, who is one of them, describes his reasons for staying in the restaurant business: “now you should also do something else, but we haven’t managed to do anything, actually. All the time, what we have been doing here is work. There it went, the time.”59 Moreover, as Ramjeet adds, the restaurant business is hard to leave, because it is so easy to work in and own a business in this sector. Being an entrepreneur secures a much-appreciated independence and a certain social status, both of which would be harder to achieve in other types of work. Sikh Women and Work The restaurant sector is not only a typical field of occupation for Sikh men, but also for Sikh immigrant women engaging in paid work. While I know of some isolated cases where Sikh women who migrated to Finland as adults work as preschool teachers, nurses, or shop assistants, the great majority labor in the restaurant sector.60 Other than their male counterparts, the Sikhs women I encountered in the course of my fieldwork only work behind the bar in businesses owned by their families. Also, their working careers, unlike that of Sikh men, is often preceded or interrupted by a period in which they fulfill their duties related to the traditional Wahlbeck, “Work in the Kebab Economy,” p. 550. See also Annika Forsander, Luottamuksen ehdot: Maahanmuuttajat 1900-luvun

56 57

suomalaisilla työmarkinoilla (Helsinki, 2002), p. 186. 58 See also Ahmad, Getting a Job in Finland. 59 Interview January 7, 2009. 60 Out of the 14 Sikh immigrant women I interviewed or encountered in the course of my fieldwork, seven are currently working in a family-owned restaurant, two are in the process of studying to be nurses, two others work as shop assistants (one of them in a shop owned by her husband), one as a pre-school teacher, one as a home help and one, who arrived only recently, is currently unemployed.

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gender role of Indian women. This means that those who have small children are expected to stay at home as mothers and housewives, thus providing “unpaid labor that maintains families and cares for children.”61 But once the children are older and do not need the same amount of attention as when they were still small, the everyday life of many Indian women living in Finland becomes marked by “boredom”62 and loneliness. An active participation in the labor market through paid work can be seen as an effective means to counteract this state of boredom and thus to support a person’s well-being. This is highlighted in the case of Brahamjeet. In the beginning, she had a hard time adjusting to life in Finland, because, as she put it, “this country is a bit silent.” When I asked her if she now felt at home in Finland, she explained that, “now it is quite OK, because I am working [as a salesperson] and the days go by quickly now.”63 Also, Harleen’s case supports the above-outlined thesis. When her children were still little, she did not perform paid work, but once they were older and spent more time outside of the home in school and together with friends, she got bored sitting at home without the tight social network that she was used to in India. Therefore, she asked her husband to let her work in their family-owned restaurant. Initially, he did not like the idea, because as Harleen explains herself, Indian women are traditionally supposed to stay at home. Later on he agreed. In both cases, the decision to start paid work was motivated by the wish to escape some sort of boredom and perhaps also loneliness that may arise or increase when children need less of their mothers’ time and attention, and when the traditionally tight and close Indian social network does not exist to the same degree in Finland. The latter example also highlights the significant role husbands can play in determining Sikh women’s participation in the labor market. Without his permission, Harleen could not have started work in the restaurant. Likewise, in another case, Ajeet was the one who decided that his wife Ratangeet should not continue her university studies after arriving in Finland, but instead work in a business that he had bought especially for the purpose of offering her a job after arrival. The emerging conclusion seems to be that Sikh women who have migrated to Finland are not free to make independent choices concerning their working careers, but must consult their husbands.64 Such a practice, one can argue further, is driven by a patriarchal power structure that still plays a significant role in understanding the Punjabi culture and the gender roles arising from it. Light and Gold, Ethnic Economies, p. 135. See Spinder Dhaliwal, “Silent Contributors: Asian Female Entrepreneurs and

61 62

Women in Business,” Women’s Studies International Forum, 21/5 (1998): 467; Martikainen and Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland, p. 66 63 Interview February 2, 2008. 64 This argument has partial support from Dhaliwal’s study on female South Asian entrepreneurs in Britain, where, she writes, “many of them did not ‘choose’ to enter selfemployment, but had the role forced upon them due to decisions made elsewhere in the family”: Dhaliwal, “Silent Contributors,” p. 465.

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Concluding Remarks This chapter has described the migration and work histories of Finnish Sikhs, many of whom are occupied in the local restaurant sector. As it has been shown, Sikh males started arriving in Finland in the beginning of the 1980s, and female Sikhs followed later on because of work and/or family matters. The chapter has demonstrated that working in the restaurant sector was and still is for many male Sikhs, independent of their educational backgrounds, a strategy to integrate into the Finnish labor market without delay. The study suggests that a lack of alternative opportunities in the labor market may explain why many Sikhs end up working in the restaurant sector in Finland. Pre-existing social networks, which channel immigrants towards jobs in the restaurant business and inspire them to follow the career path of other co-ethnics, play a crucial role in explaining the occupational clustering of Sikhs in the restaurant sector. Working in the restaurant sector has thus become a “self-perpetuating”65 employment sector for Sikhs living in the metropolitan area of Helsinki. Since family members or friends often help each other in finding a job, it seems that a chain of migration is significantly linked with a chain of employment of Sikhs in Finland. In order to advance from their initial low-ranking and badly paid working positions and to gain more independence, Sikh men choose the path of selfemployment. However, before becoming entrepreneurs, they worked as employees in the restaurant sector. It can be argued that entrepreneurship is indeed quite common amongst Finnish Sikh men, which challenges Tuula Joronen’s argument that in Finland, “apart from Turks, entrepreneurship remains low among immigrants who come from outside Europe.”66 But what about the subsequent generations of Sikhs, who have been raised in Finland? Do they want to work in the restaurant business? Are their dreams about their future jobs expressed in the response of a young Sikh boy, who, when asked on a Finnish television show what he would do if he won 30,000 euros, answered: “I will buy a restaurant!” Or can Joronen’s assertion that continuing to operate a family business “is not attractive to subsequent, better-educated generations” be applied to Sikhs? 67 The number of young Sikhs who were interviewed for this study is too small to allow for a conclusive answer, but together with information gathered via fieldwork, the following findings are available: out of the seven Sikhs who grew up in Finland and are now over the age of 20, two women are currently staying at home with their children and three women work in jobs for which they needed to get a vocational training in Finland. The only two men included in this sample are currently working in their parents’ restaurant business. Based on this information, it could be suggested that the likelihood of the following generations Ram et al., “Apprentice Entrepreneurs,” p. 356. Joronen, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Finland in the 1990s,” p. 163. 67 Ibid., p. 163. 65

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entering the bar and restaurant business is lower for females, but higher in the case of male Sikhs. In conclusion, it can be said that by working hard in the restaurant sector, the majority of Sikhs seem to have integrated well into Finnish society in economical terms, if economic integration is defined “as the ability to pay and the effort to gain this ability by either selling services or goods.”68 Furthermore, it can be assumed that the number of Sikhs migrating to Finland will continue to grow in the future, since the above-mentioned social networks of Sikhs living in Finland help to “reduce the costs and risks of movement, which causes the probability of migration to rise.”69 And at least in the near future, it can be assumed that the local restaurant sector will continue to play an important role for newly arriving Sikhs looking for work. Bibliography Ahmad, Akhlaq, Getting a Job in Finland: The Social Networks of Immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent in the Helsinki Metropolitan Labour Market (Department of Sociology: University of Helsinki, 2005). Basu, Anuradha, “An Exploration of Entrepreneurial Activity among Asian Small Businesses in Britain,” Small Business Economics, 10/4 (1998): 313–26. Bhachu, Parminder, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain (London and New York: Tavistock Publications, 1985). Bommes, Michael and Holger Kolb, “Migrants’ Work, Entrepreneurship and Economic Integration,” in Rinus Pennix, Maria Berger and Karen Kraal (eds), The Dynamics of International Migration and Settlement in Europe: A State of Art (Amsterdam: IMISCOE Joint Studies. Amsterdam University Press, 2006), pp. 99–132. Caglar, Ayse, “McDöner: Döner Kebap and the Social Positioning Struggle of German Turks,” in Janeen A. Costa and Gary J. Bamossy (eds), Marketing in a Multicultural World. Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Cultural Identity (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 1995), pp. 209–30. Dhaliwal, Spinder, “Silent Contributors: Asian Female Entrepreneurs and Women in Business,” Women’s Studies International Forum, 21/5 (1998): 463–74. Forsander, Annika, “Glocalizing Capital and Labour: Old Structures, New Challenges,” in Annika Forsander (ed.), Immigration and Economy in the

Michael Bommes and Holger Kolb, “Migrants’ Work, Entrepreneurship and Economic Integration,” in Rinus Pennix, Maria Berger, and Karen Kraal (eds), The Dynamics of International Migration and Settlement in Europe. A State of Art (Amsterdam, 2006), p. 100. 69 Douglas S. Massey et al., “Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal,” Population and Development Review, 19/3 (1993): 449. 68

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Globalization Process: The Case of Finland (Helsinki: SITRA, 2002a), pp. 81–118. Forsander, Annika, “Insiders or Outsiders Within? Immigrants in the Finnish Labor Market,” in Ismo Söderling (ed.), Yearbook of Population Research in Finland (Helsinki: The Population Research Institute, 2003), pp. 55–72. Forsander, Annika, Luottamuksen ehdot: Maahanmuuttajat 1900-luvun suomalaisilla työmarkinoilla [Conditions of Trust: Immigrants in the 1990s Labor Market] (Helsinki: Population Research Institute, 2002). Forsander, Annika and Anne Alitolppa-Niitamo, Maahanmuuttajien työllistyminen ja työhallinto—keitä, miten ja minne? [Immigrants’ Employment and Employment Administration—Who, How and Where?] (Helsinki: Population Research Institute, 2000). Hirvi, Laura, “The Sikh Gurdwara in Finland: Negotiating, Maintaining and Transmitting Immigrants’ Identities,” South Asian Diaspora, 2/ 2 (2010): 219– 32. Joronen, Tuula, “Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Finland in the 1990s,” in Annika Forsander (ed.), Immigration and Economy in the Globalization Process: The Case of Finland (Helsinki: SITRA, 2002), pp. 119–74. Kesteloot, Christian and Pascale Mistiaen, “From Ethnic Minority Niche to Assimilation: Turkish Restaurants in Brussels,” Area, 29/4 (1997): 325–34. Khosravi, Sharam, “Displacement and Entrepreneurship: Iranian Small Businesses in Stockholm,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 25/3 (1999): 493–508. Kloosterman, Robert, Joanne Van der Leun, and Jan Rath, “Mixed Embeddedness: (In)formal Economic Activities and Immigrant Businesses in the Netherlands,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 23/2 (1999): 253–67. Korkiasaari, Jouni and Ismo Söderling, “Finland: From a Country of Emigration into a Country of Immigration,” in Ismo Söderling (ed.), A Changing Pattern of Migration in Finland and Its Surroundings (Helsinki: The Population Research Institute, 1998), pp. 7–26. Light, Ivan and Steven J. Gold, Ethnic Economies (San Diego, CA and London: Academic Press, 2000). Martikainen, Tuomas and Lalita Gola, Women from the Indian Subcontinent in Finland. Patterns of Integration, Family Life, Employment and Transnationalism among Marriage Migrants, Working Paper E 27 (Helsinki: The Population Research Institute, 2007). Massey, Douglas S., Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino, and Edward J. Taylor, “Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal,” Population and Development Review, 19/3 (1993): 431–66. Pécoud, Antoine, “Entrepreneurship and Identity: Cosmopolitanism and Cultural Competencies among German-Turkish Businesspeople in Berlin,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30/1 (2004): 3–20. Population Register Centre, available at http://www.intermin.fi/vrk/home.nsf/ pages/index_eng, accessed August 11, 2010

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Ram, Monder, Tahir Abbas, Balihar Sanghera, Gerald Barlow, and Trevor Jones, “Apprentice Entrepreneurs? Ethnic Minority Workers in the Independent Restaurant Sector,” Work, Employment and Society, 15/ 2 (2001): 353–72. Ram, Monder, Balihar Sanghera, Tahir Abbas, Gerald Barlos, and Trevor Jones, “Ethnic Minority Business in a Comparative Perspective: The Case of the Independent Restaurant Sector,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 26/3 (2000): 495–510. Sikh Philosophy Network, “Ardaas Changed” (2009), available at http://www. sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/25092-ardaas-changed.html, accessed August 5, 2010. Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan S. Tatla, Sikhs in Britain. The Making of a Community (London: Zed Books, 2006). Statistics Finland, “Immigration and Emigration in 1971–2008” (2009), available at http://www.stat.fi.ezproxy.jyu.fi/til/muutl/2008/muutl_2008_2009-05-20_ kuv_001_en.html, accessed February 19, 2010. Statistics Finland, “Online service” (2009), available at http://pxweb2.stat.fi/ database/StatFin/databasetree_en.asp, accessed August 6, 2010. Statistics Finland, Unemployment Rate and Employment Rate by Nationality in Finland by the End of Year 1987–2007 (Helsinki: Statistics, 2007). Wahlbeck, Östen, “Turkkilaiset maahanmuuttajat yrittäjinä Suomessa: paikallinen ja transnationaali sosiaalinen pääoma” [Turkish Immigrants as Entrepreneurs in Finland: Local and Transnational Social Capital], JANUS, 13/1 (2005): 39– 53. Wahlbeck, Östen, “Work in the Kebab Economy. A Study of the Ethnic Economy of Turkish Immigrants in Finland,” Ethnicities, 7/4 (2007): 543–63. Werbner, Pnina, “What Colour ‘Success’? Distorting Value in Studies of Ethnic Entrepreneurship,” Sociological Review, 47/3 (1999): 548–79. Zhou, Min, “Revisiting Ethnic Entrepreneurship: Convergencies, Controversies, and Conceptual Advancements,” International Migration Review, 38/3 (2004): 1040–74.

Chapter 5

The Sikhs in Poland: A Short History of Migration and Settlement Zbigniew Igielski

Poland is the only country in eastern Europe with a significant Sikh population. Compared to other Asian immigrant groups in Poland, such as those from Vietnam and Mongolia, Sikh immigration is very recent, but fast growing, and Sikh communities are developing.1 Unlike many western European countries, the history of Sikh migration to Poland is not very complex, and a span of less than 30 years can be conveniently divided into three periods. This chapter is about the history of Sikh migration to Poland, the reasons for and the challenges of settlement. Community building and integration of the Sikh immigrants is also explored. The First Period of Migration: Up to 1989 During the communist period in Poland, immigration was extremely difficult and all immigration was strictly controlled by the Communist Party. However, in that period relations between Poland and India were good and based mostly on economic cooperation in the area of agriculture and energy. Nonetheless, only a few immigrants from India were given permission to settle. In the 1960s, a few important contracts were signed at governmental level and this allowed for an “exchange of experts.” The agreement permitted some Indian workers to enter Poland, amongst whom were a few Sikhs. This should probably not be considered 1 This chapter gives a preliminary description of Sikh immigrants in Poland and is based on official statistics and interviews with 96 adult Sikh immigrants and their families. During the initial part of the research on Sikh immigration to Poland, most of the Sikhs whom I approached were eager to contribute to the research. The language of the interviews, which were taken in the span of 11 months (2009–10), was either Hindi, Punjabi, or both. The interviews consisted of open-ended and close-ended questions. The opening questions (1–5) were close-ended and the rest of the questions (6–12) were open-ended. The interviewees were 87 percent men (more than a half of them married), 11 percent married women and only 2 percent unmarried women. The information about the Sikh community’s development and the building of gurdwaras was provided in an interview by J.J. Singh, the president of Indian Commercial Union in Poland.

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immigration as it was rather a symbolic event. However, it helped to open up cooperation and at the same time enable the first immigrants to arrive. The modern system of registration of foreigners in Poland started in the first part of the 1990s and since that time reliable immigration data has been available. Up until 1989, it was still not possible in Poland to apply for refugee status or asylum. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the number of Sikhs who were registered during this period either for work permits or because of marriage. Nevertheless, based on the information gathered from the interviews conducted during the research for this chapter, the approximate number of Sikh immigrants who settled in Poland in this period was probably not higher than 30 persons. Most of the immigrants were unmarried men who were ready to explore the newly opened economic market and started their own businesses in the area of the capital Warsaw. The main fields of business were textiles and shoes. This first phase of migration, although very small, nevertheless provided the foundation for the immigrants that arrived in the second period. The Second Period of Migration: From 1989 to 2004 After the collapse of the communist regime and the steady improvement of the economy, Poland became more attractive to immigrants. In addition, the country gradually became a transit region for Asian immigrants attempting to reach western Europe. Most of them were trying to cross borders illegally, usually hidden in trucks or approaching the sections of the border which were not stringently guarded, mainly in the mountains, so-called “green borders.” This period is characterized by a sizeable but mainly uncontrolled inflow of immigrants. The first Sikh refugees were registered in Poland in 1994. The number of Sikh immigrants was negligible, only four people in the next few years, up to 1998. There was an increase in 1995 (32 people), and in 1996 the largest number (88), but the next two years brought a slight decrease: in 1997, 52 individuals were registered and in 1998, 68 persons. From 1998, the number of refugee applicants declaring a Sikh background dramatically dropped: only twelve in 1999 and eight in 2000.2 The reason for this sudden change in the immigration patterns lies in the improvement of the Polish border security and the severe penalties for those involved in bringing people into Poland illegally. This to a large extent stopped illegal immigration and trafficking of immigrants in trucks. However, the new measures of prevention implemented in that period did not stop the immigrants from crossing the green borders on foot. The number of Sikh immigrants thereafter increased considerably again, from 31 individuals in 2001 to 169 persons in 2002 and 169 and 171 individuals in 2 Office for Foreigners, available at http://www.udsc.gov.pl/Zestawienia,roczne,233. html, accessed January 3, 2010.

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the subsequent years.3 During this period Poland was treated mostly as a transit country, as it lay on the trafficking route from India via Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus to the western European countries. More than 40 percent of the smuggled Sikh immigrants applied for refugee status, using this procedure to obtain free accommodation and shelter until a further route to western Europe could be arranged.4 It is a difficult task to estimate how many of these Sikhs finally decided not to travel further but to remain in Poland. Many of the immigrants did not possess any documents and were identified only on the basis of their own statements. On the other hand, it is impossible to treat the whole number of Sikh refugees as “real Sikhs” due to the fact that some of them might have given false statements in their application and perhaps have pretended to be Sikhs for immigration reasons (see Figure 5.1).

Figure 5.1

The number of Sikh immigrants applying for refugee status or asylum (1994–2004). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw

Despite the fact that most Sikh immigrants came to Poland in this period illegally, there is also a considerable number of legal immigrants who arrived in possession of work permits or permits for starting their own businesses. Those who applied for a long-term residence permit for the first time were registered by Polish authorities and therefore the statistical data contains some information about them. According to this data, the first entry of long-term immigrants was in 1998 with 14 approved applications and in the following years this number slowly increased (see Figure 5.2).5

Ibid. This information was obtained from the Analytical Department of the Polish Border

3 4

Guards Headquarters in Warsaw. 5 Office for Foreigners, available at http://www.udsc.gov.pl/Zestawienia,roczne,233. html, accessed January 3, 2010.

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Figure 5.2

The number of Sikh immigrants applying for residence permits (1998–2004). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw

The statistics in Figures 5.1. and 5.2. show clearly that the number of applications from Sikhs seeking refugee status and long-term work permits decreased during the late 1990s. The refugee application allowed the immigrants to stay for a specified time at the financial cost of the Polish government and during that period most of them managed to legalize their long-term stay on the basis of marriage or employment. Most of those who applied for refugee status came from small villages in Punjab, especially from the rural, emigration-prone areas of Gurdaspur, Firozpur and Ludhiana. The level of education of the applicants was in most cases low and therefore it was more problematic for these immigrants in the beginning to establish themselves as they mostly obtained low-paid jobs as street sellers, warehouse clerks and so on. A considerable number of the Sikh immigrants (approximately 40 percent) were involved in illegal trade, which resulted in court penalties and, in a few cases, even expulsions.6 The number of Sikh immigrants who chose a legal way to enter the country was rather small in this period. Almost half of them arrived on the basis of long-term student visas and this allowed them to apply for long-term residence cards later.7 The most popular university fields of study chosen by the Sikh immigrants were BA and MA courses in hotel management and marketing offered by private universities and graduate high schools in Warsaw, Bialystok, Szczecin, and Rzeszow.

The information comes both from the statistical data obtained from the Polish Border Guards Headquarters and from several interviews held on April 17 and 29, May 31, and August 3, 14, and 16, 2009. 7 Data obtained from the Masovia Voivodship Office, Department for Foreigners, Warsaw. 6

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The Third Period of Migration: From 2004 to the Present After Poland’s accession to the European Union (EU) in May 2004 and to the Schengen zone in 2007, the total number of immigrants increased. While illegal immigration, which was registered while entering the country, stayed mostly on the same level, legal Sikh immigration almost doubled in number.8

Figure 5.3

The number of Sikh immigrants applying for refugee status or asylum (2004–09). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw

In comparison with the previous period, the number of refugee applications placed by Sikhs decreased, although there was a sudden increase in 2007 when Poland entered the Schengen zone. After this year, application for refugee status was no longer a means to legalize a stay in Poland (See Figure 5.3.). An analysis of refugee applications shows that the stated level of education of the applicants was much higher during this period compared to the previous years and the applicants seemed to be well aware of the legal procedures before applying for asylum. According to the statements by NGOs, illegal immigrants who managed to cross the border to Poland preferred to stay unregistered, which in most cases implied that they stayed “without asylum application,” as they feared that they might be placed in guarded camps for foreigners where they were not allowed to work while their refugee applications were being processed—a bureaucratic process that might be prolonged.9 It is extremely difficult to estimate how many Sikhs stayed illegally in Poland during the first decade of the twenty-first century, but the statistics of 8 The data registered by the Analytical Department of Polish Border Guards Headquarters states that the number increased by 95 percent. 9 The Aliens Act on granting protection to aliens within the territory of the Republic of Poland was implemented in 2003, available at http://www.karpacki.strazgraniczna.

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NGOs’ indicates that the number might have been high, approximately 500–1,000, and continues to grow.10 After 2006, Sikh immigration by legal means also increased, that is, the number of approved applications for temporary and long-term residence permits gradually increased (see Figure 5.4.). However, the statistical data does not show the real number of Sikhs migrating to Poland because of two important reasons: firstly, the possession of long-term visas does not require application for a residence card, and secondly, intra-Schengen zone immigration (the Schengen agreement allows for free movement between member countries).

Figure 5.4

The number of Sikh immigrants applying for the residence permit (2004–09). Source: Office for Foreigners, Warsaw

The socio-economic profile of Sikh immigrants seems to have changed entirely during the past few years. The low level of education of those who migrated during the previous period was replaced by immigrants coming mostly from middle-class or well-to-do families with high education and business interests.11 The growing economy in Poland seems to represent a new opportunity for them. As was

pl/zadaniaSG/ustawa_o_udzielaniu_cudzoziemcom_ochrony_na_terytorium_RP.pdf, accessed October 17, 2009. 10 The data was obtained courtesy of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw and Halina Niec Human Rights Association in Krakow. 11 Data obtained from the Masovia Voivodship Office, Department for Foreigners, Warsaw.

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expressed in the interviews, they now see that there are excellent opportunities for succeeding in business in Poland, mostly in textiles, leather and food imports.12 The opening of the borders within the Schengen zone allowed free movement of citizens between the member countries. It created more opportunities not only for local inhabitants but also for a new, although still minimal, flow of immigration. In the western part of Poland, bordering Germany, this phenomenon is most noticeable. Among the newcomers, a few Sikh families have settled in the cities of Poznań and Wrocław in order to move their businesses from Germany and other countries to Poland. Another group of inter-diasporic Sikh migrants are constituted by those who had applied for refugee status in Poland but later decided to continue to western Europe illegally. When it was later discovered that Poland was the first country of entrance into the European Union, these immigrants were consequently sent back to Poland to complete their asylum applications in accordance with the Schengen regulations. Apart from those who migrated within the Schengen zone, more than 500 people of Indian (Sikh) origin who arrived from Dubai and other non-EU countries have settled in Warsaw and Łódź to develop businesses in the textile trade and electronics.13 Places and Reasons of Settlement According to the information entered in the applications for residence permits, the majority of Sikh immigrants (70 percent) live in the area of Warsaw. Apart from the business-oriented immigrants, there are many students as Warsaw is also an academic center. The second area chosen by immigrants to settle in is the area of Łódź and neighboring towns (Pabianice and Zgierz) located just 120 km south-west of Warsaw. According to information gathered in the interviews, the immigrants have chosen this area because housing is cheaper while it is still easy to commute to the capital. Many live in two locations and travel between Łódź and Warsaw as they usually have offices in both places. Other cities, like Poznań, Szczecin, Kraków and Rzeszów, are known to Sikh immigrants because they have undertaken education at the universities and colleges located in these cities. They chose to study at these places mainly because of a lower living cost compared to Warsaw. Interestingly, only a few of them resettled in the capital after completing the first year of education. They preferred to stay in the smaller cities they already knew and where they had already been recognized by the local Polish community. However, for many the main reason for this decision was that they

Interviews conducted on May 31, June 2, 21, 23, and 28, August 1, 14, and 16, and September 29, 2009. 13 Data obtained from the Masovia Voivodenship Office, Department for Foreigners, Warsaw and from interviews conducted on August 22, 23, and 24, September 1, 2, 5, 10, and 11, November 13, 14, and 15, 2009. 12

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Figure 5.5

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Map of Sikhs in Poland. The map has been prepared by the author on the basis of the statistical data and interviews with Sikh immigrants

entered into marriages with Polish women. Nevertheless, a sort of occupational mobility among Sikhs can be also observed (see Figure 5.5). The majority of the respondents (56 percent) in the quantitative part (questionnaire) of the research answered that they arrived in Poland illegally and applied for refugee status soon after arrival. While their applications were being processed, they married Polish women and thus the application process was canceled before a decision had been taken and they could subsequently apply for residence cards. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) were Sikhs below 30 years of age. A large majority lived in the city (82 percent), while a few lived in smaller towns (15 percent), or villages (3 percent). Only 8 percent of the men stated they wear turbans and 35 percent of all respondents claimed they attended worship at least once a month in the gurdwara. Asked about the reason for arrival in Poland, 68 percent answered work or family, 22 percent stated studies, while 10 percent asserted they did not have the intention to move to any particular country but just wanted to find a job and settle in western Europe. As they were unable to continue

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their travels, they decided to stay in Poland. One illustrative example of how the place of settlement is decided along the way was given by a 27-year-old Sikh man: I left Punjab and my country because my family wanted me to do so. I have two younger sisters and they are coming to the age when they should marry, you know. I had no particular interest in any place. My uncle arranged the whole way for me and told me the travel to France would take only a week. It was much longer. I had no idea where I was for most of the time. When the police opened the truck where I was hidden it turned out I was at the Polish-Ukrainian border. After a few months in an open camp for refugees I decided not to go further and found a job here.14

Interestingly, more than half of the respondents had never considered the option to settle in Poland, as they had little or no knowledge of post-communist countries, did not know that Poland was not part of the euro zone (that is, the area in which the currency is the euro), and did not know that there was not a large Sikh or Indian community in Poland. As some young respondents expressed: I didn’t know that Poland was becoming part of the EU. I was sure it was a part of Russia. (Amrik, 22)15 I thought I would finally manage to go to Holland but I soon realized I had been unloaded in Poland, a country I didn’t know much about. (Navpreet, 24)16 When I was detained I first called my brother-in-law and he told me to go back to India and not to stay in Poland as it was supposed to be a poor country where people suffer from hunger. (Sachveer, 31)17

Answers like these were given by immigrants who arrived in Poland before 2004, while those who arrived later stated business and education as reasons. Some of the respondents (24 percent) answered that they had arrived in Poland through transit countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, while others (18 percent) came from Germany, the UK, Italy, France, and Spain.18 However, the majority 16 17 18 14

Interview, July 17, 2009. Interview, April 30, 2009. Interview, April 9, 2009. Interview, May 7, 2009. The arrivals via Spain were all cases due to marriage. In the interviews, this phenomenon was explained in the following way: there is a large number of Polish workers in Spain and due to financial reasons, interests in “exotic” cultures, and discovery of some cultural similarities, these Poles socialize not with Spanish people but mostly with groups from other nations, particularly with Indians who stay illegally in Spain. For some Indians, marriage to a citizen of the European Union is a means to legalize their stay in Europe. 15

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(58 percent) answered that they arrived directly on the basis of work permits or study visas. The question concerning employment was the most uncomfortable to answer as it turned out that many of them had some history of illegal employment. According to the answers, 52 percent were employed in private companies exporting goods from India or Dubai, 40 percent worked in pubs and restaurants, while the remaining 8 percent were unemployed. All of the respondents in this survey said that they wanted to keep in close contact with the Sikh and Indian communities in Poland. Further questions concerned social issues and relations with Poles. Almost half of the respondents (48 percent) were very positive and pleased with their relations with Poles, 36 percent were positive, 3 percent were neutral, 11 percent were rather negative, and 2 percent very negative. Several interviewees referred to their interactions with Polish society in this way: It was very tough in the beginning. I thought these people [Poles] were afraid of me. Nobody wanted to talk to me on the street. I was very confused. Many looked at me and my turban with fear in their eyes. I felt very lonely. Gradually I got some Polish friends who invited me to their places and families. I stopped wearing a turban. I was fed up with explaining to everybody that I am not a dangerous person. I also moved out from my small town to Warsaw where I now live and I have Sikh and Polish friends. (Matinder, 23)19 I knew where I was going. I contacted some Sikh students who had arrived here before me. After I came to Kraków I realized that many people were interested in talking to me about India and Sikh religion so, you know, I got a big circle of friends who proudly take me to the towns where they come from. I am invited to my friends’ houses for the celebration of all Polish festivals and I feel like an important guest. (Kamalroop, 25)20 When a group of drunken men stopped me on the way, they were making fun of me. I didn’t understand much of the language but I heard some words like Afghanistan and Taliban. I tried to explain that I am not one of them. Fortunately for me a police car was passing nearby and they left. (Tajender, 39)21

Interestingly, the most common reason given for settlement was a special sort of “cultural commonality” between Punjabis (Indian) and Polish people with regard to their shared family values and the appreciation of strong family bonds and cultural traditions. It is still very common in Polish society that children stay with their parents long after they become adults, even after getting married. Like the practice of extended families in Indian society, many a Polish family share a house Interview, May 12, 2009. Interview, September 1, 2009. 21 Interview, September 3, 2009. 19

20

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in which several generations live together. Many respondents emphasized that this similarity between the cultures also helped the newcomers to integrate into society and start a family in Poland: I was transferred from Southern Germany to Poznań. We arrived in winter so you can imagine how depressed we were at the beginning. My wife told me she would go back to Germany or even to India. My colleagues in the company (where I am employed) invited us to get-together parties. My wife soon realized she could talk to Polish women about children and bringing them up and that they had much in common. Poles have very strong family bonds and similar issues concerning interfering in-laws [laughing]. (Daljeet, 47)22 Before getting married my wife insisted on a real Polish wedding. Honestly, I argued with her a lot. But when we were invited to such weddings of our friends I realized it is an Indian wedding in Poland! So many traditions before and after. Crowds of people and food being served the whole night. I went for the same! (Narinder, 27)23

When asked to give their opinion about whether they thought that they were integrated into Polish society, 87 percent of the respondents answered positive to the question. However, only in half of the cases were specific ways of integration indicated, such as sending children to school, visiting neighbors, having Polish friends, and studying the local language. With regard to knowledge of the Polish language, more than 28 percent described their skill in Polish as very good (communicative level), 19 percent describe their language abilities as fair, 41 percent as very basic and 12 percent thought Polish was too difficult to grasp. Community Building and Collective Worship Another important factor that may encourage Sikhs who arrive in Poland to settle in the country is the presence of the public gurdwara which is the only one in central (ex-communist countries) and eastern Europe.24 The first efforts made to register a Sikh community in Poland date back to 2004, when an official request was placed at the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration in order to register the Sikhs as a religious community. According to the legal requirements in Poland, registration is possible only if the application and required documents are presented with a list attached containing 100 signatures of members who are Interview, October 12, 2009. Interview, September 15, 2009. The respondent was obviously comparing the

22 23

similarities in the celebration of the weddings in Poland and India without mentioning the differences in the religious part of the celebration. 24 There is one gurdwara in Moscow which opened in 2009.

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willing to start a new religious group. The Sikhs managed to meet this condition within a year, while it took one additional year to collect the other necessary documentation. Finally, on December 20, 2007, the community was registered under the name Religious Association of Sikhs in Poland (RASP).25 Today the RASP has a managing body consisting of three members headed by Jawahar Jyoti Singh who is also the president of the Indian Association. While applying for the registration of their religious community, the Sikhs also included a request for the right to wear turbans and kirpans in Polish society. In the registration permit, therefore, the ministry stated that it had no objection to the wearing of these religious symbols.26 After the permit had been granted, Jawahar Jyoti Singh stated in the newspapers that: The Polish authorities have given us what we had asked for. The rights of a minority community are being respected, which is most gratifying. Now our job is to collect funds not only in Poland but from other European countries to construct a beautiful gurdwara. Furthermore, this will be the first gurdwara in eastern Europe.27

In 2004, the Sikh community decided to rent a house and transform it into a gurdwara, with a fully equipped langar kitchen and langar hall, which was called Gurdwara Singh Sabha (see Figures 5.6 and 5.7). Jawahar Jyoti Singh had to make a few trips to Amritsar to obtain the proper equipment for the gurdwara and to acquire religious teachers. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee (SGPC) responded by lending two granthis who arrived in Poland in 2004 and have since then carried out their religious duties in the Gurdwara Singh Sabha. The southern outskirts of Warsaw in the small town of Raszyn was purposely chosen as the place for the gurdwara. The area is inhabited by a great number of Indians, mostly Punjabis and Sindhis, who comprise the majority of visitors to the gurdwara. During the interview with Jawahar Jyoti Singh, he emphasized several times that without the financial support from the Sindhi community, who also honor Guru Nanak, it would have been very difficult to sustain the gurdwara and pay the rent. The gurdwara functions according to all regulations of the Shiromani

In Polish: Związek Wyznaniowy Singh Sabha Gurdwara w Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej. 26 However, the length of a kirpan was not mentioned. See Ministry of the Interior and Administration, available at http://www.mswia.gov.pl/portal/pl/92/223/Koscioly_i_ zwiazki_wyznaniowe_wpisane_do_rejestru_kosciolow_i_innych_zwiazkow_wy.html, accessed on December 10, 2009. 27 Official blog of the Srijan Foundation Trust, “Eastern Europe’s first gurdwara in Poland,” posted on January 9, 2010 at http://www.srijanfoundation.org/areas-of-interestto-srijan-foundation/religion/eastern-europes-first-gurdwara-in-poland/, accessed on October 17, 2009. 25

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Figure 5.6

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Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Raszyn. Photo: Zbigniew Igielski

Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, but in practice means that the SGPC has no administrative control of the gurdwara. From the beginning, Sunday was chosen as the main day for communal worship and for the recitation of the ardas in Gurdwara Singh Sabha. This is the only day of the week when the gurdwara is crowded. The worship brings together Sindhis and Sikhs not only from Warsaw but also from the whole country and remote areas. All Sikh ceremonies, such as the marriage ceremony (anand karaj), the unbroken recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib (akhand path) carried out for special purposes, the turban-tying ceremony (dastar bandhi), and the Khalsa initiation (amrit sanskar or khande di pahul) are performed in the gurdwara. Up to the present, three interfaith Polish Catholic-Sikh marriages have been performed in the gurdwara. The marriage ceremony has only a religious importance as it has no legal power to contract a marriage according to the Polish legal system.28 Gurdwara Singh Sabha is not only a place of worship but has become an important meeting place for the whole Indian community in Poland, regardless of religious However, the Christian marriages have the same legal status as the civil ones.

28

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Figure 5.7

The interiors of the Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Raszyn. Photo: Zbigniew Igielski

identities. Poles who are either spouses or friends of Sikhs are also regular visitors to the gurdwara. According to the interviews conducted for this study, most of the Polish wives of Sikhs have kept their religion (Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox), while none of their husbands have converted to Christianity. Their children have been raised with an awareness of both religions and have been baptized according to the Catholic rituals, while a very few underwent the Sikh ceremony of naming a child (nam karan).29 Thus, families with a Polish mother and Sikh father seem to keep Catholic rather than Sikh traditions when choosing the ceremonies to be conducted for their children. The Sikh congregation in Poland has already made plans to build a new gurdwara in the same area of Warsaw which will have an architectural style similar to gurdwaras in Punjab. Apart from that, the community also plans to build another gurdwara in the city of Łódź, where a new community of Sikhs and Sindhis is gradually growing.

Based on interviews with 96 adult Sikh immigrants and their families.

29

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Conclusion Undoubtedly, the Sikh community in Poland has been growing and developing quickly over recent years. A few reasons for this can be identified. Sikh passion for hard work enabled them to break down many barriers, including the most difficult cultural and language obstacles. The fast-growing Polish economy seems to be one of the most important reasons for immigration. However, it is also worth mentioning and emphasizing that many Sikh immigrants discovered specific cultural similarities with Sikh and Polish family life, and this made them feel at ease in the new country in which they had settled. Bibliography The Aliens Act (2003), available at: http://www.karpacki.strazgraniczna.pl/ zadaniaSG/ustawa_o_udzielaniu_cudzoziemcom_ochrony_na_terytorium_ RP.pdf, accessed on October 17, 2009. Igielski, Zbigniew, Gurbani sakralny język sikhizmu (Warszawa: Dialog, 2004). Igielski, Zbigniew, “Sikhijska koncepcja równości,” in Jednostka i społeczeństwo w Azji Wschodniej (Toruń: Adam Marszałek, 2007), pp. 142–55. Igielski, Zbigniew, Sikhizm (Kraków: WAM, 2008). Ministry of the Interior and Administration, available at http://www.mswia.gov. pl/portal/pl/92/223/Koscioly_i_zwiazki_wyznaniowe_wpisane_do_rejestru_ kosciolow_i_innych_zwiazkow_wy.html, accessed on December 10, 2009. Office for Foreigners, available at http://www.udsc.gov.pl/Zestawienia,roczne,233. html, accessed January 3, 2010. Official blog of Srijan Foundation Trust, “Eastern Europe’s first gurdwara in Poland,” posted on January 9, 2010 at http://www.srijanfoundation.org/areasof-interest-to-srijan-foundation/religion/eastern-europes-first-gurdwara-inpoland/, accessed on October 17, 2009. Sieklucka, Anna, “Równouprawnienie kobiet w sikhizmie,” in Być kobietą w oriencie (Warszawa: Dialog, 2001), pp. 77–92.

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Part II Sikhs in Southern Europe

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Chapter 6

Mirror Games: A Fresco of Sikh Settlements among Italian Local Societies Barbara Bertolani, Federica Ferraris and Fabio Perocco

This chapter provides a depiction of the settlement of Sikhs in the Italian Peninsula, from both a diachronic and a synchronic point of view.1 We have entitled our contribution a “fresco,” since it describes a landscape, but also, through some in-depth insights, offers to readers details of selected regional contexts where the presence of Sikhs is particularly prominent. The analytical concept which lingers through the paper is that of a “mirror game,” permeating the ways in which Sikhs, in each of the contexts depicted, juggle with the dominant neo-assimilationist discourse in Italy and thereby have been able to find an original and positive way to make their own identity accepted. Indeed, external Sikh symbols, such as turbans and beards, and public religious events like city processions (nagar kirtan), respond to the lure of exoticism, which Italian society looks for within an orientalist discourse.2 The first section describes the history of Indian immigration in the country, focusing especially on the last two decades when, without a doubt, this settlement has become substantial. It also provides some data about the regions in which the Sikhs are located, and a map of the gurdwaras in the country in order to shed light on their concentration. The second part of the chapter focuses on the kind of interactions that exist between Sikhs and the host Italian society, and more specifically on the Sikhs’ ability to cope with the neo-assimilationist discourse,3 which has permeated migration policies, public opinion, and local entrepreneurs, by representing themselves as the “good savage” in opposition to the “bad” migrants, and Muslims in particular. 1 Barbara Bertolani is the author of the section “Milkers and Truck Drivers: The Emilia-Romagna Context”; Federica Ferraris is the author of the sections “Introduction,” “Going Rural and Urban at Once: The Lazio Context,” and “Conclusions: Towards an Open Ending,” and Fabio Perocco is the author of the sections “Traits and Trends of Indian Immigration,” “Public Images of the Sikhs in a Neo-assimilationist Italy,” and “The ‘Leather Triangle’: The Veneto Context.” 2 Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978). 3 Ralph D. Grillo and Jeff Pratt (eds), The Politics of Recognizing Difference (Aldershot, 2002).

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The remaining sections give insights into three regions in Italy where the authors have carried out their own research: Emilia-Romagna (Modena, Reggio Emilia, and Parma districts), Lazio (Roma), and Veneto (Vicenza). There are also Sikhs in some regions of the south (notably Puglia, Calabria, and Campania), but their presence is transitory rather than permanent. Each section has been framed with both quantitative and statistical data about the Indian presence, describing the occupational sectors in which the Sikhs are prominent in each region, and qualitative data which has been derived from local media news and other sources. At the end of the chapter, we present some preliminary conclusions about the current situation and raise some questions which remain open to further investigations. Traits and Trends of Indian Immigration Despite the great number of Sikhs among the Indian immigrants in Italy (numbered at 91,855 residents on December 31, 2008, of whom 37,541 were women), we choose to discuss Indian immigration when referring to statistics on presence and labor. This is because there is no national census of the religious affiliation of the immigrant populations and the state authorities record only nationality.4 Estimates about the presence of Sikhs in Italy differ greatly and, just to give a rough idea, amount from between 25,000 and 30,000 up to about 70,000.5 The 1990s presaged the traits that would characterize Indian immigration in the following decade. Although the number of Indians in Italy (11,412 residents in 1990, 14,629 in 1995, and 25,608 in 1999) was lower than many other national groups, Indian immigration manifested some specific characteristics of its own: a steady growth in number, which tripled in the period 1991–2001;6 a significant 4 However, readers should bear in mind that the phenomenon of undocumented migration, which is a result of the enduring migration politics and the dynamics of the labor market, is relevant in Italy and therefore the official statistics in this paper present lower figures than the “real” presence of Indians and Sikhs. 5 As an example, Caritas, one of the two main sources of statistics data on immigration in Italy, usually refers to an estimation criterion based on the religious distribution of the countries of origin, extrapolated from government data. In the case of Sikhs, this means their presence is underrepresented. If the Sikhs constitute 2 percent of the population in India, they probably account for 70 to 80 percent of the Indians in Italy. An ongoing research project by the Department of Sociology at Padua University is investigating the presence of religious minorities in northern Italy and will hopefully enable the collecting of some more specific data on the Sikh presence in the country. The same research project will provide some insights on religious pluralism among the Sikhs and has thus far affirmed that the majority of the Italian Sikhs are Sahijdharis. 6 The pathway followed by Indian immigrants in Italy is not different from the one followed by other immigrant populations, characterized by a forced stage of “illegality” and, subsequently, regularization through one of the periodical amnesties. The number of

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trend toward residency and to family reunification,7 but also to remittances; a greater—but not markedly so—number of men than women; a high employment rate for men and a low rate for women,8 and a territorial distribution concentrated in just a few provinces, which hosted nearly 80 percent of the Indian population, sharply differing from the widespread settlement of most of the other immigrant populations.9 In the 1990s, we also began to get a clear picture of the Indians’ employment types and sectors. The vast majority were employees, with a very small number who were self-employed. Their employment sectors were above all agriculture (farm laborers), the food processing industry (cattle raising and food production), the tanning industry, circuses (service jobs), and, to a limited extent, domestic work and low-skilled services. The work status of Indian migrants intersected with identity and religious aspects, in the sense that, especially for the Sikhs, within these sectors the migrants faced situations of forced ethnicization but also some forms of specialization were utilized by these workers to help their newly arrived countrymen to find jobs. In the province of Latina (in Lazio), which is one of the principal points of arrival from Punjab, a very substantial number of these workers was employed as farm laborers,10 but within a few years many of them moved towards the agricultural sector of Lombardy and Emilia. This movement was driven by the dynamics of concentration and segmentation in the labor market (including the selection made by employers based on membership to a given population connoted by a certain stereotype), and also by the family networks which helped its members find work in specific economic spheres.11

Indian nationals regularized in the 1980s and 1990s is as follows: 1,193 in 1986; 2,819 in 1990; 5,623 in 1995 and 4,697 in 1998: Caritas, Immigrazione. Dossier statistico 2000 (Rome, 2000). 7 In this period, two-thirds of the Indian nationals held residence certificates. In 1998, there were 6,213 who had been residents for more than five years, equally divided between men and women. 8 In 1997, 90 percent of the Indians who found a job were men. In 1999, the Indian job seekers registered at the employment offices numbered 3,504, of whom 78 percent were men, while men made up 90 percent of those who found jobs in that year. Obviously, we refer here to the formal economy and documented work. 9 In 1997, out of 22,620 Indian residents 9,412 lived in Lazio, 4,112 in Lombardy, 1,652 in Emilia-Romagna, 1,328 in the Veneto, and 1,294 in Tuscany. In 1998, 76 percent resided in these five regions, with a third in Lazio (9,500) and a fifth in Lombardy (5,500). 10 In 1999, they constituted the largest foreign population of the province of Latina (1,273 persons). 11 Barbara Bertolani, “Capitale sociale e intermediazione etnica,” Sociologia del Lavoro, 91 (2003): 92–102; Barbara Bertolani, “Gli indiani in Emilia: tra reti di relazioni e specializzazione del mercato del lavoro,” in Domenica Denti, Maurizio Ferrari, and Fabio Perocco (eds), I sikh. Storia e immigrazione, (Milano, 2005), pp. 163–76.

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The employment conditions in the agricultural sector in Lombardy and Emilia, such as free housing in farmhouses and good wages, are very different from that of the foreign workers who are employed in the harvesting of seasonal products in southern Italy and are badly paid, controlled and dominated by gang masters, segregated in the fields, invisible, and without rights. By contrast, secure employment in the stalls and farms of Emilia and Lombardy promoted stability, the reconstitution of families, and participation in diverse spheres of social life (school, health care, and so forth). For these workers, the agricultural sector has constituted the principal sphere in which they have advanced from administrative and labor irregularity to regularity. Unlike other immigrant populations, for whom agriculture has represented a sector of transition towards industry and services in their process of regularization, many Indians have generally transited their administrative and labor status while remaining in the agricultural sector.12 In the late 1990s, a number of Indian workers began to settle in the province of Vicenza (Veneto), in particular in the tanning district which stretches through the Chiampo Valley, with the town of Arzignano as its “capital.” During this period, immigrants were not being hired in the various industrial sectors of this highly industrialized province, with the exception of the tanning sector, which is dependent on immigrant workers, who are paid low wages for labor-intensive tasks that are exhausting and extremely harmful to their health. At the end of the 1990s, we find a significant concentration of immigrants working in a limited number of sectors, which translates into a scattered and highly irregular geographical distribution with small islands of Indian and Sikh settlements. A significant process of social rootedness emerged from this as the public discourse did not yet distinguish between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims but often categorized all as “followers of oriental religions.” The developments since 2000 have confirmed the trends which emerged in the 1990s but at the same time brought about new situations. The process of stabilization has been strengthened, which is reflected in the reasons for issuing residence permits,13 the length of residence,14 the number of family reunifications,15 the presence of minors (born abroad and in Italy),16 and the progressive closing of the gender gap.17 The vast majority of Indians work for employers, even if there For Indians we do, in fact, find this status transition via the industrial sector in the subsequent decade (2000–10). 13 In 2002, four-fifths of all the residence permits were issued for “work” (48 percent) and “family” (32 percent) reasons; of the others, 16 percent were for “religious reasons” and 4 percent for “other reasons” (study, and so on). In 2004, most of the entry visas were issued for “work” (1,442) and “family” (3,688). 14 In 2001, just over half had been living in Italy for more than ten years. 15 In 2001, there were 8,427 residence permits granted for family reasons. 16 In 2001, about 10 percent of the Indian population in Italy were minors. 17 Women made up 40 percent of the population in 2002, and 43 percent in 2009. 12

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has been a modest increase in self-employment (represented for the most part by shops selling products for fellow Indians). In Agro Pontino (Lazio), the heart of fruit and vegetable production in central Italy, there has been a sharp rise in the number of Indian workers, who only partially improve their living and working conditions: many of them are underpaid,18 poorly housed,19 casualized, and constitute the base for a dynamic agro-industrial sector in Lazio, which increases production while decreasing its costs. The highly agricultural provinces of Cremona and Reggio Emilia continue to employ a great number of Indians,20 who are hired as cattle raisers, milkers, and farm hands in the most important cheese and food processing areas of the country. The employment of Indians in the agro-industrial sector, including that of the province of Caserta,21 continues to increase and spread to other important provinces such as Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Brescia, Mantua, and Bergamo.22 The tanning sector has also seen a rise in the number of Indian workers,23 albeit a modest one, as tanning is limited to a few districts (Arzignano, Florence, and Solofra). As a result, Indian workers in Veneto have turned to other branches of industry (metalworking, woodworking, and shoe manufacturing), or to agriculture and consequently moved to the provinces of Verona and Treviso. These movements in the labor market have created a new geography of Indian immigration. In 2008, the Indian population was concentrated above all in Lombardy (40.3 percent), Veneto (13.30 percent), Emilia-Romagna (14 percent), Lazio (11 percent), and Tuscany (4.4 percent), as the map in Figure 6.1. shows.

In 2010, some of the farm laborers earn as little as 3–4 euros an hour. Even today, some of these workers live in barely habitable hovels, in miserable

18 19

conditions. 20 In 2000, children of Indian nationality are in first place among the foreign pupils enrolled in the elementary and middle schools in the province of Cremona. 21 Where they are employed in the raising of cow buffalos, with whose milk the famed mozzarella of Campania is produced. 22 In 2002, 14 percent of all the foreign workers hired in this sector were Indians. They are in first place among the immigrant workers with permanent employment contracts in agriculture (with 1,894 contracts stipulated in 2000, 2,319 in 2001, 3,451 in 2002, 3,903 in 2003, and 3,918 in 2004), and in sixth place with regards to temporary contracts (after Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Albania, Morocco, and Tunisia, whose immigrants are employed above all as seasonal workers and, with their home countries relatively close to Italy, are more affected by circular migration). The great number of Indians in these sectors can also be deduced from their disproportionate number of injuries: In 2002, one-fifth of all the injuries reported in the agro-industrial sector involved Indians (in the metalworking industry, which includes tanning, the figure was 17 percent, and in the food industry 5 percent): Caritas, Immigrazione. Dossier statistico 2005 (Rome, 2005). 23 In 2002, nearly a fourth of all the foreign workers hired in this sector were of Indian origin. In the same year, 6,670 Italian workers left the sector.

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Figure 6.1

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Distribution of Indian residents in Italy (December 31, 2008). Source: Istat

It is noteworthy that the increased employment in these economic sectors and in these tasks has unquestionably facilitated a migration chain. At the same time, these sectors have become “cages” which block horizontal mobility; they have been transformed into elements of vocational segregation, which have produced a distorting effect upon the workers’ public image. Indians have come to be pictured

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as subjects who are naturally and culturally inclined to raise cattle and engage in agriculture, to such an extent that many contemporary young Indians reject the work of their parents and refuse to enroll for agricultural education. The progressive social rootedness among Indians in Italy has thus led to a new phase of migration and interaction with local society. This new situation has also given rise to a number of phenomena particularly important to the Sikhs: the opening of gurdwaras and more diverse religious and political orientations, and a new process of distinguishing the Sikhs from the Hindus and Muslims, which is supported by the media and the Sikhs themselves. Public Images of the Sikhs in a Neo-assimilationist Italy In the 1990s, a majority of the Italians regarded immigrants’ religions (not Christians) with “hostile indifference,” while a minority viewed them with curiosity (at times tinged with exoticism), sympathy, or genuine interest that gave rise to many small but significant experiences of exchange, often involving organized or informal groups connected with secular or Catholic associations. Around the year 2000, the question of immigrants’ religious identity came to the fore in public discourse, and was presented as a problematic aspect. It was said that the immigrants’ culture and religion constitute an obstacle to integration, while the most pressing problem was judged to be Islam, which came to stand as an emblem of the rejection and denigration of immigrants’ religions by many institutions and by the country as a whole.24 The mass media, which specialized in producing negative discourses on immigrants through the distorted use of the concept of “otherness,”25 singled out the Muslim culture and faith as the utmost exponents of such “otherness,” representing them as carriers of a radical and organic difference, to be kept isolated and at a distance. The Indian immigrants were depicted as subjects totally immersed in the religious dimension—characterized as uniform and perennial. With these premises, the past decade has witnessed the articulation of a policy of ethnicization without recognizing the religious identity and cultural rights of immigrants. According to this ethnicization, they are described as carriers of difference, especially “ethnic difference,” but in a negative and inferiorizing sense.26 This policy attempts to drive the immigrants to isolate themselves within their own “communities” and “ethnic” confines. Nevertheless, this reversion to “tradition” and the community should be carried out invisibly and on the sly, since no religious identity other than Catholic is recognized and tolerated in the public 24 Fabio Perocco, “L’enjeu ‘islam’ en Italie’, in Patrick Michel, Antonela CapellePogacean, and Enzo Pace (eds), Religion(s) et identité(s) en Europe (Paris, 2008), pp. 141–57. 25 Marco Binotto and Valentina Martino (eds), Fuori Luogo (Cosenza, 2004). 26 Fabio Perocco, “L’apartheid italiano,” in Pietro Basso and Fabio Perocco (eds), Gli immigrati in Europa (Milano, 2003), pp. 211–33.

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space. Furthermore, manifestations of “different” religious traits are, by advocates of this policy, considered to be an example of the failure to integrate, but above all an offense to the Catholic character of the nation and a lack of respect for the secularity of the state. In contemporary Italian society, cultural and religious difference is often the object of discrimination on an institutional level (in schools, health services, and the like). Many young people of foreign origin criticize the fact that they must downplay or even deny their own origins, and are eternally considered “foreign” and different. Many refuse to accept that their belonging to a religion different from Catholicism is a source of stigmatization. What Italian society has adopted today is an assimilationist policy without assimilation. This policy enjoins assimilation and unconditional adaptation in exchange for a nominal social inclusion which does not include a substantial social, political, and juridical equalization. The current return to assimilationism in Italy also represents the fading of ideas supporting a multicultural and multifaith society. It marks the suspension of the earlier debates and experimentation with intercultural policies and interreligious dialog. Up until the first years of this decade, multiculturalism was effectively, though not systematically, realized. Still, the public debate, the national policies regarding schools, health and social services, and the local social policies had, at times, entertained such a possibility, and many positive things were done. In the past few years, however, Italy has witnessed an eclipse of multiculturalism27 as a combined result of identity and security policies. Identity policies have, for instance, aligned public discourses on the necessity to restore the primacy of “Italianity.”28 This assimilation of “Italian style,” which is nowadays integrated into the national policy, entails the shrinking of multi-religious spaces, a self-compression of immigrants’ cultural demands, a reduction of occasions for cultural exchange, and a weakening of the relations between immigrant associations and local institutions. This general picture of politics and discourses is based on the stigmatization of religious difference,29 but also contains discontinuities. The Sikhs make one case in point as they enjoy a rather positive public image, and are usually represented as “good workers” and “peaceful individuals.”30 Stereotypes like these expressed by the local populations and institutions are generally favorable to them, even if these simplified images contains a paternalistic spirit of superiority—directed toward a population that is judged to be at an inferior stage of the social evolution. The public 27 Pietro Basso, “L’ascesa del razzismo nella crisi globale,” in Id. (ed.), Razzismo di stato (Milano, 2010), pp. 19–58. 28 Fabio Perocco, “L’Italia, avanguardia del razzismo europeo,” in Pietro Basso (ed.), Razzismo di stato (Milano, 2010), pp. 387–422. 29 Fabio Perocco, “Dall’islamofobia al razzismo anti-musulmano,” in Pietro Basso (ed.), Razzismo di stato (Milano, 2010), pp. 467–91. 30 In fact, the representation of this population is highly stereotyped, dominated by folkloric aspects (the inoffensive spirituality of the Indian world, their dress, the reference to the Mahatma Gandhi) and focused on the pervasiveness of the religious element.

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discourse usually describes the Sikhs as “well integrated,” in spite of the religious difference, and local authorities, political parties, and the native populations have performed some actions to show their openness and receptiveness. For instance, the presence of gurdwaras has not given rise to the same polemics and hostile demonstrations as took place when Islamic prayer rooms were opened. The public city processions (nagar kirtan) which the Sikhs have arranged when celebrating Vaisakhi are more or less approved by the local societies. In 2009, the law court of Vicenza passed a sentence stating that the kirpan is not to be considered a “cutting and thrusting weapon.” At present, there are also negotiations with the Italian state to stipulate an agreement for a juridical recognition of Sikhism. Yet it is too early to speak of the Sikhs as an “exception” with respect to the stigmatization processes described above, as specific studies in this field are still lacking. On a general level, however, it seems like the mass media and other social forces are responsible for a “selective stigmatization” and have railed against many of the larger immigrant populations with greater social weight (Romanians, Chinese, Moroccans, and Albanians) that are firmly established in important economic sectors and are protagonists of a significant process of social advancement. The Sikhs, who constitute a small group in Italy, do not represent a target of these criminalization policies but quite on the contrary, can be attributed the role of “preferred immigrants” in a “divide and conquer” strategy.31 At a middle level, it appears that local public opinion views the Sikhs’ employment status as positive, since the work they do is clearly subordinate and segregated compared to Italians. Even a few representatives or sympathizers of the Northern League (a xenophobic party in the current government coalition) occasionally appear to think well of the Sikhs and perceive them as peasants. It remains to be seen if these attitudes will change in the next few years, when the second generation of Sikhs pursue education and wish to enter the labor market. At a micro level, we note that, in the game of mirrors with the local context, the Sikhs have valorized the more formal and normative aspects of Sikhism and religious identity, and publicly present themselves in a manner which fulfills the local society’s expectations of exotic spirituality and strange customs. Contrary to the Senegalese in Italy, who have adopted a strategy of making Islam invisible while highlighting their national and African identity or their belonging to a spiritual Islam of the brotherhoods,32 the Sikhs emphasize their religious identity.33 But the questions of defining identity and what kind of identity is to be shown in public are completely open since identity constructions, also among the Sikhs, are subject to manipulations (including a trend towards reenforcing an esthetic appearance) and internal tensions, despite the unitary and 31 Domenica Denti, Maurizio Ferrari, and Fabio Perocco (eds), I sikh. Storia e immigrazione (Milano, 2005). 32 Bruno Riccio, Toubab e Vu Cumprà (Padova, 2007). 33 For example, by presenting themselves as representatives of one of the great universal religions and participating in interreligious meetings.

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monolithic representation given by majority society and by “orthodox” Sikhs (that is, followers of the Khalsa tradition).34 To answer these questions it is necessary to study what sense of belonging to Sikhism the migrants have and what social significances such belonging may have in various local contexts. It is particularly a question of understanding the extent to which Sikhs interiorize the gaze of the majority society, which in Italy stigmatizes the creation of migrant communities as an example of non-integration, and simultaneously tends to ethnicize the “other.” Milkers and Truck Drivers: The Emilia-Romagna Context Up to the end of 2008, the Indian residents of Emilia-Romagna comprised 12,854 people and represented the eighth largest “foreign community” in the region, which has doubled over the past six years.35 Their presence in the territory, however, is everything but homogeneous, as we can denote residential concentration among the neighboring provinces of Reggio Emilia,36 Parma,37 and Modena.38 Altogether 77.3 percent of the Indians in Emilia Romagna reside in this area. This concentration is a specific residential pattern that is caused by characteristics of the local economy and by the Indians’ choices of occupation and migration. Traditionally, this part of the region called Emilia is characterized by economic dynamism due to the presence of very important industrial districts (specifically, tiles and metal-mechanical factories) and the production of excellence in fashion and food industries. Tertiary (logistics) and primary sectors (cultivations and bovine breeding) are also important activities as the latter are linked with the production of Parmesan cheese, one of the most renowned and traditional foodstuffs of Italy. The provinces of Reggio Emilia, Modena, and Bologna produce the greatest quota of the regional economy. In terms of wealth, this territory is placed in first position in Italy and Europe, alongside other zones of Lombardy (Milan, Bergamo, and Brescia) and Veneto (Padua, Treviso, and Vicenza). Indian workers in Emilia are numerous in agricultural production as cow-milkers in the stalls, in the tertiary as truck-drivers and porters and in the

34 Barbara Bertolani and Fabio Perocco, “Religious Belonging and New Ways of being ‘Italian’ in the Self-perception of Second-generation Immigrants in Italy,” in Ruy Blanes and José Mapril (eds), Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe (Leiden, 2011). 35 ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri. Popolazione straniera residente al 1° gennaio per età e sesso,” available at http://demo.istat.it/str2008/index.html, accessed September 15, 2010. 36 Reggio Emilia is a traditional destination for Indian immigration in the region with 5,356 individuals—equal to 41 percent of the total Indian residents: ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri.” 37 2,465 individuals, equal to 19.2 percent: ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri.” 38 2,105 individuals, equal to 16.4 percent: ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri.”

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metal-mechanical industry, while their occupation in the tile industrial district is scarce, as Africans in particular find jobs there.39 In the last years, because of the economic crisis and the progressive glut of some productive realities in specific areas, Indians seem to have preferred the territorial move to occupational diversification. The present crisis has not restrained nor radically changed the patterns of migratory process and economic inclusion, as from 2003 to 2009, Indians have simply started to settle elsewhere in the region, in neighboring yet less colonized areas, instead of looking for different jobs. As a result, the settlements of Indians in the north of EmiliaRomagna nearby Lombardy have increased, especially in Parma and Piacenza provinces where Indian residents have almost tripled, followed by Reggio Emilia and Modena where they have doubled. A similar phenomenon of the territorial move is to be found even within the Province of Reggio Emilia where, over the past five years, the number of Indians has grown both in towns of traditional settlement,40 and especially in villages where they were previously almost absent. In these cases there is, however, a greater imbalance among the sexes with a large majority being males.41 In these territories, Indians have found jobs mostly in occupational duties which are considered typical for them in Emilia-Romagna, as well as in factories already staffed by fellow countrymen. Job finding has mostly been based on sponsorship and intermediation by kin-networks, which explains the trend of the territorial mobility. This has fostered both a residential concentration and the consolidation of occupational niches.42 One example among others is that of Campegine (Reggio Emilia province) where a cooperative of porters currently employs around 200 Indians. In this town, Indian residents have quadrupled within five years and the majority of them are Sikhs originating from the same village in Punjab and several linked kin-networks. Another example is work in cowsheds as milkers, which is connected to the production of Parmesan cheese. Even if this job is physically demanding, it is considered an attractive position because it offers a good salary and sometimes free or low-cost accommodation within the farm, which is one of the required conditions for family reunification. Another factor that has made this occupation attractive is that the farms that transfer the milk to dairies for cheese production 39 Maurizio Marengon (ed.), I lavoratori non UE in Emilia-Romagna nel 2006 (Bologna, 2006). 40 Luzzara, from 667 to 840 Indians—53.9 percent males; Correggio, from 359 to 539—54.5 percent males; Reggiolo, from 172 to 312—55.4 percent males; Fabbrico, from 87 to 296—52.7 percent males: ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri.” 41 Cadelbosco, from 58 to 148 residents—58.1 percent males; Campegine, from 54 to 238—65.5 percent males; Castelnovo Sotto, from 58 to 142—64.8 percent males, San Martino in Rio, from 145 to 306—58.2 percent males: ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri.” 42 Bertolani, “Capitale sociale e intermediazione etnica”; Bertolani, “Gli indiani in Emilia.”

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have suffered less due to the economic crisis, since their production is structured on a stable number of “milk quotas.” The mechanisms of intermediation among Indians have been combined with the existing tendency of the Italian labor market to ethnically segregate and the positive prejudice shown by Italian employers,43 who generally believe that cows are holy animals for Indians, and therefore prefer them to other immigrant employees. The result is that in EmiliaRomagna this productive field has become an ethnic niche, access to which takes place almost exclusively as members of kin-networks. Emilia-Romagna is not a territory of passage but of settlement and the greatest part of immigration processes is due to family reunification. This is demonstrated by the fact that, for example, in the province of Reggio Emilia about 20 percent of all Indians are less than 14 years old.44 Relations with Italian Society and Presence in Local Newspapers The stable presence of Indians in Emilia, often assembled in small villages of the province, has not aroused significant social tensions till now. As far as the Sikhs are concerned, the good relationships with other inhabitants, religious communities, and local institutions since 1990 have led to the opening of a gurdwara in a rented building in Rio Saliceto (Reggio Emilia province). In 1996, this gurdwara was seriously damaged by an earthquake and closed. Another building was rented, but this traumatic event induced Sikhs to collect money in order to build their own gurdwara and create a dialog with local authorities to carry out this project. The inauguration of the new gurdwara in Novellara took place in 2000 in the presence of the president of the European Commission, Romano Prodi. This gurdwara has been entirely financed by the Punjabi community,45 and is today an important point of reference for all Sikhs in Italy.46 In general, Sikhs have cultivated positive relationships with the local population by, for example, showing concrete acts of solidarity and social help (in 2009, the gurdwara of Novellara collected 15,000 euros for post-earthquake reconstruction in the Abruzzi). They have also participated in initiatives on interreligious dialog and interculture, such as the project “Nessuno escluso” organized by the municipality

Bertolani, “Capitale sociale e intermediazione etnica.” Osservatorio Regionale sul fenomeno migratorio (ed.), L’immigrazione straniera in

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Emilia-Romagna. 2007 (Bologna, 2009); Osservatorio Regionale sul fenomeno migratorio (ed.), L’immigrazione straniera in Emilia-Romagna. 2008 (Bologna, 2010). 45 Initially, the construction of this gurdwara was financed by Punjabi Hindus too, since the leading committee presented the temple as a place in which they could worship. In the end this has not happened and the Hindus have opened their own mandir. 46 Recently, another gurdwara has been opened in Castelfranco (province of Modena), but it is very small, serving only a few Sikh families.

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of Novellara since 2005,47 and the festival “Uguali-diversi,” since 2008.48 The leaders of the gurdwara have presented themselves as representatives of the Sikhs, promoting a unitary image of their religious community. This process of identity building for Italians has permitted them to hide the numerous differences and contradictions within the Sikh community,49 for example, among Amritdhari and Sahijdhari, different castes, and Sikhs sympathizing with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee instead of Damdami Taksal or Akhand Kirtani Jatha. This process has responded positively to the demands of local civic and religious institutions, which needed to identify a partner with which to engage in dialog. This sort of recognition by Italians has been possible because Sikhs have conformed partly to the implicit stereotypes of their interlocutors. The Sikh identity that prevails in contemporary public discourses mainly coincides with the Amritdhari identity. In the relationship with Italians, this has led to a folklorist transposition of martial religious symbols. Indeed, during religious festivals, swords and kirpans do not provoke defensive reactions in Italians, because they are presented as harmless traditional “cultural” objects, in a similar way as Indians’ spicy food and colorful dresses.50 In the regional and local press, Sikhs are often represented as a pacific and harmless community. Possible accidents or brawls are described as isolated episodes, punitive consignments referable to single individuals and not to the

This project is one of the few longstanding projects on interculture that is still in place. It promotes the sharing of different traditional and religious festivals, free Italian language evening courses for adults, translated brochures on sanitary services, driving license classes, and initiatives to promote the integration of foreign children in the local primary schools: Comune di Novellara, “Nessuno escluso” (2010), available at http://www. comune.novellara.re.it/servizi/menu/dinamica.aspx?idArea=647&idCat=648&ID=648, accessed September 5, 2010; Cambia l’Italia, “Novellara premiata per le buone pratiche locali” (2010), available at http://www.nelletuemani.org/blog/2010/06/29/novellarapremiata-per-le-buone-pratiche-locali/, accessed September 5, 2010. 48 This is a project promoted by the municipalities of Novellara, Correggio, Boretto, and sustained by the local Foundation “Pietro Manodori.” It aims at promoting the public debate on interculture and interreligious dialog through conferences, festivals, art exhibitions, initiatives in the local public schools, and so on. See Ugali Diversi, available at http://www.ugualidiversi.org/, accessed September 5, 2010. 49 Barbara Bertolani, “Reti migratorie, rappresentanze e periferie: riflessioni a partire da uno studio di caso,” in Angela Zanotti and Roberto De Angelis (eds), Periferie e migranti globali. Spazio, conflitto e rappresentanza (Firenze, 2009), pp. 141–60; Roger Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in Gerald N. Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora, Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab (Delhi, 1989), pp. 200–34. 50 Silvia M. Sai, “I sikh, immigrati ‘buoni’ e ‘integrati’? Una riflessione critica su migrazione, religione e integrazione degli indiani sikh a Reggio Emilia,” Religioni e sette nel mondo, 5/1 (2009): 129–40. 47

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whole community.51 The kirpan is described as a “religious ornament” that is never extracted to be used in acts of violence.52 Vaisakhi in Novellara is described as a religious festival which is “happy, vital, pulsating … and an important tool for the integration of a whole community” constituted by “good workers and citizens.”53 Moreover, in connection with the annual commemorative ceremonies at the war cemetery of Forlì, where hundreds of Sikhs who fought for the British Army during World War II are buried, local newspapers represent Sikhs as brave fighters who sacrificed their lives to free Italy from Nazi fascists together with the partisan resistance.54 These journalistic articles present the Sikhs in a positive way. Sikhs instrumentally adhere to these descriptions and contribute to recreate them, representing themselves as “good and well-integrated immigrants” and hiding their cultural and religious pluralism in the public space. Despite this positive general image, the daily papers of Reggio Emilia reported in 2009 a worrying incident that happened in the town of Luzzara, where in December 2008 Indians were the first foreign community to equal 55.2 percent of the resident immigrants and 9.2 percent of the total population.55 To satisfy the requests of Italian parents, one of the two sections of the public nursery school has welcomed only immigrant children, a large part of them Sikhs, while the other class has been formed to guarantee that at least half of the children were Italian. On their behalf, Sikh families have tried to obviate this apartheid by asking to enroll their own children in the parish school, where Christian religion and prayers are taught. This case illustrates how Sikhs in Italy display pragmatism and fear 51 Marco Martignoni, “Spedizioni punitive e agguati, nove arresti” (2007), available at http://gazzettadimodena.gelocal.it/dettaglio/spedizioni-punitive-agguati-novearresti/1404627?ref=search, accessed September 5, 2010. 52 Therefore, the story of a Sikh man, who in 2010 went to court to assist in a trial and surrendered his kirpan to the police on his own volition, but was reported for keeping a weapon illegally, is reported in local newspapers as somehow surprising, a sort of cultural misunderstanding: Gazzetta di Reggio, “Porta coltello in tribunale come ornamento religioso, denunciato” (2010), available at http://gazzettadireggio.gelocal.it/dettaglio/portacoltello-in-tribunale-come-ornamento-religioso-denunciato/1951529, accessed September 5, 2010. 53 Silvia Parmeggiani, “Migliaia di turbanti colorati per festeggiare la ricorrenza dei sikh” (2010), available at http://gazzettadireggio.gelocal.it/dettaglio/migliaia-di-turbanticolorati-per-festaggiare-la-ricorrenza-dei-sikh/1943312, accessed September 5, 2010. 54 Il Resto del Carlino, “Il saluto della città ai sikh nel ricordo dei caduti” (2009), available at http://www.ilrestodelcarlino.it/forli/2009/08/24/221747-saluto_della_citta_ sikh.shtml, accessed September 5, 2010. 55 Marco Sotgiu, “Chi ha ragione a Luzzara?” (2009), available at: http://www. viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3128, accessed September 5, 2010; Matteo Rinaldini, “Luzzara, la soluzione c’è: regole uguali nelle scuole” (2009), available at http://www. viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3141, accessed September 5, 2010; Marco Sotgiu, “Scuola di Luzzara: la ‘frittata’ è fatta,” available at http://www.viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3207, accessed September 5, 2010.

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much more that their children will not be integrated into Italian society rather than the possibility that they will be culturally or religiously “contaminated” by Christians. What happened in Luzzara, which is a center-left administrated town, has incited strong polemics. The events perhaps constitute a sign of change in the attitudes towards Indian immigrants among the local population. The Indians seem to be accepted when they do those heavy, laborious jobs that Italians do not want anymore, but they are less welcome to enter in competition with the local population as consumers of social policies. The risk which these cases may entail is a subordinate integration, that is, full recognition of duties but diversified access to rights. Going Rural and Urban at Once: The Lazio Context Indians in the region of Lazio constitute an important presence from a social and economic point of view, even if they are few in number (9,636 individuals according to statistical data up to December 31, 2008).56 Among South Asian residents they are second only to Bangladeshis and scattered in various locations, mainly along the coast. They cover different occupations both in the formal and informal sector. In Rome, Indians work particularly in the confectionery industry and as small entrepreneurs. The two provinces that host the majority of people of Indian origin are Rome and Latina with 6,369 and 2,780 residents respectively.57 In other provinces, nuclei are widely dotted in several villages, rarely reaching the concentration of two in the same municipality. There is a similar situation in Rieti, Frosinone, and Viterbo provinces, in which the number of Indians is 121, 179 and 187 respectively. The gender rate,58 lower if compared to other regions, is an indicator of the fact that the majority of these migrants are not settled as in other parts of the country. The Sikhs in Lazio are mainly single males who have just arrived in Italy, looking for jobs and often convinced by agents in Punjab that they could have reached other more attractive European destinations, such as Germany or the United Kingdom.59

ISTAT, “Cittadini Stranieri. Popolazione residente per sesso e cittadinanza al 31 Dicembre 2008. Regione: Lazio – Asia Centro-Meridionale,” available at http://demo.istat. it/str2008/index.html, accessed November 24, 2010. 57 ISTAT, “Cittadini Stranieri,” Rome: 2,931 females—46 percent; ‘Cittadini Stranieri’, Latina: 885 females—32 percent. Data available at http://demo.istat.it/str2008/ index.html, accessed November 23, 2010. 58 ISTAT, “Cittadini Stranieri,” Rieti: 43 females—36 percent; “Cittadini Stranieri,” Frosinone: 58 females—32 percent; “Cittadini Stranieri,” Viterbo: 71 females—38 percent, available at http://demo.istat.it/str2008/index.html, accessed November 23, 2010. 59 Indeed, many Sikhs consider Italy a transit country and not their final migration destination. 56

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The increasing economic crisis in the area can also be regarded as one of the reasons why their presence has decreased compared to other regions. Despite this, the Indian immigrants constitute a visible and consistent group in the region; they have acquired a certain amount of attention from the local media and have been noticeable in local political life. In 2009, the presence of one gurdwara in Lazio was mentioned for the very first time in the Dossier Statistico sull’Immigrazione, published every year by Caritas, one of the most important sources of information and monitoring of immigration trends in Italy,60 even though there are several gurdwaras in the region. The Province of Rome In the province of Rome, Indians account for 2 percent of the total immigrant population with the majority residing in the capital.61 Other districts where Indians are significant are along the coast, such as Anzio, Fiumicino, Ladispoli, and Nettuno, and also in the Capital Hills area (the so-called Castelli Romani) where they are employed especially in the bakery industry. Taking into account the rest of the province, Indians reside predominantly on the coast (1,053 residents over 1,623). The province also hosts a number of gurdwaras. In the metropolitan area of Rome, there are currently two gurdwaras: one is in Fiumicino (serving the neighboring districts of Rome as well as Fiumicino, its suburbs, and other small villages in the northern inland area) and the second is nearby the Anagnina Metro station (serving the adjacent urban districts and the Castelli Romani area). Both gurdwaras attract about 900 members each. There are also many smaller gurdwaras on the coast (Lavinio, Ladispoli, and Cerveteri) and on the inland hills (Lanuvio and Genzano). The presence of several shrines (see Figure 6.2.) could be interpreted as a sign of large settlements, but this is not always the case. Rather, the Sikhs seem to have created gurdwaras wherever they have settled. The lack of good public transportation in the region has given rise to various places of worship that generally host very small sangats.62 Beyond these sites, the Rome province hosts 60 Caritas-Migrantes, Immigrazione. Dossier Statistico 2009 (Rome, 2009). The gurdwara mentioned on p. 404 is presumably that of Sabaudia (Latina province). For a review of the valuable contribution of this source, see Russell King, “Tracking Immigration into Italy: Ten Years of the Immigrazione Dossier Statistico,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, vol. 28/1 (2002): 173–80. 61 ISTAT, “Cittadini Stranieri,” Rome (municipality): 4,746 individuals, of which 2,326 females—49 percent. It must be highlighted, however, that not only Punjabi Sikhs, but also Christian Keralan migrants are to be counted in this number—Ester Gallo, Reti migratorie e strategie di radicamento nell’immigrazione indiana a Roma (Siena, 1998), not to mention numerous clergies (priests, nuns, seminarians) living in the Vatican area. 62 The ownership of a car is usually assumed to be a sign that families have acquired socio-economic stability, which is not the case for Sikhs living in Lazio.

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a small, but significant and constantly growing community of Italian Kundalini yoga converts, who interact at various levels with Punjabi migrants and set up small gurdwaras in their own private homes.63 Latina, Sabaudia, and the Peasant Bikers The case of Latina district is probably the most significant regarding the presence of Indians in the Lazio region. In this province, the Indians represent the largest nonEU community, second only to Romanians, and in three municipalities (Pontinia, Sabaudia, and San Felice Circeo) they are the most numerous group of foreign residents. Other important places of settlement in the area are Aprilia, Cori, Fondi, Latina, and Terracina. Smaller communities are present in Cisterna di Latina and Sezze. However, one should take into consideration that these figures are excerpts from and elaborated by the official statistics carried out by the National Institute of Statistics on foreign residents enrolled in the register offices, while many Indians, some of whom are long-term residents, still have an unrecognized status and are therefore not accounted for in these calculations.64 The main occupation of Indian migrants is agriculture, followed by employment in the buffalo-milking industry. The situation of the workers in this area is rather different from that of those living in the northern regions, as they are often underpaid and have an irregular status. The Sikhs living in southern Lazio are mainly single men who do not speak Italian and rely primarily on agents to find an occupation.65 An important settlement of Sikhs in Sabaudia is constituted by 63 Federica Ferraris, “Going Rural and Urban at Once: Reflections from the Roman Sikh Context,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 24/3 (2009): 305–18 (see particularly pp. 310–13). 64 Esteems speaks of 4,000 Sikhs all living exclusively in the Sabaudia surroundings (Romano Tripodi, “Sono appena una ventina gli extra-comunitari residenti a Sabaudia che potranno votare nelle elezioni amministrative del 27 e 28 maggio prossimo,” available at http://www.iltempo.it/latina/2007/04/19/136670-sabaudia_sono_appena_ventina_ extracomunitari_residenti_sabaudia_potranno_votare_nelle.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010) and even of 8,000 taking into account the entire Latina province (Michele Marangon, “La prefettura lancia avvisi in punjabi: ‘Non c’è lavoro, sikh restate a casa’,” available at http://roma.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/09_dicembre_29/indiani-latinamarangon-1602219096548.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010). The same author spoke one month before of 7,000 peasants (Michele Marangon, “Latina, strage dei braccianti fantasma. Indiani senza luci travolti sulle strade,” available at http://roma.corriere.it/ notizie/cronaca/09_novembre_22/latina_indiani_morti_bicicletta-1602045333257.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010), and this attests how these estimates are presented on a rather random and uncertain basis. 65 Arianna Speranza, A casa lontano da casa: una ricerca etnografica nella comunità Sikh dell’Agro Pontino (Siena, 2008); Arianna Speranza, “A casa lontano da casa: i Sikh dell’Agro Pontino,” in Caritas Roma-Osservatorio Romano sulle Migrazioni, VI Rapporto (Roma, 2010).

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those squatting in a former factory, known as ex-Somal.66 In this context, the most prominent figure in the local public opinion is a Sikh gentleman who has been appointed in an official ceremony “Major” of the Agro Pontino Sikh community,67 and who is particularly active as a cultural and institutional mediator between the Sikh migrants and the local bureaucracy and representatives.68 He has often carried out interventions to make his fellow men aware of the best practices for waste disposal and treatment and of the importance of biking with appropriate lighting equipment, as many Sikhs have been victims of car accidents because of cycling on heavily trafficked and poorly illuminated roads.69 The “Major” has also been designated as leader of the first Inter-Ethnic Club within the former rightwing party Alleanza Nazionale in Sabaudia.70 Vaisakhis, Bicycles, and Crime News: The Presence of Lazio Sikhs in the Media Up to 2009, the Sikhs in Lazio were mentioned infrequently in local newspapers and television news, either in connection with the colorful celebrations of Vaisakhi in Rome and Sabaudia,71 or when Sikh workers were killed by cars while cycling

The area, a former industrial building that has in due course been transformed into a residence for families and individuals—both national and immigrant—with low incomes, is repeatedly monitored by the local police and administrators in an attempt to maintain a minimal level of dignity for the inhabitants: Romano Tripodi, “Sabaudia, i problemi che affliggono l’ex-Somal,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/ latina/2007/09/05/34390-romano_tripodi_sabaudia_problemi_affliggono_somal_grande. shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 67 Romano Tripodi, “Gli oltre 4000 esponenti della comunità Indiana dei Sikh hanno da oggi il loro sindaco,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2006/05/07/332686romano_tripodi_sabaudia_oltre_4000.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 68 Romano Tripodi, “Sono appena una ventina.” 69 Michele Marangon, “Strage.” 70 Romano Tripodi, “Fiocco Rosa in AN. Nasce il circolo dei Sikh,” available at http:// iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2006/12/31/213584-sabaudia.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 71 Il tempo, “Esquilino, la Mussolini contro i cinesi: illegalità nei negozi, Colori e tolleranza, il corteo sikh,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/roma/2007/04/16/134218esquilino_mussolini_contro_cinesi_illegalita_negozi.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010; Francesca Alliata Bronner, “Sikh, festa di pace a Piazza Vittorio,” available at http:// ricerca.repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2007/04/16/sikh-festa-di-pace-piazzavittorio.145sikh.html, accessed November 25, 2010; Il tempo, “‘Sabaudia, comunità Sikh in festa,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2003/06/08/207732sabaudia_comunita_sikh_festa_cittadina_presa_pacificamente_assalto_duemila_indiani. shtml, accessed November 25, 2010; Michele Marangon, “Sabaudia, capitale dei Sikh,” available at http://roma.corriere.it/notizie/weekend/09_giugno_28/sabaudia_festa_sikh_ marangon-1601513418800.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 66

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around the Agro Pontino area.72 These reports attested the possibility of a successful Sikh integration in the territory, and were always accompanied by statements from community spokespersons (either Kesdharis, other Punjabis, or Sikh converts) about Sikhism as a religion of love, tolerance, and respect for others.73 In these representations of the Sikhs, the normative Amritdhari identity was displayed and responded to the orientalist appeal of local society. The “integration despite exploitation” paradigm that seems to characterize the Sikh presence in Lazio is only marginally “disturbed” by crime news.74 Rather, the presence of Sikhs in this section of the media is exemplified by an episode that occurred on February 1, 2009, when Navtej Singh, a temporary worker and turbaned Sikh employed in a car wash, was burnt alive by a small group of “young, bored” local men. The incident was reported in both local and national media, which focused on the awkwardness of this act of violence directed at a victim from one of those “communities” whose integration has never been questioned. Excerpts from interviews with locals confirm the usual stereotype of Indians and Sikhs among Italians: “‘If they were the Romanians of Guidonia, who raped that poor girl … But not the Indians, everybody likes them. They are quiet, peaceful, clean,’ explains a barman in Anzio, ‘No, racism is not involved.’”75 Similar to press reports in other parts of Italy, the press in Lazio portrays the Sikhs as the “good savages” in comparison to other and more “evil” immigrants. The “Leather Triangle”: The Veneto Context Over the past five years, the number of Indians in the region of Veneto has sharply increased, sustained by the dynamics of family reunification, reaching a total of

Romano Tripodi, “Indiani investiti, si corre ai ripari con le luci,” available at http:// iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2004/09/29/614562-indiani_investiti_corre_ripari_luci. shtml, accessed November 25, 2010; Il Tempo, “SABAUDIA—Un corpo ormai privo di vita riverso nel fossato che corre lungo la Litoranea,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore. com/latina/2005/04/27/561253-sabaudia_corpo_ormai_privo_vita_riverso_fossato_corre_ lungo_litoranea_colle_piuccio.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010; Michele Marangon, “Latina, strage dei braccianti fantasma.” 73 Federica Pessot, “Arti marziali dall’India,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore. com/roma/2006/12/06/236699-arti_marziali_dall_india.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 74 Massimo Lugli, “Bruciano l’amico peccatore,” available at http://ricerca.repubblica. it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2003/01/14/bruciano-amico-peccatore.html, accessed November 25, 2010. 75 Gabriele Santoro, “Noia e bulli perbene, ma Nettuno non ci sta,” available at http:// iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/interni_esteri/2009/02/03/985014-noia_bulli_perbene_nettuno. shtml, accessed November 25, 2010 [emphasis added]. 72

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12,378 residents (4,979 of whom are women) in 2008.76 The distribution follows the region’s industrial geography, which is characterized by a dense and highly developed strip of widespread small and medium-sized industries located in its central provinces. The majority of Indian immigrants are employed as tanners, while a smaller number work in the fashion sector (leatherworking, shoe manufacturing). In recent years, there has been a diversification of their employment sectors, ranging from metalworking, wood and furniture production, and chemical manufacture, to production and distribution services (transport, logistics, cleaning, distribution of advertising material) and personal services (small-scale catering and domestic work), to cattle raising and harvesting. In the province of Vicenza, where the Catholic Church has historically had great social influence,77 Indian immigrants, the vast majority of whom are Sikhs, reside for the most part in the Chiampo Valley, especially in the towns of Arzignano (928), Chiampo (674), Valdagno (556), Lonigo (347), and Sarego (307). This territory, which in a short span of time has turned from a land of emigrants into a land of immigrants, is characterized by a dense but fragmentary residential makeup, composed of many villages and towns connected by a continuum of country hamlets, while the production context is constituted by a closely woven network of small, mostly family-run firms, engaged in tanning, marble extraction and manufacturing, and metalworking. This territory hosts one of the world’s most important tannery districts, specializing in the processing and production of cowhide and calfskin for other manufacturing sectors (furnishing and footwear), and accounts for approximately half the national tannery production and over a third of European output. This industrial district, considering also its ancillary enterprises, consists of slightly more than 800 firms that employ about 10,000 workers. It enjoys the highest industrialization rate of north-east Italy and the lowest unemployment rate in the country, even if it has been in the throes of a major crisis since 2008, also in terms of employment. Over the years a series of key organizational processes have taken place, including the increase of production activities and the average size of firms. As far as employment is concerned, it has since the 1990s had recourse to a labor force of foreign origin, principally Indian, Ghanaian, and [ex-]Yugoslavian. As a result of this phenomenon, the town of Arzignano, whose population is now 20 percent foreign, has come to represent the Italian municipality with the greatest

76 Most of them live in the provinces of Vicenza (5,637, including 2,234 women), Verona (3,528, including 1,429 women), and Treviso (1,929, including 831 women), while the rest reside in the provinces of Padua (631), Venice (432), Belluno (131), and Rovigo (90). 77 In fact, the Vicenza area is commonly described as the “sacristy of Italy,” due to the hegemony exercised there by the Catholic Church, and to being one of the cradles of the Catholic movement and having constituted one of the historical examples of local Catholic political culture, politically orientated to the Christian Democratic Party.

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incidence of immigrants: an immigrant population that is extremely diverse and composed of some 65 different nationalities. The Image of the Sikhs in Veneto Local Press Even though it is quite a small town, Arzignano has been in the national and local news a number of times because of the high percentage of foreigners in the total population and the coexistence of different religious faiths in a context that is small and has a strong Catholic tradition. The town has been presented by the press and the local administrators as an example of integration and peaceful coexistence. A substantial number of the migrant population are Sikhs, who are unknown to most Italians but presented as well integrated in public discourses.78 The image of Arzignano Sikhs in the local and national press, as in the current literature produced by civic society organizations, is generally very good, almost benevolent. The local administration and the media brushed aside the story of a violent brawl that broke out on April 7, 2009 near the Sikh temple at Castelgomberto, in which some 60 Indians fought over the division of the leaflet distribution market. The newspaper article “At the Sikh Procession Solidarity Won Out,” quoted here, is emblematic in this regard: Over three thousand highly colorful faithful, few policemen, no disorder. As Shakespeare put it, “much ado about nothing”. The procession with which yesterday afternoon the Indians of Vicenza and its hinterland celebrated at Castelgomberto the 310 years of baptism in the Sikh religion was truly a big party, a fine collective moment of prayer and gathering … Behind the sacred book came first the women and children, then the men, all with their heads covered and many barefoot as a sign of respect. At their arrival in the square they were received by the mayor, Lorenzo Dal Toso, the consul general of India in Milan, M.K. Gupta, and the deputy mayor of Montecchio Maggiore, Agostino Pilati. After a minute of silence to remember the victims of the earthquake in Abruzzi, came the official speeches and the delivery, by Singh Harwat, national president of the Sikh community and head of the Castelgomberto center, of the 2,500 Euros collected by the Vicenza Sikhs for the reconstruction. And Del Toso himself, who after the brawl at the temple, fearing disorders, had thundered against the Prefect’s decision to permit the Sikhs to proceed to the square,

Among various other facts, Italy discovered the Sikhs also from the “helmet controversy” that took place in Arzignano in 2000. With a new law that made it compulsory for motorcyclists and bikers to wear helmets, some Sikhs refused to do so for religious reasons. In spite of the request for particular treatment, which ran counter to the juridical principles of the Italian state based on the ius erga omnes of Roman law, the mass media appeared obliging and assumed a benevolent attitude, without stigmatizing this request as an act of invasion, as happens with other populations. See the news article “Niente casco, siamo sikh. I vigili alla guerra del turbante,” La Repubblica, April 6, 2000. 78

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decidedly changed his tone: “Remembering those who lost their lives and their homes is a sign of the fact that you want to live with us, paying respect. There have never been problems, and for this I thank you. Let us put ourselves on the same level, as before, and we will be an example for other places as well.” Then the festivities continued, with duels of men and boys who challenged one another with sticks, daggers, swords, hatchets, and shields, like in a dance, and children who whirled the “chakkar,” a large circle of rope used to stop enemy arrows. Harwat was satisfied in the end: “What happened [at Castelgomberto] destroyed in five minutes my work of ten years, because even if they are only a few, that shame falls on the entire community. But today we gave a good sign.”79

In the presentation of news stories, the local press nearly always uses a reassuring tone, without casting suspicion, clearly stating the Sikhs’ extraneousness (when such is the case) to deviant or criminal circuits and giving back this population its upright image. In general, it socializes the idea of a small religious community made up of honest and peaceful people who work and save, whose beliefs and practices are not a threat,80 but the Sikhs of Arzignano are presented above all, especially on the occasion of their religious festivals, as an example of integration and peaceful coexistence between religious faiths. Religious Dimensions and Relations with Society As far as the religious dimensions are concerned, some field research studies emphasize the following elements.81 First, in 1999, a gurdwara was opened in an abandoned factory that had been refurbished and rented. A few years later, it was a larger construction,82 which was built thanks to the devotees’ offerings and its opening, at Castelgomberto in 2004, met no difficulties from the municipal administration. Furthermore, only a few members of the Sikh community follow the Khalsa tradition, not because of outright rejection but rather by conscious ethical-religious choice determined by insufficient time to dedicate to prayer and to frequent the places of worship. Finally, migration has led to physical distance Maria Elena Bonacini, “Alla processione dei sikh ha vinto la solidarietà,” Il Giornale di Vicenza, April 19, 2009. 80 Another example is the article that appeared in September 2008 in the Corriere Vicentino, titled “Helmets, Sikhs, and the Museum of Ca’ Rezzonico,” published after a custodian at this Venetian museum ordered a veiled woman tourist of Islamic faith to leave the museum. In reference to the issue of helmets, the press often uses a conciliatory, calming tone, very different from the alarming and damning tone reserved for the Islamic veil. 81 Vincenzo Romania, “Pluralismo religioso e laicità dello spazio pubblico: uno studio empirico,” in Marco Raveri (ed.), Verso l’altro (Venice, 2003), pp. 175–95; Partnership Equal G–Local, Imprese e migrazioni nella società veneta (Milano, 2004); Osservatorio Regionale sull’Immigrazione, Immigrazione straniera in Veneto. Rapporto 2008 (Milano, 2009). 82 Belonging to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Association. 79

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from the places of worship, to the impossibility of practicing cremation, and to the difficulty of conveying religious transmission to the younger generations, especially to Italian-born children who often do not speak Punjabi well. The above-mentioned studies show that, as far as relations with local society is concerned, the Sikhs in Veneto tend to keep public space separate from the public sphere, in the sense that they make their religious identity visible in public, but do not press for institutional recognition.83 Their dialog with the local institutions, through which they solicit interventions and support dealing with practical problems, comes about for the most part as a “community.” It is the “community” that during the collective Sunday gathering organizes forms of help and support for fellow Sikhs by, for instance, giving loans and exchanging information. Relations with the local institutions are managed for the most part by the Gurdwara Shri Guru Nanak Siwas association, which administers the Castelgomberto gurdwara. Its president is the national representative of the Sikhs in Italy and was formally received by the former president of the Italian government, Romano Prodi. The association occupies itself with solving immigrants’ practical problems, assisting them in finding employment and in dealing with administrative procedures, managing the money of the offerings, and acting as a link to the local administration. In doing this, it presents itself as a representative of the “Sikh community” and as an interlocutor of the civil and religious institutions. The members of the association take part in the meetings for interreligious dialog, peace marches, and meetings on climate issues that are organized by the local civil society and present Sikhism as a universal religion among other world religions. Conclusions: Towards an Open Ending This chapter has highlighted the history and characteristics of Sikh immigration to Italy. We have described the Sikhs in the region of Emilia-Romagna with its milking and porter sectors, the region of Veneto with its unusual segmentation of Sikhs among different economic sectors, and Lazio, with both metropolitan and rural settlements and more transient residencies. In all regions, local media have long portrayed the Sikhs as a harmless, colorful, and peaceful group of hard workers. Things seem to change, especially in those areas where their settlement has become consistent and visible. Much research needs to be done in this field, as the situations are continuously shifting from an economic, political, and social point of view just as the settlements of Sikhs are changing from time to time. Three potential settings for future research on the Sikhs in Italy are the economic, political, and regional settings. The economic crisis in Italy might have an impact on the pattern of Sikh immigration. Indeed, some of the economic sectors in which the Sikhs are prominently active (such as milking) have not been affected by the crisis, while others, such as the tanning and farming industries, have been severely Romania, “Pluralismo religioso e laicità dello spazio pubblico,” pp. 175–95.

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hit.84 If and in which ways this will have an impact on an internal migration within Italy or Europe remains open for future research. With regard to politics, the impetuous advance of the Northern League on the national political scene after the local elections in March 2010, particularly in regions such as Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto, is determining a further embitterment in migration policies, an enhancement of cultural religious stigmatization of immigrants, and an enlargement of chauvinist discourses on the supremacy of national identity, the Italian language, and the Catholic religion. Future research may pay attention to these processes, especially how they will have an impact on the ways in which the Sikhs are represented in the broader society and how the religious identity of the Sikhs is being criminalized. Two episodes that happened recently—the attack on the gurdwara of Vescovato (Cremona province) by the local branch of the Northern League, and the appeal presented by the Northern League against a sentence pronounced by the Tribunal of Cremona in favor of the symbolic use of the kirpan—can be signals of this trend or remain isolated episodes.85 Concerning the regional setting, the mobility of the Sikhs requires researchers to enlarge the study to other contexts than those mentioned in this chapter. Up to the present, the region of Lombardy has become the major destination of Sikh settlements, but other regions also need to be studied, such as Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria, and Marche, just to mention a few (see Figure 6.2). In addition, the recent events in Vienna have demonstrated that, despite public representations of a united Sikh community, the divisions among the Sikhs are numerous and sometimes sharp.86 A mapping of the presence of Ravidasia gurdwaras as opposed to congregations led by the Jats could, to some extent, be pursued in another route of research to deepen the knowledge of the Sikhs in Italy.

The Prefect’s Officers of Latina have even sent a message to be broadcast on Punjabi radio to discourage newcomers from reaching the region because there are no jobs available as farmhands. See Michele Marangon, “La prefettura.” 85 Pietro Tassi, “Assolto il Sikh con il pugnale,” available at http://archiviostorico. corriere.it/2009/marzo/02/Assoluzione_del_sikh_con_pugnale_co_7_090302116.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. 86 See Kathryn Lum in this volume. 84

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Figure 6.2

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Distribution of gurdwaras in Italy

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Italy,” in Ruy Blanes and José Mapril (eds), Sites and Politics of Religious Diversity in Southern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 2010). Binotto, Marco and Valentina Martino (eds), Fuori Luogo (Cosenza: ERI, 2004). Bonacini, Maria, Elena, “Alla processione dei sikh ha vinto la solidarietà,” Il Giornale di Vicenza, April 19, 2009. Cambia l’Italia, “Novellara premiata per le buone pratiche locali” (2010), available at http://www.nelletuemani.org/blog/2010/06/29/novellara-premiata-per-lebuone-pratiche-locali/, accessed September 5, 2010. Caritas–Migrantes, Immigrazione. Dossier Statistico 2000 (Roma: Idos, 2000). Caritas–Migrantes, Immigrazione. Dossier Statistico 2005 (Roma: Idos, 2005). Caritas–Migrantes, Immigrazione. Dossier Statistico 2009 (Roma: Idos, 2009). Caritas di Roma–Osservatorio Romano sulle Migrazioni, Sesto Rapporto (Roma: Idos, 2010). Comune di Novellara, “Nessuno escluso” (2010), available at http://www. comune.novellara.re.it/servizi/menu/dinamica.aspx?idArea=647&idCat=648 &ID=648, accessed September 5 2010. Denti, Domenica, Maurizio Ferrari and Fabio Perocco (eds), I sikh. Storia e immigrazione, (Milano: Angeli, 2005). Ferraris, Federica, “Going Rural and Urban at Once: Reflections from the Roman Sikh Context,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 24/3 (2009): 305–18. Gallo, Ester, Reti migratorie e strategie di radicamento nell’immigrazione indiana a Roma, (University of Siena: B.A. Thesis in Ethnology, 1998). Gazzetta di Reggio, “Porta coltello in tribunale come ornamento religioso, denunciato” (2010), available at http://gazzettadireggio.gelocal.it/dettaglio/ porta-coltello-in-tribunale-come-ornamento-religioso-denunciato/1951529, accessed September 5, 2010. Grillo, Ralph, and Jeff Pratt (eds), The Politics of Recognizing Difference. Multiculturalism Italian Style (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002). Il Resto del Carlino, “Il saluto della città ai sikh nel ricordo dei caduti” (2009), available at http://www.ilrestodelcarlino.it/forli/2009/08/24/221747-saluto_ della_citta_sikh.shtml, accessed September 5, 2010. Il tempo, “Esquilino, la Mussolini contro i cinesi: illegalità nei negozi, Colori e tolleranza, il corteo sikh,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/ roma/2007/04/16/134218-esquilino_mussolini_contro_cinesi_illegalita_ negozi.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Il tempo, “Sabaudia, comunità Sikh in festa,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore. com/latina/2003/06/08/207732-sabaudia_comunita_sikh_festa_cittadina_ presa_pacificamente_assalto_duemila_indiani.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. ISTAT, “Cittadini Stranieri. Popolazione residente per sesso e cittadinanza al 31 Dicembre 2008,” available at http://demo.istat.it/str2008/index.html, accessed November 24, 2010.

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ISTAT, “Cittadini stranieri. Popolazione straniera residente al 1 gennaio per età e sesso,” available at http://demo.istat.it/str2008/index.html, accessed September 15, 2010. King, Russell, “Tracking Immigration into Italy: Ten Years of the Immigrazione Dossier Statistico,” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 28/1 (2002): 173–80. La Repubblica, “Niente casco, siamo sikh. I vigili alla guerra del turbante,” April 6, 2000. Lugli, Massimo, “Bruciano l’amico peccatore,” available at http://ricerca. repubblica.it/repubblica/archivio/repubblica/2003/01/14/bruciano-amicopeccatore.html, accessed November 25, 2010. Marangon, Michele, “La prefettura lancia avvisi in punjabi: ‘Non c’è lavoro, sikh restate a casa’,” available at http://roma.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/09_ dicembre_29/indiani-latina-marangon-1602219096548.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010. Marangon, Michele, “Latina, strage dei braccianti fantasma. Indiani senza luci travolti sulle strade,” available at http://roma.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/09_ novembre_22/latina_indiani_morti_bicicletta-1602045333257.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010. Marangon, Michele, “Sabaudia, capitale dei Sikh,” available at http:// roma.corriere.it/notizie/weekend/09_giugno_28/sabaudia_festa_sikh_ marangon-1601513418800.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Marengon, Maurizio (ed.), I lavoratori non UE in Emilia-Romagna nel 2006 (Bologna: Regione Emilia-Romagna, 2006). Martignoni, Marco, “Spedizioni punitive e agguati, nove arresti” (2007), available at http://gazzettadimodena.gelocal.it/dettaglio/spedizioni-punitive-agguatinove-arresti/1404627?ref=search, accessed September 5, 2010. Osservatorio Regionale sul fenomeno migratorio (ed.), L’immigrazione straniera in Emilia-Romagna. 2007 (Bologna: Clueb, 2009). Osservatorio Regionale sul fenomeno migratorio (ed.), L’immigrazione straniera in Emilia-Romagna. 2008 (Bologna: Clueb, 2010). Osservatorio Regionale sull’Immigrazione, Immigrazione straniera in Veneto. Rapporto 2008, (Milano: Angeli, 2009). Parmeggiani, Silvia, “Migliaia di turbanti colorati per festeggiare la ricorrenza dei sikh” (2010), available at http://gazzettadireggio.gelocal.it/dettaglio/migliaiadi-turbanti-colorati-per-festaggiare-la-ricorrenza-dei-sikh/1943312, accessed September 5, 2010. Partnership Equal G–Local, Imprese e migrazioni nella società veneta (Milano: Angeli, 2004). Perocco, Fabio, “Dall’islamofobia al razzismo anti-musulmano,” in Pietro Basso (ed.), Razzismo di stato (Milano: Angeli, 2010). Perocco, Fabio, “L’apartheid italiano,” in Pietro Basso and Fabio Perocco (eds), Gli immigrati in Europa (Milano: Angeli, 2003).

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Perocco, Fabio, “L’enjeu ‘islam’ en Italie,” in Patrick Michel, Antonela CapellePogacean and Enzo Pace (eds), Religion(s) et identité(s) en Europe (Paris: Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 2008). Perocco, Fabio, “L’Italia, avanguardia del razzismo europeo,” in Pietro Basso (ed.), Razzismo di stato (Milano: Angeli, 2010). Pessot, Federica, “Arti marziali dall’India,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore. com/roma/2006/12/06/236699-arti_marziali_dall_india.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Riccio, Bruno, “Toubab” e “vu Cumprà”. Transnazionalità e rappresentazioni nelle migrazioni senegalesi in Italia (Padova: CLUEP, 2007). Rinaldini, Matteo, “Luzzara, la soluzione c’è: regole uguali nelle scuole” (2009), available at http://www.viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3141, accessed September 5, 2010. Romania, Vincenzo, “Pluralismo religioso e laicità dello spazio pubblico: uno studio empirico,” in Marco Raveri (ed.), Verso l’altro (Venice: Marsilio, 2003). Sai, Silvia M., “I sikh, immigrati ‘buoni’ e ‘integrati’? Una riflessione scritica su migrazione, religione e integrazione degli indiani sikh a Reggio Emilia,” Religioni e sette nel mondo, 5/1 (2009): 129–40. Said, Edward W., Orientalism (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978). Santoro, Gabriele, “Noia e bulli perbene, ma Nettuno non ci sta,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/interni_esteri/2009/02/03/985014-noia_bulli_ perbene_nettuno.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Sotgiu, Marco, “Chi ha ragione a Luzzara?” (2009), available at http://www. viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3128, accessed September 5, 2010. Sotgiu, Marco, “Scuola di Luzzara: la ‘frittata’ è fatta,” available at http://www. viaemilianet.it/notizia.php?id=3207, accessed September 5, 2010. Speranza, Arianna, “A casa lontano da casa: i Sikh dell’Agro Pontino,” in Caritas di Roma-Osservatorio Romano sulle Migrazioni, Sesto Rapporto (Roma: Idos, 2010). Speranza, Arianna, “A casa lontano da casa”: una ricerca etnografica nella comunità Sikh dell’Agro Pontino (University of Siena: B.A. Thesis in Ethnology, 2008). Tripodi, Romano, “Fiocco Rosa in AN. Nasce il circolo dei Sikh,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2006/12/31/213584-sabaudia.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Tripodi, Romano, “Gli oltre 4000 esponenti della comunità Indiana dei Sikh hanno da oggi il loro sindaco,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/ latina/2006/05/07/332686-romano_tripodi_sabaudia_oltre_4000.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Tripodi, Romano, “Indiani investiti, si corre ai ripari con le luci,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2004/09/29/614562-indiani_investiti_ corre_ripari_luci.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Tripodi, Romano, “Sabaudia, i problemi che affliggono l’ex-Somal,” available at http://iltempo.ilsole24ore.com/latina/2007/09/05/34390-romano_tripodi_

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sabaudia_problemi_affliggono_somal_grande.shtml, accessed November 25, 2010. Tripodi, Romano, “Sono appena una ventina gli extra-comunitari residenti a Sabaudia che potranno votare nelle elezioni amministrative del 27 e 28 maggio prossimo,” available at http://www.iltempo.it/latina/2007/04/19/136670sabaudia_sono_appena_ventina_extracomunitari_residenti_sabaudia_ potranno_votare_nelle.shtml, accessed November 24, 2010. Ugali Diversi, available at http://www.ugualidiversi.org, accessed September 5, 2010.

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Chapter 7

“Did You Get Papers?” Sikh Migrants in France Christine Moliner

This chapter on Sikh migrants in France aims to shed light on thus far neglected topics: Indian migration to countries other than the Gulf States or English-speaking countries, and that of illegal migration. Whereas continental Europe has probably become the new frontier—both desirable and almost impregnable—for migrants from South Asia, it has until now elicited little research work.1 Regarding illegal migration, if we look at recent publications on the Indian diaspora, the topic is hardly discussed. Indeed, this is a highly politicized and contentious issue, both for the country of destination and the country of origin. Illegal migrants hence constitute an embarrassing reality for the Indian state and its representatives abroad, the hidden face of the enterprising, professional, law-abiding “shining” Indian diaspora. Studying Sikhs in continental Europe also allows us to grasp the multiplicity of situations within a given diaspora, the specific migration histories, and the various stages of adapting to the host country. In this chapter, Sikh migration to France will be first introduced within the wider context of the presence of South Asians in this country.2 A historical overview of Sikh migration to France will be followed by a study of the different phases of settlement. The final two parts will be devoted to illegal Sikh migration: first because illegal migration in general tells us a lot about modern, global societies, and secondly because, although it is not a well-researched issue, illegal migration is one of the main sources of international migration from South Asia as a whole and from Punjab in particular.3

1 An exception is recent research on the Sikhs in Italy. See Barbara Bertolani, Federica Ferraris, and Fabio Perocco in this volume. 2 This draws on the findings of a report on the South Asian presence in France, see Christine Moliner, Invisible et modèle? Première approche de l’immigration sud-asiatique en France (Paris, 2009). 3 The material on illegal migration has been collected mostly during participant observation among Sikhs in France in the past ten years, and more marginally during formal interviews, to trace the migration and life histories of migrants.

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The South Asian Presence in France While studying the South Asian presence in France, the first problem one encounters is their statistical and hence social invisibility. If South Asians are accounted for in the official census carried out by the French Office of National Statistics (INSEE), there is a huge gap between the official figures (see Table 7.1) and the estimates one comes across in the literature.4 Beyond that, most of the statistical tables on immigrants in France do not have a separate category for South Asians, who are put into the wider Asia category. We encounter the same problem with the major surveys conducted by INSEE and the French Demographic Institute (INED), which do not acknowledge separate national categories for South Asians.5 Numerically speaking, South Asians represent a small group in France: just over 100,000 in total in comparison to over two million in the UK. The huge gap already noticed between the census figures and the available estimates can be accounted for by high levels of mobility among South Asian migrants and by the numerical importance of illegal migration which are difficult to account for in official statistics. Other factors are also relevant, such as the statistical invisibility of the second generation, born in France, and subsumed under the category of French nationals, as well as that of people who already had French nationality when they migrated to France.6 Since there are neither religious nor ethnic questions in the French census, it is very difficult to assess precisely the number of Sikhs in France, even if estimates put their figure at 15,000.7 From the data recorded in the census, we notice that of the South Asians Sri Lankans represent the largest national group and Mauritians the second, while Tamils are probably the most numerous ethnic group. As far as gender ratio is concerned, except for Mauritians, the majority of South Asian migrants in France are male. A distinction needs to be established between the French-speaking migrants who share a colonial past with France (such as Pondicherrians, Indo-Vietnamese, Indians from Madagascar, and Indo-Mauritians), and migrants from northern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, with no historical or cultural connection to the host country. For the first group, the former colonial metropolis has been a “natural” destination country since the 1950s, frequently after a multiple migration process, as in the case of Indo-Vietnamese who first migrated in the early twentieth century from Tamil Nadu to Indochina with their colonial masters and who were then repatriated

See, for example, Catherine Servan Schreiber and VasoodevenVuddamalay (ed.), “Diasporas indiennes dans la ville,” Hommes et migrations, 1268–69 (2007): 6–194. 5 For instance, when the Geographical Mobility and Social Integration program (MGIS, directed by Michele Tribalat) conducted a major survey in 1991–92, South Asian migrants in France were not mentioned. 6 Such is the case of Pondicherrians, Indo-Vietnamese, and Indians from Madagascar. 7 This figure is provided by community leaders and local authorities in France. 4

Source: Census 2006, INSEE

5 299

16 305

32 922

Pakistan

Sri Lanka

12 104

698

15 919

3 292

27 723

Bangladesh

India

18 933

French citizens

29 994

Together

Together

20 818

11 006

11 804

2 594

11 061

Foreigners

17 075

9 945

14 009

2 186

11 985

Together

6 582

3 471

7 696

441

7 459

French citizens

Men

10 493

6 474

6 313

1 745

4 526

Foreigners

15 847

6 360

13 714

1 106

16 385

Together

5 522

1 828

8 222

257

9 198

French citizens

Women

Statistics of immigrants in France according to country of birth, gender and nationality

Mauritius

Country of birth

Table 7.1

10 325

4 532

5 492

849

7 187

Foreigners

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166

to France at the time of Independence. Except for Indo-Mauritians, most “colonial” migrants had French nationality prior to their arrival. For the second group, France became merely a destination country of substitution when Great Britain started to close its doors to further Commonwealth emigration in the early 1970s. Since French authorities put an end to labor migration during the same period (1974), most South Asian migrants experienced some forms of illegality (clandestine entry, residence, or employment). During the next decade, political asylum played a major role in the migration flows from the subcontinent, particularly for Sri Lankan Tamils and Sikhs. Besides these heterogeneous migration routes, very diverse socio-economic profiles ranging from highly qualified professionals to peddlers, with a heavy predominance of rural unqualified migrants among the non-French speaking groups—a category to which the Sikhs belong—resulted in an increasing internal diversity of the South Asian migrant population. Sikh Migration to France Maharaja Dalip Singh, who died in Paris in 1893, offers an early and illustrious instance of the Sikh presence in France. A second one refers to the several thousand Sikh soldiers who fought and died in France, Belgium, and Italy during the two World Wars.8 The sacrifice of Commonwealth soldiers is commemorated in hundreds of war cemeteries and several war memorials, such as the major memorial in Ypres (Belgian Flanders), and the memorial complex of NeuveChapelle (French Flanders), especially dedicated to Indian soldiers. Sikh surnames and symbols, such as ik-onkar or the khanda, are engraved on hundreds of tombs at these places. During World War I, a total of 90,000 Indian soldiers (out of which 19 percent were Sikhs) were posted to France, where 8,500 died and 50,000 were wounded. In his fascinating study of the letters they sent to their families, David Omissi documents their presence in early twentieth-century rural France and their perceptions of the country and its people.9 This very important contribution to the European continent’s contemporary history was not followed, however, by any significant Sikh migration until very recently. Indeed, Sikh (as well as South Asian) migration to Europe has until the 1980s been mostly channeled towards Great Britain. It started as a mass movement in the post-World War II economic boom of the former colonial metropolis, before coming to a halt in the 1970s. Much of the Sikh migration flows to continental Europe appear as a side-effect of British policy that has turned the UK into a See David Omissi, “Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the Second World War, 1914–1918,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 9 David Omissi, Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldier’s Letters 1914–1918 (London, 1999). 8

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fortress for most Commonwealth migrants from the 1970s onwards. Therefore, prospective South Asian migrants who could not go to the UK, the US, or Canada to join family members tried their luck in France, Belgium, or Germany. Various estimates of Sikh immigrants in continental Europe at present put the total figure at 100,000: the most numerous settlements being in Germany (25,000), followed by Belgium, France, and Holland (around 15,000 in each), Italy, and Spain (10,000), and smaller communities in other European countries, including Scandinavia and central Europe, but in most cases these figures are estimates.10 By contrast, in the UK, which introduced a question on religious affiliation in the 2001 census,11 we know there are 336,000 Sikhs who form a very numerous, visible, and influential community. We can distinguish three major waves of Sikh migration to France. The first took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when a few Sikhs arrived as undocumented immigrants first in Germany and Belgium and then later in France, because they could not reach the UK. These pioneers lacked any familiarity whatsoever with the host society, did not speak a word of French and faced very tough living conditions, without permanent housing or jobs. Most of them benefited from the legalization procedure introduced by the newly elected leftwing government in 1981–82 and could therefore escape this instability. They set up community institutions and networks, in particular the first gurdwara, which was established in 1986 in Bobigny.12 They were followed in the late 1980s by a second wave of migrants, linked to the political situation in post-1984 Punjab and the rise of the Khalistan movement both in Punjab and in the diaspora. Thousands of young Sikh men applied for political asylum in western countries, at a time when European immigration policies became more strict, particularly for asylum-seekers. A third phase consisted of the wives and children of the early migrants who migrated under the family reunification provisions. This led to the emergence of a second generation of French Sikhs in the early 1990s. During the same period, the chain migration process was initiated, with new migrants joining members of their clan (biraderi) already settled in France and relying on them for access to employment, housing, and dealings with French bureaucracy. As stated before, there are an estimated 15,000 Sikhs in France, but no official statistics are available for two main reasons: first, because Sikhs are subsumed under the national Indian category in the French census (and as explained earlier

See Shinder Thandi, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). 11 See Office for National Statistics, “Census 2010,” available at http://www.statistics. gov.uk/census2001/census2001.asp, accessed May 14, 2010. 12 A suburban area north-east of Paris, where a lot of Sikhs live. 10

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Sikhs in Europe

there are no ethnic or religious categories in French statistics); and secondly, because many Sikhs are illegal migrants and are therefore “uncountable.” Many of them come from Doaba, the central region of Punjab that has been a traditional reservoir of international migration for over a century now. They belong to a rural background, usually to families with a prior migration history and, except for the pioneers, arrived in France as part of a process of chain migration. Three caste groups are represented in France: Jats, Ravidasis, and Lohanas. Jats are numerically, socially, economically, and politically dominant in the Punjab, and in some respects in the diaspora, although this dominance is contested by other castes, particularly the Ramgharias and the Ravidasis. Ravidasis belong to the Chamar caste, an untouchable group well represented in the diaspora. Lohanas are a service caste in rural Punjab, whose position in the caste hierarchy is close to that of the Ramgharias. For those who have studied the caste composition of Sikh diasporic communities, this caste structure might seem peculiar. Whereas the preponderance of Jats and the numerical significance of Ravidasis are found in many overseas settlements, the third position being occupied by the Lohana group comes as a surprise. They form a rather small, inconspicuous caste group in the Punjab, not particularly known for their propensity to migrate. Although the reasons why they migrated to France still need to be investigated, the process of chain migration has certainly helped to sustain their migration wave. One might ask the question why caste is of relevance to the Sikhs in France. The answer to this seems to be that caste is significant in four respects. First, marriage practices strictly follow the endogamous and exogamous rules observed in the Punjab and elsewhere in the diaspora. Sikhs marry within their caste group and outside their gotra (sub-caste of both their parents and grandparents). Interestingly, the specific constraints of living in France, in particular the difficulty in obtaining a visa for the prospective spouse and the small size of the community settled here, have not resulted in the relaxing of these rules and there are none of the inter-caste marriages that can be observed in urban Punjab or in other overseas settlements. Secondly, caste membership remains relevant as far as places of worship are concerned. Except for the major gurdwara in Bobigny, whose congregation (sangat) is inter-caste (but whose management committee is mostly under Jat control), the four other gurdwaras in France tend to be caste-based (one Ravidasi, one Lohana, and one Jat).13 Third, caste membership increasingly represents the basis of strong transnational links with fellow caste members living in the UK, the US, and in India. This is particularly the case of Ravidasis from England who are engaged in philanthropic activities not only in Punjab (such as the funding of hospitals, schools, colleges, and gurdwaras for the members of their caste), but also in continental Europe, among recently settled Ravidasi communities. 13 There is no gurdwara outside of Paris and the suburbs, as the Sikh population is highly concentrated there.

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Finally, types of professional specialization along caste lines can be observed. Although this is not systematic, Jats and Chamars tend to work mostly in catering and building sites, whereas Lohanas are almost exclusively engaged in self-employment as petty traders with small, usually illegal, market stalls on the streets of Paris and its eastern suburb. However, quite remarkably, the main marker of status among Sikhs in France is not caste, but the possession of legal residence documents. As for their geographical distribution and occupational profile, Sikhs share most patterns with other non-French speaking South Asian migrants. They all present a unique case of concentration in one place—Paris and its north-eastern suburbs, whereas Sikhs and other South Asians in Italy, Germany, Belgium, or Spain and even more so in the UK, are settled in several cities. This specificity owes much to the process of chain migration and might also be explained by the lack of stability and the precariousness of this group, whose members do not feel economically and socially secure enough to venture outside their unique center of settlement. As with other South Asian migrants, their occupational profile is characterized by a strong concentration in the informal economy, particularly in three sectors that are in great demand of a cheap, mostly migrant workforce: clothing, catering, and construction work. In a transnational city such as Paris, ethnic business activities are thriving and these three sectors are evolving into ethnic niches, with the development of ethnic entrepreneurship among long-established communities, such as the North African, the Chinese or the Turkish, and also among “newcomers,” such as Pakistanis and Indians. In each trade, newly arrived migrants work for well-established migrants who have secured residence documents and work permits. Hence, a lot of Sikhs work for a Pakistani “boss” (malik), as Pakistanis constitute a much more numerous (around 50,000) and relatively older and better settled group in France. Illegal Migration: A Socio-political Construction Before discussing the situation of Punjabi and Sikh illegal migrants, the very notion of illegal migration needs to be contextualized. I have so far used two terms interchangeably: illegal and clandestine migration/migrants. A variety of terms are in fact applied in English, such as illegal, irregular, unlawful, undocumented, and unauthorized, whereas the most widely used in French are “sans papiers” and “clandestins”; the latter term previously evoking secret, criminal, or subversive activities, has only recently been applied to undocumented migrants. There are three aspects that determine the legality or illegality of a migrant’s status journey: entry, residence, and employment. A report by the United Nations population division states that undocumented migration is one of the fastestgrowing forms of migration in the world.14 With an estimated ten million, the 14 Quoted in Frank Düvell, “Clandestine Migration in Europe,” Social Science Information, 47/4 (2008): 482.

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US hosts the largest absolute number of undocumented migrants. Between four and eight million are assumed to be in the European Union.15 While the French government estimates that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 undocumented migrants in the country, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece are the major receiving countries with 300,000 illegal migrants in each country, even if all European countries (EU and non-EU) experience illegal migration.16 Although undocumented migration has always been part of the wider migration flows towards Europe, including during the post-war labor migration waves, it is only fairly recently, in the 1990s, that it has been constructed as a politically, socially, and legally relevant category. As Frank Düvell asserts, it is “only when states issued legislation that declared unwanted immigration illegal and made it punishable and introduced technologies (photographs, passports, visas), administrations (immigration authorities) and enforcement procedures (deportation)” that migration finally became clandestine.17 The progress of European construction and the harmonization of the immigration policies of the member states have turned Europe into a fortress for non-European migrants. The creation of the Schengen zone has led to a tightening of borders for third-country nationals and the development of what has been termed by several commentators a “border control industry,” with practices such as frequent police checks, detention of undocumented migrants and asylum-seekers, and deportation. Illegal migration has since then become a top policy concern at the international, European, and member states’ level.18 The issue of undocumented migration has come to hold the center stage of European public space. However, each national reality is different, depending on the dominant origin of its foreign population, the socio-economic context, the place of immigration in the political debate, and its influence on election results. Hence, undocumented migrants function as a powerful analyzer of the moral and political order in a country, particularly of its exclusion dynamics. In France, as elsewhere, this issue is highly politicized and instrumentalized not only by the far right but also by the mainstream right: in the past 15 years, illegal migration has been framed as a security issue and consequently criminalized. As demonstrated by Didier Fassin, the state is responsible for the production of illegality, not only through an increasingly restrictive, extremely complex, and ever-changing legislation, but also through administrative practices which are even more restrictive than legislation itself.19 As a result, immigrants are pushed into illegality for various reasons. For instance, they could be asylum-seekers whose claim has been rejected by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees 17 18 19 15

Ibid., p. 482 Ibid., p. 482. Ibid., p. 480. Ibid., p. 480. Didier Fassin, “The Biopolitics of Otherness: Undocumented Foreigners and Racial Discrimination in French Public Debate,” Anthropology Today, 17/1 (2001): 3–7. 16

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and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) and the National Court of Asylum, or they could be dependants of legal residents who did not meet the very strict provisions for family reunification. This has devastating consequences on family life, with many migrant families containing members who have different legal statuses, both legal and illegal. There are also legal residents whose residence documents have not been renewed because of changes in the regulation or changes in their work or family situation. One can easily figure out the unsettling effect of being deprived of a regular status and of the rights attached to it. The widespread administrative practice of delivering documents with a very short period of validity—three months or until the next appointment at the Préfecture (the immigration service)—without the right to work is also conducive to illegality, legal precariousness, and socio-economic marginalization. Therefore, as stated by Didier Fassin, “the boundary between documented and undocumented is much less clear than was previously maintained, since it is possible to lose or gain residence permits depending on changes in legislation.”20 One of the results of this is that migrants are continually attempting to regularize their status by what Elie Vasta has aptly termed the “paper trail,” that is, the borrowing and renting of legal documents.21 Paper Trails of Punjabi Migrants Except for French-speaking postcolonial migrants, South Asian migration to France has always involved some form or another of illegality. Indeed, it started in the mid-1970s when the French government stopped labor migration. Therefore, most of the first-generation migrants have gone through a period of irregular status, either through illegal entry into France, lack of residence papers, or clandestine work. However, most of them benefited, as did other migrants, from two massive operations of legalization in 1973 and 1982. For those who came afterwards, one way out of illegal status has been through marriage with a French national. A few others have been granted political asylum as Khalistani militants who have recently managed to shift this status to that of permanent resident. In 1997–98, another legalization operation benefited approximately 80,000 undocumented migrants. And those migrants able to prove they had been living in France for the past ten years were also granted some form of document (usually a renewable stay permit valid for three months). Another way out of illegality has consisted of applying for temporary residence in Italy, Spain, or Portugal while living and working in France, and later getting their Spanish or Italian documents converted into a French residence card. Thousands of Sikhs and Pakistanis are still Ibid. Elie Vasta, “The Paper Market: Borrowing and Renting of Identity Documents,”

20 21

unpublished paper presented at COMPAS conference, Oxford University, 2006.

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engaged in this complex paper trail, involving semi-legal travel and periods of stay in several southern European countries. Many also left France and have settled in Italy or Spain, where they benefited from several legalization operations. Here is one example—the “paper trail” of Manpreet: I came in France in 1995 with a tourist visa, you know at that time it was not so difficult. My elder sister was well settled here with her husband; both had documents, so I hoped it would work for me as well. But it didn’t. I stayed for five years, and I got nothing, not even a mere récépissé [a residence permit valid only for three month]. So I tried my luck in Italy, but I arrived too late, the legalization had been closed. By that time a lot of people had gone to Spain, so I decided to go there by train. I have spent a lot of money on vakil [lawyers], but in the end I was lucky after three years I got a one-year residence permit, so I can even come to France to visit my sister here. I am waiting for the permanent permit to go back to India.22

Most of these routes are now closed, but a new one has opened: people with lifethreatening illness who are declared unable to get adequate treatment in their home countries are granted a one-year renewable permit. A handful of Punjabis have been granted a one-year permit on the basis of their health, so several others are also trying to obtain one. For those who are not seriously ill, this implies that they need to falsify medical records; for example, buy someone else’s records or be admitted to hospital under someone else’s name and pathology. These are extreme practices, while buying, borrowing, or renting documents are quite common ones, and have been documented in the UK.23 A kind of “paper market” has developed through which undocumented migrants try in very creative ways to circumvent and adapt to the constraints imposed by state policies. This market relies on globalized criminal networks involved in the falsification of documents, especially forged passports and visas to enter France or to go from there to the UK, for example. But once in France, migrants mostly depend on kinship networks to gain access to “borrowed” documents. Hence, most undocumented migrants keep a photocopy of someone else’s (usually a member of their biraderi) residence card with them to show at work, or if they are stopped by the police. They might also use someone else’s social security number and card to get medical treatment. Opening a bank account is out of reach for those without regular papers. Therefore, they will rent someone else’s bank account to be able to use a credit card, deposit their earnings and savings, and withdraw money. People are usually expected to pay a certain amount of money for these informal financial services.

22 Interview with Manpreet Singh, a 30-year-old man, on February 10, 2009. All names are pseudonyms. The interviews were conducted informally at a day care center, or at the residence of a member of the interviewee’s biraderi. 23 Vasta, “The Paper Market.”

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On the paper trail they are engaged in, illegal migrants endow the much coveted residence permit with almost magic virtues. In their imagination, it will operate as an access card, a panacea to all their difficulties. This phantasmagorical dimension of documents is reinforced by incomprehensible and seemingly arbitrary legal and administrative practices that grant documents to some and not to others. Holding residence papers means a better paid job, access to a wide spectrum of social services, but it also allows migrants to visit their families back in India. This dimension is very well conveyed in Kiran Desai’s novel The Inheritance of Loss.24 One of her characters, an illegal Indian migrant struggling to make a living in New York, is indeed obsessed with being granted the green card: The green card, the green card. Without it he couldn’t leave. To leave he wanted a green card. This was the absurdity. How he desired the triumphant After The Green Card Return Home, thirsted for it—to be able to buy a ticket with the air of someone who could return if he wished … He watched the legalized foreigners with envy as they shopped at discount baggage stores for the miraculous, expandable third-world suitcase, accordion-pleated, filled with pockets and zippers … Then, of course, there were those who lived and died illegal in America and never saw their families, nor for ten years, twenty, thirty, never again.25

To secure work is a major problem for illegal migrants. Most Punjabi illegal migrants are engaged in menial, low-paid jobs. Like most South Asian illegal migrants, they load and unload trucks of textiles for market sellers, sell flowers at night in restaurants, distribute flyers in letter boxes, have little street stalls selling toys, belts, or hot chestnuts, or work without any protection on construction sites.26 There is a fierce competition between newcomers and older migrants for these jobs, as Sukhdev explains: I have been here for two years. The situation is very bad. I work on a daily basis on market stalls, and I earn 20 or 25 euros a day, when I get work at all. So you see, Bhaji [brother] who has been in France for a long time, who has documents, normally he could earn 50 or 60. But with people like me who accept work for 20 euros daily, we take away the jobs of our elders. And with the arrival of Bangladeshis, it’s even worse; they will work almost for free.27

Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (Delhi, 2006). Ibid., p. 99. 26 See Nisha Kirpalani, Christine Moliner, and Saad Muhammad, “Panjabi Illegal 24 25

Migrants to France: Tales of Suffering, Invisibility, and Marginalization,” unpublished paper presented at an international conference on Migrations, Mobility and Multiple Affiliations: Punjabis in a Transnational World, Center for Development Studies, Trivandrum, March 2010. 27 Interview with Sukhdev Singh, a 32-year-old male, on February 10, 2009.

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Illegal migrants are often exploited and held in slave-like conditions by bettersettled migrants, as another story of a young man called Harjinder illustrates.28 He arrived in France in the mid-1990s and met a Punjabi migrant from the first migration wave who owned two restaurants and told him that one must have legal documents to reside in France and to obtain these documents one should get a postal address certificate. He said he would give Harjinder this certificate in exchange for 3,000 euros (180,000 INR). Since Harjinder was penniless, the Punjabi restaurant owner told him he would give him the certificate if he worked for free in his restaurant, and the young man accepted the offer. He worked for three years to pay off his debt, living in the five sq. m. kitchen where he worked, forbidden by his master to exit the kitchen or even to talk to anybody else, even the other employees of the restaurant. This ordeal ended the day the restaurant caught fire and he was saved by firefighters who took him to a hospital. He fled from the hospital because he was afraid of getting caught, but then he was arrested in the street by the police, who detained him for 31 days in a detention center for illegal migrants, pending expulsion from France. Finally, he was released because the Indian Embassy did not recognize him as their citizen and did not give the police the permission slip allowing him to be deported back to India. All newcomers must rely heavily on community networks. Without professional or linguistic skills, membership into a biraderi which includes wellsettled migrants is an asset and sometimes their only resource. However, for a small community posited in a context of socio-economic hardship, the burden of solidarity is sometimes hard to bear. Hence, one of Kiran Desai’s characters, Saeed, desperately tries to hide from his newly arrived fellow countrymen who were given his address in New York by his own mother back at home: Saeed’s mother was dispensing his phone number and address freely to half of Stone Town. They arrived at the airport with one dollar in their pockets and his telephone number, seeking admittance to an apartment that was bursting with men already, every scrap rented out … When he glanced out of the window— And in a second he was under the counter. “Oh myeee God!” Whispering … tell them I don’t work here. How they get this address!? My mother! I told her, “No more!” Please! Outside the bakery stood a group of men, looking weary as if they’d been traveling several lifetimes, scratching their heads and staring … Omar went out. “Who? Saaed? No, no … .” “But he work here. His mother tell us.” “They say they will try your home address now.” “They will come back. I know them.”

28 Interview with Harjinder Singh, a 28-year-old male, conducted by Saad Muhammad. See Kirpalani, Moliner, and Muhammad, “Panjabi Illegal Migrants to France,” pp. 8–9.

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He telephoned his apartment. “Hey Ahmed, don’t answer the phone, man, that Dooli and all them boys have come from the airport! Lock up, stay down, don’t stand, and don’t go near the window.” Saeed: “Those boys, let them in, they will never leave. They are desperate. Desperate. Once you let them in, once you hear their story, you can’t say no, you know their aunty, you know their cousin, you have to help the whole family, and once they begin they will take everything. You can’t say this is my food, like Americans, and only I will eat it.”29

Illegality has a derelict effect on internal solidarity. Research on other migrant groups has pointed out the ambiguous status of illegal migrants among their own community. Timera, for instance, aptly shows how illegality among African migrants tends to reshape social relations and networks that are grounded on a mixture of solidarity, competition, and exploitation, and how a subtle hierarchy between legal and illegal migrants is emerging here and in the society of origin.30 In the case of Punjabis, some caste groups fare better than others. Jat migrants in France, either legal or illegal, are well integrated into transnational biraderi and caste networks that help them secure access to accommodation and work and also guide them on the “paper trail.” Other caste networks, particularly those of Lohanas, are not so extensive. Since they migrated more recently, there are fewer established (legal) migrants among them who can help the illegal ones. Hence, a lot of newly arrived migrants do not have anyone to contact or rely on when they reach France. We might conclude here more broadly on what the study of Sikhs in continental Europe and in France in particular can tell us about the current evolution of the Sikh diaspora.31 Within the growing body of literature on the Sikh diaspora, study of the particular experience of smaller Sikh settlements, such as those in continental Europe, has largely been insufficient. However, these settlements give an interesting insight into the early history of Sikh migration, particularly the pioneer Sikh settlements in North America, New Zealand, and Australia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, or in the UK in the 1930s and 1940s. For instance, early Sikh settlers in North America and contemporary Sikhs in Europe both face very adverse contexts, be it the North American anti-Asian legislation of the early twentieth century, or the European restrictive immigration policies of today. In both cases, the ability of unskilled migrants with rural backgrounds to adapt to such hostile environments is remarkable and well worth studying. This ability relies on strong solidarity networks, based on relations of mutual obligation Desai, The Inheritance of Loss, pp. 95–6. Timera Mahamet, “Sans-papiers africains face aux communautés d’origine,” in

29 30

Didier Fassin et al. (eds), Les lois de l’inhospitalité (Paris, 2008). 31 These conclusive remarks draw on a forthcoming article, Christine Moliner, “Sikh Migration to France,” in S. Irudayan Rajan and Marie Percot (eds), Dynamics of Indian Migration: Historical and Current Perspectives (forthcoming).

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and reciprocity. Those networks operate as a socio-cultural resource helping migrants to adapt to their new environments. More specifically, in the case of prospective migrants to France, it helps them to finance their trip (through loans from family members settled abroad) and then to settle, find jobs and housing, adjust their migration strategy to evolving European immigration policies, secure access to smugglers and sometimes to resettle elsewhere. Adverse legal and political contexts compel Sikh migrants to develop new strategies of mobility, and engage in multiple, circular displacements, supported by transnational mutual aid networks. Illegal migration in particular has been a long-term aspect of Punjabi migration flows and is today such an important social reality that it deserves more investigation. One might ask what the consequences of illegal status are for Sikh migrants, at both collective and individual levels. In this respect, their adaptative cultural capital crucially helps them to deal with the toughness of illegality, in particular, their representations of masculinity that strongly valorize the ability to perform hard physical work and to overcome hardship. Another possible area of investigation could be the relations with the place of origin: is contact with the homeland of the same nature and extent among Sikhs in continental Europe as elsewhere in the diaspora? What are their social remittances? Recent migrants tend to maintain closer connections with the Punjab, at a time when travel is much easier and cheaper than 100 or even 50 years ago, when Sikhs first settled in North America or the UK. Another issue is that of cultural transmission in varied local migration contexts. The gurdwara plays a major role in the diaspora, even more so for smaller Sikh communities. The issue of intra-diasporic connections is also quite relevant here, with British Sikhs being instrumental in the religious nurture and cultural transmission of young French Sikhs. Another area of interest lies with differing representations of Sikhs in the host societies. Considering that contemporary Sikh identity has partly been fashioned by the colonial and postcolonial experience, it is quite interesting to study Sikh diasporic communities in non-colonial contexts. However, one has to bear in mind that some of the European countries where they are settled do share a colonial past with other migrant groups (France with North Africans, West Africans, and Indochinese, for instance) and we should increasingly include in our study of the Sikhs in Europe the relations they have developed not only with the host society but also with those migrant groups, particularly those originating from South Asia. Bibliography Desai, Kiran, The Inheritance of Loss (Delhi: Penguin, 2006). Düvell, Frank, “Clandestine Migration in Europe,” Social Science Information, 47/4 (2008): 479–97.

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Fassin, Didier, “The Biopolitics of Otherness: Undocumented Foreigners and Racial Discrimination in French Public Debate,” Anthropology Today, 17/1 (2001): 3–7. Kirpalani, Nisha, Christine Moliner, and Saad Muhammad, “Panjabi Illegal Migrants to France: Tales of Suffering, Invisibility and Marginalization,” unpublished paper presented at an international conference on Migrations, Mobility and Multiple Affiliations: Punjabis in a Transnational World, Center for Development Studies, Trivandrum, March 2010. Moliner, Christine, Invisible et modèle? Première approche de l’immigration sud-asiatique en France, Survey report for the Direction de l’Accueil, de l’Intégration et de la Citoyenneté [French Immigration Office] (Paris: 2010). Moliner, Christine, “Sikh Migration to France,” in S. Irudayan Rajan and Marie Percot (eds), Dynamics of Indian Migration: Historical and Current Perspectives (forthcoming). Office for National Statistics, “Census 2010,” available at http://www.statistics. gov.uk/census2001/census2001.asp, accessed May 14, 2010. Omissi, David, Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldier’s Letters 1914–1918 (London: Macmillan, 1999). Omissi, David E., “Sikh Soldiers in Europe during the Second World War, 1914– 1918,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Servan-Schreiber, Catherine and Vasoodeven, Vuddamalay (eds), “Diasporas indiennes dans la ville,” Hommes et migrations, 1268–69 (2007): 6–194. Thandi, Shinder, “Migration and Comparative Experiences of Sikhs in Europe: Reflections on Issues of Cultural Transmission and Identity 30 Years On,” in Knut A. Jacobsen and Kristina Myrvold (eds), Sikhs across Borders: Transnational Practices of European Sikhs (forthcoming). Timera, Mahamet, “Sans-papiers africains face aux communautés d’origine,” in Didier Fassin et al. (eds), Les lois de l’inhospitalité (Paris: La Découverte, 2008), pp. 95–107. Vasta, Elie, “The Paper Market: Borrowing and Renting of Identity Documents,” unpublished paper presented at COMPAS conference, Oxford University, 2006.

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Chapter 8

Caste, Religion, and Community Assertion: A Case Study of the Ravidasias in Spain Kathryn Lum

It is disgraceful to live at the cost of one’s self-respect. Self-respect is the most vital factor in life. Without it, man is a cipher. To live worthily with self-respect, one has to overcome difficulties. It is out of hard and ceaseless struggle alone that one derives strength, confidence, and recognition. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Spain is not a country that traditionally has been associated with immigration, particularly Indian immigration. Historically, Spain, along with other southern European countries, has been a source of emigration, rather than a desirable destination for immigrants. Under the fascist Franco regime, Spain was closed culturally and economically. A nationalist Catholic identity was imposed in which the Roman Catholic Church was the only religion that enjoyed official recognition and legal status. Internal diversity was severely repressed in pursuit of a model of Castilian cultural uniformity, resulting in the suppression of regional languages and cultures such as Catalan, the Basque language, and Gallego. With the transition to democracy beginning in 1979 and the growth of its economy during the 1980s, Spain has rapidly transformed from a homogeneous society into an immigrant-receiving country. Immigration in large numbers really started to flourish during the 1990s. According to 2009 figures from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, 12 percent of Spain’s population is now foreign born. This chapter will first discuss the phenomenon of Indian immigration to Spain, along with how Spain has emerged as a new and rapidly growing migrant destination for people from the north Indian state of Punjab. It focuses particularly on the special case of the formerly untouchable Punjabi community known as the Ravidasias, describes their evolution as a community in Barcelona, and explains the factors that led them to establish their own gurdwara and increasingly distance themselves from the main Sikh tradition. The Ravidasias in Spain come from the Chamar (leather-working) caste and are those Chamars who embraced Sikhism, while maintaining the worship of their patron saint, Guru Ravidas. The term “Chamar” refers to an endogamous caste group (Chamars can and do profess a variety of religions), while the term “Ravidasia” denotes a specific caste-based religious identity, although in contemporary Ravidasia discourse the two terms are often used interchangeably. After introducing the Ravidasias, this chapter presents the

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results of my anthropological fieldwork in Barcelona on Ravidasia experiences of casteism in Catalonia from an emic point of view, and analyzes why Ravidasias maintain that casteism is more acute in Spain. The ideological complexity that characterizes the Spanish Ravidasia community is addressed and its implications for gurdwara development and cohesion discussed. Finally, the chapter analyzes the dramatic consequences that the tragic “Vienna incident” has had on the Ravidasia congregation (sangat) in Barcelona and the important psychological splits and changes in religious and caste identity that it has produced.1 Indian Immigration to Spain: An Overview The bulk of immigration to Spain is composed of economic migrants from Latin America and North Africa, regions with which Spain has historic ties due to colonization or geographic proximity. Consequently, immigration debates in Spain tend to be centered on these immigrant groups. The phenomenon of Indian immigration to Spain has thus far generated little media attention; very few Spaniards are aware of the origins of Indian immigrants, and Punjabi Sikhs are commonly assumed to be Muslim. Indian immigration to Spain is unique in Europe, for it has been characterized by two different waves of immigration and two different Indian groups. The first Indian immigrants to arrive in Spain were the Sindhis during the 1960s, forced out by the partition of India in 1947, which saw their home province of Sind ceded to Muslim-dominated Pakistan. This led to the subsequent worldwide dispersal of the Sindhis in search of new homelands. The Sindhi community in Spain is one of the largest outside of India, superseded only by the US, with estimates ranging from 10,0002 to 20,000, according to the website SindhiInfo.com,3 to between 20,000 and 30,000, including Andorra.4 Today, the Sindhis are a prosperous, well-settled community of merchants specializing in the import/export business, electronics equipment, consumer goods, and jewelry. The Sindhis are concentrated primarily in Catalonia, but have also settled in the Canary Islands and in the British crown colony of Gibraltar, just off the Spanish For this case study of the Ravidasias in Catalonia, I have employed the anthropological research methods of participant observation carried out in both the gurdwara and family homes, and both structured and semi-structured interviews (the vast majority repeat interviews) with informants from the first and the “1.5” generations. Fieldwork took place over a period of one year principally in Barcelona, supplemented by visits to Ravidasia families in other Catalan cities. 2 Dieter Haller, “Let It Flow: Economy, Spirituality and Gender in the Sindhi Network,” Anthropological Theory, 5/2 (2005): 154–75. 3 SindhiInfo.com, available at http://www.sindhiinfo.com/, accessed February 25, 2009 4 Mark Anthony Falzon, “Los Sindhis y el comercio en el Mediterráneo,” Revista CIDOB d´afers Internationals, 78 (2007): 121–38. 1

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coast (still claimed formally by Spain). Little published caste information on the community exists, although the Mediterranean scholar Mark A. Falzon mentions that bhaiband jati, or caste, is the driving force behind much of the global and Spanish diaspora, maintaining, however, that caste distinctions in business practices have since disappeared following Partition in favor of a unified Hindu Sindhi identity.5 Informal conversations with Sindhis in Barcelona support this view of caste as much less important within the Sindhi community than among orthodox Hindu groups. In particular, they stress the absence of untouchability and the fact that among Sindhis, the most powerful and important castes are mercantile in nature and not Brahmins, who would usually be the highest in mainstream Hindu caste hierarchy. Punjabi migration to Spain is more recent, starting in the mid-1980s, and is driven by economic and social factors—a lack of employment opportunities in the Punjab combined with the great social prestige attached to being an NRI, or non-resident Indian. Although Punjabi migration to Spain is still in its early stages, the Punjabis have a long history of migration to foreign lands. Due to India´s status as a former British colony, most of this migration has historically flowed to other countries of the British Empire. Punjabi migration to non-English speaking countries with no link to the former British Empire represents a new empirical phenomenon. In the unofficial Punjabi destination hierarchy, Spain remains relatively unknown and obscure, and it certainly does not rank with the leading Anglophone countries of choice (US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand). However, in the wake of the more desirable migration countries tightening their immigration policies, Punjabis have increasingly been settling in continental European countries, including southern Europe. Italy, for example, now boasts a significant Punjabi population. Although Spain’s immigration policy has since become far more restrictive, and general amnesties are no longer declared for settled illegal immigrants, progressively restrictive immigration policies have not been successful in stemming the tide of illegal immigration. Punjabis come to Spain in their quest for residency permits, the much-coveted “papeles” in Spanish, which explains why Punjabi Sikhs “end up” in, rather than consciously choosing, Spain as a migration destination. Thus Spain, along with other southern European nations, is perceived as a country in which it is easier to obtain legal status. Many Punjabi migrants, once they have obtained residency status in Spain, hope to migrate to other, wealthier European nations. Southern Europe in general is viewed as a feasible migration destination for financial reasons, since less initial financial capital is required in order to migrate illegally. Also, the southern European countries have not as yet implemented a points-based immigration system. “Only the rich” now make it to Canada or Australia, according to Punjabis settled in Spain. Within Spain, Punjabi migration is concentrated almost exclusively within the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia, particularly Barcelona. Outside of Catalonia, Punjabis are found in significant numbers only in the region of Valencia. Although Catalonia has historically been an economically prosperous Ibid.,p. 129.

5

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region, drawing internal migration from the south of Spain before it attracted foreign migration, other regions, such as Madrid, are also engines of job creation. The reason why Catalonia has captured the lion’s share of Punjabi migration can be explained by two factors: First, according to my interviewees, there is greater competition in Madrid for jobs from Latin American and Moroccan immigrants, both of whom also possess better Spanish linguistic capital than Punjabis. Secondly, the first Punjabis who settled in Spain found jobs in Catalonia, leading to chain migration to the region. Catalonia is also home to a large and well-established Pakistani community that is majority Punjabi. Thus Punjabis are drawn by a significant Punjabi community in Catalonia (both Indian and Pakistani), and the prospect of finding jobs. Punjabi migrants in Catalonia are spread throughout the region, making Punjabi migration both an urban and rural phenomenon. In addition to Barcelona, Punjabis have increasingly been settling in smaller cities and towns throughout Catalonia; in some towns, their presence is so significant as to make them the largest immigrant group. The Punjabi community in Spain is still largely first generation and male dominated, although through family reunification and marriage, both a “1.5” and a second generation are emerging, and consequently the gender balance of the community is gradually changing. The “1.5” generation are adolescents and young adults who were born in the Punjab but came to Catalonia as children. The majority of men of all castes work in the construction or catering industries. A third important group works as manual laborers in factories, particularly in the meat industry. While an increasing number of Punjabis have established small businesses, Punjabi Sikh entrepreneurship lags significantly behind that of their Punjabi Pakistani counterparts. Most women of all castes work as homemakers, although younger, unmarried women increasingly work outside of the home. The Spanish government does not collect region-specific migration data and hence official figures do not exist on Punjabi-specific migration. It is estimated that 10,000 Indian Punjabis are settled in Catalonia, which is currently home to eight Sikh temples or gurdwaras: five in the Barcelona metropolitan area, and three located in small cities in the north of Catalonia (Vic, Girona, and Olot respectively). The caste profile of the Punjabi community diverges significantly from that found in the longer established Punjabi diaspora in the UK. In the UK, the Punjabi community is Jat and Ramgarhia dominated, with Punjabi Dalits (an umbrella term that refers to all ex-untouchables) representing an important minority.6 In Spain, the Lubanas, a small yet highly mobile caste from the Kapurthala district of Punjab dominates, are followed by Jats (the dominant landowning caste of the Punjab) and the Ravidasia Chamars. Given the predominantly first-generation nature of Punjabi migration in Catalonia, levels of linguistic and social integration within the host society are weak. Only a minority of first-generation adults have 6 Castewatch UK, a Dalit human rights organization, estimates that there are 50,000 Dalits living in the UK. See Castewatch UK, available at http://www.castewatchuk.org/ index.htm, accessed February 25, 2009.

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learned Spanish and virtually none Catalan, the official regional language. The linguistic integration of first-generation Punjabi women is even poorer, and much more could be done to reach this group. Lack of linguistic skills and above all legal status has made integration on the job market difficult, and made Punjabi migrants vulnerable to exploitation by fellow Punjabis, even by one’s relatives. Many well-qualified young men are unable to use their skills in Spain due to their “illegal” status, which has resulted in problems of depression, alcoholism, and to them accepting odd jobs (such as selling drinks on the beach) that have a high risk of being fined by the police. However, signs are promising for the “1.5” and emerging second-generation members who are fluent in both Spanish and Catalan, and whose levels of educational and job integration are encouraging. Despite this rapid progression, very few “1.5”/second-generation Punjabi young people go to university, a trend which will hopefully change as the community as a whole becomes more established. For the moment, most Punjabi young adults who continue their studies beyond secondary school enroll in vocational education courses. Regarding residential settlement, within Barcelona, settlement patterns are dispersed. Punjabis of all castes have settled in both the historical center of Barcelona, as well as in the neighboring municipalities of Barcelona where property and rent are cheaper. Punjabis enjoy what the Spanish term a good “convivencia” (peaceful relationship) with their neighbors, particularly their Spanish neighbors, but also towards Pakistanis, with a number of male Indian Punjabis reporting friendship with Pakistani Punjabis. Caste Patterns in Barcelona and the Special Case of the Ravidasia Chamars During the early years of Punjabi settlement in Barcelona, all castes worshipped together in the same central gurdwara. Given the small numbers, community solidarity was a necessity. As the Punjabi Sikh community has grown, however, the same pattern of caste fragmentation that has been observed in the UK has been repeated in Spain. As the Punjabi population has expanded, gurdwaras have multiplied, and have become increasingly caste based. Barcelona now has two caste-specific gurdwaras (one Lubana and one Chamar), but all gurdwaras tend to be associated with a particular caste or identified with the caste that dominates its management committee. Therefore, when speaking about the “Punjabi Sikh” community in Barcelona, it is important to highlight the salience of caste. Although all caste groups face the common problems of adapting to life in a new country and difficulties in finding work, not all arrive with the same level of economic, cultural, and social capital. The caste hierarchy in the Punjab is unique within India due to the dominance of a landowning caste group known as the Jats, whereas in most other regions it is the Brahmins who dominate the local caste hierarchy. In fact, in some other regions of India, the Jats are considered Shudra (a low-caste category) and are eligible for affirmative action programs—a situation that contrasts starkly with their high social status in Punjabi society. In the Punjab,

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Brahmins are looked down upon,7 and it is the Jats who hold economic, social, and cultural power (particularly in the countryside), and also constitute the largest group within Sikhism. The prosperous urban Hindu mercantile castes do not tend to migrate abroad. While economically powerful, their political and social power does not rival that of the Jats. The lower castes, until very recently, have been poor, illiterate, and economically dependent on the Jats. In most villages, caste conflict has centered on Jat–Chamar relations (the two largest groups in the countryside). This can explain why for most Chamars, Jats and not Lubanas are their main source of reference when referring to upper-caste discrimination. Most Chamars have had no or little contact with Lubanas prior to migrating to Spain. Chamars assert that they start off with relatively lower levels of economic resources when embarking on their migratory project. Ten Chamar men have established their own businesses (two own construction firms), but the vast majority work as manual labor in the construction or catering industries and many are currently unemployed due to the financial crisis in Spain, which is compounded by their illegal status. Despite these relative economic disadvantages, however, the region of origin of Punjabi Chamars has greatly influenced how the Ravidasia community has developed in Catalonia. The Chamar population in Barcelona comes predominantly from the Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, and Karpurthala districts of the Doaba region of the Punjab. This is the region where the Ravidasia movement and identity is at its strongest (the birthplace of the historic Dalit rights Ad Dharm movement), and Chamars generally enjoy an economic, educational, and social level far superior to their Chamar counterparts in the Malwa and Majha regions, where the situation remains one of economic dependence upon and subservience towards the upper castes. Punjab Studies scholar Ronki Ram notes that, in the Doaba region of the Punjab, most Dalits have completely dissociated themselves from menial work.8 The Doaba region has been and continues to be the heartland of Chamar socio-religious movements for a separate Dalit identity. The greater educational and economic advancement of the Doaba Chamars has made them more confident and assertive, and this factor has been instrumental in the separate religious trajectory that the Ravidasias have pursued in Spain.9 Since 2003, the Ravidasias have had their own gurdwara, where until very recently they practiced only slightly modified Sikh rites. However, the Chamars are not the only caste group to form a separate gurdwara. In 2009, a Lubana-controlled gurdwara was established—the reasons behind the creation of a Ravidasia-specific gurdwara are different from those driving the establishment of other caste-based temples. Internecine Jat–Lubana power struggles within management committees led to the formation of a gurdwara in which Lubanas could command complete control. 7 Ronki Ram, “Untouchability in India with a Difference: Ad Dharm, Dalit Assertion, and Caste Conflicts in Punjab,” Asian Survey 44/6 (2004): 896. 8 Ibid., p. 899. 9 S. Jodkha, “The Ravi Dasis of Punjab: Global Contours of Caste and Religious Strife” (2009), available at www.dalitliberation.blogspot.com, accessed June 1, 2009.

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Lubanas also face prejudice from Jats as they are perceived to be “lower” in the caste hierarchy, but they are not treated as untouchables and hence do not experience the same degree and intensity of discrimination. Lubanas in turn discriminate against Ravidasias and view them as their inferiors. While we can see from the UK experience that the trend has been for all caste groups to promote their own identity and seek institutional autonomy, for Ravidasias this push for independence has deeper significance. For Chamars, establishing their own institutions is part and parcel of a broader socio-religious movement for equality. Indeed, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the leader of modern India’s Dalit Liberation movement, argued that equality for Dalits could only be achieved through the radical social transformation of Indian society. He famously converted to Buddhism and urged his followers to do so as well in order to accomplish this goal. Another important Dalit leader, Mangoo Ram from the Punjab, argued that liberation for Dalits could only come about by forming a completely separate cultural and religious identity or quam. The Ravidasia community’s progressive institutional autonomy should therefore be interpreted in light of the broader context of Dalit politics in India, where a key strategy for liberation has involved religion, and in particular conversion from Hinduism to other religions such as Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism in order to escape the caste system. In the next sections, I will address in greater detail the particular case of the Ravidasia community (sangat) in Barcelona. The Ravidasia Chamar Sangat: Internal Complexity and Division While all communities—minority communities in particular—are internally diverse and often highly fractured, the worldwide Ravidasia Chamar community presents a unique case of internal complexity due to their ambivalent religious and cultural position as a group both within and outside of the Hindu fold. Culturally and religiously, untouchables have historically been part of the Hindu universe, yet as impure castes they are officially confined to the fringes of Hinduism and condemned to a life of inequality. The result is that Dalits have never enjoyed a secure, dignified religious home and have consequently in part sought that home and dignity outside of Hinduism. In the words of one of my interviewees, Chamars “are scattered like potatoes” among the various religious communities of India. Chamars have converted to Islam, to Christianity, to Sikhism, and more recently to Buddhism, always in the hope of escaping the taint of caste stigma and finding brotherhood and equality in a new dharm, or religious faith. The Ravidasia sangat in Barcelona was until this year part of the Sikh tradition, with the key particularity of worshipping Ravidas as guru and patron saint. However, although Guru Ravidas binds the community together, Ravidasias in Catalonia are deeply divided ideologically, a factor that impedes internal solidarity (a recurring complaint among Ravidasias is their lack of unity compared with other caste groups). Mainstream Sikhs also face important internal debates, but for most Sikhs, the basics of their religious identification are broadly agreed

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upon. This is not so in the Ravidasia case. The most fundamental split within the community concerns religious orientation and strategy. One camp, previously the dominant camp within the sangat, is Sikh-identified, and religiously conservative. While seeing no contradiction in identifying as Sikh and worshipping Ravidas as guru on an equal par with Guru Nanak, they feel part of the Sikh family and do not see the need to venture outside of Sikhism in order to improve their social status. The second camp can be identified as “Ravidasia,” for this is the label most commonly employed by my interviewees. They believe that the best way forward for Chamars is to (re)claim and assert their own identity. For this more independent camp, Sikhism is viewed as obstructing the full development of the Chamar community as a quam (separate religion and nation), as envisioned by the Ad Dharm (original people) movement.10 They are thus the inheritors and carriers of the spirit of Punjabi Dalit leader Mangoo Ram (the leader of the Ad Dharm movement during the 1930s) in the contemporary period. According to these separatist Ravidasias, the only way for Chamars to progress is to pursue an independent religious path focused exclusively on the figure of Guru Ravidas. The third camp (minority in status) identifies with and derives their inspiration from the philosophy of Dr. B.R Ambedkar, the leading advocate for Dalit liberation. While sharing the desire for independence with the “Ravidasias,” their ideology is more political in nature; they promote a broad-based Dalit as opposed to a specifically Ravidasia identity, and they are keen to form alliances with other ex-untouchables. However, unlike their counterparts in India and other countries of the diaspora, in Spain there has been no attempt on the part of “Ambedkarites” to campaign for a conversion to Buddhism, which Dr. B.R. Ambedkar advocated as the solution to the caste discrimination inherent in Hinduism. The Ravidasia sangat in Barcelona is characterized by even further internal complexity based on allegiance to particular deras (religious centers) and babas or sants (religious leaders who run the afore-mentioned deras). The Ravidasia community is not unique in this—many Hindus and Sikhs in India commonly follow a particular baba and look to him for spiritual direction. However, among the Ravidasias, certain deras have greater weight than in other caste communities. The dera that commands the most popularity and respect among Ravidasia Chamars is Dera Sachkhand Ballan, located in the Jalandhar district of the Punjab. The majority of Spanish Chamars are followers of this dera, even though many have not taken nam (initiation) from its senior leader. The preeminent position of this dera within the sangat is due to its image as an organization that has done a great deal to further the mission of Guru Ravidas and work for the betterment of the entire community through its charitable works. In addition to the sants of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, the congregation frequently receives visits from a number of other Ravidasia sants in the Punjab. A significant minority of Spanish Chamars are also followers of the highly successful and religiously syncretic Radhasoami 10 Mark Juergensmeyer, Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchability in 20th-Century Punjab (Berkeley, CA, 1982).

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spiritual movement. Claiming a dual Radhasoami/Ravidasia affiliation is not seen to pose a threat, however, and is viewed as being perfectly compatible with a Ravidasia identity, partly because the Radhasoami movement is perceived to be a universalist spiritual mission as opposed to a religion. Among Chamars in general, dual and even multiple identities are quite accepted. Although some Ravidasias affirm that a “true Ravidasia” or a “true Chamar” must follow and “believe in” Dera Sachkhand Ballan, for the most part a “live and let live” attitude reigns in which each individual is free to adopt the dera and sant of their choosing. It is the above-mentioned ideological splits between Sikh-identified and separatist Ravidasias that have marked the Ravidasia gurdwara during the first years of its existence. From the very beginning, there has been tension between these two groups and each has sought to control the gurdwara and impose its particular religious vision. The “Ravidasia” camp has consistently struggled to introduce Ravidasia symbols and rituals, such as the special Ravidasia jaikara11 (the chant “shout of victory” or “war cry” that concludes the Sikh religious service), in order to promote a distinctly Ravidasia identity and symbolic environment. Ironically, intimidation and violence from orthodox Sikhs aided the separatist camp, as orthodox strong-arm tactics served to strengthen their argument that the Ravidasia community could only be free from outside interference by charting a completely independent religious path. On one occasion, a group of men from a nearby mainstream Sikh gurdwara burst into the Ravidasia gurdwara, and proceeded to harangue the congregation about their usage of the Ravidasia jaikara, and criticize them for inviting sants to the gurdwara. On another occasion, a leading member of the congregation was physically attacked by three Sikh men over the contentious issue of the Ravidasia jaikara, right outside of the Ravidasia gurdwara. These acts of harassment and physical aggression reinforced the belief among separatist Ravidasias of the need to establish a separate Ravidasia identity, so as to no longer be vulnerable to outside criticism that they were not complying with the Sikh Rahit Maryada—the Sikh code of conduct that all Sikhs and gurdwaras are called upon to obey. In effect, the Ravidasias in Spain are currently experiencing the same identity dilemmas that earlier waves of Sikh reformers faced when trying to firmly distinguish Sikhism from Hinduism. Sikh scholar Doris Jakobsh states that “The question of Sikh identity plagued the reformers, particularly given Sikh minority status in Hindu-dominated India, and the fluidity of boundaries, at times merging, at times separating ‘religious’ affiliation in the Punjab.”12 In a similar fashion, the Ravidasias are a minority struggling to define themselves and carve out a unique religious identity against the backdrop of a Sikh majority. At this point in time, the most pressing need of the Ravidasia camp, as it The Ravidasia jaikara is “Jo bole so nirbheh, Shri Guru Raviassi Ki Jai” (whoever utters the following phrase shall be fearless, victory to Guru Ravidas). The Sikh jaikara is “Jo bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” (“Blessed is the person who says God is Truth”). 12 Doris Jakobsh, Sikhism and Women: History, Texts and Experience (New Delhi, 2010), p. 3. 11

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was for the Singh Sabha Sikh reformers, is to distance Ravidasia symbolism and practice from a dominant religion. The Evolution of the Ravidasia Sangat in Barcelona As mentioned above, Chamars initially worshipped alongside other Punjabi Sikhs in the same gurdwara, and the vast majority identified as Sikh, while maintaining a dual allegiance to Guru Ravidas. Belief in the ten Sikh gurus along with Guru Ravidas was seen to be perfectly compatible, and did not provoke the slightest hint of contradiction for Ravidasias. Although caste fault-lines and caste-based social groups existed in the common gurdwara long before other gurdwaras were created, during the early years of settlement, the Chamar community did not seriously consider setting up their own temple. However, an incident that occurred during the 2002 janamdin or birth anniversary of Guru Ravidas was decisive in leading to the emergence of a separate gurdwara and sharpened community consciousness on the part of Spanish Chamars. This incident came to symbolize the collective humiliation of the Chamar community and emerged as a trope in almost all of my interviews. As related to me by a number of Ravidasias, during the celebration a young boy, instigated by his elders, took the portrait of Guru Ravidas and placed it on the floor—a sacrilegious act designed to cause maximum affront to the dignity of Chamars. Significantly, no (non-Ravidasia) adult intervened. This incident, while dramatic in its severe casteism (and certainly not representative of all caste relations), is an extreme example of the underlying current of caste prejudice and inter-caste jealousy that permeates the Punjabi Spanish diaspora. Thus, while the above related incidents are defining moments of collective humiliation for the Ravidasia sangat, they served to reinforce and crystallize the general feeling of not being respected and treated as equal by their fellow Sikhs. While my interviewees highlighted in particular the janamdin occurrence, it became clear that this insult was simply the spark that lit the fuse of Chamar anger at being treated as secondclass Sikhs. My interviews reveal that the underlying reason driving the necessity of a separate place of worship stems from the subtle yet persistent casteism that Chamars face in daily social life and in their perception that upper-caste Punjabis continue to see them as uneducated and ignorant. The desire to establish their own gurdwara, where, in the words of several interviewees, they could finally be in control and feel completely at home, is therefore first and foremost motivated by deep-seated feelings of discrimination. Ravidasia Experiences of Casteism in the Spanish Diaspora In my interviews Ravidasias repeatedly affirmed that “deep down” upper-caste Sikhs continued to remain wedded to a caste-ist mentality, and felt that social interactions with upper-caste Sikhs, while superficially polite, did not reveal

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the true extent of social prejudice against them. Ravidasias were acutely aware that outward politeness often concealed feelings of condescension and jealousy. Chamars repeatedly highlighted the fact that upper-caste Sikhs were jealous of their growing educational and economic progress. A recurring theme that emerged in my interviews was the resistance they could detect, even if not openly expressed, to their new status and assertiveness. The following comments reveal that “veiled” casteism is the dominant experience of Chamars in their new home: We own a construction business. Most of our workers are Jat or Muslim. They never say anything to your face. The Jat workers talk among themselves and say “they are Chamar” in a disrespectful tone. To your face it is always bhaiji [respectful term of address that literally means elder brother]. To your face nobody says anything, but behind your back yes. Once I was with a Jat worker in the park when he was drunk, and he said “I work for a Chamar.” (Male youth, Barcelona)13 I overheard a disparaging comment when I was thirteen or fourteen in the first gurdwara [the general gurdwara before the creation of the Ravidasia temple]. I mentioned it at home. My parents told me that they continue to think we are their servants, uneducated—this is an inherited mentality. Punjabi songs are always going on about how we are all Punjabis, long live Punjab. They are all about self-promotion for Jats. But the reality is different, we hate each other. There is mistrust, jealousy, pride. (Female youth, Barcelona)14 People think very badly about the Ravidasia jat (caste). In the factory where I used to work, there was an Auntie [generic term of respect for middle-aged married women]. To my face she would not say anything but behind my back she would talk to others—she was Lubani. She would ask everyone for their jat. Very gossipy. Every woman of every jat has mann [pride], but the Jats have more mann. I worked six months with her—sometimes she treated me very nicely. She would say you are like my daughter. But she spoke badly about my jat! She was sardi [jealous] because they had assigned me computer work because I am young. That is why she spoke badly about me. (Female youth, Barcelona)15 They ask you about your caste, but indirectly, they ask where you are from, what your name is. Of course names are deceptive. To ask directly doesn’t look good. I have seen how upper-caste people react towards lower-caste people. Their facial expression, the tone of voice, how they speak. Sometimes they change

Interview, July 20, 2008. Interview, July 22, 2008. 15 Interview, August 15, 2008. 13 14

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when they find out that you are low caste. They don’t say anything, but you notice it, that this person has changed suddenly. (Male youth, Barcelona)16

These individual experiences of casteism reveal that low-caste stigma has not diminished socially. Thus, the decision to create a separate gurdwara, while officially motivated by the collective janamdin insult, was taken in a context in which individual Chamars were being subjected to a constant “drip, drip” of subtle, yet equally damaging, acts of caste prejudice. The widespread feeling that upper-caste Sikhs had not changed and indeed stubbornly refused to change their mentality vis-à-vis Chamars, even in the migratory context of Spain, convinced many Ravidasias that the only solution was to worship separately. Indeed, several Chamars referred to casteism as a virus that had so powerfully penetrated and infected Punjabi society (“it’s in their blood”), that it was impossible to uproot it from the Punjabi psyche—a virus that was transmitted from parents to children, so that each new generation carried and reproduced it. A second key reason for the establishment of a separate temple was motivated by the resentment Chamars felt at being used by dominant-caste Sikhs for financial purposes, but excluded from any real participation in the running of the temple that they had helped finance. They pointed out how their donations were always welcome, but not their sharing of power and influence on gurdwara management committees. In the diaspora, positions of leadership on gurdwara management committees are particularly prized, due to the large donations that such gurdwaras receive, as well as the potential for gaining status in the community. Several of my interviewees complained about Chamar exclusion from gurdwara management committees: The central gurdwara was constructed by all communities but controlled by Jats. No representation by other groups. Their mind is casteist; they feel the Guru Granth Sahib is for them only—that they own it. In India I go everywhere, but here I never go to the central gurdwara because of the atmosphere. (Male adult, Vic)17 When they want to build a new temple, they will ask for our donations, but then they will say, you can’t join, you are Chamar. They take our money, but no Ravidasia is on the management committee. (Male adult, Banyolles)18

A third factor leading to the exodus of Ravidasias from the general gurdwara relates to the fundamental ideological differences between Ravidasias and mainstream Sikhs regarding the status and title of Ravidas, which I term the guru/ bhagat dispute.19 Mainstream Sikhs do not concede the title of guru to Ravidas, 18 19 16

Interview, August 10, 2008. Interview, July 20, 2008. Interview, July 10, 2008. Kathryn Lum, “The Ravidassia Community and Identity(ies) in Catalonia, Spain,” Sikh Formations, 6/1 (2010): 36. 17

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but instead call him bhagat Ravidas, a term that means devout follower of God. A guru, in addition to being a pious disciple of God, is also a teacher, a master, and hence in contemporary Punjabi society, the title of guru confers maximum respect and prestige—in popular usage, bhagat is viewed as a secondary honorific title. According to Sikhism scholar Pashaura Singh, the compositions of the bhagats are clearly distinguished from that of the Sikh gurus in the Sikh scripture, and it is only recently that the followers of Ravidas and other bhagats have claimed guru status for their patron saint.20 W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, in their dictionary of Sikhism, define bhagat as “the general name given to material in the Guru Granth Sahib which was not composed by the Sikh gurus.” They further specify that “Sikhs attach much significance to the bhagat bani as a demonstration of the willingness of the gurus to recognize that revelation was not confined only to them.”21 However, despite this remarkable theological openness (which extends to non-Hindu bhagats as well), the Ravidasias allege that in practice the bhagats are perceived as secondary spiritual figures. For the Ravidasia community, this lack of acknowledgement of the full spiritual status of their patron saint is offensive and disrespectful. For Ravidasias, Guru Ravidas is equal to the ten Sikh gurus officially recognized by mainstream Sikhism (mainstream Sikhism only recognizes the succession of ten Sikh gurus and the Guru Granth Sahib as eternal guru for the Sikh panth or community). Every single Spanish Ravidasia, without exception, highlighted the lack of consideration shown towards their guru, which for Chamars is a key, perhaps the key manifestation of disrespect towards their community. They strongly challenge the title of bhagat assigned to Ravidas on the part of mainstream Sikhs, which apart from not according due respect to their guru, is also interpreted as an insult to the entire Chamar community. Given that Ravidas is a powerful, collective low-caste symbol, the lack of full spiritual status accorded to Ravidas reflects, for Chamars, the lack of respect and equality shown to the entire Chamar caste in Punjabi society. The exclusion that Ravidasias feel is accentuated by the caste equality that Sikhism preaches—many Ravidasias feel disillusioned by the de facto lack of caste equality, both in India and in the diaspora. Although a number of mainstream Sikhs acknowledge that casteism has harmed Sikh unity and are committed to a caste-free panth, Ravidasias continue to feel that they are not fully welcome. Ravidasias continually stressed how uppercaste Sikhs had assumed that “Sikhism belonged to them,” that the Guru Granth Sahib was theirs alone, and countered upper-caste control of Sikhism by offering alternative interpretations of Sikh history and theology that are silenced by mainstream Sikhism. The Ravidasia vision of Sikhism shows how marginalized minority groups, far from passively accepting dominant versions of history and religion, are active in developing their own, often subversive, counter-narratives: Pashaura Singh, The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib (Oxford, 2003), p. 176. W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism (London,

20 21

1997), p. 21.

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Guru Ravidas gave a symbol—Ek Onkar—but Jat people don’t accept this, they say Guru Nanak gave this symbol. Guru Nanak adopted this word from Guru Ravidas. Guru Ravidas was the teacher of Guru Nanak. It says so in the Guru Granth Sahib. The bani of Guru Ravidas start with Ek Onkar. In the Guru Granth they say there are only the souls of ten gurus, but there are only the bani of six. We say that the Guru Granth is the soul of many gurus: Guru Ravidas, Guru Kabir, Guru Nanak Dev, Sainji, Baba Faridji, Trilochan—so many. The Guru Granth is the soul of all gurus. They insult the other gurus. They only give respect to the Sikh gurus—nothing more. (Male adult, Barcelona)22 We worship both Guru Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Ravidas Ji. Both are equal. People say that Guru Ravidas is a bhagat of Guru Nanak Dev Ji—they have told many stories. For me both are equal. (Female youth, Barcelona)23 In the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, all to me are gurus, because all make a contribution, not only the ten gurus as they say. We are all bhagats. Guru is the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. The message for all Sikhs is to consider the Guru Granth Sahib Ji your guru. And all within are gurus, but it depends on the interpretation of each person. This is what the bani says, so why this difference of ten gurus and 40 bhagats? (Female youth, Barcelona)24 Sikhs don’t want to give respect. Bhagat used to mean supreme teacher, master, but today it means disciple. We are taught that guru is a superior word to that of bhagat. Moreover, when they say bhagat, they say it with a disrespectful tone. So we must use guru to give him more respect. I think that these terms are a creation of the people, because Guru Nanak did not give him this title. Guru Ravidas was born before Guru Nanak—so why did they not call him guru also? (Male youth, Barcelona)25 Sikhism is like jatwadh [a term that means Jat people and in this context signifies Jat domination and discrimination]. Sikhism is practically now jatwadh, because the Jat people think that Sikhism is their own. They want to dominate Sikhism. Actually, nobody mentions that the … original five Singhs [the first five Sikhs baptized by Guru Gobind Singh], no one was Jat. Everyone was from a low caste. (Male adult, Vic)26

In insisting on the spiritual equality of Guru Ravidas with the Sikh gurus, and challenging any attempt to relegate him to second class status, Ravidasias are thus 24 25 26 22 23

Interview, July 12, 2008. Interview, July 12, 2008. Interview, July 24, 2008. Interview, August 5, 2008. Interview, August, 5, 2008.

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also asserting their dignity as a community and elaborating a counter-narrative that challenges mainstream interpretations of Sikh history and scripture. They strongly feel that mainstream interpretations of Sikhism have marginalized them and that their contributions to Sikhism have not been recognized. The decision to create a separate Ravidasia gurdwara, although officially motivated by a very public act of humiliation, was therefore driven by long-standing underlying feelings of marginalization and experiences of casteism within a faith in which their guru, like them, is perennially seen as “less than.” Greater Casteism in Spain? The overwhelming majority of Chamars settled in Catalonia affirmed that casteism was worse in Spain than in India and, surprisingly, several maintained that prior to leaving the Punjab they had experienced little or even no casteism. For the “1.5” generation of Punjabi youth who came to Spain at an early age this is understandable, for many of them were sheltered from the worst effects of caste discrimination, whilst in the Punjab and consequently their first exposure to caste discrimination occurred in Catalonia. Having not reached advanced school age in India, they did not experience the caste consciousness-instilling measures of the Indian state, in which SC (Scheduled Caste) students often must fill out forms in order to receive special government aid and scholarships. This institutionalization of caste categories reaches its zenith when applying to college/ university, when all students must indicate on their application forms one of three broad caste categories: General Category for the upper castes, Other Backward Caste for middle castes, or Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe for ex-untouchables. Ravidasia Spanish youth do not have an “SC” (Scheduled Caste) identity as a result of the limited time they have spent in the Indian educational system. Indeed, many “1.5” youths arrived in Spain with little caste awareness and only became conscious of the meaning of their caste identity when interacting with other Punjabis (girls, in particular, are often asked by “aunties” about their caste). However, for the first generation of immigrants, these statements appear to be contradictory. How can caste discrimination be perceived to be stronger in a country in which dominant castes no longer benefit from the structural and cultural advantages they enjoyed in the Punjab? Due to the still relatively small size of the Punjabi community in Catalonia, there is more inter-caste mixing in places of worship than in the Punjab, where religious life is more segregated. Inter-caste mixing in gurdwaras brings the opportunity for both caste prejudice and religious conflicts to emerge, particularly around the guru/bhagat controversy. However, the greater casteism that my interviewees have identified can in large part be linked to the psychological tenacity of caste as systemic form of social discrimination. Apart from the fact that caste is an ideology and a mentality that is highly transportable, regardless of the host context, a feeling of caste superiority brings great psychological benefits, all the more so in a foreign society in which

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upper-caste members suddenly find themselves in the same situation as their lowercaste counterparts. Regardless of the trials and tribulations in their new home, at least they have the certainty and security that they are still superior to Chamars and Churas. Precisely when lower castes are beginning to challenge them in the field of education as well as economically, the psychological boundaries and symbolic power of caste become even more important to protect, assert, and defend. The persistence and strengthening of caste in Spain can be explained by the general resistance to change on the part of dominant groups, whose social relations with subordinate groups have for centuries been based on a taken-for-granted understanding of superiority and inferiority. When the “inferior” group finally begins to challenge this understanding, resistance is to be expected, because upper castes, like any other dominant group from another society, have an enormous emotional investment in maintaining the status quo and the privileges that accompany it. Thus, it is not just a question of having to share economic resources more equitably, although economic jealousy is definitely present. When one’s entire identity is premised on the assumption of being inherently superior to certain groups, regardless of their newfound economic status, maintaining that identity, and the psychological security that it affords, is only likely to gain importance in a migratory setting in which one’s ethnic identity is now stigmatized. Indeed, it is possible that the greater casteism that Ravidasias feel in Spain is in part related to the ethnic stigma that upper-caste Punjabis experience. In response to ethnic stigma and, in many cases, losing their previous high status in the Punjab, reasserting caste serves to maintain at least some form of continuity with the past. They may be just another immigrant community in the eyes of Spaniards, but within the Punjabi community, they maintain their cultural and symbolic superiority. According to the Indian scholar John C.B. Webster, upper-caste Punjabis are simply manifesting “a universal urge for self-expression and superiority inherent in human nature itself.”27 A number of feminist authors have highlighted the resurgence of sexism and a reassertion of sexist values in response to women’s movement for equality. In particular, they have argued that policy changes have not been sufficient to remove sexism from a culture resistant to change.28 Thus, the common refrain of “casteism is worse here” can be seen in the context of a growing social and psychological battle between two groups—one of whom is trying to overthrow caste first and foremost psychologically, and the second who cannot countenance such a change without completely destabilizing their core identity. Accepting Chamars and other lower castes as their equals would require an enormous mental and social shift to overcome centuries of anti-untouchable conditioning—a shift that is not easy to accomplish even were it to be desired by the upper castes.

27 John C.B.Webster, Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives (Delhi, 2002), p. 131. 28 See Natasha Walter, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (London, Virago).

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Thus, the expectation that caste will weaken in Spain has not been borne out and, indeed, the exact opposite has occurred: preserving and investing in caste identity has become even more important, for all castes. For the upper castes, this involves defending their dominant caste position in the face of challenges from “uppity” lower castes. For the “lower castes,” investing in caste involves embracing and reframing a long-stigmatized identity as something positive, to be valued and celebrated. The Vienna Incident: Split with Sikhism It is likely that the Ravidasia sangat in Barcelona would have continued within the Sikh fold, albeit with an increasingly Ravidasia orientation, were it not for a tragic event that sent shockwaves through the worldwide Ravidasia Chamar community. On May 24, 2009, six Sikh men armed with daggers and a gun entered the Shri Guru Ravidas Gurdwara in Vienna and started shooting, aiming at the two visiting sants (holy men) from India who were giving a sermon at the time. The ensuing bloodshed resulted in the serious injury of Sant Niranjan Das, the spiritual head of Dera Sachkhand Ballan, and the death of his deputy and successor, Sant Ramanand, the leading light of the Ravidasia movement in the Punjab. Thirty devotees were injured, 11 of them seriously. Hours after news of the death of Sant Ramanand spread, the Punjab erupted in violence, a state curfew was imposed, and the army was called in to restore order. Violent demonstrations also spread to the neighboring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, which also have significant Chamar populations. In Barcelona, although violence did not occur, the anger, grief, and shock were palpable. The death of Sant Ramanand, a highly esteemed and very charismatic figure within the Ravidasia movement and the driving force behind Dera Sachkhand Ballan, forced the Barcelona sangat, along with congregations throughout the Ravidasia diaspora, to dramatically confront the thorny issue of their religious identity and boundaries. Up until the Vienna incident, the link with Sikhism had not been collectively questioned or challenged, and most Ravidasias identified as Sikh or Ravidasia Sikh—including some separatist-inclined Ravidasias. Religious boundaries were fluid and flexible. Ravidasias did not feel that they had to adopt the Five Ks (the five symbols of Sikhism) in order to identify as Sikh, and rejected mainstream definitions of what it meant to be a “true” Sikh. In the aftermath of the Vienna attacks, the Ravidasia camp gained the upper hand, and were finally able to convince their more conservative peers of the necessity of forming their own religion. However, the most profound and long-lasting consequence of the Vienna incident has been psychological. The assassination (martyring in Ravidasia eyes) of their most important spiritual leader produced a sudden psychological split with Sikhism and a radical change in how many Ravidasias now self-identity. Religious boundaries have hardened. The inner feeling of being Sikh, or at least connected to and somehow part of the Sikh

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community, has died, replaced with an exclusive, more tightly defined Ravidasia identity. Physically, this psychological split has manifested itself in the removal of the Guru Granth Sahib from the Ravidasia temple (a hotly debated and disputed decision), and its recent replacement with a granth or holy book (the Amritbani Satguru Ravidas Maharaj Ji) composed entirely of religious poetry (bani) of Guru Ravidas, developed by Dera Sachkhand Ballan.29 This dramatic decision contrasts with the lack of action on the part of Ravidasia temples in the UK, which did not remove the Sikh holy book from their premises. All Sikh religious images, such as portraits of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, have been removed, as have the handkerchiefs for men that bore Sikh symbols. The Sikh jaikara, previously recited along with the Ravidasia jaikara, has been eliminated from religious services and the granthi relinquished. The weekly religious service (diwan) is now led by different members of the community. The typical greeting among congregation members has also changed—Sat Sri Akal (“God is Truth”) the Sikh greeting, which was often heard before, has been displaced by Jai Guru Dev (“Victory to the Divine Guru”)—in use before but now more generalized, and Jai Bhim (“Victory to Dr. Ambedkar”), the latter popular especially among Ambedkarites. Ambedkarites have also recently began to use the greeting Jai Mulnivasi (“Victory to the original habitants of India”). These changes are highly visible, they have completely changed the symbolic environment of the Ravidasia temple and have shaken the entire community. Less evident are the internal changes that have occurred in the wake of the attacks. The following examples exemplify the inner transformation in religious identification that has taken place: Before, I used to consider myself Sikh—in reality a Sikh means someone who practices the Sikh religion without caste nor other forms of neutral identification … They always said, you are Sikh, but Ravidasia Sikh, or Balmilki Sikh … For me, Sikhism was my religion, and I considered myself Sikh because, for a true Sikh, what is most important is internal spirituality, not appearances. I am not going to consider myself more Sikh in a turban, with a beard and the 5Ks … Sikhism is a good religion, was a good religion, I have the greatest respect for the Guru Granth Sahib because everything that it says is right, but what is the use of having such a complete book if in reality no one pays attention to it … Now … if they ask me, I say Ravidasia, for pride, to express myself … . (Male youth, Barcelona)30

Previous versions of a Guru Ravidas Granth have existed. Hawley and Juergensmeyer mention that a granth based on the religious poetry of Ravidas was compiled for the Ravidas temple in Banaras in 1988. See J.S. Hawley and Mark Juergensmeyer, Songs of the Saints of India (Oxford, 1998). 30 Interview, August 12, 2008. 29

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Before, for my religious identification I said Sikh, because in Sikhism there are no castes. If people asked about the turban, I said I didn’t wear it because my parents didn’t oblige me to. Now, with everything that happened in Vienna, I see it as they are being racist towards us low-caste people. And now, I say Ravidasia and if people ask, I say to them that it is a new religion, and I explain why I have changed. (Male youth, Barcelona)31 Before the attacks, I identified as Ad-Dharmi Ravidasia. After the attacks, we are trying to get our identity as a Ravidasia quam [nation]. In Sikhism, they say Ravidasia Sikh. In Hinduism, Chamar Hindu. We need our own identity as a Ravidasia quam. We are separate from Hinduism and separate from Sikhism. We respect the Guru Granth Sahib, we have faith in the Guru Granth Sahib, but we don’t need it here. (Male adult, Barcelona)32

In addition to religious identity, caste identity among Ravidasias has similarly undergone a transformation in the wake of the Vienna attacks, in many cases resulting in a strengthening of caste identity and an invigorated pride in being Chamar. Rather than try to escape from the term “Chamar,” it is being embraced as a positive name. Indeed, one of my interviewees had added a sticker that says “Sons of Chamar” to his bicycle as a public affirmation of his new pride. A new trend has also emerged in which some individuals have begun to identify with the more politicized term “Dalit,” an identity label which is linked to Dalit activism. Prior to Vienna, the term “Dalit” was hardly mentioned at all during my research, caste identification being overwhelmingly Chamar or Ravidasia (the two terms being interchangeable for Ravidasia Chamars). Indeed, many of my interviewees had not even heard of the term, or simply did not identify with it at all. This shift is particularly evident among male youth; female youth are discouraged from active involvement in gurdwara affairs/politics and do not appear to have embraced Dalit activism. Thus, a boy who last year affirmed that the term “Dalit” did not apply to him, now proudly identifies as Dalit: What do I feel? I feel a person, but if someone from India asks me, I am Chamar or Dalit and more Chamar than before—and more Dalit too … to say I am Dalit or Chamar is also a way of challenging the caste system. Better Dalit, because thereby I don’t create more divisions within our people. Dalit is a term that is used to describe all impure people according to Hindus. When I say Chamar, I identify with only one sector of the poor. Now what interests me is to have the most generalized identity possible, so as not to create factions within our people. So now I say with pride that I am Dalit, because it is a way to directly challenge the caste system. (Male youth, Barcelona)33

Interview, July 10, 2008. Interview, July 12, 2008. 33 Interview, July 19, 2008. 31

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Another boy echoed the broader, the more inclusive nature of the term “Dalit”: Before, if someone asked me about my caste, I would say Chamar. Now I say Dalit so that people know that we are united. Dalit refers to more people, a larger group; we are not one group but rather many” (male youth, Barcelona).34 The following interviewee spoke for many when he highlighted the growing pride in being Chamar, and the willingness to publicly manifest that pride: “Nowadays I am very proud to say that I am Chamar, before I felt shame, I used to say I am Sikh. Now we feel proud to be a Chamar, we have changed a lot” (male adult, Banyolles).35 The Vienna attacks thus acted as a trigger that released pent-up Chamar anger at their lack of equal status and treatment within Sikhism, reflected linguistically in the special terms that have historically applied to Dalit Sikhs, but not to Sikhs from other caste communities. As innumerable Ravidasias pointed out, in a truly egalitarian panth there would be no need for such terms—all would be Sikh, without the need to linguistically demarcate “special” types of Sikhs according to their caste origins. A critical group of Ravidasia Chamars have been persuaded that Sikhism not only failed to provide them with the social respect and status that they so craved, but was even obstructing their full development and progress as a community. Only a separate identity and religion could restore their rightful place in society and give them the spiritual “wings” they needed in order to rebuild collective self-confidence and respect. The Spanish Ravidasia Chamars, along with a number of other Ravidasia diasporic communities in continental Europe, have thus chosen a more radical religious strategy for collective liberation. To date, the dominant religious-based strategy has been to attach themselves to an already established faith in the hope of escaping the bonds of casteism and caste stigma. The Vienna attacks have forced a dramatic change in course, motivating Spanish and other Ravidasias to chart their own religious path in their pursuit of social equality. Conclusion The Spanish Punjabi community reflects a new trend in Punjabi migration to non-English speaking countries that have no historical ties with India. Although not a prestigious migration destination in the unofficial Punjabi migration hierarchy, it represents a feasible destination for those who cannot migrate legally to the leading Anglophone countries. The experience of the Ravidasia community in Spain reveals that the “casted mind” has traveled and implanted itself onto Spanish soil. Contrary to expectation, casteism is perceived to be worse in Spain than in the Punjab on the part of members of both the first and the “1.5” generation. The strong psychological benefits that upper-caste Punjabis receive from the Interview, August 2, 2008. Interview, July 5, 2008.

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caste system, along with the need to protect and reinforce one’s caste identity/ superiority in a new setting in which one’s ethnic identity is no longer valued, can help explain why casteism actually grows in strength rather than diminishes in the Spanish diaspora. The most unexpected development in the Spanish diaspora, however, has been the dramatic split—both psychological and institutional— that has occurred in the wake of the Vienna attacks on the spiritual leaders of the worldwide Ravidasia movement. The death of Sant Ramanand has precipitated a division within Sikhism, and a profound shift in personal identification on the part of many Spanish Ravidasias. While these changes in religious and caste identification have no doubt been brewing and evolving over some time, the attacks in Vienna have provided a major stimulus for a rethinking of both individual and collective religious and caste identity. The strong emotions and debates postVienna have resulted in intensified caste consciousness/Chamar pride, a growing Dalit politicization of the community, especially of its male youth, and a strong determination to create a separate religious identity—a new dharm (faith) on an equal par with Sikhism. Just as Sikhs in the past declared that they were neither Hindu nor Muslim, contemporary Ravidasias assert that they are neither Hindu nor Sikh. Disillusioned with the failure of the Sikh faith to translate into practice the egalitarian beliefs and ideals of the gurus, they are now embarking on a separate religious path with the hope of finally achieving full equality. The question now is whether the Ravidasias will follow the same path of other religions in eventually imposing a “true” Ravidasia identity which will squash heterodox expressions of “Ravidasiaism.” The rise of “identity Islam” and “identity Sikhism” opposed to diverse religious identities within their fold,36 raises the possibility that the Ravidasias, once they have elaborated a new religious orthodoxy, will ironically repeat the same patterns to which they have been victim as a group on the fringes of mainstream Sikhism. Bibliography Castewatch UK, available at http://www.castewatchuk.org/index.htm, accessed February 25, 2009. Cole, W. Owen and Piara Singh Sambhi, A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism (London: Routledge Curzon, 1997). Falzon, Mark Anthony, “Los sindhis y el comercio en el Mediterráneo,” Revista CIDOB d´Afers Internacionals, 78 October (2007): 121–38. Haller, Dieter, “Let It Flow: Economy, Spirituality and Gender in the Sindhi Network,” Anthropological Theory 5/2 (2005): 154–75. Hawley, John Stratton and Mark Juergensmeyer, Songs of the Saints of India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988). Jakobsh , Sikhism and Women, p. 11.

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Jodkha, S., “The Ravi Dasis of Punjab: Global Contours of Caste and Religious Strife” (2009), available at www.dalitliberation.blogspot.com, accessed June 1, 2009. Jakobsh, Doris and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Sikhism and Women; Contextualizing the Issues,” in Doris R. Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women: History, Texts, and Experience (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010). Juergensmeyer, Mark, Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchability in 20th-Century Punjab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982). Lum, Kathryn, “The Ravidassia Community and Identity(ies) in Catalonia, Spain,” Sikh Formations, 6/1 (2010): 31–49. Ram, Ronki, “Untouchability in India with a Difference: Ad Dharm, Dalit Assertion, and Caste Conflicts in Punjab,” Asian Survey 44/6 (2004): 895–912. SindhiInfo.com, available at http://www.sindhiinfo.com/, accessed February 25, 2009. Singh, Pashaura, The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Walter, Natasha, Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (London: Virago Press, 2010). Webster, John C.B., Religion and Dalit Liberation: An Examination of Perspectives (Delhi: Manohar Press, 2002).

Chapter 9

Sikh Immigrants in Greece: On the Road to Integration Niki Papageorgiou

Greece is located in the widest geographical and socio-economic area of southern Europe and has gradually transformed from a region which traditionally exported immigrants into a region that receives them. The migration phenomenon in Greece, which appeared in the beginning of the 1990s, belongs to the so-called “new migration” towards all countries of southern Europe and differs from the “old migration” which was oriented towards central and northern Europe.1 The causes of the new wave of migration should be viewed from a broader framework of internal and external factors, at both the global and local levels. On the one hand, the collapse of the ex-Soviet Union led to the political and economic destabilization of the Balkans and eastern Europe as well as the consequent development of the globalization processes. This, together with the movement of capital and goods, “favored” the movement of populations for financial and environmental reasons. On the other hand, the accession of Greece as well as other countries of the impoverished South (including Spain and Portugal) to the European Union led to their political and economic stability, a fact that contributed to the large wave of migration towards Southern Europe. The reasons for the migration to southern Europe are multiple and various: more specifically, the amelioration of the living and social standards of the local population left many vacancies for temporary unskilled employment. The economy of southern Europe is to a great extent based on seasonal sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, and small family businesses which demand a flexible working force. The reasons for migration are directly connected with the agricultural economy, as 50 percent of the rural population in Europe, as well as two-thirds

See L. Mousourou, Migration and Migration Policy (Athens, 1991); S. Castles and M.J. Miller (eds), The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World (London, 1993); R. King, A. Fielding and R. Black, “The International Migration Turnaround in Southern Europe,” in R. King and R. Black (eds), Southern Europe and the New Immigrations (Sussex, 1997), (rev. edn 2008), pp. 1–25; R. King and K. Rybaczuk, “Southern Europe and the international division of labor: From emigration to immigration”, in R. King (ed.), The New Geography of European Migrations (London, 1993), pp. 175–206. 1

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of agricultural cultivations, are found in southern Europe.2 In addition, southern Europe has a long coastline which facilitates access by ship and is characterized by weak bureaucracy and lax immigration control mechanisms.3 Greece, especially, is even more “easily” accessible due to its diverse and long borders which are difficult, if not impossible, to guard. Some characteristics of the immigration to southern Europe are the great extent of its unofficial and illegal character, the national and social heterogeneity of immigrants, the special role of the economy and the illegal labor market, and the general absence of immigration policies in the host countries.4 If immigration to northern Europe is organized and legal, meeting the demand for a labor force in the industrial centers of the West, then the immigration to southern Europe is far more irregular. In Greece, the new immigrants constitute culturally and socially heterogeneous groups, which are categorized on the basis of a plethora of characteristics, such as the country and area of origin, the reasons for immigration, ways of entrance, social status, educational level, and gender.5 In this diverse landscape with people of different cultures and origins, Indian immigrants, mainly the Punjabi Sikhs, afford a special economic and cultural position in modern Greece. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the formation of Sikh communities in Greece and the Sikhs’ efforts to adapt and integrate into Greek society. The Sikhs can provide one example of how a relatively small ethno-religious migrant community integrates into the ethnically and religiously homogenous landscape of Greece. Fieldwork was carried out in Athens, in the gurdwara of Tavros, during the period September 2007–March 2010. Pilot fieldwork on Sikh immigrants had taken place in the region of Thiba in the spring of 2007 with a view to preparing the main research. The methodology of the fieldwork in Athens was a combination of qualitative methods, such as participatory observation and semi-organized interviews, with the Sikh community leaders as well as members of this migration community in Greece.

See R. Fakiolas, “Italy and Greece: From Emigrants to Immigrants,” in R. Cohen (ed.), The Cambridge Survey of World Migration (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 313–15; R. King, G. Lazaridis and C. Tsardanidis (eds), Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe (London, 2000). 3 See J. Cavounidis, “Migration in Southern Europe and the Case of Greece,” International Migration, 40/1 (2000): 45–70. 4 See G. Simon, “Migration in Southern Europe: An Overview,” in The Future of Migration (Paris, 1987), pp. 258–91; M. Baldwin-Edwards, Immigration into Greece, 1990–2003: A Southern European Paradigm? (Geneva, 2004). 5 See M. Chletchos, “The Political Economy of Migration,” in C. Naxakis and M. Chletchos (eds), Migrants and Migration. Economic, Political and Social Aspects (Athens, 2001), pp. 21–2. 2

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The Sikh Migration to Greece According to the data of the Institute of Immigration Politics, which is based on the 2001 census, the number of immigrants who live in Greece (legal and illegal) is over one million and constitutes 10 percent of the local population and 20 percent of the economically active population in the country.6 The people included in these numbers present a great diversity with regard to ethnic origin, religious attachment, languages, and cultural traditions. The majority of immigrants come from neighboring Albania, but there are considerable migrant groups from the rest of the Balkans, eastern Europe, the countries of the ex-Soviet Union, and from Asia (the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, countries of the Middle East, and so on), and Africa (Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, and so forth).7 According to the available statistical data, the Indian immigrants as a whole rank in second position in the list of Asian immigrants and cover approximately 2 per cent of the immigrant population, whereas their numbers exceed 10,000 people.8 Informal sources state the actual number is over 20,000, as a considerable number of them enter and live in the country illegally because of restrictions posed by the European Union on non-European citizens (the Schengen agreement) and due to the absence of favorable measures that would allow for their legalization and integration.9 The official data does not mention the region of origin, language, or religion, but according to my field research, the majority of Indians (approximately 90 per cent) originates from Punjab, speaks Punjabi, and is Sikh. Only a small percentage of them are Hindus from West Bengal. Therefore, the term “Indian” is

See the research of the Institute of Migrational Policy, in M. Baldwin-Edwards (ed.), Statistical Data for Immigrants in Greece, November 2004, available at http://www.imepo. gr/ClientFiles/documents/IMEPO_Report_Greek_revised_Final1.pdf, accessed October 1, 2010. For additional data, see also Al. Cangiano, “Foreign Migrants in Southern European Countries: Evaluation of Recent Data,” in J. Raymer and F. Willekens (eds), International Migration in Europe, Data, Models and Estimates (England, 2008), pp. 100–103. 7 See M. Pavlos, “The Greece of Immigration in Numbers,” in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration: Social Participation, Rights and the Quality of Citizen (Athens, 2004), pp. 367–402. 8 Ibid., p. 373; C. Naxakis, “The “Economic Miracle” is due (also) to immigrants,” in C. Naxakis and M. Cletchos (eds), Economic, Political and Social Aspects (Athens, 2001), p. 185; Baldwin-Edwards (ed.), Statistical Data; P. Tonchev (ed.), Asian Migrants in Greece, Origins, Status and Prospects (Institute of International Economic Relations, 2007), available at http://www.idec.gr/iier/new/asian_migrants_en.pdf, accessed October 3, 2010, p. 10. 9 The estimations of the number of illegal Indian immigrants are based on fieldwork interviews but also on findings from research on illegal migration; see Cangiano, “Foreign Migrants in Southern European Countries,” pp. 110–11. In 2010, an effort was made to introduce favorable legislation for the legalization of a considerable number of immigrants in Greece, but official data as to the results of this effort has not yet been recorded. 6

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used when this chapter refers to official data whereas the term “Sikh” is used when there is reference to the findings of the field research. The migration of Indians to Greece, which is applicable to other migrating Asians as well, can be divided into three different phases and time periods: from the 1970s up to 1991, between 1991 and 2003, and the period after 2003.10 The first Indian migrants were mainly sailors who had found employment in the Greek seafaring sector and at some point decided to settle permanently on the Greek mainland, not always possessing legal documents in the beginning (such as residence and work permits). Up to the beginning of the 1990s, these migrants, despite their low number in comparison to other Asian groups, constituted a small but discernible community. After 1991, their number increased considerably as a consequence of the migration “explosion” that took place at a global level and also influenced Greece. A large contingent of Indian migrants arrived as unskilled labor to work on the construction sites for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Although many departed after the completion of the Olympics, a new migration wave occurred after 2003 when those who had already settled facilitated the migration of newcomers. According to my field research, the most important reason among Sikhs for migrating to Greece is the search for a better life. Coming from a comparatively fertile region such as Punjab and often owning, either themselves or at least their family, small plots of land, they seem to have better possibilities of sustaining themselves in their home country, but choose to migrate as they wish to improve their living conditions. This is further reinforced by the fact that a large number of the Indian migrants can afford, as they themselves claim, to pay for their travel expenses to Greece and the required visa. They immigrate to ameliorate their financial and social status and to provide their children with a better future. A collateral reason, according to interviews conducted during fieldwork, could be the necessity for greater freedom from the traditional and hierarchical social customs of India. For many migrants, pressure from family members and social relations, especially via the mechanisms of social control, is experienced as suffocating. This puts even more pressure on young people who often wish to live a modern lifestyle and break free from strict social control, traditional customs, and social hierarchies. The western way of living, which, in the view of many, is characterized by comfort, freedom, and a consumption culture, functions as an additional motive for migration. The Sikhs who are seeking a better life for themselves and their children usually come to Greece because of the favorable living conditions there, but also because they consider the country to be the gateway to rest of Europe due to its geographical position.11 Most perceive Greece as a passage to the West, especially to Britain, Canada, or the United States, where some of them have relatives. Tonchev, Asian Migrants in Greece, p. 3. At the moment there is no official data concerning the reaction of immigrants to the

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economic crisis in Greece.

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Although many have plans to continue onward to these countries, bureaucratic or personal reasons often prevent them and they decide to stay in Greece which is closer to the home country. If they manage to create good living conditions, many make the decision to reside permanently and acquire citizenship if possible. Many Sikhs consider the Greek culture and way of living to be agreeable and similar to the way of life and culture in Punjab, lying somewhere between East and West, between the traditional and the modern. Settlement, Demographic and Social Profile The employment and social policy status of Indian immigrants in Greece, the vast majority of whom are Sikh, corresponds to patterns found in other parts of southern Europe where there is a need for unskilled labor in agriculture and other seasonal occupations, as guest workers often face bureaucratic obstacles for obtaining permits of work and residence.12 According to the data from the National Statistical Service of Greece, the majority of these immigrants (52.7 percent) are employed in the agricultural sector.13 Originating mainly from villages and smaller towns in Punjab, they usually settle in the countryside of Greece where there is a need for agriculturalists, because native Greeks are more reluctant to take up this work.14 The majority of Sikh immigrants are consequently working in the sector of farming, cultivating the land, picking fruit and vegetables, or raising livestock. Most of them work for a wage as land laborers, whereas others rent the farms from Greek farmers and earn a percentage of the profits. Some also work in pisciculture.15 The largest Sikh communities are found in the rural areas of central Greece, such as Attiki (Marathon and Megara), Boiotia, Argolida, and the neighboring islands of Argosaronikos; some Sikhs move to Crete for seasonal employment. The agricultural work practically organizes their social activities and community life like an extended family, as they work and live together in groups, sharing living expenses, and taking responsibility for each other.16 A large percentage of the Indian—mainly Sikh—immigrants, estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 individuals, live in the capital, Athens, and work in the manufacturing and construction sectors (18.3 percent and 8.3 percent

See Simon, “Migration in Southern Europe,” pp. 258–91; Baldwin-Edwards, Immigration. 13 Tonchev, Asian Migrants in Greece, p. 11. 14 See M. Delithanasi, “The Influx of Immigrants Saves the Agriculture,” Kathimerini ( July 16, 2006). 15 Tonchev, Asian Migrants in Greece, p. 11. 16 See the pilot research, N. Papageorgiou, “Indian Immigrants in Greece: Religion in Daily Life,” The SSEASR Journal, 2 (2008): 101–8. 12

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respectively).17 The majority live in the areas of Tavros, Rentis, and Piraeus, and work in large and small industries and factories, and on construction sites. Some of the first migrants to Greece have established their own businesses and stores, selling local as well as imported goods from India and technological products (such as mobile telephones, and so on). A smaller number (5.8 percent) are also occupied with commerce and tourism.18 Because of the Indian enterprising spirit, some areas in the center of Athens, Piraeus, and Marathon are known as “little India,” because they accommodate Indian markets, stores, restaurants, video clubs, and the like. Also, in smaller Greek towns and villages in which migrants have settled, it is possible to find Indian stores and products. Similar to many other countries, the Indian migrant population in Greece is constituted primarily of young men between the ages of 20 and 40 (over 90 percent).19 Although many of them are married with children, only a small percentage have brought their family to Greece. Consequently, the disproportion between men and women is particularly high, more specifically 18:1 among those who reside in Greece and 37.5:1 among those who are employed in Greece, where the percentage of married men who live without their families is very high.20 All the above-mentioned data concerning the Indian population as a whole in Greece are also represented and reflected in the Sikh population of my fieldwork. Thus, migration due to family reunification is not that common in Greece compared to other southern European countries, but the male migrants communicate with and maintain their families in India. This situation is primarily caused by Greek bureaucratic rules and laws which deter family reunions, as migrants are only allowed to bring their family after having lived in the country for a specific period of time, not to mention the procedure, which is complicated.21 From the perspective of many Sikhs, they prefer to live alone in Greece in order to spend as little money as possible and be able to send almost all of their earnings back home to ensure a better life for the whole family.

Tonchev, Asian Migrants in Greece, p. 11. Ibid., p. 11. 19 See A. Triantafyllidou and M. Maroufof, “The Settlement of Immigrants in Greece: 17 18

Dynamics of Integration and Problems of Registration,” in N. Andriotis et al. (eds), Migration, Diversity and Receiving Institutions in Greece. The Best of Social Integration (Athens and Thessaloniki, 2010), pp. 53 and 54. 20 Tonchev, Asian Migrants in Greece, p. 3. 21 It is true that those who wish to bring their family to Greece face serious difficulties. The procedure involves the submission of an application to the municipality of residence, approval from the correspondent prefecture and permit of entrance to Greece for the members of the family. The permit of entrance is then sent to the Greek consulate in India, but at the end of this “chain” is the Greek consul in India who is the one to decide whether or not to issue the visa for the dependants. See G. Dama, “Waves of immigrants from Asia,” Eleftherotypia (February 16, 2007).

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The Sikh families that do live in Greece are primarily nuclear families with one to two children and sometimes with one or two members of the extended family, usually a single brother or cousin. In cases where members of the same family live in Greece with their own families, they stay in separate houses or apartments. Married or unmarried men without any family members in Greece usually share apartments so as to reduce their living expenses to a minimum. In this way, they actually create social relationships similar to a family, an arrangement to which they become accustomed and which provides support during their stay in the foreign land. A small percentage, usually the first migrants who have resided in Greece for many years, have purchased their own houses or apartments, which, from both Indian and Greek viewpoints, is considered a good investment and a matter of high priority. The acquisition of a house provides prestige among their compatriots and the local people and functions as an assurance for the family. Those who have settled like this often consider themselves and their family to be integrated into Greek society, and have no plans to go back to India but instead wish to obtain Greek citizenship for themselves and their children.22 The great majority of Sikh immigrants constitute a culturally traditional group, which aims to conserve its particular cultural identity in various ways. The most important network for preserving identity is the family, within which traditional values and cultural attitudes are cultivated and reproduced. For the young men who live in Greece alone, cultural preservation takes place within the networks of friends and compatriots as well as the gurdwaras which function as an extended family. An important factor for the preservation of cultural identity is the practice of arranged marriages. The Sikh men in Greece prefer wives from their own country and culture, according to traditional practices, and are often socially pressured and steered in this direction by the family and community. In addition, their religious beliefs do not favor marriage outside the community.23 Regular communications with the home country, contacts with compatriots who share the same origin and religious belonging, as well as the nursing of cultural habits reproduce a cultural identity in Greece. The new information technology has facilitated frequent 22 Until recently, according to Greek legislation, children of immigrants that are born in Greece do not automatically acquire Greek citizenship. However, in 2010, a new law was passed that arranges the matter of Greek citizenship for the second generation (that is, children of immigrants who were born and live permanently in Greece) as well as the “1.5” generation (that is, children who entered Greece at a young age and have lived there since then). 23 This is generally noticed in the research of Indian immigrants. See indicatively, S. Chandrasekhar (ed.), From India to America, A Brief History of Immigration; Problems of Discrimination; Admission and Assimilation (California, 1982), p. 32; P. Saran, The Asian Indian Experience in the United States (Massachusetts, 1985), p. 40; J. Fenton, Transplanting Religious Traditions (New York, Westport, CT, and London, 1988), pp. 34 and 37; R.B. Williams, Religions of Immigrants from India and Pakistan, New Trends in the American Tapestry (Cambridge, 1988), p. 29.

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communication with family in India, while many Sikh migrants might visit the home country once every two or three years. Nutrition and dietary habits constitute a large part of every culture and most immigrants resist any change concerning their daily habits. This resistance usually becomes more powerful when these habits acquire a religious meaning. This occurs with the Sikhs of Greece, who generally seem to relate to the normative Amritdhari identity and conserve the abstinence from meat, alcohol, and smoking when they are within the family or community, whereas on weekdays and during work hours they maintain the Sikh norms more loosely because of the Greek cultural context. Frequently, they “violate” the Amritdhari habits for practical reasons, for example, the Greek cuisine to which they resort to on a daily basis contains a lot of meat. Very few Sikhs in Greece are Amritdharis and wear the five Ks, perhaps as an attempt to not look different from the other citizens and to integrate more easily into Greek society. Women, on the contrary, often wear traditional cultural dress, especially when meeting with other Sikhs on formal and informal occasions.24 The leisure activities among the Sikhs residing in the cities and villages in Greece are primarily meetings with relatives and compatriots. They exchange invitations, visit friends for dinner, and spend the weekends or public holidays together. Leading this kind of life does not present many opportunities to meet and socially interact with other Greeks. Despite the fact that they appreciate and generally have a good opinion about Greeks, their social interactions with them are restricted to the working environment. In the villages, the Sikhs are given more opportunities to meet Greeks, as the relationships are normally more direct and personal in smaller places. Their relationships with local people in the rural areas are based on a model of mutual familiarity. The local population recognizes that Sikh migrants maintain their cultivations and income, whereas the Sikhs can live a life that is not dramatically different from the villages of Punjab. Moreover, Greek villagers often consider Sikh migrants as “good people,” who do not create problems and frequently invite them to family events and religious festivals. On many occasions, the local villagers help the Sikhs with exchanges with the civil and other services, so as to avoid losing them as laborers. They believe that “their own workers” are happy because they help them and provide them with accommodation and food. For their part, the Sikhs do not complain about the difficulties of survival and consider their living conditions to be good. They make efforts to participate in the social life of the local community, such as for instance on Sundays, when they behave just like the villagers in the local cafes.25 Despite the fact that many Sikhs are critical of India as a country to live in, they preserve a respect for Indian cultural values and institutions. Many speak 24 We do not know the exact number and relevant demographic information of Amritdhari Sikhs in Greece and therefore there is a need for further research in this area. 25 Papageorgiou, “Indian Immigrants in Greece,” pp. 106–7.

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about the problems of poverty, nepotism, the caste system—which despite being rejected in Sikhism shapes social relationships among the Sikhs—and the lack of opportunities for professional development in India. Nevertheless, they are seldom critical of the values system underlying social institutions, such as marriage, family, and religion, but instead reproduce these values through attitudes and behaviors within the family and community. Even if the Sikhs appreciate the friendly attitude towards them among native Greeks, they criticize their values and often think that Greeks have a lower standard of morals because they swear, smoke, and drink. One of the greatest challenges the Sikhs face is the acquisition of the Greek language. Only a few of them can speak Greek well and even fewer can write it. This situation renders communication with the Greek civil services and integration into Greek society more difficult as English and other languages which the Sikhs might know are not accepted usage. An equally serious problem in everyday life is posed by the Greek bureaucracy, which presents delays in issuing work and residence permits and in naturalization processes. As is the case with other migrant groups, the Sikhs face the problem of obtaining citizenship for their children who were born in Greece. The research on Sikh migrants in Greece up to the present has shown that the Sikhs constitute a group which maintains a cultural identity through practices in daily life. It should be noted here that the first immigrants who arrived in Greece in the 1970s were an exception to this as they have adapted to society, are naturalized Greek citizens, and their children are brought up speaking the Greek language and having Greek habits. It is a fact that until now Greek migration policy regards immigrants as temporary workers, without any interest in developing protection via social networks and the appropriate mechanisms for integrating them into Greek society.26 The first immigrants, with their precious experience, fluency in the Greek language, and knowledge of Greek bureaucracy, help the newcomers to confront the problems of daily life. Gurdwaras and Community Building As soon as migrants have settled in the new country they often feel a need to organize their collective life and help each other with the various problems of everyday life. In Greece, migrants of different communities have organized themselves into associations based on ethnic, regional, national, and cultural 26 See S. Georgoulas, “The New Migration Policy in Greece and its Legalisation,” in A. Marvakis et al. (eds), Immigrants in Greece (Athens, 2001), pp. 199–226. Although it is difficult to define the Greek model of integration due to the fact that it is in a transitory period, it is true that it is similar to the German model according to Vermeulen’s typology, as Greece considers immigrants to be temporary residents. See H. Vermeulen, “Models and Modes of Immigrant Integration … and Where Southern Europe fits,” in Immigration and Integration in Northern versus Southern Europe (Athens, 2004), pp. 27–39.

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belonging to create the necessary means of self-protection and preserve their particular cultural identities. The Sikh immigrants have also followed this pattern and have developed effective networks for communication and support in the broader social context, outside the home and family. Apart from the family, the collective life organized in associations is considered to be an important social unit and space to preserve and transmit cultural values and to deal with problems caused by the culturally dominant Greek society. Cultural associations on the basis of national origin have been created in places with a considerable number of Sikh migrants. The Sikhs are organized and known under the general name of Indian cultural associations. The first Indian association in Greece was established in Marathon in 1996.27 The largest association in terms of members, outreach, and organization is, however, the “Cultural Association of Indians of Greece,” which was established in 2005 and is located in Tavros, a central region between Athens and Piraeus that has expanded to become one city. Such local cultural associations with independent administration exist in every region of the Greek provinces that contains a considerable number of Indian— mainly Sikh—immigrants. Nowadays, there are approximately ten Indian associations which are located all over Greece, such as in Thiba, Oinophyta, Megara, Kranidi, Troizina, Poros, Koropi, Marathon, and Crete. The association in Tavros organizes most of the cultural activities for Sikhs in Greece and functions as an umbrella organization for the rest of the local associations. Located in the capital, it is capable of providing various services to all Sikh migrants, including those who reside in the rural areas. These associations have an important role to preserve cultural values and practices, promote solidarity, provide help to their members, and develop relationships with Greek society based on mutual trust and exchange. Nonetheless, the main purpose of these cultural associations is, according to the wish of their founding members, the establishment and management of Sikh gurdwaras. The religious life of Sikhs in Greece is consequently organized through these cultural associations. In this context it should be mentioned that, according to the Greek Constitution, religious freedom is protected and adherents of different religions have the right to practice their faith in their own religious places.28 In practice, however, there is, due to historical and bureaucratic reasons, difficulty on the part of both the Greek The first Indian immigrants in the 1970s made an attempt to organize themselves with the main purpose of developing relationships between Greeks and Indians; they are called “Indo-Greek associations,” contrary to the newer ones defined as “Indian associations.” The most well-known association of this kind is the “Greek-India Cultural Association” located in Piraeus. For more information, see www.indogreek.org. 28 For more details, see C. Papastathis, Religious Freedom and Official Religion (Athens and Thessaloniki, 2000); K. Tsitselikis, “The religious freedom of immigrants: The case of Muslims,” in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration: Social Participation, Rights and Quality of Citizen (Athens 2004, pp. 276–7); G. Ktistakis, Religious Freedom and European Convention of Human Rights (Athens and Komotini, 2004). 27

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state and the prevalent Orthodox Church to provide places of worship for other religions. Until 2006, the construction of a temple or some other place of worship necessitated the approval of the local Orthodox church. Following a new law that was passed by the Greek Parliament in 2006, this responsibility was removed from the local bishop and given to two public bodies: the Ministry of Education and Religion and the Bureau of Urban Planning.29 Even though this was a step towards religious plurality, the bureaucratic difficulties still remain and migrants therefore organize their religious life through cultural associations which simultaneously function as places of worship. Thus, the Sikh immigrants face the necessity of establishing a gurdwara, where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed and stored. Currently, there are at least ten gurdwaras like these in Greece, which are organized under the name of Indian cultural associations and function as important centers for gatherings and congregational Sikh activities. According to the president of the cultural association in Tavros, “it is a community center where one may come to pray, exchange views, discuss problems; it is an ideal place for the immigrants to spend some time in a pleasant way, to relax from the worries of daily work and amuse themselves.”30 Thus, the gurdwara is a multifunctional center which cannot be replaced by any “secular” association. As the main purpose of the cultural associations is to establish and manage a gurdwara, they function as an umbrella for organizing religious activities among the Sikhs. This specific way of organizing communal life serves multiple functions within the relationship between the Sikhs and the Greek state and society. On the one hand, it allows migrants to organize their national and religious community in a legal way, as it is far more difficult to obtain permission to construct a gurdwara than to establish a cultural association. On the other hand, it demonstrates the significance of preserving religious tradition and organizing their religious life collectively, as sangat is of great importance in Sikhism. The identification of the cultural associations with a place of worship is so strong that the Sikhs will say “let’s go to the gurdwara,” or “let’s meet at the gurdwara,” when referring to the localities of these associations. The cultural associations and gurdwaras cater to the needs of migrants in a variety of ways. First, as the places are associated with a religious and ethnic identity, they preserve and reproduce a collective identity that is safeguarded by religion. Secondly, as the associations are gurdwaras, they permit women, to a larger extent, to be active in the public sphere. If the organizations were only secular associations, it could be more difficult for women to take an active part in the activities that are usually run by men. Third, the gurdwara functions as a wider family for the Sikhs as it replaces, to a large degree, the extended family in the home country. Given the fact that the network of family relationships plays a big role in Indian society, it seems easier to be replaced by a lively religious community than by a secular association. “Mosques without the permission of Bishop,” Ta Nea (May 31, 2006). According to an interview on March 8, 2009.

29 30

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From the outside, of course, these places of worship do not resemble typical gurdwaras in Punjab or in the rest of India. They are usually rented storerooms or old factory premises which immigrants themselves maintain, so it is obviously difficult to call them gurdwaras, from an architectural perspective. The only place that deserves this title is the gurdwara of Poros, which is still under construction. However, despite their appearance, they all provide services just like the gurdwaras back home, namely congregational worship in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. The gurdwaras always involve a separate place for installing the scripture, a place for gathering and worship, and a place for langar, whereas the central ones, like the gurdwaras of Tavros or Marathon, also include offices, dormitories, and auxiliary places for courses on religion, language, traditional music, and traditional martial arts for children. The gurdwaras are crowded and full of life, especially on Sundays, when the congregations reproduce cultural practices and worship in ways that are similar to the home country: kirtan are traditionally sung, accompanied by tabla and harmonium, and Punjabi dishes are served from the communal kitchen. The women wear traditional Punjabi dress to be “reminded of home” or to be “like home,” as they themselves say. They speak Punjabi with friends and compatriots, ask for and offer help regarding problems of settlement, and share updates about businesses, apartment rentals, and so on. Children are also involved in a variety of activities; they may play there or do their homework with the help of older children. The life and activities of Sikh migrants are structured around these gurdwaras, which provide them opportunities for self-recognition as well as recognition from others. Although the gurdwaras are organized under associations based on an Indian national identity, they are places in which primarily the Sikhs express their ethnic and religious identity, and only a few Indians from other regions, such those from West Bengal, participate. The investment in a building dedicated to the collective worship constitutes an important step in the process of integration. The establishment of such a building marks the beginning of immigrants’ transformation from temporary residents into permanent ones.31 For most Sikhs in Greece, as in other parts of Europe, collective worship and a place for this to be carried out create the feeling of being at home and having a place of belonging in a foreign country. As these examples illustrate, the strategy of the Sikhs to adapt and integrate into Greek society is to establish national and cultural associations, as their Indian identity is better known in Greece than their religious identity, even if the primary purpose of these associations is to create a religious place for Sikh worship. The use of the term “Indian” allows for both recognition in Greek society and guarantees the unity of immigrants who share Indian nationality. However, due to the fact that the Sikhs constitute the majority among their Indian compatriots, they maintain their particular cultural identity through the gurdwaras. The aim of the 31 As Fenton mentions about the Indian immigrants in the United States of America, Fenton, Transplanting Religious Traditions, p. 169.

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Sikh migrants in Greece is the successful structural adaptation to Greek society (in terms of work and residence permit, favorable working conditions, knowledge of the Greek language, and so on), but at the same time the reproduction of their cultural and religious identity which functions as resistance to cultural assimilation, whereas the migration policy of the Greek state affords an assimilatory character. The Sikhs in Between Greek Homogeneity and Other Migrant Groups The characteristics of the economic, demographic, and social profile of the Sikh immigrants do not “favor” their integration into the Greek society. More specifically, the majority of Sikhs are first-generation immigrants, single men, or men who live without their families, work as unskilled and temporary laborers, have a low educational level, and do not speak the Greek language well.32 These characteristics are balanced by the organization of their collective life. The establishment and function of cultural associations not only satisfy their own purposes that are related to addressing their special needs, both at practical and symbolic levels, but also express their wish to create a link to Greek society. Integration is a dynamic and complicated process that does not solely depend on the efforts of the immigrants at individual or collective level, but primarily on the political and cultural characteristics of the receiving society, either at official (the state) or unofficial (local community) level. The integration of populations into an organized social body relies both on the readiness of the state to introduce institutions and take measures, as well as on the tolerance of the society to recognize and accept different cultural traditions. It is true that factors such as the integration policies of the receiving country, the legitimation process, the naturalization laws, as well as the political and social history of the host country play a major role in the procedure of migration. But there are other factors that affect the integration of the newly arrived populations, such as the openness or lack of the local culture, the homogeneity or pluralism at a national or religious level, the previous experience regarding minorities in the host country, even the relationships between state and church, or politics and religion. Due to the fact that migrants normally constitute the national, linguistic, and religious diversity, the above cultural factors of the host society may blaze trails for the local society to accept or refuse the different elements. Without overlooking the interaction of all factors—political, social, and cultural—in promoting or hindering the integration of immigrants into Greek society, for practical reasons we will focus only on the dipole of homogeneity—heterogeneity as a tool for the study of the integration procedure of the Sikhs into Greek society. It should be noted here, however, that the cultural factor is difficult to detect, therefore this 32 For the characteristics that facilitate the integration of immigrants, see I. EmkePoulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge (Athens, 2007), pp. 446–51.

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approach may function as a case study that only constitutes the beginning in this migration issue. The arrival of the Sikhs, as well as other migration groups, poses a set of questions concerning the identity of Greece as a host country, except for the questions regarding the cultural identity of migrants that have already been addressed. The modern nation states, including Greece, were established on the basis of national, linguistic, and cultural homogeneity, or at least on the basis of nationalistic ideologies. The external borders of the nation state defined a national and collective belonging. Any breaches that appeared in the national body were concealed in order to create the impression of an unbroken unity that was impervious to any kind of heteronomy or diversity. The common religious doctrine contributed to this homogenous and, at many times, compact cultural identity.33 Over the past years, the question as to whether Greek society should be homogenous or multicultural has been posed more intensely. Some voices in the debate consider Greece to be homogenous, while others advocate and claim that Greek society is already multicultural.34 In comparison to many other European countries, Greece presents a high degree of ethnic and religious homogeneity,35 especially up until the last decade of the twentieth century when a large number of migrants arrived.36 According to A.D. Smith, the history of the Greek state since its establishment as a modern nation state in 1830 may be understood as a conflict between two archetypical ideals of a nation—the territorial and the national—as well as a conflict between two patterns of national incorporation—the civil and the one that combines genus and religion.37 The definition of national identity requires some basic conceptual criteria such as origin, language, religion, and cultural 33 See indicatively, A.D. Smith, National Identity (London, 1991); E. Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY, 1983); C. Hawkesworth, M. Heppel, and H.T. Norris (eds), Religious Quest and National Identity in the Balkans (New York, 2001); J. Myrill, Language, Religion and National Identity in Europe and the Middle East: A Historical Study (Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA, 2006); R. Hirshon, “Religion and Nationality: The Tangled Greek Case,” in R. Pinxten and L. Dikomitis (eds), When God Comes to Town (New York, 2009). 34 See the relative discussion in Emke-Poulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge, pp. 553–8. 35 See B. Anthopoulos, “Information and Racism,” in Immigrants, Racism and Xenophobia (Athens and Komotini, 1998), pp. 159–81; D. Christopoulos, “The End of Ethnic Homogeneity: Traditional and New Forms of Diversity in Greece,” in A. Marvakis et al. (eds), Immigrants in Greece (Athens, 2001), pp. 57–80; G. Romaios, “Census and Immigrants,” To Vima (March 18, 2001); D. Garoufas, “The Presence of Foreigners into the Greek Society,” Eleftherotypia (July 24, 2001). 36 See J. Kavounidis et al. (eds), Migration in Greece: Experiences – Policies – Perspectives (Athens, 2008). 37 A. D. Smith, The Ethnic Origin of Nations (Oxford, 1986), p. 144.

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traditions.38 An interpretation of nationality which fits the Greek conception of identity underlines the biological bonds or the bonds of blood. The characteristic phrase “we are of the same race” describes the sense of belonging which the Greeks share. Concerning the cultural characteristics, the Greek Orthodox religion plays a vital role in the formation of Greek identity, a role that was actually more important than the Greek language for quite a long time.39 The modern Greek state was established on the basis of national, racial, and religious homogeneity. This homogeneity gradually increased with the allocation of lands to the Greek state in the beginning of the twentieth century, especially after World War I and the exchange of populations in the Balkans.40 Ethnocultural diversities, such as the Muslim minority in Thrace, were not enough to change this tradition of homogeneity.41 The Greeks learned to live by the theory of one nation, one religion, and one civilization which spoke only Greek and faced no religious or national conflicts.42 Whether real or imagined,43 this tradition of believing in a Greek homogeneity remains a strong conviction for the majority of Greeks in modern society. Data regarding the ethnic and cultural homogeneity of Greece is recorded by various organizations that are mentioned below. Until recently, the great majority of the Greek population (98 percent) belonged to the same ethnicity and religion, and had no experience of coexistence with other groups that would consequently allow for the acceptance and tolerance of difference. According to the Eurobarometer in 2003,44 the Greeks are the proudest people among Europeans regarding their national identity. Eighty-five percent declared themselves to be proud of their nationality, whereas the European average (among the 15 countries in the European Union) was only 41 percent. Similarly, the data of the European Values Survey (1999) shows a high degree of religious homogeneity a decade ago, as 97 percent of Greeks claimed adherence to the Orthodox Church with the vast

See R. Hirschon, ‘The Identity and the Greek State,” in R. Clogg (ed.), The Greek Diaspora in the 20th Century (Athens, 2004), pp. 287–93. 39 Emke-Poulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge, p. 590; see also, I. Petrou, “The Orthodox Church in Greece. From the Ethnocentrism to the Reality of Open Society,” in P. Kalaitzidis and N. Dodos (eds), Orthodoxy and Modernity (Athens, 2007), pp. 337–53. 40 N. Kokosalakis, “Orthodoxie grecque, modernité et politique,” in Grace Davie and Danièle Hervieu-Léger (eds), Identités religieuses en Europe (Paris, 1996), p. 141. 41 Emke-Poulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge, pp. 555–6. 42 Ibid., p. 554. 43 See B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, 1983, rev. edn 1991). 44 See “Eurobarometer 59: Public Opinion in the European Union,” available at http:// ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb59/eb59.1_compilation_executive_summaries. pdf, accessed on October 1, 2010. 38

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majority of Greeks (96 percent) claiming to be Orthodox Christians. 45 According to the European Social Survey in 2003 about religiosity,46 the Greeks were ranked first in Europe as two out of three (63.7 percent) claimed that they pray on a daily basis or quite a few times during the week, whereas almost half of the participants in the survey considered religion to be one of the most important values in their life. In this survey, 60.2 percent of the respondents thought it was better for all people in a country to share the same religion. According to the findings of these surveys, the Greeks appear to be very religious compared to other Europeans, with somewhat ethnocentric views. Contrary to most European countries, the relationship between the state and the church is very strong in Greece, as is the relationship between the Greek people and the Orthodox Church.47 According to the Greek Constitution, the Eastern Orthodox Church is recognized as the state religion of Greece. This recognition does not necessarily mean special privileges; it is rather a symbolic recognition of the Church which the vast majority of the Greek people have faith in. Nevertheless, this situation highlights the special bond between the Greek nation and the Orthodox Church.48 Moreover, the Church holds a symbolic role in all state events and celebrations, such as national holidays, the oath-taking of the Greek government and the president of the Hellenic Republic, oath-taking before the Court of Law, benediction at the beginning of each school year and on the first day of the New Year, and so on. The relationship between the Greek people and the Orthodox Church has proved to be equally strong and indisputable. There is a profound bond between the Orthodox tradition and the Greek identity,49 as Orthodoxy is considered by the Greeks as an integral part of their cultural and ethnic identity. Not only do ten million Greeks belong almost entirely to the Greek Orthodox Church, but they have a deep respect for the major religious ceremonies such as rites of passage

45 Cited by K. Talin, « Pluralisme religieux et citoyenneté multidiniste: essai d’analyse comparative dans l’Union européenne,” in, M. Milot, P. Portier and J.-P. Willaime (eds), Pluralisme religieux et citoyenneté (Rennes, 2010), pp. 19–48. 46 See National Center for Social Research, available at http://www.gsdb.gr, accessed on October 2, 2010, pp. 33–5, 55. See also “The Greeks, the more religious Europeans,” Ekklisia 10 (2005): 801–2. 47 V. Makrides, “La tension entre tradition et modernité en Grèce,” in J. Beaubérot (ed.), Religions et laïcité dans l’Europe des douze (Paris, 1994), p. 73. 48 See C. Frazee, The Orthodox Church and Independent Greece, 1821–1852 (Cambridge, 1969); A. Manitakis, The Relationships between the Church and the State (Athens, 2000); C. Papastathis, “La République hellénique,” in B. Basdevant-Gaudement and P. Messner (eds), Les origines du statut des confessions religieuses dans les pays de l’Union européenne (Paris, 1999), pp. 207–21. 49 Makrides, “La tension entre tradition et modernité en Grèce,” p. 76.

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(baptisms, weddings, and funerals).50 Even if Greek society has become more secularized after World War II, religiosity remained deeply rooted in Greek people both in liturgical and popular forms.51 As a result, Greeks preserve a homogenous ethnic and cultural character and remain religiously orthodox despite the influx of immigrants during the last decades. In reality, however, this homogeneity is subjected to change with the arrival of migrants from different cultures and traditions and a changing demography, with one in ten citizens belonging to a different cultural, ethnic, or religious background than the majority.52 Since the end of the twentieth century, migration has caused a transition from a homogenous monocultural to a heterogeneous multicultural reality. This new situation is neither understood nor accepted by the majority of Greek people, because according to their views Greece should remain a homogenous country and immigrants are posing a threat to its national and cultural homogeneity.53 These ethnocentric views and reactions are not usually targeted at any specific migrant group but immigrants in general, who are considered a danger to the “image” of Greece’s homogenous religious and national identity. Some of the immigrants originate from the countries of eastern Europe with which Greece shares common cultural origins and the Orthodox faith. When they arrive in Greece, they often “rediscover” the faith which was lost during the Soviet regime and therefore it is easier for them to feel comfortable in Greek society. Even those immigrants who come from Egypt, Ethiopia, Armenia, and Syria and belong to the Eastern Orthodox Churches find a relatively familiar religious context in Greece. Despite cultural and linguistic differences, they can easily integrate into Greek society because of their shared faith.54 The most visible migrant group in Greece is the Muslims, who constitute the largest minority. They are considered to be “victims” because of the events at the beginning of the twenty-first century which associated them with global terrorism G. Davie, “Contrastes dans l’héritage religieux de l’Europe,” in Grace Davie and Danièle Hervieu-Léger (eds), Identités religieuses en Europe (Paris, 1996), p. 52. 51 Kokosalakis, “Orthodoxie grecque, modernité et politique,” p. 131. 52 See Emke-Poulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge, pp. 555–6; Christopoulos, “The End of Ethnic Homogeneity,” pp. 57–80. 53 See L. Ventoura, “Nationalism, Racism and Migration in Modern Greece,” in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration. Social Participation, Rights and Quality of Citizen (Athens, 2004), pp. 174–204. 54 Research shows that a greater percentage of Christian immigrants than Muslim wish to settle in Greece. See D. Papadopoulou, “Forms of social integration and social incorporation of immigrants,” in C. Bagavos and D. Papadopoulou (eds.), Migration and Integration of Immigrants into Greek Society (Athens, 2006), pp. 337–8. A characteristic example is Ethiopian immigrants who belong to the Ethiopian (Coptic) Church, which is very close to the Orthodox, and face fewer problems compared to the Muslims of Thrace who are Greek citizens. The example is cited by Emke-Poulopoulou, The Migrational Challenge, p. 581. 50

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and caused them to become unintentionally involved in the ethnopolitical conflict between Greece and Turkey. Despite the fact that they come from different countries and cultures, they present themselves as a solid group by using religion as a unitary factor, and demand a place in Greek society through the establishment of places of worship (mosques, cemeteries, and so on). Their religious claim of recognition in Greek society has forced the host society into a dialog. Although the Muslim community is believed to be a threat to Greek identity and homogeneity, there is no organized reaction, as is the case in other European countries (for instance, political parties of the extreme right). It seems that in the Greek landscape, the Sikhs find themselves in between the Greek majority and the developing Muslim minority. As a much smaller community than the Muslims, they are quietly trying to find their place in Greek society by maintaining their traditions and preserving cultural values through the legal means at their disposal. Their presence in Greece is not yet “visible” and “audible” enough to pressure the host society into a dialog. The predominant ethnocentrism among the Greeks, which is also cultivated through the official education,55 does not provide opportunities to acquire knowledge about different religious traditions and consequently the Sikhs are mistakenly linked to Islam. The Sikhs’ invisibility in Greek society makes their position as a community difficult and even hinders their integration. They try to find their place between the Greek Orthodox majority and the Muslim minority—a place that will permit them on the one hand to structurally integrate into Greek society and on the other to conserve their cultural and religious diversity. This place acquires a special meaning as they seem poised between the Greek Orthodox majority and the Muslim immigrants, forming a third path towards a pluralistic and multicultural society. Their presence functions as a departure from the narrow limits of rivalry between majority and minority, bringing to the fore the still invisible and unrecorded pluralism that takes place in Greek society. It remains to be seen whether this multiple coexistence will actually pave the way to tolerance and multiculturalism, or to minority antagonism and competition. Conclusion Given the low socio-economic profile of the Sikh immigrants in Greece and the difficult conditions in Greek society, integration remains a slow and complicated procedure. On the one hand, the biggest percentage of the Sikh immigrants constitutes a category that does not facilitate integration. Characteristics such as the first generation of immigrants, high percentage of men without families, low educational level and limited knowledge of the Greek language, as well as low social and economic status seem to create problems in the integration process 55 See A. Fragoudaki and T. Dragona (eds), “What it is Our Country?”Ethnocentrism in Education (Athens, 1997).

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of the Sikh immigrants in Greece. On the other hand, the strong feeling of belonging and the high degree of ethnic and religious homogeneity of the Greeks constitute serious obstacles for the integration of Sikh immigrants, as well as other immigrants, into Greek society. In addition, when all this is combined with weak and contradictory policies, as is the case in Greece, integration becomes even more difficult. Nevertheless, through their personal efforts, but especially through the organization of their communal life, the Sikhs try to adapt and find their place in the “difficult” but transforming Greek society. The basis of this organization is the foundation and function of gurdwaras that are conducive to conserving their individual self-conscience as well as the coherence of their community. The function of gurdwaras at the first level helps them to organize themselves to face the period of necessary adaptation to Greek society. At the second level, it helps them to define themselves, become visible and acquire a place in the new country they have chosen to live in. It seems that the road leading to the integration of Sikh immigrants into Greek society is a difficult and painful route. It is perhaps too early to know if they will integrate into Greek society while at the same time conserving a strong cultural identity. Apart from the disposition of the Sikh immigrants themselves, it also depends on the wisdom of Greek society to accept their religious and cultural diversity and to be transformed into a pluralistic society. Bibliography Anderson, B., Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso 1983, rev. edn 1991). Anthopoulos, B., “Information and Racism,” in Immigrants, Racism and Xenophobia (Athens and Komotini: Sakkoulas, 1998), pp. 159–81 (in Greek). Baldwin-Edwards, M., Immigration into Greece, 1990–2003: A Southern European Paradigm? (Geneva: European Population Forum, 2004). Baldwin-Edwards, M. (ed.), Statistical Data for Immigrants in Greece, Institute of Migrational Policy, November 2004, available at http://www.imepo.gr/ ClientFiles/documents/IMEPO_Report_Greek_revised_Final1.pdf. (in Greek) Cangiano, A., “Foreign Migrants in Southern European Countries: Evaluation of Recent Data,” in J. Raymer and Frans Willekens (eds), International Migration in Europe, Data, Models and Estimates (London: Wiley, 2008), pp. 89–114. Castles, S. and M.J. Miller (eds), The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World (2nd edn, London: Macmillan, 1993). Cavounidis, J. et al. (eds), Migration in Greece: Experiences – Policies – Perspectives (Athens: IMEPO, 2008) (in Greek). Cavounidis, J., “Migration in Southern Europe and the Case of Greece,” International Migration 40/1 (2000): 45–70.

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Chandrasekhar S. (ed.), From India to America, A Brief History of Immigration; Problems of Discrimination; Admission and Assimilation (La Jolla, CA: Population Review, 1982). Chletchos, M., “The Political Economy of Migration,” in C. Naxakis and M. Chletchos (eds), Migrants and Migration. Economic, Political and Social Aspects (Athens: Pataki, 2001), pp. 21–2 (in Greek). Christopoulos, D., “The End of Ethnic Homogeneity: Traditional and New Forms of Diversity in Greece,” in A. Marvakis et al. (eds), Immigrants in Greece (Athens: Ellinika Grammata, 2001), pp. 57–80 (in Greek). Dama, G., “Waves of immigrants from Asia,” Eleftherotypia (February 16, 2007) (in Greek). Davie, G., “Contrastes dans l’héritage religieux de l’Europe,” in Grace Davie and Danièle Hervieu-Léger (eds), Identités religieuses en Europe (Paris: La Découverte, 1996), pp. 43–62. Delithanasi, M., “The Influx of Immigrants Saves the Agriculture,” Kathimerini (July 16, 2006) (in Greek). Emke-Poulopoulou, I., The Migrational Challenge (Athens: Papazisi, 2007) (in Greek). Eurobarometer 59: Public Opinion in the European Union (2003), available at http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb59/eb59.1_compilation_ executive_summaries.pdf. Fakiolas, R., “Italy and Greece: From Emigrants to Immigrants,” in R. Cohen (ed.), The Cambridge Survey of World Migration (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 313–15. Fenton, J., Transplanting Religious Traditions (New York, Westport, CT, and London: Praeger, 1988). Fisher, P.M., The Indians of New York City, A Study of Immigrants from India (New Delhi: Heritage Publishers, 1980). Fragoudaki, A. and T. Dragona (eds), “What it is our country?”, Ethnocentrism in Education (Athens: Alexandreia, 1997) (in Greek). Frazee, C., The Orthodox Church and Independent Greece, 1821–1852 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969). Garoufas, D., “The presence of foreigners into the Greek society,” Eleftherotypia (July 24, 2001) (in Greek). Gellner, E., Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983). Georgoulas, S., “The new migration policy in Greece and its justification,” in A. Marvakis et al. (eds), Immigrants in Greece (Athens: Ellinika Grammata 2001), pp. 199–226 (in Greek). Hawkesworth, C., M. Heppel, and H.T. Norris (eds), Religious Quest and National Identity in the Balkans (New York: Palgrave, 2001). Hirschon, R., “The Identity and the Greek State,” in R. Clogg (ed.), The Greek Diaspora in the 20th Century (Athens: Ellinika Grammata, 2004), pp. 287– 323 (in Greek).

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Hirschon, R., “Religion and Nationality: The Tangled Greek Case,” in R. Pinxten and L. Dikomitis (eds), When God Comes to Town (New York: Berghahn Books, 2009). King, R., A. Fielding, and R. Black, “The International Migration Turnaround in Southern Europe,” in R. King and R. Black (eds), Southern Europe and the New Immigrations (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 1997, rev. edn 2008), pp. 1–25. King, R., G. Lazaridis and C. Tsardanidis (eds), Eldorado or Fortress? Migration in Southern Europe (London: MacMillan, 2000). King, R. and K. Rybaczuk, “Southern Europe and the International Division of Labour: From Emigration to Immigration,” in R. King (ed.), The New Geography of European Migrations (London: Belhave, 1993), pp. 175–206. Kokosalakis, N., “Orthodoxie grecque, modernité et politique,” in Grace Davie and Danièle Hervieu-Léger (eds), Identités religieuses en Europe (Paris: La Découverte, 1996), pp. 131–51. Ktistakis, G., Religious Freedom and the European Convention of Human Rights (Athens and Komotini: Sakkoulas, 2004) (in Greek). Makrides, V., “La tension entre tradition et modernité en Grèce,” in J. Beaubérot (ed.), Religions et laïcité dans l’Europe des douze (Paris: Syros, 1994), pp. 73–80. Manitakis, A., The Relationships between the Church and the State (Athens: Nefeli, 2000) (in Greek). “Mosques without the permission of Bishop,” Ta Nea (May 31, 2006) (in Greek). Mousourou, L., Migration and Migration Policy (Athens: Gutenberg, 1991) (in Greek). Myrill, J., Language, Religion and National Identity in Europe and the Middle East: A Historical Study (Amsterdam, and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamin Publ. Co., 2006). National Center for Social Research, available at http://www.gsdb.gr, accessed on October 2, 2010. Naxakis, C., “The ‘Economic Miracle’ is due (also) to Immigrants,” in C. Naxakis and M. Cletchos (eds), Migrants and Migration. Economic, Political and Social Aspects (Athens: Pataki, 2001), pp. 179–91 (in Greek). Papadopoulou, D., “Forms of Social Integration and Social Incorporation of Immigrants,” in C. Bagavos and D. Papadopoulou (eds), Migration and Integration of Immigrants into Greek Society (Athens: Gutenberg, 2006), pp. 291–351 (in Greek). Papageorgiou, N., “Indian Immigrants in Greece: Religion in Daily Life,” The SSEASR Journal, 2 (2008): 101–8. Papastathis, C., Religious Freedom and Official Religion (Athens and Thessaloniki: Sakkoulas, 2000) (in Greek). Papastathis, C., “La Republique hellenique,” in Basdevant-Gaudement B. and Messner P. (dirs), Les origines du statut des confessions religieuses dans les

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pays de l’Union européenne (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1999), pp. 207–21. Pavlos, M., “The Greece of Immigration in Numbers”, in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration, Social Participation, Rights and the Quality of Citizenship (Athens: Kritiki, 2004), pp. 367–402 (in Greek). Petrou, I., “The Orthodox Church in Greece: From the Ethnocentrism to the Reality of Open Society,” in P. Kalaitzidis and N. Dodos (eds), Orthodoxy and Modernity (Athens: Indiktos, 2007), pp. 337–53 (in Greek). Romaios, G., “Census and Immigrants,” To Vima (March 18, 2001) (in Greek). Saran, P., The Asian Indian Experience in the United States (Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Company, Inc., 1985). Simon G., “Migration in Southern Europe: An Overview”, in The Future of Migration (Paris: OECD, 1987), pp. 258–91. Smith, A.D., The Ethnic Origin of Nations (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1986). Smith, A.D., National Identity (London: Penguin Books, 1991). Talin, K., “Pluralisme religieux et citoyenneté multidiniste: essai d’analyse comparative dans l’Union européenne,” in M. Milot, P. Portier and J.P. Willaime (eds), Pluralisme religieux et citoyenneté (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2010), pp. 19–48 Tonchev, P. (ed.), Asian Migrants in Greece, Origins, Status and Prospects, Institute of International Economic Relations, January 2007, available at http:// www.idec.gr/iier/new/asian_migrants_en.pdf. Triantafyllidou, A. and M. Maroufof, “The Settlement of Immigrants in Greece: Dynamics of Integration and Problems of Registration,” in N. Andriotis et al. (eds), Migration, Diversity and Receiving Institutions in Greece. The Bet of Social Integration (Athens and Thessaloniki: Sakkoulas, 2010), pp. 39–80 (in Greek). Tsitselikis, K., “The Religious Freedom of Immigrants: The Case of Muslims”, in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration. Social Participation, Rights and Quality of Citizenship (Athens: Kritiki, 2004), pp. 267–302 (in Greek). Williams, R.B., Religions of Immigrants from India and Pakistan, New Trends in the American Tapestry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988). Ventoura, L., “Nationalism, Racism and Migration in Modern Greece”, in M. Pavlos and D. Christopoulos (eds), The Greece of Immigration. Social Participation, Rights and Quality of Citizenship (Athens: Kritiki, 2004), pp. 174–204 (in Greek). Vermeulen, H., “Models and Modes of Immigrant Integration … and Where Southern Europe fit,” in Immigration and Integration in Northern versus Southern Europe (Athens: The Netherlands Institute in Athens, 2004), pp. 27–39.

Part III Sikhs in the United Kingdom and Ireland

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Chapter 10

Sikh Diversity in the UK: Contexts and Evolution Eleanor Nesbitt

Sikhs are now a substantial and well-established minority in the UK, numbering 336,149, according to the 2001 census. This was the first UK census since the midnineteenth century to include a “religious question,” and the figure was lower than most previous recent estimates had been. The census return (which was almost certainly lower than the actual figure) disclosed Sikhs to be outnumbered not only by Christians and Muslims but also by Hindus, contrary to some previous estimates both by scholars and by Sikhs. The settlement of Sikhs in the UK is but the latest chapter in Britain’s association with Sikhs. This contact pre-dates the imposition of British rule on Punjab, the Sikhs’ homeland, in 1849 at the end of the Anglo-Sikh Wars. Before this, British soldiers and political reporters had published on the Sikhs,1 and travelers including Captain Matthews, Captain Sir Alexander Burnes, and Emily Eden had recounted their experiences of visiting Amritsar.2 The complex interactions between Britain and the Sikhs in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries concern not only colonial India but the British Empire more widely, and relate directly to the UK Sikh diaspora. Thus, to take an important example, Ramgarhia Sikhs (Sikhs from the construction-related castes skilled respectively in masonry, brick-laying, metalwork, and carpentry) migrated to British East Africa as indentured laborers to construct the railway in the 1890s and early twentieth century and so provided the basis for a Sikh community which subsequently relocated to the UK in the 1960s and 1970s. The history of British Sikh settlement consists of successive migrations, and these largely correspond to the social and hereditary (caste, that is, zat) groupings, Acknowledgement: The author gratefully acknowledges Professor Gurinder Singh Mann at whose invitation this chapter was originally drafted for the “Conference on Expanding Horizons; Sikh Studies at the Turn of the 21st Century,” Santa Barbara, University of California, 2009. 1 For example, George Forster (1783) and Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Malcolm (1811) quoted in Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh (eds), ‘Sicques, Tigers, or Thieves’: Eyewitness Accounts of the Sikhs (1606–1809) (London, 2004). 2 See Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh (eds), Eyewitness Accounts of the Golden Temple of Amritsar (London, 2010), for details.

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which constitute the structural diversity of the “Sikh community.” Accordingly, diversity has characterized British Sikh society from its beginnings, and has increased decade by decade. Starting with “Queen Victoria’s maharaja,” Dalip Singh, a few princely or royalty-connected visitors came to Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.3 They were followed between the two World Wars by a substantial number of Sikh men of the Bhatra caste, mainly operating as peddlers, who settled principally in Britain’s seaports.4 By World War II, there were an estimated one thousand Sikhs in Britain.5 From the early 1950s, Sikhs of the Jat zat (peasant landholders) mainly from Jalandhar (especially from the tehsils of Nurmahal, Phagwara, and Nawanshahr) and Hoshiarpur,6 settled in considerable numbers in Britain’s industrial cities. By the late 1960s, some Ramgarhia Sikhs also lived in the UK and, around 1970, the number of Ramgarhias climbed steeply as Sikh families were displaced by the Africanization policies in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania and arrived as “twice migrants.”7 In the 1990s, Afghan Sikhs arrived, mainly in Southall in Greater London, as a fifth phase of Sikh migration.8 Moreover, Singh and Tatla surmise that “there are 40,000–50,000 illegal Sikh migrants, whose numbers have been swelled by extensive internal migration within the European Union. This total consists of overstayers, illegal entrants and asylum seekers who have ‘disappeared’.”9 3 See, for example, Peter Bance, The Duleep Singhs: The Photograph Album of Queen Victoria’s Maharajah (Thrupp, Gloucestershire, 2004) and Christie Campbell, The Maharajah’s Box: An Imperial Story of Conspiracy, Love and a Guru’s Prophecy (London, 2000). 4 Eleanor Nesbitt, “Aspects of Sikh Tradition in Nottingham” (unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Nottingham, 1980). 5 Shompa Lahiri, “From Empire to Decolonisation, 1901–1947,” in Michael H. Fisher, Shompa Lahiri and Shinder Thandi (eds), A South-Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent (Oxford, 2007), pp. 127–58. 6 Shinder Thandi, “Migrating to the ‘Mother Country’, 1947–1980” in Fisher, Lahiri and Thandi, South-Asian History, pp. 159–82. 7 Parminder Bhachu, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain (London, 1985). More detail of these phases of migration and settlement can be found in, for example, Roger Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction among the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. Gerald Barrier and Verne. A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab (Columbia, MA, 1989); Roger Ballard, “The Growth and Changing Character of the Sikh Presence in Britain,” in Harold Coward, Raymond B. Williams, and John. R. Hinnells (eds), The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States (Albany, 2000), pp. 193–224; and Gurharpal Singh and Darshan S. Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London, 2006). 8 Caroline Moorhead (2003), “Inderjeed Singh: Lost in Kabul,” Open Democracy website, available at http://www.opendemocracy.net/people/article_1373.jsp, accessed May 21, 2008. 9 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, p. 60, in line with Steven Vertovec’s deconstruction of super-diversity to include differences in legal status. See Steven Vertovec, “Super-

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Indicators of Sikhs’ otherwise full integration into UK society include high levels of educational attainment,10 their substantial numbers in professions such as law, medicine, and accountancy, and their election as mayors and members of Parliament, as well as the recognition of individuals by the honors, conferred by the monarch, of the CBE, OBE, and MBE.11 Visits by members of the royal family to gurdwaras include Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Leicester during her Jubilee celebrations in 2002.12 There are currently over 200 gurdwaras in the UK, with the Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) in London (popularly known as Shepherd’s Bush Gurdwara) being the oldest in Europe, dating from 1911.13 Although distributed throughout England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, gurdwaras are especially concentrated in Greater London, the West Midlands conurbation of Birmingham, Coventry, and Wolverhampton, and the industrial cities of Yorkshire.14 The Sikhs’ mark on the UK landscape also includes the Sikh war memorial in Coventry. The Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail promotes “greater awareness of the shared heritage between Sikhs and Britain” by highlighting other Sikh-related monuments and the many Sikh artifacts in UK museums.15 Over the decades, disputes have flared up over Sikhs’ right to wear the turban and the kirpan (the sword that is one of the identifying marks of a Sikh who has been initiated into the nucleus of committed Sikhs known as the Khalsa). Turban disputes concerning bus crews,16 motorcyclists, and pupils in schools have resulted in local agreements and national legislation.17 Sikhs are represented in interfaith groups and on hospitals’ and prisons’ chaplaincy teams. Sikhism is one of the six “principal religions” (Education Reform Diversity and its Implications,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30/6 (2007): 1024. 10 See “Some minority ethnic pupils (mainly Chinese, Indian and Mixed White and Asian) consistently perform above the average for all pupils across Key Stages” in Department for Education and Skills, Ethnicity and Education: The Evidence on Minority Ethnic Pupils (London, 2006), p. 9. 11 The titles respectively of Commander, Order and Member of the British Empire. 12 See Guru Nanak Sikh Museum, “The Queen’s Golden Jubilee,” available at http:// www.thesikhmuseum.com/jubilee.htm, accessed August 14, 2010. 13 See The Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha) London, available at http://www. centralgurdwara.org.uk, accessed November 14, 2010. 14 One list is available at http://www.boss-uk.org/gurdwara, accessed August 14, 2010. See also Paul Weller, Religion in the UK Directory 2007–10 (Derby, 2007). 15 See Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, available at http://www.asht.info, accessed August 14, 2010. 16 David Beetham, Transport and Turbans: A Comparative Study in Local Politics (Oxford, 1970). 17 The Motor Cycle Crash Helmets (Religious Exemption) Act 1976 and the inclusion of Sikhs under the Race Relations Act 1976 as a result of the definition of “ethno-religious” arising from the Mandla vs. Dowell Lee case, All England Law Reports of 1982 [3] and 1983 [1].

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Act, 1988) represented in the (locally agreed) syllabuses of religious education, a statutory subject, and on the Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education which have local responsibility for religious education.18 Well before the 1988 Act, Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi had pioneered the writing of books on Sikhism for schools.19 Curriculum materials introduce learners to a norm, rather than reflecting the diversity of Sikh communities. Diversity as a concept is now the subject of theoretical debates within and across many disciplinary fields. Religion itself is a contested concept and religions are inherently diverse. Accordingly, it is against this background, and recent theorizing on religious adherence and transmission, that this chapter briefly recalls the intrinsic diversity of “Sikhism” before offering an overview of Sikhs in the UK. Some examples of UK Sikhs’ diversity in relation to locality, caste, religious groupings, political groupings, generation, language, and appearance are introduced by the suggestion of a possible analytical framework and suggest the multiple ways in which Sikhs identify themselves. All this has implications for the representation of the Sikh tradition in schools and universities. My overview of UK Sikhs’ diversity is organized along a number of axes— “horizontal,” including locality in the UK and caste (zat), and “vertical,” that is, generation in its two related senses, and this chapter concludes with some implications of UK Sikhs’ diversity for how “Sikhism”/the Sikh tradition is represented in religious education (in UK schools) and in higher education. As more extensive background for what is to follow, the introduction will be drawing together scholarly discussion of the nature of diversity and on the nature of religion(s) as intrinsically diverse, as well as considering some recent European analyses of religious allegiance and transmission, and offering a brief reminder of the inherent diversity of Sikh tradition. Sikhs in UK: Literature As Sikh settlement in the UK spans a century, and Britain’s Sikhs far outnumber any other European diaspora Sikh community, it is unsurprising that the literature 18 For discussions of the representation of Sikhs and their tradition in curriculum materials, see Eleanor Nesbitt, “Sikhism in Books for Primary and Secondary School Readers,” Resource, 9/3 (1987): 3–5; Eleanor Nesbitt, “Representing Faith Traditions in Religious Education: An Ethnographic Perspective,” in Leslie J. Francis, Jeff Astley, and Mandy Robbins (eds), The Fourth R for the Third Millennium: Education in Religion and Values for the Global Future (Dublin, 2001), pp. 137–58; and the Sikhism-related reporting in Robert Jackson et al., Materials Used to Teach about World Religions in Schools in England (Research Report DCSF-RR197) (Coventry, 2010). 19 For example, W. Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi, Sikhism (London, 1973); Meeting Sikhism (London, 1980); and W. Owen Cole, A Sikh Family in Britain (2nd edn Oxford, 1985).

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on UK Sikhs is far too extensive to review in detail. G.S. Aurora’s seminal publication in 1967 has been followed by studies, published and unpublished, by Sikh scholars and researchers from other backgrounds.20 A full listing of these studies is more elusive now than when Darshan Singh Tatla and I aimed at a comprehensive annotated bibliography of Sikhs in Britain.21 Important publications on UK Sikhs include Parminder Bhachu’s study of East African Sikhs,22 Arthur Helweg’s commentary on Gravesend,23 Roger Ballard’s overviews of Sikh settlement,24 and Sewa Singh Kalsi’s exploration of caste among Sikhs,25 joined more recently by Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Tatla’s account of Sikhs in Britain26 and Opinderjit Kaur Takhar’s “exploration of groups among Sikhs.”27 Takhar’s “groups” illustrate specific combinations of caste differentiation and devotional distinctiveness and include the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (a devotional grouping based in Birmingham’s Soho Road gurdwara, currently led by Bhai Mohinder Singh), as well as the Namdharis and Ravidasis. Among smaller, locally focused publications are those by Kitty Fitzgerald (featuring Manchester Sikhs),28 and Ramindar Singh on Bradford Sikhs,29 as well as— sociology turned into fiction—Hannah Bradby on Glasgow Punjabis.30 Scholars have explored many themes and issues that are intrinsic to British Sikh diversity, including Sikh women,31 Sikhs’ hereditary and denominational groupings of zat and sampradaya,32 political organizations (notably on the Indian Workers’

Gurdip S. Aurora, The New Frontiersmen: A Sociological Study of Indian Immigrants in the UK (Bombay, 1967). 21 Darshan S. Tatla and Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhs in Britain: An Annotated Bibliography, Bibliographies in Ethnic Relations, no. 13 (Coventry, 1994). 22 Bhachu, Twice Migrants. 23 Arthur W. Helweg, Sikhs in England: The Development of a Migrant Community (New Delhi, 1979) and Sikhs in England (New Delhi, 1986). 24 Ballard, “Differentiation,” Ballard, “Growth and Changing Character,” and Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction among the Sikhs” in Roger Ballard (ed.), Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Experience in Britain (London, 1994), pp. 88–116. 25 Sewa S. Kalsi, The Evolution of a Sikh Community in Britain (Leeds, 1992). 26 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain. 27 Opinderjit K. Takhar, Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups among Sikhs (Aldershot, 2005) and see Chapter 12 of this volume. 28 Kitty Fitzgerald, Speaking for Ourselves: Sikh Oral History (Manchester, 1986). 29 Ramindar Singh, Immigrants to Citizens: The Sikh Community in Bradford (Bradford, 1992). 30 Hannah Bradby, Skinfull (London, 2005). 31 Satwant K. Rait, Sikh Women in England: Religious, Social and Cultural Beliefs (Stoke on Trent, 2005). 32 Kalsi, Evolution; Takhar, Sikh Identity. 20

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Association),33 the turban (Beetham analyzing turban controversies and Jasjit Singh, forty years later, examining the significance of the turban for twenty-first century British Sikh youth),34 the phenomenon of sants (spiritual leaders),35 and Sikhs as a transnational diaspora36 that is mobilizing politically.37 Additionally, the creative writing of Punjabis evokes aspects of Sikh diversity and this chapter cites respectively, the autobiography of Sathnam Sanghera,38 a play by Rena Dipti Annobil and Reena Bhatoa,39 and the poems of Daljit Nagra.40 Nor should Sikhs’ representation of UK Sikhs in the visual arts and film be overlooked: the exquisite and witty portrayals of British Sikhdom, often in Moghul miniature style, by the internationally renowned twin artists, Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh,41 and Gurinder Chadha’s award-winning film, Bend It Like Beckham. Diversity Debates The unprecedented diversity (in the sense of ethnic, cultural, and religious plurality) of European societies has been discussed by social scientists from various disciplines and by specialists in religious studies and religious education. 33 De Witt John, Indian Workers’ Associations in Britain (London, 1969), Sasha Josephides, Towards a History of the Indian Workers’ Association, Research Papers in Ethnic Relations, no 18 (Coventry, 1992). Talvinder Singh Gill, “The Indian Workers Association Coventry 1938–1990: Political and Social Action,” paper presented at Punjab Research Group, Coventry University, June 27, 2010. 34 Beetham, Transport; Jasjit Singh, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25/2 (2010): 203–20, and pp. 261 and 271 of this volume. 35 Specific sants and their followers are the subject of Joy Barrow, “Religious Authority and Influence in the Diaspora: Sant Jaswant Singh and Sikhs in West London,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), pp. 335–48; Eleanor Nesbitt, “The Nanaksar Movement,” Religion, 15 (1985): 67–79; and of the chapter on the “Guru Nānak Nishkām Sevak Jathā” in Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 38–58, whereas the sant phenomenon more generally is discussed in Darshan S. Tatla, “Nurturing the Faithful: The Role of the Sant among Britain’s Sikhs,” Religion, 22/4 (1992): 349–74. 36 Darshan S.Tatla, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (London, 1999). 37 Giorgio Shani, Sikh Nationalism and Identity in a Global Age (London, 2008). 38 Sathnam Sanghera, If You Don’t Know Me by Now: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton (London, 2008). 39 Rena D. Annobil and Reena Bhatoa, The Fifth Cup, unpublished play (2007). See http://casteawayarts.com/productions, accessed November 14, 2010 40 Daljit Nagra, “Jhoota Kunda Ballads: The Ghosts of Cranford Park,” Review, The Guardian (The Saturday Poem), (April 26, 2008): 22. 41 See www.singhtwins.co.uk, accessed November 14, 2010; and publications including Amrit and Rabindra K.D. Kaur Singh, Twin Perspectives (1999).

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Paul Weller usefully documents the UK’s religious diversity in relation to places of worship, governance, education, freedom of expression, discrimination, and equal opportunities, arguing that the UK is simultaneously a Christian, a secular, and a religiously plural society.42 Steven Vertovec argues that Britain’s contemporary diversity is in fact a “super-diversity” that “is distinguished by a dynamic interplay of variables among an increased number of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, transnationally connected, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified immigrants who have arrived over the past decade.”43 He distinguishes these “new” immigrants from the African-Caribbean and South Asian communities which “developed from the 1960s”44 and which provided the basis for UK policies of multiculturalism. However, it is Vertovec’s reminder of “the conjunction of ethnicity with a range of other variables when considering the nature of various ‘communities’, their composition, trajectories, interactions and public service needs”45 which points towards the intra-religious diversity of faith communities, such as Britain’s Sikhs who are the focus of this chapter. In a previous publication (on the Hindu diaspora), Vertovec had identified “the second phase [which] witnessed the growth of diverse regional-linguistic, sectarian and caste associations,”46 so offering a possible framework for understanding developments in the Sikh diaspora. In a rather different take on diversity, the Norwegian religious educationist, Geir Skeie, has distinguished between, on the one hand, the “traditional plurality” of western European societies that are composed of separate, usually migrationrelated minorities and, on the other hand, the “modern plurality”47 that—in the words of the UK religious educationist, Robert Jackson—“relates to the variegated intellectual climate of late modernity and postmodernity” with its “growth of individualism and the privatization of religion.”48 Thus, globalization means that, increasingly, individuals (whatever their ancestral faith tradition or indeed their personal religious commitment) are themselves multiply influenced by an interplay of questions, ideas, and possibilities.

Paul Weller, Religious Diversity in the UK: Contours and Issues (London, 2008),

42

p. 9.

45 46 43 44

p. 96.

Vertovec, “Super-diversity,” p. 1027. Ibid., p. 1027. Ibid., p. 1025. Steven Vertovec, The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns (London, 2000),

47 Geir Skeie, “Plurality and Pluralism: A Challenge for Religious Education,” British Journal of Religious Education, 17/2 (1995): 84–91. 48 Robert Jackson, Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: Issues in Diversity and Pedagogy (London, 2004), p. 8.

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This concurs with what I have termed a “plural spirituality” and being “spiritually plural”49 and “existentially interfaith,”50 and accords with the observation by Perry Schmidt-Leukel that individuals’ “own personal life-journey … has become entwined with several religious traditions.”51 In many cases, the combination will be that of a modern secular outlook with aspects of a particular cultural tradition, rather than of more overtly religious dimensions of previously more distinct traditions. Schmidt-Leukel not only reminds his readers that faiths have always been syncretistic, and argues a qualified defense of syncretism, but illustrates the way in which Christianity is being transformed by its integration— at individual level—of insights from other faiths. Data on UK Sikhs suggests that a case could also be made for Sikhism as a currently syncretistic faith tradition, at least insofar as the outlook and ideas of Sikhs are evolving through multiple interactions with contemporary Christian, secular, Hindu, and Muslim culture. Accordingly, UK Sikhs are likely as individuals to manifest a diversity of religious sentiment, behavior, and belief. Religion(s) as Inherently Diverse The historical and contemporary relationship in Punjab between Sikh, Islamic, and Hindu traditions suggests that intra-faith diversity is neither a new phenomenon nor peculiar to western contexts, nor are Sikhs unusual in this respect.52 The diversity of ostensible co-religionists long pre-dates the late twentieth century and early twentyfirst century—not least because “religions” are not the monoliths that they are sometimes presumed to be. Wilfred Cantwell Smith famously argued that religion is not a universally valid concept but rather a peculiarly European construct of recent origin.53 Smith demonstrated the slippage of “religion” (religio in Latin) from meaning the “relationship between God and man” to a system of observances and beliefs. This, he contended, is a “product of identity politics and apologetics,” in other words, people become aware of their own “religion” when it is under attack

Eleanor Nesbitt, Interfaith Pilgrims: Living Truths and Truthful Living (London, 2003), pp. 22 ff. 50 Eleanor Nesbitt, “Interrogating the Experience of Quaker Scholars in Hindu and Sikh Studies: Spiritual Journeying and Academic Engagement,” Quaker Studies, 14/2 (2010): 134–58. 51 Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Transformation by Integration: How Inter-Faith Encounter Changes Christianity (London, 2009), p. 7. 52 See Harjot Oberoi, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity (Delhi, 1994), and Roger Ballard, “Panth Kismet Dharm te Qaum: Continuity and Change in Four Dimensions of Punjabi Religion,” in Pritam Singh and Shinder Singh Thandi (eds), Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (New Delhi, 1999), pp. 7–38. 53 Wilfred C. Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (London, 1978). 49

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from outsiders (or, one might add, when they migrate to an “alien milieu”),54 and they then internalize and mobilize the outsiders’ view of their “religion.” This “religion” is then institutionalized and reified—it is perceived as an entity by insiders and outsiders alike. Smith himself preferred the terms “cumulative tradition” and “individual faith” to “religion” when examining “religions.” However, unlike Smith, many subsequent writers on religions—both insiders and outsiders—continue to assume and perpetuate the reification of “religion” uncritically and present each faith tradition and faith community in a way that suggests that there is both internal homogeneity and a firm boundary between this and other “religions.” Thus, each of the so-called “world religions”55 has itself been presented as a distinct unitary system, and this type of presentation is the basis of syllabuses and curriculum materials in religious education in schools and in religious studies in higher education. In the context of South Asian studies, the names “Hinduism,” “Sikhism,” and “Buddhism,” originating as they did in postEnlightenment nineteenth-century European thought, misleadingly reinforce the notion of separate systems rather than of fluidity.56 Moreover, in western writing, influenced as it is by centuries of Christian tradition, “religions” are often presented in terms of, on the one hand, “beliefs” and, on the other hand, “practices,” with priority given to “beliefs.” A salutary and seminal reconfiguration of religions was offered by Ninian Smart.57 This phenomenological approach allowed for disaggregation of faiths into dimensions that include the practical and ritual, and the experiential and emotional. More recently, ethnographic studies including Ron Geaves’s work in a Punjabi setting,58 have unsettled distinctions between orthodoxy and any prioritization in religious studies of “official religion” over “popular religion.”

Richard Burghart, Hinduism in Great Britain: The Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Milieu (London, 1987). 55 See Robert Jackson, Religious Education: An Interpretive Approach (London, 1987). 56 Concern at the dominance of the “-isms” prompted a seminar reported in Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, Mary Searle-Chatterjee, and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Report on Teaching South Asian Religious Traditions,” Centre for Applied South Asian Studies, The PRS-LTSN Journal, 1/1 (Summer 2001): 77–9. Available at http://www.prs.heacademy.ac.uk/view. html/prsDiscourseArticles/111, accessed September 10, 2010. 57 Ninian Smart, The World’s Religions: Old Traditions and Modern Transformations (Cambridge, 1989). 58 Ron Geaves, “The Authentication of a Punjabi Regional Folk Cult in the English West Midlands,” Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, 20/1 (1999): 37–50. 54

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Models of Allegiance and Transmission An understanding of UK Sikhs (as people defined primarily by religion rather than by ethnicity) needs to be informed by debates in the sociology of religion. The French sociologist of religion Danièle Hervieu-Léger suggests that there are societies of memory which change into societies of change, and that religion is a chain of memory.59 The dimensions of socialization that Hervieu-Léger proposes are communal (for example, membership of a congregation), ethical (following rules and espousing values), emotional (identity, or missing some aspect), cultural (including language, weddings), “political,” and “esthetic” (for example, pilgrimage).60 Her discussion of individuals asserting their “right to bricolage”61 also merits examination in the wide context of competing influences that have already been mentioned. The work of her fellow sociologist of religion, Grace Davie, suggests the usefulness of testing out in future studies of Sikh communities her theoretical distinction between “believing without belonging” and “belonging without believing.”62 Another typology worthy of consideration in the UK Sikh context comes from Roberta Ricucci, writing about young people of Moroccan and Filipino families in Italy.63 Her categories are: “tightrope walkers” (who attend a place of worship for cultural reasons), “indifferent” individuals (who do not go to a place of worship or speak a heritage language), “marginal” individuals (who do not speak the language of the host society), and those who are “involved” (displaying a high level of attachment to their community’s values and engagement in both the society and in religious associations). Sikh Tradition as Inherently Diverse An understanding of the diversity of the UK’s Sikhs requires not only a consideration of scholarly typologies of contemporary religious adherence and transmission in diaspora and “host” communities in European societies, but also reference to the earlier history of the Panth. Sikh history includes a diversity of relationships with Muslims and Hindus, ranging from the respectful incorporation of Muslim and Danièle Hervieu-Léger, Religion as a Chain of Memory (Cambridge, 2000). Danièle Hervieu-Léger, “The Transmission and Formation of Socio-religious

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Identities in Modernity: An Analytical Essay on the Trajectories of Identification,” International Sociology, 13/2 (1998): 213, available at http://iss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/ abstract/13/2/213, accessed April 10, 2008. 61 Ibid., p. 217. 62 Grace Davie, Religion in Britain since 1945 (Oxford, 1994). 63 Roberta Ricucci, “Religion and the Adolescent Immigrants: A Way of Identifying with or Turning from their Communities?,” paper presented (2007) to the biannual conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Leipzig, July.

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Hindu contributors in the Adi Granth to violent conflicts.64 The Tat Khalsa’s success in the early twentieth century in molding Sikhism as a distinct religion, purged of “Hindu” elements of Indic tradition, has been only partial. Roger Ballard analyzed the four dimensions of Punjabi religion, using adjectives coined from words used in Punjabi for religious practice, religio-political community, a spiritual following, and fate—respectively the dharmic, qaumic, panthic, and kismetic—so providing a matrix for understanding the diversity of UK Sikhs’ religious behavior.65 His category of “Punjabi religion” itself signals the “fuzziness” of any boundaries between Sikh, Hindu, and Muslim traditions. Meanwhile, (as a further factor in diversity) a tendency to factionalism, observed by Joyce Pettigrew in relation to Jat Sikhs,66 and—in the UK context—by Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla,67 ensures continually shifting patterns of leadership and allegiance. My Studies The empirical basis for my observations on the diversity of Britain’s Sikhs comes in part from ethnographic studies of religious and cultural transmission in Sikh families in Nottingham 1979–1980 and the religious nurture of 8–13-year-old Sikhs in Coventry.68 The methods consisted of participant observation (mainly in gurdwaras) and semi-structured interviewing in schools and family homes. Additional research focused on two Sikh-related communities, the Valmikis and Ravidasis,69 and in 2006–09 on “mixed-faith” families, including those in which one parent is Sikh.70 Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2005). Ballard, “Panth, Kismet.” 66 Joyce Pettigrew, Robber Noblemen: A Study of the Political System of the Sikh Jats 64 65

(London, 1975). 67 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, pp. 81–6. 68 Nesbitt, Aspects, and Eleanor Nesbitt, “A Note on Bhatra Sikhs,” New Community, 15 (1985): 67–79; Eleanor Nesbitt, The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Leeds, 2000); and Eleanor Nesbitt, Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Brighton, 2004). 69 Eleanor Nesbitt, “‘My Dad’s Hindu, My Mum’s Side are Sikhs’: Issues in Religious Identity” (1993), available at http://www.art.man.ac.uk/CASAS/pdfpapers/identity.pdf; and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Valmikis in Coventry: The Revival and Reconstruction of a Community,” in Roger Ballard (ed.) Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain (London, 1994), pp. 117–41. 70 See, for example, Elisabeth Arweck and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Plurality at Close Quarters: Mixed-Faith Families in the UK,” Journal of Religion in Europe, 3 (2010): 1–28; and Elisabeth Arweck and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Young People’s Identity Formation in Mixed-Faith Families: Continuity or Discontinuity of Religious Traditions?” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25/1 (2010): 67–87.

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As a fieldworker, I encountered Sikh diversity in terms of locality, caste, religious grouping, political grouping, generation, language, and external appearance. Underlying the salient issues of cultural and linguistic competence, of identity, and of religious boundary-drawing were lines of tension which run through Sikh communities worldwide. These I conceptualize as a triangle, its three sides comprised of the pulls towards and away from panjabiat (traditional norms of Punjabi society), sikhi (the values enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib plus the discipline formulated in the Sikh Rahit Maryada, or code of discipline) and, third, modernity/“Western society”/globalization.71 The sometimes contrary, sometimes mutually reinforcing pulls between sikhi, panjabiat, and modernity play out in the lives of UK Sikhs, just as they do in the experience of Sikhs in North America,72 and (as an illustration of the axis of generation) are particularly sharply felt during adolescence and the early adult life of young Sikhs. Individuals experience conflicts between, for example, traditional Punjabi expectations of conformity and the norms of non-Asian society, and the varying responses of different individuals (or of the same individual in different contexts or at different life stages) contribute to diversity. Often the contrary pulls are as much between sikhi and panjabiat as between either of these and modernity: For example, family custom often dictates that sons and daughters marry members of the same zāt (caste). In rejecting this, as many Sikhs wish to, they are in fact not abandoning Sikh religious teaching, and are arguably acting in accordance with it … Similarly, dominant custom requires conspicuous expenditure (mainly by the bride’s family) on marriages, including dowry items and the generous provision of alcoholic drinks for male guests. By contrast Sikhs’ religious teaching condemns the display of wealth and forbids intoxicants.73

The Canadian scholar, Kamala Nayar, lists many such points of divergence (and so of psychosocial tension) between “traditional Punjabi values,” “Sikh spiritual beliefs,” and “modern social trends.”74 For young women, the tensions are especially acute, since a family’s maintenance of izzat (reputation) is particularly dependent on how young women behave, or are perceived and reported to be behaving. Clearly, gender also requires attention (though beyond the scope of the present chapter) in analyses of UK Sikhs’ diversity.

Nesbitt, Sikhism. Verne A. Dusenbery, Sikhs at Large: Religion, Culture, and Politics in Global

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Perspective (New Delhi, 2008), pp. 136–62. 73 Eleanor Nesbitt, “Sikhism,” in P. Morgan and C. Lawton (eds), Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions (2nd edn Edinburgh, 2007), pp. 118–67, see p. 121. 74 Kamala E. Nayar, “Sikh Women in Vancouver: An Analysis of their Psychosocial Issues,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women (New Delhi, 2010), pp. 252–75.

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Locality in the UK My successive studies of Sikhs in two English Midlands cities—Nottingham in the East Midlands and Coventry in the West Midlands—uncovered differences between them regarding local Sikhs’ migration and settlement history and also their religious groupings. This difference was immediately evident in the titles of the two cities’ gurdwaras. Thus, Nottingham’s two Bhatra gurdwaras had no counterpart in Coventry, a city with no Bhatra community. Coventry’s Ajit Darbar,75 Nanaksar gurdwara,76 Valmiki and Ravidasi sabhas,77 Baba Balaknath temple,78 and Radhasoami satsang79 were not paralleled in Nottingham, a city with no Valmiki or Ravidasi community, and where (at the time of my study) devotion to Radhasoami, or to the Nanaksar sants or Baba Balaknath was not in evidence. The diverse profiles of Sikh communities in different localities correspond largely to patterns of caste-specific migration. So, for example, Bhatra Sikhs settled between World War I and World War II in Britain’s ports—Glasgow, London, Liverpool, Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Southampton, and Portsmouth— with only a few inland settlements in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, and Nottingham. The post-1945 migration of Jats and Ramgarhias was predominantly to industrial cities in the north of England (such as Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, and Liverpool) and in the West Midlands conurbation of Birmingham, Smethwick, Wolverhampton (where Sikhs now make up 7.6 percent of the population), and Coventry, as well as in Greater London—famously Slough (where Sikhs make up 9.1 percent of the town’s population and are more concentrated than in any other locality), Hounslow (8.6 percent), and Ealing (8.5 percent), and the East Midlands (Nottingham and Leicester).80

See Nesbitt, Religious Lives, and Sandip Singh Chohan, “The Phenomenon of Possession and Exorcism in North India and amongst the Punjabi Diaspora in Wolverhampton” (2008), unpublished PhD thesis, University of Wolverhampton, available at http://wlv.openrepository.com/wlv/bitstream/2436/48796/1/Chohan_Mphil%20thesis. pdf, accessed October 21, 2009. 76 Nesbitt, “Nanaksar Movement.” 77 On Ravidasis and Valmikis, see Mark Juergensmeyer, Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchability in 20th Century Punjab (Berkeley, 1982); and Takhar, Sikh Identity. For my Coventry study, see Eleanor Nesbitt, “‘My Dad’s Hindu’” and “Valmikis in Coventry.” 78 For Baba Balaknath, see Chohan, Phenomenon of Possession; and Ron Geaves, “The Authentication of a Punjabi Regional Folk Cult in the English West Midlands,” Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, 20/1 (1999): 37–50; and Ron Geaves, Saivism in the Diaspora; Contemporary Forms of Skanda Worship (London, Oakville, 2007). 79 See Juergensmeyer, Religion. 80 The percentages come from Weller, Religious Diversity, p. 37, drawing on the 2001 UK census. 75

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The caste-specific communities themselves also vary from one locality to another. In the 1990s, when I asked (on the basis of my Nottingham findings) whether young Bhatra women were encouraged to continue their educations beyond the minimum age and to take up employment outside the home, a Bhatra informant emphasized the diversity between the Bhatra communities of different cities.81 He explained that the level of social acceptance or disapproval that women and their families would encounter varied between, say, Manchester and Birmingham. Additionally, the influence of particular sants (leaders around whom congregations form) differs from city to city. In Coventry, Ajit Singh (spiritual head of the Ajit Darbar) is an example of such a leader, and the Nanaksar gurdwara exemplifies the development of congregations around sants who are venerated as rival successors to Baba Nand Singh and Baba Ishar Singh. Sants often attract a caste-specific, or almost caste-specific, following. An example is the close association between the sants based in Dera Sachkhand Ballan and Ravidasis. Moreover, as the history of Coventry’s two Ravidasi gurdwaras illustrates, support for a sant can be a factor in intra-caste factionalism.82 Caste The importance of zat (Jat, Bhatra, and Ramgarhia) in differentiating families’ experiences emerged strongly in my Nottingham data. For example, with regard to education, while the young Bhatra women were expected to leave school at 16, if not earlier, and to marry soon after that, their Jat and Ramgarhia peers were encouraged to do well at school and to go on to higher education.83 As far as employment was concerned, the Bhatra women were allowed to earn money only by work within the home—in a shop that was a part of the same premises, for example—whereas the Jat and Ramgarhia women were expected to have paid employment and in most cases this was away from home. Whereas in Nottingham the Jats and Ramgarhias expressed negative stereotypes of Bhatras, in Coventry it was Punjabis from the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities who reported castebased prejudice from higher caste Sikhs. At this point, it is worth noting that caste discrimination implicating Sikhs is increasingly featuring in literature authored by UK Punjabis. Movingly, a recent Paramjeet Singh, oral communication. The sants of Dera Sachkhand Ballan are: Garib Dass, Hari Dass Sarvan Dass, Niranjan

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Dass and Ramanand, see Dera Sachkhand Ballan, available at http://derasachkhandballan. com, accessed November 14, 2010. For scholarly discussion see Ronki Ram, “Ravidass Deras and Social Protest: Making Sense of Dalit Consciousness in Punjab,” Asian Studies 67 (2008): 1341–64. 83 Nesbitt, Aspects; Nesbitt, “A Note”; Paul A.S. Ghuman, “Bhattra Sikhs in Cardiff: Family and Kinship Organization,” New Community 8/3 (1980): 308–16.

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play by two women from castes affected by discrimination recreates—on the basis of lived experience—the higher-caste Pritpal Nagra’s bullying of the lower-caste Amrit Singh.84 Similarly, the autobiographies of two Jats, Jasvinder Sanghera85 and Sathnam Sanghera,86 highlight the hurtful divide between Jat Sikhs and Punjabis of the lowest castes. Moreover, a national newspaper featured a poem by a Jat poet, Daljit Nagra, a rap which evoked in “Punglish” (that is, a type of English mixed with Punjabi words and probably mystifying for most readers) the taboo of sexual relations between the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities.87 While local Sikh communities have different caste configurations crosscutting all communities, the passage of time, generational shift, and successive fashions in popular culture contribute to both intra-zat diversity and cross-caste homogeneity. Over time, nomenclature itself changes, so that “Bhat” and “Ravidasia” are now favored as more respectful terms by many members of the communities that once comfortably used the designations “Bhatra” and “Ravidasi”. Religious Groupings UK Sikhs’ specifically religious diversity (that is, range of religious organizations, places of worship, and styles of worship) can be mapped in relation to (a) zatspecific groupings, such as the sangats of Bhatra, Ramgarhia, and Ravidasi gurdwaras but also (b) groupings that transcend Sikh/Hindu distinctions by drawing in people who identify as Hindu as well as those who identify as Sikh, for example, the Radhasoami Satsang (Beas),88 Sachkhand Nanak Dham,89 and devotees of Baba Balaknath,90 and (c) groupings consisting solely of Sikhs, including the Akhand Kirtani Jatha,91 sangats associated with a sant from the

86 87 88 89

Annobil and Bhatoa, Fifth Cup. Jasvinder Sanghera, Shame (London, 2006). Sathnam Sanghera, If. Nagra, “Jhoota.” Juergensmeyer, Religion as Social Vision (Berkeley, 1982). Louisa Cox and Catherine Robinson, “The Living Words of the Living Master: Sants, Sikhs, Sachkhand Nanak Dham and the Academy,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 21/3 (2006): 373–87. 90 Ron Geaves, “The Borders between Religions: A Challenge to the World Religions Approach to Religious Education,” British Journal of Religious Education, 21/1 (1998): 20–31. 91 Joy Barrow, “The Development of Guru Nanak’s Teachings of Nam, Dan and Seva within the Southall Sikh Communities” (2000), unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds; and Nesbitt, Sikhism, p. 84. 84

85

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Nanaksar lineage,92 Birmingham’s Nishkam Sevak Jatha,93 and Coventry’s Ajit Singh Darbar.94 The centrality of a venerated spiritual master (or sant) to many of these congregations draws criticism from a lot of Sikhs who point out that such behavior is reminiscent of veneration accorded to the gurus and so is deeply unSikh, running counter to the Sikh Rahit Maryada. In the case of the Namdharis,95 who have dharamsalas (places of worship) in London and Birmingham, the spiritual master is explicitly honored as guru. For this reason, in deference to Sikh sensitivity, Britain’s “Namdhari Sikh Community” is listed under “Some Other Religious Communities and Groups,” rather than under “Sikhs in the UK,” in a national directory.96 The sant phenomenon does not simply mean that there are Sikh sangats that draw their inspiration from a range of spiritual masters. It also translates into a different model of gurdwara management from the majority of gurdwaras.97 Whereas in the latter, the management committee is elected by one system or another—drawing lots or a democratic election,98 in the case of gurdwaras established by the devotees of a sant, it is, by contrast, the sant who decides and delegates roles with unquestioned authority.99 The hallmark of the sant and of the tradition/lineage from which he comes is also evident in devotional practice in the gurdwara concerned. Thus, the distinguishing features of Nanaksar gurdwaras include the role of bahingams (celibate male attendants), the scale of service to the Guru Granth Sahib, the monthly celebrations held on the full moon night (puranmashi), and the absence of a nishan sahib.100 In the Ajit Darbar, the influence of a tradition associated with Vadbhag Singh101 is discernible. Devotees repeat the formula “dhan guru nanak” and show particular respect to the nishan sahib. Not only does the establishment of new gurdwaras signal the increasing religious diversity, but groupings and activities within sangats exemplify diversification. Here, one can point to the range of facilities that some larger gurdwaras provide for the sangat and for the wider community, such as classes in devotional music, language classes, keep-fit, and a marriage bureau. 94 95 96 97 98 92

Nesbitt, ”Nanaksar Movement.” Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 38–58. Chohan, Phenomenon of Possession. Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 59–88, and this volume pp. 281–2. Weller, Religion. Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain. M.S. Dhesi, “An Ethnographic Study of the Concept and Development of the Gurdwara in the UK” (2009) unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham. 99 On Sant Jaswant Singh’s management of the Clifton Road Gurdwara in Southall, West London, see Barrow, “Religious Authority,” p. 338. 100 Nesbitt, “Nanaksar Movement.” 101 Chohan, Phenomenon of Possession. 93

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Provision changes with time (the generation factor): the establishment of gatka classes and the identification of some young men with Nihang tradition102 marks a development that is currently calling for investigation. The absence of “gatka” and “Nihang” from previous studies of UK Sikhs suggests how recent is this surge of interest in “Nihang warriors” and in the art of shastar vidya (Sikh swordsmanship as a martial art). Political Diversity Gurdwara management has often reflected UK Sikhs’ involvement in movements including the Indian Workers’ Association103 and, in the 1980s and 1990s, proKhalistan organizations such as the Babbar Khalsa, with support from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, and International Sikh Youth Federation.104 Tatla provides an extensive listing of Sikh organizations between 1947 and 1990.105 Shinder Thandi’s classification of “Sikh political parties and factions” usefully indicates their inter-relationship.106 Thandi’s case study of the Gurdwara Nanak Parkash in Coventry illustrates the turbulent impact of the competing political groups on the gurdwara’s management committee.107 As Singh and Tatla observe, “The existence of a faction organized around a ‘leader’ pervaded all forms of Sikh organization —political, social, economic, religious and cultural,”108 and “Factionalism … is … a permanent ‘state of nature’ that has neither diminished nor lost its significance after several generations of British Sikh society.”109 A decade after Thandi’s analysis and Tatla’s tabulation of “reactions to events in Punjab and India, 1960–1990,”110 UK Sikhs’ involvement in political movements

For historical background to this aspect of Sikh tradition, see Amandeep Singh Madra and Parmjit Singh, Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition (London, 1999); and Nidar Singh Nihang and Parmjit Singh, In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib Volume I History (London, 2008). For contemporary UK observations see Jasjit Singh p. 265 in this volume. 103 John, Indian Workers’ Association, and Josephides, “Towards a History of the Indian Workers’ Association.” 104 Tatla, Sikh Diaspora. 105 Ibid., pp. 92–4. 106 Shinder Thandi, “The Punjabi Diaspora in the UK and the Punjab Crisis,”in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (New Delhi, 1996), pp. 227–52. 107 Ibid., pp. 238–41. 108 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, p. 30. 109 Ibid., p. 31. 110 Tatla, Sikh Diaspora, p. 94, Table 4.5. 102

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continues to arise directly from developments in Punjab.111 Meanwhile, global changes such as heightened “radicalization” of Muslims, contributes to Sikh mobilization. The activity of the British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS) probably needs to be understood partly in relation to the activity of radical Islamist organizations on British university campuses. Generation: A Vertical Axis From the previous sections, it is evident that, whether examined in terms of locality, caste, religious, or political groupings, the patterning of Sikh diversity shifts over time. Roger and Catherine Ballard put forward a now classic four-phase theory of Sikh migration and settlement,112 and Roger Ballard has developed this further113 to take account of the impact of economic recession, changing alignments, and the perplexities of a new generation. As Sandip Singh Chohan argues,114 the fourth phase (the emergence of a British-educated generation) is characterized by increasing diversity that arises as Punjabis more visibly mobilize religious and cultural resources to meet their personal needs. In other words, Chohan utilizes Roger Ballard’s schema of Punjabi religion’s panthic, dharmic, qaumic, and kismetic dimensions,115 and suggests that the present stage of settlement manifests more panthic and kismetic religious activity (for example, at a time of personal need visiting a sant in an exorcism tradition) as compared with the dharmic and qaumic character of the first British gurdwaras. This vertical axis of diversity is generational both in the sense of migration history and age group. Thandi summarizes the upward social mobility in many Sikh families as: … parents began to make strategic choices, “pushing” their children to gain the right school qualifications for entry into “ideal” and “highly respected” careers. Within two decades or so [i.e. by the late 1970s] the first crop of “home-grown” doctors, dentists, pharmacists, lawyers, accountants, engineers and teachers began to emerge from the child-migrants and second generation, British-born children.116

111 Channel 4, “Immigration: The Inconvenient Truth,” April 14, 2008; and BBC Radio 4, “Sikh Terror; the UK Connection,” February 26, 2008. 112 Roger Ballard and Catherine Ballard, “The Sikhs,” in James L. Watson (ed.), Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain (Oxford, 1977), pp. 21–56. 113 Ballard, “Differentiation.” 114 Chohan, Phenomenon of Possession. 115 Ballard, “Panth, Kismet, Dharm” and see p. 235 above. 116 Thandi, ”Migrating,” p. 166.

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Thandi quotes the 2001 census as showing 47 percent of Indians in social classes I and II, that is, “professional, managerial and technical” and “having moved up the social ladder from classes V and VI (partly skilled and unskilled) over the previous couple of decades.”117 One of the interviewees (a parent) in my own 2006–09 study articulated this drive as follows: “My father believed in eating, sleeping, and studying. That’s all you had to do. You had to work really hard, and the harder you worked, the better the grades were gonna be, and the better your grades meant that you would have a better lifestyle in adulthood.”118 Alongside this upward mobility in economic and educational terms, Sikh families’ involvement in Sikh religious activity has not followed a straightforward trajectory of either decline or increase, and this too emerges in my 2006–09 data. In the case of one parent, a technology consultant in his forties, it had been as a consequence of his grandmother’s and other relatives’ arrival from Punjab that “along came also the religion thing,” and his grandmother had started up weekly Sikh classes in the local school. However, this mounting religious activity in his family alienated him from the gurdwara. Similarly, one Sikh mother’s parents had brought her up in a way that was not overtly Sikh. But “then when the gurdwara in N did get set up, my father suddenly had this need that we needed to be there every Friday,” and she was expected to wear Punjabi suits and to grow her hair—which as a teenager she resented as an infringement of liberty.119 Increases in a family’s overt religiosity by no means meant that all members felt an increased affinity with the Sikh religion. Language In the process of upward mobility, second- and third-generation Sikhs’ linguistic competence is often greater in English than in their mother tongue, with the linguistic gap widening markedly between the first and third generation. To quote the technology consultant again: “I meet people anywhere in the world, they say ‘Are you from Punjab?’ and I say, ‘yeah’, and they think, ‘Can you speak it? … You look like a wrong generation to be able to speak this [language] fluently.’”120 The journalist Sathnam Sanghera’s autobiography captures the communication gap between generations poignantly (as when he pays someone in India to turn his spoken words into a letter in Gurmukhi so that his mother will be able to read it) and captures it amusingly (as in the conversation below between him and a Punjabi taxi driver): 117 Shinder Thandi, “The 1980s and After: From Adversity to Celebration,” in Fisher, Lahiri and Thandi, A South-Asian History, pp. 183–214, see p. 187. 118 Interview, February 15, 2007. 119 Interview, February 15, 2007 120 Interview, August 15, 2008.

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“Ki?” I repeated myself, louder, more slowly, but in English. “You don’t speak Punjabi then?” he asked in Punjabi. “Hahnji, I do,” I said in bad Punjabi. “Just out of practice.”121

Nonetheless, as in the case of religious involvement, Punjabi language has not shown a straightforwardly linear decline. To return to the technology consultant quoted above, until six years of age, he spoke no Punjabi (and his mother had an MA in English), but then the arrival in his home of grandparents and aunts from Punjab meant that he quickly learned Punjabi. External Appearance Common to most Sikhs is some level of awareness of a link between their Sikh religious identity and the “Sikh look” of an unshorn, turban-wearing individual, but the diversity is far greater than a mona/kesdhari distinction would suggest, and the generational pattern is complex. Jasjit Singh discloses considerable diversity of practice and sentiment even within his six categories: male wearing the turban with full beard, male wearing the turban with trimmed beard, male with haircut, female wearing the turban, female with uncut hair, not wearing the turban, and female with cut hair, not wearing the turban. He points out: It is clear therefore that the importance that Sikhism places on ‘uncut hair’ is being dealt with by young British Sikhs in a number of different ways. Although the importance of the hair varies from Sikh to Sikh, the data gathered has shown there are particular combinations of head/facial/body hair which carry more meaning than others.122

Moreover, whereas for many the turban is central to a Sikh’s religious commitment, another could say that “the turban is simply a part of my attire” and others (influenced by 3HO, or Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere) could justify it in terms of yogic energy.123 Strikingly, the tall turban, known as damala (dumallah), in the style worn by Nihangs, is now unprecedentedly evident among a section of Sikh youth, rather than among their elders. As such, it is a reminder of prophetic (and value-laden) words written by Alan James, one of the earliest commentators on British Sikhs: One could even see Sikh youth “outdoing” their parents in religious fanaticism [sic]: they might initiate a movement … to revive or “purify” the Sikh religion.

Sathnam Sanghera, If, p. 6. Jasjit Singh, “Head First,” p. 210. 123 Ibid., p. 210. 121 122

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Wearing of turbans and beards could become an act of defiance not just against the hostile white community but against the more nervous or half-hearted older Sikhs.124

Multiple Identities and Blurred Boundaries Appearance reflects an individual’s changing relationship with the Panth and a range of contextual identities. As the anthropologist Kathleen Hall explains in her study of British Sikh youth, in relation to “second generation Sikhs,” Sikh tradition has been “disembedded” from Punjab.125 As she sums up their agency in constructing their identities, identities are produced in relation to multiple forms of discourse that circulate into people’s lives through various channels and in relation to distinctive forms of cultural or identity politics.126 UK Sikhs’ identities can be described as, to varying extents, situational and integrated plural identities,127 as combinations of “Asian,” “Indian,” “East African,” “British,” “Punjabi,” “Sikh,” “Coventrian” (or from Southall, Leicester, and so on). This fluidity and complexity is almost absent from largely stereotypical representations of (Khalsa) Sikhs in UK schools’ religious education materials. In the Sikhs’ case, appearance (especially as regards the hair/turban) is one of many markers of diversities that (seemingly) distinguish religious and political groupings and may find support from the same individual in different contexts and/or characterize successive periods of the individual’s lifespan. The complexity of British Sikhs’ self-identification is heightened for members of communities with an ambiguous relationship to “Sikhism” and “Hinduism,” as well as for those young people in “mixed-faith” families. My (1989–90) studies of the Valmikis and Ravidasis disclosed religious identification, marriages, and the communities’ styles of public and private worship all spanning the supposed boundary between “Hinduism” and “Sikhism.”128 As regards “mixed-faith” families, although Thandi mentions that the 2001 UK census data shows that “people from South Asian backgrounds were least likely of all minority ethnic groups to get married to someone of a different ethnic group,”129 in fact 6 percent of Indians (a category that includes Sikhs)—as compared to 4 per cent of Pakistanis and 3 percent of Bangladeshis—had done so. More recent research shows that ethnically and religiously mixed unions are Alan G. James, Sikh Children in Britain (London, 1974), pp. 102–3. Kathleen D. Hall, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youths as British Citizens (Philadelphia,

124 125

PA, 2002), p. 9. 126 Hall, Lives, p. 14. 127 Sissel Østberg, Pakistani Children in Norway: Islamic Nurture in a Secular Context (Leeds, 2003). 128 Nesbitt, “‘My Dad’s Hindu.’” 129 Thandi, “Migrating,” p. 186.

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increasing steeply. The percentage of “mixed” people is thus highest in the age group under five years old.130 The young people in our 2006–09 study accept having parents from different religious backgrounds and (in the case of the Christian-Sikh families) from visibly different ethnic communities as the way things are, rather than as being unusual or problematic. The data includes evidence of a strong sense of a double inclusion in one family (where both parents were from the same Punjabi caste and the mother was an observant Mormon), and a sense of double marginalization in another family (in which the child expressed regret both at having turned down the chance to attend Punjabi classes and at the fact that she had not been christened). Implications of UK Sikh Diversity for Religious Education, Religious Studies, and South Asian Studies My observations among UK communities suggest that the most pertinent categories may not so much be “believing” and “belonging,”131 as “identity” and “participation.” Members of Sikh families tend to identify strongly both as Punjabi and as Sikh, regardless of their “beliefs” or degree of contact with a gurdwara or of their involvement in aspects of Punjabi culture. Each individual’s and family’s attitudes and behavior map onto the sikhi/panjabiat/modernity triangle. Their attitudes and outlook draw on a cultural base wider than the unambiguously Sikh tradition. In relation to religious education in UK schools, discrepancies between the lived reality of Sikhs and textbook representations emerge strongly. I have, for example, previously drawn attention to usage and understandings of the English word “God,” and attitudes and experience with regard to both caste and gender.132 Amrit illustrates another discrepancy between Sikhs’ understandings and experience and the Sikh “beliefs and practices” of the curriculum books. When these young Sikhs and their families referred to amrit, what they most often had in mind was empowering, transforming water that had, most usually, been stored close to the Guru Granth Sahib during an akhand path (continuous reading) and then brought home.133 In the textbooks, however, amrit referred only to the sweetened water that is central to the rite of initiation into the Khalsa. Study of the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities, and of devotional groupings such as the Radhasoami Satsang, challenges the neat demarcations of “world faiths” (into Sikh and Hindu, and indeed Buddhist and Christian) which is fundamental to religious education in primary and secondary schools and (quite often) in Lucinda Platt, Ethnicity and Family: Relationships among Ethnic Groups (London,

130

2009).

Davie, Religion, 1994. Nesbitt, Religious Lives, and Nesbitt, Intercultural Education. 133 Nesbitt, Religious Lives, pp. 182–214, and Nesbitt, Intercultural Education, pp. 131

132

66–81.

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religious studies at university. Frameworks must be challenged which assume that “religions” are discrete, and which perpetuate uncontested the view that caste is a structural principle of Hindu society that “Sikhism” has rejected. In unsettling the “world religions” paradigm, ethnographic study of the UK’s Sikh communities contributes to literature which unsettles accepted boundaries134 and which contests essentialized representations of religions.135 Consistently with historical re-examination of nineteenth- and twentieth-century South Asia,136 the recognition and analysis of British Sikh diversity supports contemporary rethinking of the emergence of “religions” and “world faiths.” As intra-faith diversity increases, amid competing trends towards secularization and resurgent religiosity, religious studies stands to benefit from attention to developing a religious literacy which examines sociological and psychological processes of identification and devotional behavior and political allegiance, rather than presenting clear-cut norms. The case of Sikh diversity in the UK could also inform approaches in the primary and secondary school curricula to help young people recognize the dynamics at work in, and also between, what have often been presented as freestanding, relatively monolithic “world religions.” Meanwhile, analysis of the developments of over a century among the UK’s Sikhs may usefully enhance scholarly understanding of the smaller, more recently settled Sikh communities in other European countries. In turn, studies of these communities are beginning to inform and challenge analyses of the UK Sikh experience. Bibliography Annobil, Rena D. and Reena Bhatoa, The Fifth Cup, unpublished play (2007). See http://www.casteawayarts.com/whatson/thefifthcup, accessed May 21, 2008. Arweck, Elisabeth and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Plurality at Close Quarters: Mixed Faith Families in the UK,” Journal of Religion in Europe, 3 (2010): 1–28. Arweck, Elisabeth and Eleanor Nesbitt, (2010) “Young People’s Identity Formation in Mixed-Faith Families: Continuity or Discontinuity of Religious Tradition?” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25/1 (2010) January: 67–87. Aurora, Gurdip Singh, The New Frontiersmen: A Sociological Study of Indian Immigrants in the UK (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1967). Ballard, Roger, “Differentiation and Disjunction among the Sikhs,” in Roger Ballard (ed.), Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Experience in Britain (London: Hurst, 1994), pp. 88–116.

134 Geaves, “The Borders”; Jacqueline Suthren Hirst, Mary Searle-Chatterjee, and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Report on Teaching South Asian Religious Traditions,” 135 Jackson, Religious Education. 136 Oberoi, Construction; W. Hew McLeod, Who is a Sikh? The Problem of Sikh Identity, (Oxford, 1989).

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Ballard, Roger, “Differentiation and Disjunction among the Sikhs in Britain,” in N. Gerald Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab (Columbia, MA: South Asia Books, 1989), pp. 200–234. Ballard, Roger, “The Growth and Changing Character of the Sikh Presence in Britain,” in Harold Coward, Raymond Brady Williams and John R. Hinnells (eds), The South Asian Religious Diaspora in Britain, Canada, and the United States (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), pp. 193–224. Ballard, Roger, “Panth Kismet Dharm te Qaum: Continuity and Change in Four Dimensions of Punjabi Religion,” in Pritam Singh and Shinder Singh Thandi (eds), Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 7–38. Ballard, Roger and Ballard, Catherine, “The Sikhs,” in James L. Watson (ed.), Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 1977), pp. 21–56. Bance, Peter, The Duleep Singhs: The Photograph Album of Queen Victoria’s Maharajah (Thrupp, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing, 2004). Barrow, Joy, “The Development of Guru Nanak’s Teachings of Nam, Dan and Seva within the Southall Sikh Communities,” unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2000. Barrow, Joy, “Religious Authority and Influence in the Diaspora: Sant Jaswant Singh and Sikhs in West London,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999), pp. 335–48. Beetham, David, Transport and Turbans: A Comparative Study in Local Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press for Institute of Race Relations, 1970). Bhachu, Parminder, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain (London: Tavistock, 1985). Bradby, Hannah, Skinfull (London: Onlywomen Press, 2005). Burghart, Richard, Hinduism in Great Britain: The Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Milieu (London: Tavistock, 1987). Campbell, Christie, The Maharajah’s Box: An Imperial Story of Conspiracy, Love and a Guru’s Prophecy (London: Harper Collins, 2000). Channel 4, Immigration: The Inconvenient Truth, April 14, 2008. Chohan, Sandip Singh, “The Phenomenon of Possession and Exorcism in North India and amongst the Punjabi Diaspora in Wolverhampton,” unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Wolverhampton, 2008, available at http://wlv. openrepository.com/wlv/bitstream/2436/48796/1/Chohan_MPhil%20thesis. pdf, accessed October 21, 2009. Cox, Louisa and Catherine Robinson, “The Living Words of the Living Master: Sants, Sikhs, Sachkhand Nanak Dham and the Academy,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 21/3 (2006): 373–87. Davie, Grace, Religion in Britain since 1945 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).

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Dhesi, M. Singh, “An Ethnographic Study of the Concept and Development of the Gurdwara in the UK,” unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Birmingham, 2009. Fitzgerald, Kitty, Speaking for Ourselves: Sikh Oral History (Manchester: Manchester Sikh History Project, 1986). Geaves, Ron, “The Authentication of a Punjabi Regional Folk Cult in the English West Midlands,” Scottish Journal of Religious Studies, 20/1 (1999): 37–50. Geaves, Ron, “The Borders between Religions: A Challenge to the World Religions Approach to Religious Education,” British Journal of Religious Education, 21/1 (1998): 20–31. Geaves, Ron, Saivism in the Diaspora: Contemporary Forms of Skanda Worship (London and Oakville, CT: Equinox, 2007). Ghuman, Paul A.S, “Bhattra Sikhs in Cardiff: Family and Kinship Organization,” New Community 8/3 (1980): 308–16. Gill, Talvinder Singh, “The Indian Workers Association Coventry 1938–1990: Political and Social Action,” paper presented at Punjab Research Group, Coventry University, June 27, 2010. Hall, Kathleen D, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youths as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). Helweg, Arthur, Sikhs in England (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1986). Helweg, Arthur W., Sikhs in England: The Development of a Migrant Community (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979). Hervieu-Léger, Danièle, Religion as a Chain of Memory (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). Hervieu-Léger, Danièle, “The Transmission and Formation of Socio-religious Identities in Modernity: An Analytical Essay on the Trajectories of Identification,” International Sociology, 13 (1998): 213–28, available at http:// iss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/13/2/213, accessed April 10, 2008. Hirst, Jacqueline Suthren, Mary Searle-Chatterjee, and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Report on Teaching South Asian Religious Traditions,” The PRS-LTSN Journal 1/1 Summer (2001): 77–9. Jackson, Robert, Religious Education: An Interpretive Approach (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997). Jackson, Robert, Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: Issues in Diversity and Pedagogy (London: Routledge Falmer, 2004). James, Alan G., Sikh Children in Britain (London: Oxford University Press for Institute of Race Relations, 1974). John, De Witt, Indian Workers Associations in Britain (London: Oxford University Press for Institute of Race Relations, 1969). Josephides, Sasha, “Towards a History of the Indian Workers’ Association,” Research Papers in Ethnic Relations, no. 18 (Coventry: University of Warwick, 1992). Juergensmeyer, Mark, Religion as Social Vision (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).

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Kalsi, Sewa Singh, The Evolution of a Sikh Community in Britain (Leeds: Community Religions Project, University of Leeds, 1992). Lahiri, Shompa, “From Empire to Decolonisation, 1901–1947,” in Michael H. Fisher, Shompa Lahiri and Shinder Thandi, A South-Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent (Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2007), pp. 127–58. McLeod, W. Hew, Who is a Sikh? The Problem of Sikh Identity (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989). Madra, Amandeep Singh and Singh, Parmjit (eds), Eyewitness Accounts of the Golden Temple of Amritsar (London, 2010). Madra, Amandeep Singh and Singh, Parmjit (eds), ‘Sicques, Tigers or Thieves’: Eyewitness Accounts of the Sikhs 1606–1809 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Madra, Amandeep Singh and Singh, Parmjit, Warrior Saints: Three Centuries of the Sikh Military Tradition (London: I.B. Tauris in association with The Sikh Foundation, 1999). Moorhead, Catherine, “Inderjeed [sic] Singh: Lost in Kabul,” Open democracy website (2003) available at http://www.opendemocracy.net/people/ article_1373.jsp, accessed May 21, 2008. Nagra, Daljit, “Jhoota Kunda Ballads: The Ghosts of Cranford Park,” Review, The Guardian (The Saturday Poem), April 26, p. 22. Nayar, Kamala, “Sikh Women in Vancouver: An Analysis of their Psychosocial Issues,” in Doris Jakobsh (ed.), Sikhism and Women (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp. 252–75. Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Aspects of Sikh Tradition in Nottingham,” unpublished MPhil thesis, University of Nottingham, 1980. Nesbitt, Eleanor, Intercultural Education: Ethnographic and Religious Approaches (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2004). Nesbitt, Eleanor, Interfaith Pilgrims: Living Truths and Truthful Living (London: Quaker Books, 2003). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Interrogating the Experience of Quaker Scholars in Hindu and Sikh Studies: Spiritual Journeying and Academic Engagement,” Quaker Studies, 14/2 (2010): 134–58. Nesbitt, Eleanor, “‘My Dad’s Hindu, My Mum’s Side are Sikhs’: Issues in Religious Identity” (1993), available at http://www.art.man.ac.uk/CASAS/ pdfpapers/identity.pdf. Nesbitt, Eleanor, “The Nanaksar Movement,” Religion, 15 (1985): 67–79. Nesbitt, Eleanor, “A Note on Bhatra Sikhs,” New Community 9/1 (1981): 70–72. Nesbitt, Eleanor, The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Leeds: Community Religions Project, University of Leeds, 2000). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Research Report: Studying the Religious Socialization of Sikh and “Mixed-Faith” Youth in Britain: Contexts and Issues,” Journal of Religion in Europe, 2/1 (2009): 37–57.

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Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Sikhism,” in Peggy Morgan and Clive Lawton (eds), Ethical Issues in Six Religious Traditions, 2nd edn (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), pp. 18–67. Nesbitt, Eleanor, Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Valmikis in Coventry: The Revival and Reconstruction of a Community,” in Roger Ballard (ed.), Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain (London: Hurst, 1994), pp. 117–41. Nihang, Nidar Singh and Parmjit Singh, In the Master’s Presence: The Sikhs of Hazoor Sahib Volume I History (London: Kashi House, 2008). Oberoi, Harjot, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1994). Østberg, Sissel, Pakistani Children in Norway: Islamic Nurture in a Secular Context (Leeds: Community Religions Project, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, 2003). Pettigrew, Joyce, Robber Noblemen: A Study of the Political System of the Sikh Jats (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975). Platt, Lucinda, Ethnicity and Family: Relationships among Ethnic Groups (London: Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2009). Radio 4, “Sikh Terror: The UK Connection,” BBC, February 26, 2008. Rait, Satwant Kaur, Sikh Women in England: Religious, Social and Cultural Beliefs (Stoke on Trent: Trentham, 2005). Ram, Ronki, “Ravidass Deras and Social Protest: Making Sense of Dalit Consciousness in Punjab,” Asian Studies 67 (2008): 1341–64. Ricucci, Roberta, “Religion and the Adolescent Immigrants: A Way of Identifying with or Turning from their Communities?”, paper presented to the biannual conference of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, Leipzig, July, 2007. Sanghera, Jasvinder, Shame (London: Hodder, 2006). Sanghera, Sathnam, If You Don’t Know Me by Now: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton (London: Viking, 2008). Schmidt-Leukel, Perry, Transformation by Integration: How Inter-Faith Encounter Changes Christianity (London: SCM Press, 2009). Shani, Giorgo, Sikh Nationalism and Identity in a Global Age (London: Routledge, 2008) Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London: Zed, 2006). Singh, Jasjit, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25/2 (2010): 203–20. Singh, Ramindar, Immigrants to Citizens: The Sikh Community in Bradford (Bradford: The Race Relations Research Unit, 1992). Skeie, Geir, “Plurality and Pluralism: A Challenge for Religious Education,” British Journal of Religious Education, 17/2 (1995): 84–91.

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Smart, Ninian, The World’s Religions: Old Traditions and Modern Transformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, The Meaning and End of Religion (London: SPCK, 1978). Suthren Hirst, Jacqueline, Mary Searle-Chatterjee, and Eleanor Nesbitt, “Report on Teaching South Asian Religious Traditions,” Centre for Applied South Asian Studies, The PRS-LTSN Journal, 1/1 (2001) Summer: 77–9. Takhar, Opinderjit, Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups among Sikhs (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005). Tatla, Darshan Singh, “Nurturing the Faithful: The Role of the Sant among Britain’s Sikhs,” Religion, 22/4 (1992): 349–74. Tatla, Darshan Singh, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (London: UCL Press, 1999). Tatla, Darshan Singh and Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhs in Britain: An Annotated Bibliography, Bibliographies in Ethnic Relations, no. 13 (Coventry: Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, University of Warwick, 1994). Thandi, Shinder, “Migrating to the ‘Mother Country’, 1947–1980” and “The 1980s and After: From Adversity to Celebration,” in Michael H. Fisher, Shompa Lahiri, and Shinder Thandi, A South-Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent (Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2007), pp. 159–82 and 183–214. Thandi, Shinder, “The Punjabi Diaspora in the UK and the Punjab Crisis,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996), pp. 227–52. Vertovec, Steven, The Hindu Diaspora: Comparative Patterns (London and New York: Routledge, 2000). Vertovec, Steven, “Super-diversity and its Implications,” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 30/6 (2007): 1024–54. Weller, Paul, Religious Diversity in the UK: Contours and Issues (London: Continuum, 2008). Weller, Paul, Religion in the UK Directory 2007–10 (Derby: University of Derby in association with the Multi-Faith Centre, Derby, 2007).

Chapter 11

Sikh-ing Beliefs: British Sikh Camps in the UK Jasjit Singh

Growing up as a young Sikh in the UK, I often heard statements from gurdwara platforms lamenting the fact that young Sikhs were not interested in Sikhism. Speakers would often complain that young people were not attending gurdwaras, were not interested in learning Punjabi, and were failing to retain the Sikh identity, with parents—particularly mothers—being blamed for not educating their children about their faith. On reflection, my own upbringing as a British Sikh has been a key influence in leading me to undertake research into the British Sikh community. Whilst carrying out a research project examining the relationship between 18–30-year-old British Sikhs and their external identity, in particular hair and turbans,1 I soon realized how difficult it is to study young people as they tend to be a very busy and mobile population.2 Being aware that a number of camps catering for young Sikhs are held every summer across the UK, I subsequently attended one of these camps during the summer of 2007, which allowed me to gain access to a number of young Sikhs who were within my target age range. The camp, which was held outside a traditional gurdwara, was advertised as an event for Sikhs between the ages of 18 and 30, and had attracted over a hundred attendees. Most surprising was the apparent lack of involvement from the older generation. The organizers of the camp were young British-born Sikhs, while those in charge of the proceedings and those leading most of the lectures and discussions were also young British-born Sikhs. This challenged the message which I had heard from gurdwara platforms. Many of the camp attendees highlighted the opportunity the camp gave them to learn about Sikhism within their peer sangat: … you learn stories, through your sangat, through your friends … you know, which is very important. That’s like one of the best ways of learning, you know,

Jasjit Singh, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair, and the Turban,” Journal of Contemporary Religion, 25/2 (2010): 203–20. 2 Melinda Denton and Christian Smith, Methodological Issues and Challenges in the Study of American Youth and Religion (Chapel Hill, NC, 2001), available at http://www. youthandreligion.org/sites/default/files/imported/publications/docs/methods.pdf, accessed July 29, 2010. 1

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It also became clear that young British Sikhs were not always interacting with Sikhism in the same way as their parents, particularly in relation to whom or what constitutes religious authority: I’m more ready to question things whereas my mum tries to absorb everything and even stuff that contradicts one another. Then she gets confused because she’s not analyzing it, dissecting it, or questioning it and sorting all the information out … because she thinks it’s wrong to question religion. Then it’s just a mess. Whereas now I think for my generation there is a tendency to question everything.4

Attending this camp raised a number of questions: who was making all the effort to organize these camps for young Sikhs, and what was being transmitted at these camps? Why do young Sikhs attend these events and how do the camps contribute to how young British Sikhs learn about Sikhism? Also, given the fact that speakers in gurdwaras were complaining about young Sikhs not attending, why were these camps being organized outside the traditional religious institutions? Transmission, Socialization, and Nurture Although there have been many studies on religious nurture and transmission, the majority have focused on Christian families and have been primarily quantitative and psychological in nature.5 Of these psychological studies, some research has been conducted on religious development in children while very little has been conducted on religious development in early adulthood and during the transition from adolescence to adulthood.6 Studies of religious transmission among young Sikhs to date have focused primarily on the relationship between children and parents. The framework which Beatrice Drury uses to study the maintenance of tradition among Sikh teenage girls distinguishes between those who conform to tradition (willingly or unwillingly) 3 Quotations taken from Jasjit Singh, “Head First: Young British Sikhs, Hair and the Turban,” unpublished MA dissertation, 2008. 4 Singh, “Head First.” 5 Kenneth Hyde, Religion in Childhood and Adolescence: A Comprehensive Review of the Research (Birmingham, 1990). 6 Michael Levenson, Carolyn Aldwin, and Michelle D’Mello, “Religious Development from Adolescence to Middle Adulthood,” in Raymond F. Paloutzian and Crystal L. Park (eds), Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (New York, 2005), p. 144.

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and those who abandon tradition (with or without the permission of their parents).7 For Drury, conformity relates to maintaining the external Sikh identity, with non-conformity being defined as a lack of commitment to preserving the Sikh identity. Similarly, Kathleen Hall links religious adherence to the importance of maintaining family honor, arguing that young Sikhs “encounter two contrasting ideologies— the ideology of family honor and the ideology of British nationalism or British cultural purity.”8 The issue with both of these accounts is that they seem to argue that young Sikhs maintain a religious identity primarily due to family pressures. This view overlooks the possibility that young Sikhs may themselves wish to maintain a religious identity and learn about Sikhism. Previous studies of Sikh children, such as Alan James’s, have also highlighted the importance of the family and the gurdwara as key arenas for the transmission of Sikhism.9 Eleanor Nesbitt also notes the role played by parents and other family elders and religious iconography and practices in the home in the religious socialization of young Sikhs.10 She also highlights the role played by annual festivals and the celebration of gurpurbs and other ceremonies as also contributing to informal nurture. Emerging Adults Although the influence of the family is important, this chapter seeks to examine why young British Sikhs attend events to learn about Sikhism once they become adults. This period of life, labeled “emerging adulthood” by Jeffrey Arnett, falls between the ages of 18 and 30,11 and, according to Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, has recently materialized in industrialized societies due to four key social factors. The first of these is the increase of up to 50 percent of young adults undertaking higher education in western societies.12 In the case of Britain, this means that fewer young people are leaving school at 18 and that many are now extending their schooling to at least age 21 and beyond. This relates to the second crucial change, which is Beatrice Drury, “Sikh Girls and the Maintenance of an Ethnic Culture,” New Community, 17/3 (1991): 387–9. 8 Kathleen Hall, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia, PA, 2002). 9 Alan James, Sikh Children in Britain (Oxford, 1974). 10 Eleanor Nesbitt, The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Leeds, 2000), pp. 48–63. 11 Jeffrey Arnett, “Emerging Adulthood: A Theory of Development from the Late Teens through the Twenties,” American Psychologist, 55/5 (2000): 473. 12 Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (Oxford, 2009), p. 5. See also BBC, “Student growth risks widening gap” (2008), available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7604631.stm, accessed August 9, 2009. 7

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the delay of marriage among emerging adults.13 Compared to previous generations of South Asians, particularly women, many of whom would live at home until marriage,14 many people now face almost a decade between the end of university and marriage. This period allows many of them the luxury of being able to examine and develop their views on life, the universe, and everything. 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 and education, leading many young people to feel “a general psychological orientation of maximizing options and postponing commitments.”15 The type of workplace which emerging adults inhabit is consequently very different and more fluid than the workplace of their parents, contributing to a general feeling of uncertainty in life itself. Smith and Snell observe that emerging adults appear to enjoy the support of their parents for much longer than previous generations, with many living with their parents until marriage.16 Although this may not be a change in behavior for many young Sikhs who would live with their parents until marriage anyway, it appears that young adults as a whole are generally living with their parents well into their twenties, allowing them more time to settle down into full adulthood, and offering them increased resources within which they are able to examine their beliefs and identities.17 It can be argued that the Sikh summer camps have sprung up in response to the fact that there are now increasing numbers of British Sikh emerging adults with the time and opportunity to study questions relating to meaning and to their relationship with their religious tradition. The data provided by Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla appears to support this claim. They present a useful demographic breakdown of the British Sikh community using the 2001 census figures.18 Of the 336,179 British Sikhs, they calculate that 56.1 percent are British born, with 59.4 percent of the total population below the age of 34, thus highlighting that the population is currently somewhat skewed towards youth.19 So, having understood who these events may cater for, we will now examine the specific development of these types of events for British Sikh emerging adults. 13 See Avil Ormsby, “UK Couples Waiting Longer for Marriage,” Reuters, April 15, 2009, available at http://uk.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUKTRE53E2RB20090415, accessed August 7, 2009. 14 Kamal Nayar, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism (Toronto, 2004), p. 93. 15 Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition, p. 5. 16 Ibid., p. 5. 17 See Harry Wallop, “Adults Rely on Parents for Financial Support,” The Telegraph (July 30, 2009), available at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/2794047/ Adults-rely-on-parents-for-financial-support.html, accessed August 4, 2009. 18 Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (London, 2006), p. 57. 19 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, p. 59.

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The Development of Sikh Camps in the UK The first Sikh youth camp to be held in the UK was organized by the Sikh Missionary Society in April 1978 at the Sikh Temple, Kent Road, Grays in Essex.20 The Sikh Missionary Society was established in Gravesend in 1965 with the main aim of ensuring that Sikh children were taught about the Sikh identity.21 The society was set up as a result of the founders’ concerns about religious and cultural transmission; they feared that unless something was done, Sikh children would forget Punjabi and lose their Sikh identity. Consequently, they were concerned with ensuring the maintenance of the five Ks and of installing the Sikh ideology in children. This first camp, which lasted one week, catered for 11–18 year olds and attracted campers from as far as Leicester, Manchester, Liverpool, Southampton, Coventry, High Wycombe, and London. Since this first camp in 1978, subsequent Sikh Missionary Society camps catering for this age group have taken place in gurdwaras all over the country, including London, Bristol, Southampton, Walsall, Bradford, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton.22 Eleanor Nesbitt notes that these Sikh children’s camps offer their attendees exercises, prayers, seminars, games, discussions, and kirtan teaching, and also the opportunity to participate in religious practices which they may not usually have the chance to carry out, such as making and serving the langar, waving the whisk (chaur) respectfully over the Guru Granth Sahib and distributing the karhah prasad.23 This model of camp has been replicated at a local level by many gurdwaras, and it is now common for Sikh camps catering for children and teenagers to run during school holidays in most large cities in the UK.24 These camps are usually well attended, with around 200 children attending a recent camp held in my local gurdwara in Leeds. A brief analysis of some of the advertisements for these camps demonstrates that they all more or less incorporate the same structure, including talks, discussions, kirtan, and activities including self-defense, yoga, meditation, and sports.25 Another common factor appears to be the provision of “westernized” langar to 20 Balwant Singh Grewal, “Growth of the Sikh Missionary Society, U.K. and Development of Its work,” Sikh Bulletin, 4 (1987): 9. 21 Arthur Helweg, Sikhs in England: The Development of a Migrant Community (Oxford, 1979), pp. 76–7. 22 Grewal, “Growth of the Sikh Missionary Society, U.K. and Development of Its work,” p. 9. 23 Eleanor Nesbitt, “Sikh Youth Camps,” Sikh Bulletin, 7 (1990): 1. 24 For example, see the number of photographs from various camps at Sikhroots, available at http://www.sikhroots.com/index.php?option=com_rsgallery2&gid=2&Itemid=64, accessed August 9, 2009. 25 For example, see the posters at Sikh Community & Youth Services, available at http://www.scys-notts.co.uk/news-and-events/scys-gurmat-camp-2009-who-am-i,

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further attract the children, which usually means pasta, fries, and beans. Singh and Tatla note that many of these camps are increasingly developing a transnational character, although they also claim that “the strong ideological content of most of these camps … has proved unattractive to most Sikh youth and remote from their everyday concerns in the Western diaspora.”26 Given the large numbers of children attending these camps, further research is required to ascertain which young Sikhs are motivated to attend these camps and why. Camps for British Sikh Emerging Adults Whereas the children’s camps, which take place in gurdwaras, are usually nonresidential and run from between one and seven days, this chapter will now focus on the residential camps which cater for young Sikh adults over the age of 18. These camps usually run for up to a week and are held outside gurdwaras, often in activity centers. The very fact that camps are now being organized for young Sikhs between the ages of 18 and 30 is in common with the wide variety of events being organized for emerging adults across a number of religious traditions, for example, the development of evangelical Christian 18–30 holidays,27 religious music festivals (for example, Greenbelt),28 religious instruction classes for Hindu emerging adults,29 and the Alpha course. Although some research has been carried out on the Alpha course,30 to date there has been little research on these types of events for emerging adults belonging to minority ethnic groups. Given the huge effort which it must take to organize an event for between 100 and 200 young adults, arranging food, advertising, lecturers, and accommodation, it is not surprising that none of the camps for British Sikh emerging adults has run continuously over the years. Over the past few years, four camps have taken place at various times: Khalsa Camp, Sikhi Camp, Sikh Student Camp, and The S.I.K.H. Camp. These camps will be analyzed on the basis of their history, the type of attendees they attract, the structure of the camp, any ideological content, and the location where the particular camp occurs. accessed August 10, 2009; and Sikh Naujawan Academy UK, available at http://www. sukhdev.woden.com/events.htm, accessed August 8, 2009. 26 Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, pp. 89–90. 27 See Jonathan Owen and Ian Griggs, “A New Club 18–30: Sand, Sea and Scripture,” The Independent (October 23, 2008), available at http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/newsand-advice/a-new-club-1830-sea-sand-and-scripture-973823.html, accessed June 6, 2009. 28 See Greenbelt, available at http://www.greenbelt.org.uk, accessed July 6, 2009. 29 See National Hindu Students Forum, available at http://www.nhsf.org.uk/index. php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=25&id=126&Itemid=185, accessed July 6, 2009. 30 Stephen Hunt, The Alpha Enterprise: Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era (Aldershot, 2004).

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Some useful data on camp attendees has been gathered from an online survey designed to collect data for a wider research project on the transmission practices of young British Sikhs (see Tables 11.1 and 11.2).31 This survey was advertised to British Sikhs between the ages of 18 and 30 on Internet forums and also on Facebook, and as of August 2010 had over 600 responses. 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 any possible trends. In terms of the data on camps, the breakdown of those attending and not attending Sikh camps was as follows: Table 11.1

Have you ever attended a Sikh camp?

Yes

42.9%

261

No

57.1%

348

Table 11.2

Of those who have attended camps which of the following camps have you attended? Percentage of Total Respondents

Percentage of Total Camp Attendees

Total Number of Respondents

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp:

11.0%

22.0%

67

Khalsa Camp:

9.5%

19.0%

58

Sikh Student Camp:

9.2%

18.3%

56

The S.I.K.H. Camp:

2.3%

4.6%

14

I have not attended any of these camps:

17.3%

36.0%

110

Camp Name

The most common camps attended by those who had not attended any of the young adult camps were the Sikh Missionary Society camps and camps held at local gurdwaras. The survey data on camps will now be examined to try and portray the types of attendees of these camps, although it must be recognized that the survey respondents can only represent a sample of the kinds of people attending these events.

31 For further details of the research project, see University of Leeds, “Keeping the Faith: The Transmission of Sikhism among Young British Sikhs,” available at http://www. leeds.ac.uk/sikhs and, for the survey, http://www.survey.leeds.ac.uk/sikhs.

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Khalsa Camp The first camp to cater for British Sikh emerging adults was Khalsa Camp, first held at Bangor University in 1991.32 This camp ran annually until 1997,33 after which point it stopped and restarted under new management in 2002 and has been running nationally in various locations ever since.34 Khalsa Camp promotes itself as “a journey of discovery … truly inspirational … a life-changing experience.”35 Table 11.3 gives the structure of a day at Khalsa Camp. Table 11.3

The daily routine of Khalsa Camp

When

What

4–5 am

Simran

5–6 am

Nitnem

6–8 am

Rest Period

8–8.40 am

Breakfast

9–10 am

Lecture

10–10:45 am

Q&A

10:45–12 pm

Workshops

12–1 pm

Lunch

1–2:15 pm

Lecture / Workshop

2:15–5 pm

Activities and Freshen Up

5–5:30 pm

Snack Break

5:30pm–7:45 pm

Evening Divan: 5:30–6 pm – Simran 6–6:30 pm – Rehras 6:30–7:30 pm – Kirtan 7:30–7:45 pm - Samapati

7:45 pm–8:45 pm

Langar

8:45–10 pm

Evening Discussion

From an interview with one of the main organizers of the first Khalsa Camp. A reference to Khalsa Camp 1997 can be found at Fortunecity, “Sikh Noujawan

32 33

Sahiba: Khalsa Camp 1997,” available at http://members.fortunecity.com/msaa1/sns.htm, accessed February 4, 2009. 34 As per the Archive list on the Khalsa Camp website which goes back to 2002, see Khalsa Camp, available at http://www.khalsacamp.com/uk/archive/default. asp?page=kc2002photos, accessed February 2, 2009. 35 See the Khalsa Camp trailer at YouTube, “Khalsa Camp 2009,” available at http:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxYgeoDfBAY, accessed February 9, 2009.

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As can be seen from the timetable above, there is a clear emphasis on practice alongside formal learning with lectures taking up only a small proportion of the day (two hours) with the rest of the day divided between discussions, activities, and religious practice. Collective worship during “Amrit Vela,” the early morning, is clearly emphasized, as is the importance of carrying out “Nam simran”— meditation on the divine Name, which in this case is the word “Vahiguru.” All camp attendees are required to attend the morning worship beginning at 4 a.m., and from some of the comments of those attending, it is clear that the experience of undertaking an “Amrit Vela” with other members of the sangat is one which many campers look forward to: “When the sangat comes together … I can’t put it into words … it’s just a really nice feeling. The Nitnem in the morning has just been amazing—it’s just such a fantastic atmosphere.”36 From discussions with the organizers of Khalsa Camp, it is apparent that many are inspired by the Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), although this is not specifically stated in any of the promotional literature.37 The idea that Khalsa Camp is primarily targeted towards members of the AKJ is supported by some of the replies to the online survey. In response to the question: “Did you choose to take amrit from a particular group, samprayada or jatha, and if so which one and why?” many of those who had attended Khalsa Camp stated that they had chosen to be initiated by members of the AKJ.38 Additionally, in response to the question: “Are there any books about Sikhism which you have found especially inspirational/informative?”, more than half specifically mentioned books by Bhai Randhir Singh and/or by Bhai Rama Singh, both key inspirational figures in the AKJ. In terms of attendees (as the data in the Appendix demonstrates), the percentage of turban-wearing males and females is much higher at Khalsa Camp than in the general population of survey respondents, which appears to be a consequence of the fact that the AKJ regards the keski (small turban) as one of the five Ks in place of the kesh (hair).39 In addition, as many attendees of Khalsa Camp appear to selfidentify as “very religious,” it is not surprising that they also appear to pray more frequently than the norm. Food practices are also important to those attending Khalsa Camp. Most of the survey respondents who had been to Khalsa Camp YouTube, “Khalsa Camp 2010 promo,” available at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=MtifvZ1wR2I, accessed May 29, 2010. 37 As Gurumustuk Singh of sikhnet.com describes, “I was able to participate in Khalsa Camp which is run by many of my Gursikh brothers and sisters from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha ... I really got to understand and experience Sikhi as practiced by other AKJ Sikhs.” See SikhNet, “Building Bridges between Sikh Communities,” available at http://www. sikhnet.com/voices/building-bridges-between-sikh-communities, accessed May 9, 2010. 38 Responses to this question from Khalsa Camp attendees included, for instance: “Akhand Keertani Jatha, 100 percent right rehat maryada,” “AKJ UK, because I agree with the rehat they promote,” and “Akhand Kirtani Jatha due to the Rehat Maryada & views on Naam/Spirituality.” 39 Eleanor Nesbitt, Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2005), p. 84. 36

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placed themselves squarely in the vegetarian category with a high percentage of Khalsa Camp attendees only eating food cooked at home. During langar at Khalsa Camp, some attendees can be seen to eat from iron (sarbloh) utensils, supporting the AKJ emphasis on sarbloh bibek.40 From this brief examination of Khalsa Camp, it appears that although this is an event which does not specifically advertise itself as being affiliated to the AKJ, it does allow many Sikhs inspired by the AKJ to congregate in one location for a week, explaining the higher numbers of families attending this camp as compared to the others. From informal discussions held with some of the campers at Khalsa Camp 2008, it is clear that the camp is part of a number of methods by which an AKJ “network” is maintained alongside rainsbhai kirtans, programs of devotional singing and meditation which start in the early evening and then continue without a break for the whole night. As Joy Barrow describes, these all-night kirtan programs are organized monthly in different towns all over the UK.41 A quick survey of recent locations of rainsbhais highlights the wide geographical spread of the AKJ in the UK, with these events being held in Leicester, Coventry, Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Croydon, Derby, Hitchin, Slough, and Walsall.42 The impact of these rainsbhais on other parts of the Sikh diaspora is clear from the fact that many of the attendees of Khalsa Camp 2008 had recently returned from rainsbhais held earlier on in the year in Italy and Denmark. In 2010, Khalsa Camp became a transnational event running both in the UK and in British Columbia (Canada).43 Sikhi Camp Sikhi Camp, also known as BOSS Camp, was the second camp for British Sikh emerging adults to appear in the UK, running from 1996 to 2001 and now annually 40 As explained on the eatbibek.com website, “The most basic Bibek rehat [code of conduct relating to food] a Sikh can keep is to abstain from Meat, Fish, Eggs, Alcohol, Tobacco, and non-medicinal drugs. After this level of Bibek, there are higher levels. For example, many Amritdharis abstain from eating out at restaurants. There are also other rehats, depending on how strict an individual wishes to be and how much of Guru Sahib’s maryada they are able to follow. These rehats include: Eating cooked food from Amritdharis’ hands exclusively; not eating any processed or machine-made foods; eating only in Sarabloh (Iron/Carbon Steel); only eating from those who follow the above.” See Eatbibek, “What is Bibek?,” available at http://www.eatbibek.com/Main_Page, accessed February 3, 2010. 41 Joy Barrow, “The Development of Guru Nanak’s Teachings of Nam, Dan and Seva within the Southall Sikh Communities,” unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2000, p. 205. 42 See Akhand Keertani Jatha, available at http://www.akj.org/skins/one/keertan. php#, accessed October 8, 2009. 43 See Khalsa Camp British Columbia, available at http://www.khalsacamp.ca/camp2010 , accessed August 9, 2010.

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since 2004.44 Sikhi Camp is run by the British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS), an organization whose aims and objectives are to “co-ordinate and network national Sikh society/local group activity.”45 A day at Sikhi Camp begins at either 4 a.m. or 6:30 a.m. depending on whether one wishes to join in with the early morning meditation (simran) (see Table 11.4). Table 11.4

The daily routine at Sikhi Camp 2010

When

What

2–4 am

Simran (Optional)

4–5 am

Prakash, Mool Mantar and Simran

5–6:30 am

Asa Di Vaar

6:30–7:30 am

Compulsory Nitnem, Panj Bania

7:30–8 am

Hukamnama Katha Ardas and Degh

8–9 am

Breakfast

9–10 am

Lecture

10–10.45 am

Q&A with speaker and panel

10:45–11:30 am

Discussion groups

11:30–12

Langar prep

12–13:30

Langar

13:30–16:30

Activities

16:30–17:00

Refreshments and Showers

17:00–20:00

Diwan – Rehras-Ardas-Arti-Kirtan-Hukamnama

20:00–20:45

Langar

20:45–21:30

Evening Session

From the online survey, the external identity profile of the attendees at Sikhi Camp appears to be similar to those at Khalsa Camp with a high percentage of turbanwearing males and females, and a large number of respondents self-identifying This has been derived from the fact that audio recordings are available from Sikhi Camp 1996 at Manvir Singh Blogspot, available at http://manvirsingh.blogspot. com/2008/09/english-q-session-audio-sant-mani-singh.html, accessed December 12, 2009. Also a forum post on Sikhnet advertising Sikh camp 1998 states that “Last summer B.O.S.S and other sikh bodies held their second ever sikhi camp on British soil!” See SikhNet, “Sikhi Camp 98,” available at http://fateh.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/discussion.nsf/SearchView/ BF641A92099D5112872565F60058C0EE!OpenDocument, accessed December 9, 2009. 45 For the application form for Sikhi Camp 2008, see the British Organisation of Sikh Studies, available at http://www.boss-uk.org/about and http://www.boss-uk.org/sikhicamp/ sikhi_camp_2008_application.pdf, accessed December 12, 2009. 44

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as “very religious.” Similarly, many of the Sikhi camp respondents state that they pray more than once per day and lead vegetarian lifestyles. Like Khalsa Camp, the survey indicated a high percentage of Amritdharis at Sikhi Camp, although more families appear to attend Khalsa Camp than Sikhi Camp. In 2010, Sikhi Camp had attracted 196 campers with 14 groups each containing 14 campers. These groups were divided by age, with the majority of the attendees being between the ages of 18 and 26. As well as organizing Sikhi Camp and assisting Sikh societies in universities all over the UK, BOSS also runs a store selling CDs, clothes, books, and DVDs both online and also at various events around the country. Many of these clothes and CDs focus on the events of 1984 and the well-known personality Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.46 Due to this and the fact that the rahit maryada of Damdami Taksal (DDT) is available on the BOSS stall, it can be hypothesized that many members of BOSS are inspired by this group,47 which Bhindranwale led during the events of 1984. This explains the higher than average number of female turban wearers at this camp, as the Damdami Taksal code of conduct, although disagreeing with the AKJ stance on the keski, asserts that “the Guru’s command is for both men and women to wear turbans.”48 Furthermore, from a brief examination of the lecture topics from Sikhi Camp over the past few years, available on its website,49 a talk on the events of 1984 has been given every year for the past four years, further highlighting the importance of this topic for the organizers of the camp. The brief examinations above and the data gathered in the online survey indicate that although there may be some ideological differences between the AKJ and DDT in terms of their codes of conduct (maryada), Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp appear to attract many young Sikhs who already regard themselves as “religious.” As per the online survey data, the attendees of Sikh Student Camp and The S.I.K.H. Camp appear to have a different profile to those attending Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp.

See the British Organisation of Sikh Studies Stall, available at http://boss-stall.com, accessed April 24, 2010. 47 The Damdami Taksal, an institution which teaches Sikhism, claims to have been founded by the tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh. See Damdami Taksal’s official website, available at http://www.damdamitaksal.com/. For an alternative history of the Damdami Taksal, see Pashaura Singh, “Observing the Khalsa Rahit in North America: Some Issues and Trends,” in Pashaura Singh and Norman Gerald Barrier (eds), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (Delhi, 1996), pp. 158–9. 48 See the Damdami Taksal code of conduct, which states that “Keski is not a kakkar (one of the five Ks).” See Thakur Singh Khalsa (ed.), “Gurmat Rehat Maryada—Sikh Code of Conduct,” available at http://www.ualberta.ca/~rvig/rehat.pdf, accessed December 11, 2007. 49 See Sikhi Camp, available at www.sikhicamp.com, accessed May 25, 2010. 46

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Sikh Student Camp The third camp to emerge in the UK targeting 18–30 year olds was Sikh Student Camp. According to the Sikh Student Camp website, the camp ran “successfully every summer since 2002. It is run by students and graduates for Sikhs of a similar age from all around the UK [and] … attracts young Sikhs from all over the world.”50 This camp ran from 2002 to 2008 at the Guru Gobind Singh Khalsa College, Chigwell, Essex. The data gathered from the online survey demonstrates a difference between those attending Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp compared to those attending Sikh Student Camp. Whereas the statistics are pretty similar in terms of males, there are fewer turbaned females attending Sikh Student Camp, although as with the other two camps, males with haircuts are underrepresented. There is also a distinction in levels of religious practice with frequency of praying and food-related practices rated as less important at Sikh Student Camp than Khalsa Camp and/or Sikhi Camp and an indication that Sikh Student Camp attracts less Amritdharis than the other two camps. In terms of its structure, like Sikhi Camp, waking up at 4 a.m. is not compulsory, although the full daily prayers (nitnem) and meditation (simran) are performed from this time (see Table 11.5). Examining the 2002 BOSS website, Sikh Student Camp appears to have a good relationship with BOSS, and is clearly advertised as one of the Sikh summer camps to attend.51 Since then, however, Sikh Student Camp has regularly been targeted for not promoting the “correct” brand of Sikhi.52 From informal conversations at Sikh Student Camp 2008, it appears that this perception is due to the fact that the main instigators of Sikh Student Camp were Nihangs and consequently Sikh Student Camp has been deemed to be promoting the normative Nihang code of conduct which does not discourage eating meat and for some offers a justification for the consumption of cannabis.53 50 Facebook, “Sikh Student Camp,” available at http://www.facebook.com/group. php?gid=2376229485, accessed May 18, 2010. 51 See British Organisation of Sikh Youth, “News and Events,” available at http://web. archive.org/web/20020806103144/http://www.boss-uk.org, accessed April 12, 2010. 52 For example, see Panthic.org where the editor writes, “Sources reveal that Sikh youth are being groomed into Sanaatanism through the Internet, university Sikh Societies, and Sikh Student Camp (Chigwell, UK). Youngsters are being brainwashed into thinking Sikhi is pluralistic and that there are many different versions, which include a strict version, a relaxed version, a saint version and a soldier version.” Panthic.org, “Worrying Rise in Propagation of ‘Sanatan Sikhi’,” available at http://panthic.org/articles/4518, accessed April 12, 2010. 53 See Nihang Singhs, “Jhatka,” available at http://www.nihangsingh.org/website/ trad-jhatka.html, accessed April 15, 2010; and Nihang Singh, “Rehat,” available at http:// www.nihangsingh.org/website/trad-introduction.html, accessed April 15, 2010.

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Table 11.5

The daily routine at Sikh Student Camp

When

What

6 am

Wake up

7 am

Japji Sahib

8 am

Yoga

8:30–9:30 am

Hukamnama Viakhea Ardas

8:45–9:30 am

Breakfast

9:30–11 am

Lecture

11–12:30

Discussion

12:30–13:30

Langar

13:00–13:30

Workshop/Class

14:00–16:30

Activities

16:30–17:00

Wash Up

17:00–18:30

Rehraas Sahib

18:30–19:30

Langar

19:30–21:00

Kirtan

21:00

Dorms

Since 2006, Sikh Student Camp has severed any links with Nihangs, although due to its past it is still regarded with suspicion by other groups. According to its organizers, Sikh Student Camp has always promoted the Akal Takht Maryada— the normative code of conduct published from the Akal Takht, the Sikhs’ seat of political authority. It also appears that the organizers of Sikh Student Camp have had links to the white Sikhs of Espanola since 2005, when the webmaster of Sikhnet attended the camp.54 Subsequently, key members of Sikhnet and of the wider white Sikh community have been invited to lecture at this camp.55 Possibly as a result of not having the backing of a particular group within the Sikh community, and also as a result of many of its organizers leaving the phase of emerging adulthood by getting married, Sikh Student Camp has not run since 2008.

http://www.mrsikhnet.com/2005/09/01/sikh-student-camp-chigwell-england/, accessed April 24, 2010. 55 http://www.mrsikhnet.com/2006/07/20/sikh-student-camp, accessed April 21, 2010. Sikhnet is a website based in the US and run primarily by white Sikhs, the majority of whom came to Sikhism having been inspired by Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh Yogi), the founder of the 3HO (Healthy, Happy, Holy) organization. 54

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267

The S.I.K.H. Camp Primarily as a result of Sikh Student Camp not running, another camp called the Spirituality, Identity, Knowledge, Humility (S.I.K.H.) Camp emerged in 2009 to take its place. From an informal interview with the organizers, this camp was developed to cater for non-Amritdhari Sikh youth. So far, this camp has run in both 2009 and 2010, following a very similar format to the other camps (see Table 11.6). Table 11.6

The daily routine at The S.I.K.H. Camp

When

What

4 am

Parkash

4:30 am

Simran

5 am

Nitnem (5 bania)

6 am

Asa Di Vaar

7 am

Japji Sahib (Compulsory)

7:30 am

Ardas and Hukamnama

8 am

Mini Katha

8:30–9:30 am

Breakfast

9:30–11 am

Lecture

11–12:30

Discussion

13:00–14:00

Langar

14:00–16:30

Activities

16:30–17:00

Wash Up

17:00–18:30

Rehraas Sahib

18:30–19:30

Langar

19:30–21:00

Kirtan

21:00

Dorms

The S.I.K.H. Camp appears to cater for a similar clientele as the Sikh Student Camp, although given the problems faced by the Sikh Student Camp the organizers are keen to emphasize that they follow a mixture of the DDT and Nihang maryadas.56 Like Sikh Student Camp, the emphasis is personal exploration, with the website proclaiming that “Last year … a group of the country’s most vibrant, inspirational and open-minded Sikhs (ranging from students to graduates and professionals) gathered to embark on a life-enhancing, spiritual journey.”57 In 2010, The S.I.K.H. Interview with organizers of The S.I.K.H Camp, July 2010. See S.I.K.H., “Welcome,” available at http://www.thesikhcamp.com, accessed

56 57

August 31, 2010.

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Camp had attracted around a hundred attendees with a large number from the West Midlands. Sikh Retreats An even more recent development is that of the Sikh Retreat. To date, two Sikh Retreats have run so far, once in November 2009 and once again in September 2010.58 These events are organized for smaller numbers than the camps with the first retreat catering for around twenty attendees, and the second for around fifty people. Although these retreats do urge their participants to wake up early in the morning and perform nitnem, they are less structured than the camps, incorporating free time and allowing for impromptu discussion sessions. From brief conversations with attendees, it appears that many of those participating in these events have previously attended Sikh Student Camp and/or The S.I.K.H. Camp, and are attracted to the fact that the retreats are focused on “teaching the basics of Sikhi in a friendly and non-judgmental environment.”59 Conclusion Examining the materialization of events which offer a religious learning experience for British Sikh emerging adults, it is clear that each one has a particular flavor, presenting young British Sikhs who want to attend a residential event and learn about their religion with a number of options. It is clear that each has shaped an identity of its own, beyond that of simply being a “Sikh Camp,” attracting young Sikhs with different religious affiliations, and presenting these young people with particular interpretations of what actually constitutes Sikh belief and practice. The emergence of these events highlights the decline of the authority of religious institutions as a consequence of the position of religion in late modernity. It is argued that modernity reduces the importance of tradition and authority through the process of “detraditionalization.”60 This process has evolved as a result of many possible factors: exposure to democracy gives individuals the right to choose who they are governed by, capitalism frees people from traditional roles in society, and also the fact that many individuals now possess enough wealth to be able to choose to do, think, and believe whatever they wish.61 As external authorities no longer For details about the latest retreat, see Sikh Retreat, “Welcome,” available at http:// www.sikhretreat.org.uk accessed September 1, 2010. 59 See Sikh Retreat, “The Vision,” available at http://www.sikhretreat.org.uk/the_ vision.html, accessed August 31, 2010. 60 Paul Heelas, Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity (Cambridge, 1996). 61 Linda Woodhead and Paul Heelas, Religion in Modern Times: An Interpretive Anthology (Oxford, 2000). 58

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have the status which they had previously, detraditionalization causes a “turn to the self,” through which ultimate authority comes to rest with the individual. However, if religious authority is becoming more individualized and privatized in orientation, why are those who attend religious events wishing to become part of a religious community? Stephen Hunt explains that despite being on an individual religious journey, individuals may “buy into” a religious collective where they most feel at home. The most successful collectives, according to Hunt, “are those which can establish a sense of belonging to a subculture composed of people of a similar social background and life experience, and who embrace corresponding religious aspirations and cultural ethos.”62 The specific camp identities can be viewed as particular subcultures, providing some of these young Sikhs with a specific identity within the wider Sikh community. These camps also provide young Sikhs with a social space for learning about religion and for shaping a religious identity which may allow them to challenge and negotiate the religious and cultural norms transmitted to them by their parents. Indeed, it could be argued that each camp promotes a particular subculture with a specific slant on Sikh beliefs, which then becomes the key identifier for this camp. Having examined the data from the online survey it appears that both Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp are, like the Alpha course, “perhaps best seen as an attractive channel for the revitalization of [religious] … identity, rather than an effective means of transmitting religious ideas to the uninitiated.”63 Both camps attract a higher percentage of Amritdharis than Sikh Student Camp, The S.I.K.H. Camp, and the Sikh Retreats. In this regard, attendees at Khalsa Camp and Sikhi Camp, unlike those attending Sikh Student Camp and/or The S.I.K.H. Camp, appear to follow Bekerman’s observation that most attendees at Jewish camps come from committed families who regularly participate in institutional activities.64 What this chapter has also highlighted is the importance of having an organization independent of the camp to ensure that a particular camp continues every year. For Khalsa Camp this is the AKJ, for Sikhi Camp this is BOSS, whereas it appears that Sikh Student Camp has suffered due to its reliance on a group of “unaffiliated” individuals to organize it every year. This demonstrates the considerable role played by these groups with regards to formal religious transmission activities for young Sikhs in the UK. However, it is important not to view these camps simply as examples of arenas in which people seek to “push” a particular ideology onto young Sikhs. Indeed, given the huge efforts in terms of time and monetary resources it must take to organize these events, the altruistic Hunt, The Alpha Enterprise, p. 35. Matthew Guest, “The Reproduction and Transmission of Religion,” in Peter Clarke

62 63

(ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford, 2008), p. 660. 64 Zyi Bekerman, “The World in a Word: Community – A Partial Solution to Some Problems in Ethnic Education,” in Yisrael Rich, Mordekhai Bar-Lev, and Michael Rosenak (eds), Abiding Challenges: Research Perspectives on Jewish Education (London, 1999), p. 104.

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component of these camps must also be recognized. It is the desire to do seva, selfless and voluntary service to the community, which drives many of the camp organizers to organize and participate in these events. As well as providing a social space for religious transmission, these camps offer their attendees the opportunity to be part of a sangat or congregation, which according to Samuel Heilman overwhelms all other aspects of the camp experience to such an extent that camps are not solely about the formal transmission of tradition but also engender social and cultural experiences.65 The camps allow British Sikh emerging adults to “live the life” presenting traditions “as perspectives and behaviours to be implemented in ‘real’ life and not just spoken about.”66 All these events also enable young Sikhs to meet positive role models, such as the lecturers and organizers who serve as accessible, young role models because they are close to the attendees in age and have adopted a religious identity and positive view on religion.67 Many of the emerging adults who staff these camps perceive their work as a voluntary contribution to their community which provides them with meaning and experiences they may not come across in the outside world.68 It is also clear that young people’s reasons for participating in camps may be influenced as much by membership of peer networks or family background as the wish to follow a particular ideological position. Given that camps only allow for up to 600 people annually and run for one week in the year, these types of learning events are just one component alongside other methods of religious transmission, such as the Internet and religious programs held at gurdwaras. Nevertheless, although camps are only one means of religious transmission for British Sikh emerging adults, they clearly serve an important function, offering young Sikhs the time to examine their religious tradition in a parent-free, peer-friendly space where answers to all kinds of questions can be discussed, especially those relating to what it means to be a young Sikh living in twenty-first-century Britain.

65 Samuel Heilman, “From T-Shirts to Peak Experiences: Teens, the Israel Trip and Jewish Identity,” in Yisrael Rich, Mordekhai Bar-Lev, and Michael Rosenak (eds), Abiding Challenges: Research Perspectives on Jewish Education (Tel Aviv, 1999), p. 235. 66 Bekerman, “The World in a Word,” p. 104. 67 Amira Quraishi, “Making Safe Space for Questioning for Young American Muslims,” in James Heft (ed.), Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims (New York, 2006), p. 207. 68 Quraishi, “Making Safe Space for Questioning for Young American Muslims,” p. 208.

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Appendix: Results from the online survey 4. Which of the following categories would you place yourself in (please choose one)? Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

The S.I.K.H. Camp

26.7%

52.6%

43.1%

51.8%

42.9%

Male wearing the turban & trimmed beard

10.1%

3.5%

3.1%

5.4%

7.1%

Male with haircut

18.6%

5.3%

3.1%

5.4%

0.0%

Female wearing the turban

4.6%

12.3%

20.0%

3.6%

0.0%

Female not wearing the turban & uncut hair

13.5%

14.0%

16.9%

23.2%

42.9%

Female not wearing the turban & haircut

26.6%

12.3%

13.8%

10.7%

7.1%

External Appearance

Total

Male wearing the turban & full beard

8. Would you describe yourself as: Total

Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

Very religious

16.9%

28.1%

29.2%

16.1%

21.4%

Somewhat religious

65.1%

56.1%

50.8%

64.3%

64.3%

Neither religious nor non-religious

8.7%

1.8%

6.2%

8.9%

7.1%

Somewhat nonreligious

1.5%

1.8%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

Very nonreligious

1.4%

1.8%

1.5%

1.8%

0.0%

Other (please specify)

6.5%

10.5%

12.3%

8.9%

7.1%

The S.I.K.H.Camp

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9. Do you ever pray? If Yes how often? Total

Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

The S.I.K.H.Camp

More than once per day

31.0%

50.9%

55.4%

37.5%

57.1%

Once a day

28.4%

24.6%

23.1%

33.9%

35.7%

Once a week

14.8%

5.3%

9.2%

10.7%

0.0%

Once a month

5.6%

5.3%

3.1%

3.6%

0.0%

I never pray

5.6%

3.5%

1.5%

5.4%

0.0%

Other (please specify)

14.5%

10.5%

7.7%

8.9%

7.1%

10. What kind of food do you eat? Total

Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

The S.I.K.H. Camp

Only eat food cooked at home. No meat, fish, eggs or products containing eggs or gelatin

4.3%

15.8%

13.8%

5.4%

0.0%

No meat, fish, eggs or products containing eggs or gelatin

21.5%

35.1%

46.2%

30.4%

28.6%

No meat, fish, eggs

10.4%

14.0%

15.4%

23.2%

28.6%

No beef

18.4%

10.5%

3.1%

12.5%

14.3%

No restriction on food

32.0%

14.0%

10.8%

12.5%

14.3%

Other (please specify)

13.5%

10.5%

10.8%

16.1%

14.3%

British Sikh Camps in the UK

273

11. Have you taken Amrit? Total

Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

The S.I.K.H. Camp

Yes

19.6%

52.6%

53.8%

33.9%

21.4%

No

80.4%

47.4%

46.2%

66.1%

78.6%

37. How often do you go to Gurdwara? Total

Khalsa Camp

Sikhi (BOSS) Camp

Sikh Student Camp

The S.I.K.H Camp

Daily

7.8%

17.5%

26.2%

12.5%

0.0%

Weekly

42.9%

54.4%

43.1%

42.9%

64.3%

Monthly

26.0%

19.3%

15.4%

30.4%

21.4%

Only on Vasakhi

0.7%

1.8%

15.4%

0.0%

0.0%

Only on Diwali

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

Only on Vasakhi and Diwali

4.1%

1.8%

0.0%

1.8%

0.0%

Yearly

3.2%

0.0%

0.0%

1.8%

0.0%

Never

1.4%

0.0%

1.5%

0.0%

0.0%

Other (please specify)

13.9%

5.3%

12.3%

10.7%

14.3%

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Barrow, Joy, “The Development of Guru Nanak’s Teachings of Nam, Dan and Seva within the Southall Sikh Communities,” unpublished PhD thesis, University of Leeds, 2000. BBC, “Student growth risks widening gap” (2008), available at http://news.bbc. co.uk/1/hi/education/7604631.stm, accessed August 9, 2009. Bekerman, Zyi, “The World in a Word: Community – A Partial Solution to Some Problems in Ethnic Education,” in Yisrael Rich, Mordekhai Bar-Lev, and Michael Rosenak (eds), Abiding Challenges: Research Perspectives on Jewish Education (London: Freund Publishing House, 1999), p. 104. British Organisation of Sikh Studies, “About,” available at http://www.boss-uk. org/about, accessed December 12, 2009. British Organisation of Sikh Studies Stall, available at: http://boss-stall.com, accessed April 24, 2010. British Organisation of Sikh Youth, “News and Events,” available at http://web. archive.org/web/20020806103144/http://www.boss-uk.org, accessed April 12, 2010. Bryman, Alan. Social Research Methods, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Clarke, Peter (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Denton, Melinda and Christian Smith, “Methodological Issues and Challenges in the Study of American Youth and Religion,” National Study of Youth and Religion (2001), available at http://www.youthandreligion.org/sites/default/ files/imported/publications/docs/methods.pdf, accessed July 29, 2010. Drury, Beatrice, “Sikh Girls and the Maintenance of an Ethnic Culture,” New Community, 17/3 (1991): 387–99. Eatbibek, “What is Bibek?,” available at http://www.eatbibek.com/Main_Page, accessed February 3, 2010. Facebook, “Sikh Student Camp,” available at http://www.facebook.com/group. php?gid=2376229485, accessed May 18, 2010. Gilliat-Ray, S., Religion in Higher Education: The Politics of the Multi-faith Campus (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000). Greenbelt Festival, available at http://www.greenbelt.org.uk, accessed July 6, 2009. Grewal, Balwant Singh, “Growth of the Sikh Missionary Society, U.K. and Development of Its Work,” Sikh Bulletin, 4 (1987): 1–12. Guest, Matthew, “The Reproduction and Transmission of Religion,” in Peter Clarke (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 651–70. Hall, Kathleen, Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002). Heelas, Paul, Religion, Modernity, and Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998).

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Heelas, P. et al., Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity, (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996). Heft, James, Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, 1st edn (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006). Heilman, Samuel, 1999, “From T-Shirts to Peak Experiences: Teens, the Israel Trip and Jewish Identity,” in Yisrael Rich, Mordekhai Bar-Lev, and Michael Rosenak (eds), Abiding Challenges: Research Perspectives on Jewish Education (Tel Aviv: Freund Publishing House, 1999). Helweg, Arthur, Sikhs in England: The Development of a Migrant Community (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). Hervieu-Lé́ ger, D, Religion as a Chain of Memory (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000). Hunt, Stephen, The Alpha Enterprise: Evangelism in a Post-Christian Era (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004). Hyde, Kenneth, Religion in Childhood and Adolescence: A Comprehensive Review of the Research (Birmingham: Religious Education Press, 1990). James, Alan. Sikh Children in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974). Khalsa Camp, available at http://www.khalsacamp.com/uk/archive/default. asp?page=kc2002photos, accessed February 2, 2009. Khalsa, Thakur Singh (ed.), “Gurmat Rehat Maryada—Sikh Code of Conduct,” available at http://www.ualberta.ca/~rvig/rehat.pdf, accessed December 11, 2007. Khalsacamp BC, available at http://www.khalsacamp.ca/camp-2010, accessed August 9, 2010. Knott, Kim, Religion and Identity, and the Study of Ethnic Minority Religions in Britain (Leeds: University of Leeds, 1986). Levenson, Michael, Carolyn Aldwin, and Michelle D’Mello, “Religious Development from Adolescence to Middle Adulthood,” in Raymond F. Paloutzian and Crystal L. Park (eds), Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (Hove, East Sussex: The Guilford Press 2005), pp. 144–61. Manvir Singh Blogspot, available at http://manvirsingh.blogspot.com/2008/09/ english-q-session-audio-sant-mani-singh.html, accessed December 12, 2009. National Hindu Students Forum, available at http://www.nhsf.org.uk/index. php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=25&id=126&Item id=185, accessed July 6, 2009. Nayar, Kamal, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004). Nesbitt, Eleanor, The Religious Lives of Sikh Children: A Coventry Based Study (Leeds: University of Leeds, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, 2000). Nesbitt, Eleanor, “Sikh Youth Camps,” Sikh Bulletin, 7 (1990): 1–4.

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Nesbitt, Eleanor, Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005). Nihang Singhs, “Jhatka,” available at http://www.nihangsingh.org/website/tradjhatka.html, accessed April 15, 2010. Nihang Singh, “Rehat,” available at http://www.nihangsingh.org/website/tradintroduction.html, accessed April 15, 2010. Ormsby, Avil, “UK Couples Waiting Longer for Marriage,” Reuters (April 15, 2009), available at http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/ idUSTRE53E2RB20090415, accessed August 21, 2009. Owen, Jonathan and Ian Griggs, “A New Club 18–30: Sand, Sea and Scripture,” The Independent (October 23, 2008), available at http://www.independent.co.uk/ travel/news-and-advice/a-new-club-1830-sea-sand-and-scripture-973823. html, accessed June 6, 2009. Paloutzian, Raymond and Crystal Park, Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (New York: Guilford Press, 2005). Panthic.org, “Worrying Rise in Propagation of ‘Sanatan Sikhi’,” available at http:// panthic.org/articles/4518, accessed April 12, 2010. Quraishi, Amira, “Making Safe Space for Questioning for Young American Muslims,” in James Heft (ed.), Passing on the Faith: Transforming Traditions for the Next Generation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006). Rich Yisrael, Mordekhai Bar-Lev, and Michael Rosenak (eds), Abiding Challenges: Research Perspectives on Jewish Education (Tel Aviv: Freund Publishing House Ltd, 1999). S.I.K.H., “Welcome,” available at http://www.thesikhcamp.com, accessed August 31, 2010. Sikh Community & Youth Services, available at http://www.scys-notts.co.uk/ news-and-events/scys-gurmat-camp-2009-who-am-i, accessed August 10, 2009. Sikh Naujawan Academy UK, available at http://www.sukhdev.woden.com/ events.htm, accessed August 8, 2009. Sikhi Camp, available at www.sikhicamp.com, accessed May 25, 2010. SikhNet, “Building Bridges between Sikh Communities,” available at http://www. sikhnet.com/voices/building-bridges-between-sikh-communities, accessed May 9, 2010. SikhNet, “Sikhi Camp 98,” available at http://fateh.sikhnet.com/sikhnet/ discussion.nsf/SearchView/BF641A92099D5112872565F60058C0EE!Open Document, accessed December 9, 2009. Sikh Retreat, “The Vision,” available at http://www.sikhretreat.org.uk/the_vision. html, accessed August 31, 2010. Sikh Retreat, “Welcome,” available at http://www.sikhretreat.org.uk accessed September 1, 2010. Sikhroots, available at http://www.sikhroots.com/index.php?option=com_ rsgallery2&gid=2&Itemid=64, accessed August 9, 2009.

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Chapter 12

The Valmiki, Ravidasi, and Namdhari Communities in Britain: Self-representations and Transmission of Traditions Opinderjit Kaur Takhar

Dialogs concerning the transmission of culture and religious identities are pertinent within diasporic communities across the globe. The ever-increasing pressure on British-born Punjabi youngsters to become “westernized” is an issue that has held my interest in recent years, especially the task of transmitting the Punjabi culture, ethnicity, and Sikhism to my own three children, whom like myself, are Britishborn Sikhs. Generational differences with regard to cultural transmission are an important feature of this chapter. In this respect, Arthur Helweg remarks that “cultural transmission examines why and how ethnic identity is transmitted to the next generation. In other words, why and how do members of an ethnic community promote their cultural concepts.”1 The Ravidasis,2 Valmikis, and to some extent the Namdharis, have an extra issue to deal with—that of their religious identity. Aspects of their worship and fundamental beliefs raise thoughtful discussions as to what notion of their identity, as distinct or an amalgamation or hybrid of a number of Indian religious traditions, is being passed on to the younger generations. In this respect, many similarities appear as in the study of the Sindhi Hindus by Steven Ramey, whereby a theory of the syncretism of a number of Indian religions has been suggested.3 The particular issues that this chapter addresses are the transmission of culture and identity among three communities in Britain: the Valmikis, Ravidasis, and Namdharis. My interest in selecting these communities has developed from the extensive research carried out for my doctoral thesis. My study of selfrepresentations among these religious groups started a decade ago and more 1 A.W. Helweg, “Transmitting and Regenerating Culture: The Sikh Case,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), p. 299. 2 Although, the Constitution of the Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK states that a member of the community should be referred to as a “Ravidasia,” my conversations with the majority of informants in Britain have revealed a preference for the term “Ravidasi.” Hence, I will employ the latter term in this chapter. 3 Steven Ramey, “Challenging Definitions: Human Agency, Diverse Religious Practices and the Problems of Boundaries,” Numen, 54 (2007): 1–27.

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recent research has highlighted a number of interesting perspectives in terms of generational differences in perception and outlook. Both the Ravidasi and Valmiki communities are composed of two occupational groups from within the Dalit social band. Members from these communities, often within the same family, may claim they are Hindu, Sikh, and Valmiki/Ravidasi, and also seek the blessings of sants through the Radhasaomi tradition. Others may instead assert that they exert a completely Valmiki or Ravidasi identity.4 My fieldwork in these communities, especially the discussions with young people, highlights some important considerations with regard to self-representation from a religious perspective, that is, what identity is proclaimed? If a multiple identity, which is the case in most instances, is transmitted, then will it be left to each individual as to which identity they will show allegiance to, or are they content on being affiliated to a number of religious identities? Surely, someone cannot be a Hindu and Sikh and Valmiki/Ravidasi all at the same time, or can they? To what extent are the religious calendars of each one of these identities adhered to? These questions are posed in order to highlight some of the potential difficulties in the transmission of culture (and indeed self-representative religious identity) among the Valmikis and Ravidasis in Britain. Thus, these two communities clearly illustrate the counterarguments and challenges to “the dominant understandings of the boundaries of religions” and therefore traditional definitions of religion among scholars.5 To illustrate this aspect further, the comments of a teenage Ravidasi girl with regards to her identity can be quoted: “I don’t understand religious boundaries, I am happy to refer to myself as a Hindu/Sikh/Ravidasi. I go to the gurdwara, mandir and Guru Ravidas temple.”6 The overtly significant religious plurality present among the members of these two communities would certainly add further credentials to Harjot Oberoi’s notion of the “enchanted universe” in which he discusses in great scholarly detail the blurring of identity boundaries among nineteenth-century Punjabis.7 The contemporary efforts of the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities highlight that “[w] hile religious identities may be a dimension of a person’s outlook and sense of self, when embedded in social, political, economic, and other material realities, these religious identities can be mobilized for a variety of purposes.”8 In this chapter, I will illustrate how the rise in Dalit consciousness has impacted on identity politics 4 A detailed discussion of identity among the Valmikis and Ravidasis is found in Opinderjit Kaur Takhar, Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups among Sikhs (Aldershot, 2005). 5 Ramey, “Challenging Definitions,” p. 3. 6 Interview conducted with a Ravidasi student at the University of Wolverhampton on March 20, 2010. 7 Harjot Oberoi, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition (Delhi, 1997). 8 Jeannine Fletcher, “Religious Pluralism in an Era of Globalization: The Making of Modern Religious Identity,” Theological Studies, 69 (2008): 403.

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amid the former castes Chuhras and Chamars, both in India and the diaspora.9 I agree here with Dibyesh Anand’s argument in “conceptualising diasporic subjectivity as an ethical political position that rejects cultural conformity and celebrates culture as a site of contestation.”10 Although the mass conversion of the Punjabi lower classes to Sikhism was signaled by the egalitarian principles of the guru’s teaching and words, culturally the stigma attached to ritual caste pollution was deeply embedded in the thinking of the Punjabi Sikhs. The Sikh gurus spoke out against and condemned the discrimination associated with caste differences. Caste, as a social structure, however, remained very much in existence. One cannot escape the blatant fact that caste hierarchies are indeed present in the culture of present-day Punjabi Sikhs across the globe. The third community I have included in this discussion is that of the Namdharis in Britain. The implications of and issues faced by the younger generation of Namdharis presents its own unique discussion in terms of the outward form of the Khalsa and, at times seen as heretic, the ideology of living, present-day gurus.11 The Namdharis are very often perceived as a sect within the Sikh community and not representative of mainstream Sikhism, where the belief in the Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal guru is paramount.12 Namdharis reject any claims to “Guru Maniyo Granth,” that is, to regard the scripture as the guru as purely conjectural and thus having no support within Sikhism itself. Consequently, Namdhari places of worship tend to be devoid of the term “gurdwara.” Instead, they are dharamsalas which house the Sikh scripture and the spiritual head of the Namdharis during his visits to the UK, Satguru Jagjit Singh, the living, human guru, in the line of succession from Guru Nanak.13 All three communities of Valmikis, Ravidasis, and Namdharis are well established in Britain. Each community may be found in various British cities and each has a number of places of worship.14 Each community presents interesting dialogs and considerations in relation to self-representation. This becomes even more important in the diaspora where the transmission of traditions and cultures, intertwined and inseparable from ethnicity, is consciously being reevaluated among the different generations of Valmikis, Ravidasis and Namdharis. Whether the groups can be neatly placed within the boundaries of the general 9 I emphasize here that these traditional caste names are not intended to be used in a derogatory manner but cited merely in accordance with chronological reference. 10 Dibyesh Anand, “Diasporic Subjectivity as an Ethical Position,” South Asian Diaspora, 1/2 (2009): 103. 11 A detailed study of the Namdhari community can be found in the third chapter of Takhar, Sikh Identity. 12 For the Namdhari perspective in detail, see Y. Bali and K. Bali, Warriors in White (New Delhi, 1995), p. 32ff. 13 See S.S. Jeet, Brief Remarks about Namdhari Sikhs (London, not dated). 14 For further details of the locations of the places of worship for each of these three communities, see Chapters 3, 4, and 5 in Takhar, Sikh Identity.

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Sikh community is a matter of much debate.15 However, present discourses concerning self-representation and culture transmission among the Ravidasi and Valmiki communities, and to a lesser degree the Namdharis, are a priority on the agendas of the committee panels of these communities. With regard to the Valmikis and Ravidasis, the emphasis is quickly turning to pressure among the generations to declare one identity—separate from both Sikhs and Hindus. This is especially so in terms of the notions of self-representation on the behalf of the younger generations. The central Valmiki and Ravidasi organizations are themselves insisting and “pressurizing” their communities for a move away from multiple hybrid identities in their hope for religious autonomy. It is relevant to ask if this could be a western influence on the thinking of pressure groups within these two communities who attempt to provide clear-cut religious boundaries.16 For the Namdharis, their identity as Sikhs within the larger Sikh community raises a different debate. Here, fundamentals such as the continuing tradition of living gurus, and thus not attributing guru status to the Granth, become areas of contention. The importance of religious places of worship for all diasporic communities is paramount in terms of cultural transmission. They are strong community identity markers. It is in the places of worship that youngsters, when they do attend, relate to the aspirations of the community. The places are as much social as well as religious institutions. Activities for the young people, such as sports and youth clubs, are increasingly being promoted among the Valmikis, Ravidasi, and Namdharis. In line with many Indian-origin communities in Britain, the places of worship are also functioning as marriage bureaus where lists are regularly published to advertise potential marriage partners. The places of worship are also the spheres for social gatherings, especially at the weekends. Participant observation and interviews have been essential for undertaking the research for this study. A number of places of worship have been visited and a great deal of information has been obtained from committee leaders and representatives. However, in order to gain a more rounded view, the opinions of youngsters and lay members have been incorporated, where deemed appropriate. Limited secondarysource literature is available for the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities in Britain. The majority of literature on the Namdharis tends to concentrate on their political involvement in the Independence of India. Again, very little is available about their present-day activities and roles, other than an abundance of primary literature. Furthermore, open-ended interviews have been conducted and have enabled me to obtain insightful views into the processes of self-representation and cultural transmission among the Valmiki, Ravidasi, and Namdhari communities in Britain. See ibid. The “Western” determination to provide clear-cut boundaries into which all

15 16

worshippers should neatly fit has been discussed at length in Joy Morny, “Postcolonial Reflections: Challenges for Religious Studies,” Method and Theory in The Study of Religion, 13 (2001): 177–95.

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Identity formation in all three communities is a process for self-representation. In particular, the Ravidasi and Valmikis constantly voiced the need to be “concrete” in terms of the one overall identity of the community as non-Sikhs, if they are to effectively influence the younger, British-born generation. The Valmiki Community in Britain Valmiki, traditionally the author of the Hindu epic the Ramayana,17 forms the central focus in many Valmiki temples and associations (sabhas). There are seven Valmiki temples in Britain, with an estimated 100,000 Valmikis in Coventry. It must be noted, however, that it is difficult to estimate numbers of Valmikis due to the issue of individual members’ religious affiliation. The temple in Coventry presents some interesting visual insights into the identity of the community by housing both the Guru Granth Sahib and the Ramayana. With regard to the present discussion of self-representation in this paper, Coventry provides a contradiction to the aims of the Central Valmiki Sabha which emphasizes the distinction of Valmikis from other communities.18 What specific identity is then actually transmitted to the younger generation and, indeed, to the community as a whole if a distinction of Sikhs from Hindus is promoted? Eleanor Nesbitt’s work on the issues of the perception of religious identity by children from the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities is pertinent to the self-representation of both communities.19 Nesbitt highlights the problems of providing clear-cut boundaries when discussing the religious identity of these two communities. Although her research was carried out almost two decades ago, the blurring of religious identities remains evident within the community today as was apparent in the early 1990s. Certainly, the young people I have spoken to seem to indicate that they have both Hindu and Sikh religious aspects to their overall religious observances. Nevertheless, the initial response of young people from both communities tends to state the titles of “Valmiki” and “Ravidasi” when asked what faith they belong to. My fieldwork was conducted at three Valmiki centers in the West Midlands area of England, each of which has chosen specific titles for their religious places

17 There are a number of contradictions to this belief that are held in high regard among the Valmiki community. According to the Tulsidas, Ramayana is viewed as a robber (a dacoit), while the followers of Valmiki reject such claims. For an in-depth discussion concerning the historical Valmiki, see Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 126–30; Julia Leslie, Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki (Aldershot, 2003). 18 For further details on the layout of the Coventry Valmiki Sabha in comparison to Birmingham and Southall, see Chapter 5 in Takhar, Sikh Identity. 19 Eleanor Nesbitt, ‘My Dad’s Hindu, My Mum’s side are Sikhs’: Issues in Religious Identity (Oxford, 1991).

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to indicate their distinct Valmiki identity.20 The Birmingham centers have called their places of worship “Bhagwan Valmik Ashram” in order to welcome all individuals, while the Coventry community utilizes the title “Jagat Guru Valmik Ji Maharaj Temple” to highlight that their place of worship respects the ideals of Guru Valmik. The importance of the Valmiki Sabhas in the lives of the community illustrates significantly both the religious and social aspects of these institutions, especially in the diaspora. While elderly and retired community members visit the temples every day, most gather on Sunday when they are free from work and can socialize with family and friends. After the service, many worshippers tend to remain in the langar hall to talk with friends and help each other with the practical matters of everyday life. Currently, a great deal of the activities within the British Valmiki communities is focusing on issues of cultural transmission, in particular what implications this transmission has upon the self-representation of the community. During the last ten years, this has become an increasingly debated topic among the younger generation of British-born Valmikis and, consequently, the Central Valmik Sabha is under pressure to issue a statement about the distinct identity of the followers of Guru Valmiki. Subsequently, the placing of the Guru Granth Sahib and the Ramayana alongside each other has ceased to be practiced at the Coventry Valmiki Temple in an attempt to define a distinct identity. In terms of religious expectations, the two scriptures would appear contradictory to one another when bearing in mind the iconoclasm which is suggested from the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib. Therefore, the present-day artistic images of Valmiki as Bhagwan in Valmiki temples, would again contradict the theology and iconoclasm presented in Guru Granth Sahib and appear highly antagonistic. It is legitimate to pose the question of what implications these ritual practices and interpretations have for a dual Sikh/Hindu identity. When doing so, one may be in danger of suggesting that it is specific practices and interpretations of the Guru Granth Sahib which ultimately constitutes a Sikh identity.21 As Steven Ramey remarks, “Labelling the Guru Granth Sahib as a Sikh text or Sufism as Islamic implicitly accepts one general definition that, often uncritically, excludes alternative understandings.”22 The following quotation from a Valmiki youngster highlights the overlapping of Hindu and Sikh practices, and thus the “boundaries” within the Valmiki community: “We believe in both Hindu and Sikh Gods. Valmikis are a kind of mixture of Hinduism and Sikhism. My Mum takes me to the Mandir, whereas my Dad likes to bring us here to the Valmiki Gurdwara. We also follow the Radhasaomi tradition.”23

20 Particular sabhas were selected on the basis of their input towards the present discussion as a result of research carried out with these sabhas during my doctoral research. 21 Of course, what constitutes being a “Sikh” is open to much debate. See, for example, W.H. McLeod, Who is a Sikh? (Oxford, 1989). 22 Ramey, “Challenging Definitions,” p. 3. 23 Interview conducted at the Birmingham Valmiki Ashram on March 5, 2010.

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In this respect, one could argue that the more Sikh-orientated Valmikis take what they need for their own spiritual quests from the teachings in the Guru Granth Sahib and attempt to amalgamate this with Dalit aspirations in the light of Dalit consciousness. The example of the community in Coventry, which has the largest percentage of Valmikis with a Sikh background and houses two religious scriptures in their temple, illustrates the differing needs of a significant proportion of community who cannot shed their historical past for current selfrepresentations. Importantly, although both scriptures remain at the temple, only one is placed on a palanquin (palki) at any one time, depending on the needs of the community and the religious calendar of the local community. The direction of the younger generation towards the principles of Guru Valmiki and the diasporic Valmiki community in Britain is increasingly being addressed by the Central Valmiki Sabha. Currently, a well-thought-out manual of “rules of conduct” is being tightened in order to set the norms for practices and explicate representations of themselves, especially to the British-born, younger generation. The aim of the Central Valmiki Sabha is to bring together the entire British Valmiki community under one banner, according to which all are aware of the community’s identity as neither Hindu nor Sikh, but Valmiki. The aim is to unite all Valmikis under one definition of identity. This has inevitably caused intergenerational tensions in the community. A number of older members were quite distressed that the Central Sabha wishes to distinguish them from the overall Sikh community. Others in favor of a separate Valmiki identity and practices have voiced their opinion that a distinction is needed to avoid “confusion” among the younger generations. The images in many of the Valmiki Ashrams dominantly proclaim the insistence of a distinct Valmiki identity. The community in Birmingham, for instance, boasts an in-house artist and priest, Kiran Valmiki, whose skilful images of Valmiki and scenes from the Ramayana bring life to the congregation at the city’s Valmiki Ashram. His images portray the important contribution Valmiki has made in a number of events depicted in the Ramayana. The works of art present Valmiki as the author of the Ramayana, contrary to representations of him as a bandit, and include popular imaginings of Guru Nanak and Bhagat Ravidas (see Figure 12.1.). The images of Valmiki in the various temples in Britain demonstrate the emphasis placed on him as guru, an esteemed teacher, for his followers. With the exception of Coventry, the Valmiki temples have ascribed the Ramayana to Valmiki and installed it as the authoritative scripture for worship. In many temples (except Southall where the statue of Valmiki is placed on a palanquin), this version of Ramayana, usually in Punjabi, takes the position of the Guru Granth Sahib. The emphasis on Valmiki as the author of the Ramayana took on special significance during an unfortunate event in February 2000 when a local radio station in Birmingham adamantly referred to Valmiki as a robber and caused outrage in the community. Julia Leslie, who was a professor of Sanskrit at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, started a campaign against the derogatory remark by the radio presenter, Vikram Gill, and supported the Valmiki community in gaining

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Figure 12.1 A number of Kiran’s portraits on the back wall of the Birmingham Valmiki Ashram. Photo: Opinderjit Kaur Takhar an apology from the radio station.24 Nevertheless, it is the derogatory remarks and attitudes towards the Valmiki community by other Punjabis that are often responsible for the younger generation’s search for a Valmiki identity that is distinct from both Sikhs and Hindus. At the same time, it is precisely this distinction that causes problems for families containing both Hindu and Sikh members. In this respect, the Valmiki temples, alongside parental identity preferences, are essential for transmitting culture to the younger generation and their perceptions and representations of themselves. The Valmiki temples also organize social activities, such as soccer games and youth clubs. In their endeavors, there is an aspiration to promote the Valmiki identity among the young in events such as these, during which the community identity assumes a distinction from the Sikh and Hindu community. Many of my informants repeatedly said that they experienced the Valmiki temple as “their” place of worship rather than a gurdwara or mandir not specifically for Valmikis or Ravidasi. The stigma attached to untouchability is an unfortunate issue that remains in the attitudes of many higher-caste Sikhs and Hindus. To this effect, the actions of CasteWatchUK are significant in tackling discrimination based on such prejudice. As a Coventry-based organization, with most of its members in the Dalit classes, CasteWatchUK has been campaigning to include “caste discrimination” as an 24 Julia Leslie’s plight to educate the wider community about the Valmikis can be found in Leslie, Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions.

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amendment to be added to the Single Equality Bill in the United Kingdom.25 Coventry itself was the first action ground for the battle against the caste-based system concerning South Asian Dalits living in Britain in the 1980s. Coventry Council had published a guide on multicultural diversity for its citizens, which was viewed by the Dalits as derogatory, as it emphasized concepts associated with commensality and the stigma attached to untouchability. The publication was seen as “bad news” by the Dalits who hence laid the foundations of CasteWatchUK as a response. According to a significant number of CasteWatchUK members, democracy in the western world and the caste system in India are, in principle, considered incompatible because the former alludes to social inclusion, whereas the latter promotes social exclusion. Therefore, caste prejudice and thus discrimination, according to organizations such as CasteWatchUK, has no place in British society. The actions of CasteWatchUK are very important in terms of the selfrepresentation of individuals from British Dalit communities, such as the Valmikis and Ravidasis. Diasporic Dalit communities have chosen to leave concepts of the caste system behind in India. Thus, the organization aims to highlight cases of discrimination and bring them to the attention of officials who are dealing with discrimination. One such case of discrimination is highlighted below in a case study record held by CasteWatchUK: I first heard the word choora at school at the age of 15 years. I was confused and angry because it had to mean something bad for it to be said to me time after time. This abuse started when I became friendly with a Sikh boy in my class. He had a cousin who was also in our class. The cousin was about the same height, build and weight as me. His hair was long and tied up in a knot and covered with a small piece of dark cloth. This boy always told the other kids in the class, including the white kids, that he was a true Sikh and a true Indian warrior prince. One day at recess, he saw my friend and I were having a joke and we were laughing so much, he came across and told my friend to stay away from me and also told him that I was a choora and that his dad had told him that chooras were a dirty tribe in India and were also called “untouchable.” This happened every time my friend and I talked. He said it in front of some of my other mates. This made me feel ashamed because they actually started to ask me if it was true when I was not sure what it meant. They all laughed at me … .26

The youth-orientated, artistic wing of CasteWatchUK, called “Caste Away Arts,” aims to help the younger generation of Dalits in Britain, many of whom belong to the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities, by raising awareness of caste 25 The aims and actions undertaken by CasteWatchUK can be found on their website www.castewatchuk.org. 26 Details of this case study were given to me by CasteWatchUK who themselves had conducted the interview with the individual concerned.

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discrimination and how to deal with it effectively. The production of “The Fifth Cup,” a drama based on caste discrimination experienced by youth in Britain, and performed by Caste Away Arts in 2008, was extremely well received by the Indian community in general in Britain. Thus, productions such as this enable a greater degree of self-representation among the younger generation of Valmikis and Ravidasis. This further promotes the Central Valmiki Sabha’s insistence on “One Identity for all the community” by stressing that the Valmikis and Ravidasis are separate from the Sikh and Hindu communities. According to representatives of both groups, the importance of art through visual representations at the temples and drama performances enables a more receptive reaction from the younger generation. Using visual representations is a useful vehicle for transmitting information that would otherwise be contained in lengthy documents. The bold statements of Dr B.R. Ambedkar to “free one’s mind” from traditional stigmas and roles in society is considered essential for the liberation of individuals from the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities across all generations. The annual anniversary of his birthday is a celebratory event for the Birmingham Valmiki community, when lectures on his life and mission are held in the temples. But there are also differences in the attitudes towards caste across the different generations of Valmikis and Ravidasis. During conversations with my informants, it was felt that the older generations in particular often accepted caste differences as part and parcel of the way of life they were accustomed to in the Punjab and in the diaspora. More educated members and increasingly the younger generation were agitated by the practice of caste discrimination in British society and hence appreciate the proposed amendment to the Single Equality UK Bill. This Bill, imminently to become an Act, sets out to tackle discrimination and inequality in British society.27 The Ravidasis in Britain It is difficult to estimate the number of Ravidasis in Britain. According to Gurharpal Singh and Darshan Singh Tatla, the figures are around 500,000, while the ACDA report, however, leans more towards a figure of 175,000. 28 At present, there are nine Ravidasi temples in the UK. The recent events after the murder of Sant Ramananda in Vienna in 2009 marked a turning point for the community worldwide and have resulted in the removal of the Guru Granth Sahib from many Ravidasi places of worship around the globe.29 Notably the Ravidasi Sabhas in the UK currently use the Sikh scripture in the prayer halls. In response, the leaders of the Ravidasi community at dera Sachkhand Ballan in the Jalandhar (Punjab) 27 For an extended discussion about theories relating to political opportunities among South Asians in the diaspora, see Anand, “Diasporic Subjectivity,” pp. 105–9. 28 G. Singh and D. Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (Delhi, 2008). 29 The events taking place in Vienna are also discussed in detail in this volume by Kathryn Lum, pp. 179–200.

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replaced the Guru Granth Sahib with their own Amritbani Satguru Ravidas in an attempt to move away from Sikhism. The new scripture, containing 240 hymns of Guru Ravidas, was officially released by Sant Niranjan Dass who was the spiritual leader of the dera. The subsequent backlash from the Sikh community, especially in the Punjab, involved ridiculing the actions of the Dera and riots have broken out between the Ravidasis and higher-caste Sikhs in the Punjab. Not all Ravidasis in India and abroad are necessarily in favor of the replacement of the Guru Granth Sahib, although the dera have aspired to remove the Sikh scripture from Ravidasi Sabhas worldwide in line with the newly (re)voiced distinct identity, as adhering to the principles of “Ravidasi dharma.” The response of a significant number of Ravidasis has tended to view the recent events in Dera Sachkhand Ballan as suspicious with ulterior political agendas. Consequently, there are, on the whole, a number of mixed opinions in response to the removal of the Guru Granth Sahib which have noteworthy ramifications on how tradition and religion (which are often inseparable) are transmitted within the British Ravidasi communities. The use of derogatory terms for Ravidasi places of worship is implemented by some higher-caste Sikhs in Britain. Hand in hand with this is the continued prejudice towards the Dalits which is ever-present and arises from the stigma of untouchability.30 Educational opportunities and equal rights initiatives, both in India and in the diaspora, have been positive in promoting freedom of choice among the traditionally oppressed groups to assert their standing as equal human beings. The distinct identity promoted by celebrities such as Miss Pooja, a singer and dancer who herself is from the Valmikis community and lives in the Punjab, further adds to the collective voice of the global community of Ravidasis. As mentioned above, reactions among Ravidasis in Britain towards the removal of the Sikh holy scripture are mixed and entail many emotions and sensitive tensions. One of my university students from the Ravidasi community remarked that “it’s good now that Ballan have their own book, rightly so in view of the events in Vienna last year.”31 However, she also expressed that she would be unhappy if the Guru Granth Sahib were to be replaced in her Ravidasi temple. She highlighted the importance of the teachings of Guru Ravidas in the Guru Granth Sahib, but also stated that “maybe the British community needs time to accept what has happened in Ballan and maybe in a few years’ time the British community might want to replace the Guru Granth Sahib with Guru Ravidas’ Bani.”32 Another 30 “Dalit” is translated as “oppressed.” Members of the lower castes prefer this term to indicate and highlight their treatment by both higher-caste Hindus and Sikhs. They regard the term “Harijan” coined by Mahatma Gandhi as patronizing and do not have much fondness for the term “Scheduled Classes” used by the British during the Raj. A detailed discussion of the caste system in relation to the Ravidasi community is undertaken in Chapter 4 of Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 93–102. 31 Interview with a Ravidasi student from the University of Wolverhampton on July 5, 2010. 32 Continuation of the interview on July 5, 2010.

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informant from the Wolverhampton Ravidasi community remarked, “This issue depends upon the whole community, not just our temple. It is when the community decides as it’s a debatable issue.”33 One cannot overlook the fact that a separate holy scripture will, in turn, entail a wholly new direction for the distinct identity of those Ravidasi associations that opt for the Amritbani Satguru Ravidas. A huge overall implication of this action is the emphasis that is being placed upon the Ravidasi community worldwide to declare its complete breakaway from the Sikh tradition in its adoption of the “Ravidasi Dharma,” something which is being increasingly asserted by leaders at Dera Sachkhand Ballan. In this respect, Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby highlight that “Dharma … is a key term in religious traditions that originate in the Indian Subcontinent. Its root in Sanskrit, the language of the Vedic scriptures and of classical Hinduism, has the sense of ‘that which supports or holds together’.”34 A number of factors are responsible for the replacement of the Guru Granth Sahib at Dera Sachkhand Ballan. During my initial research among the Ravidasi communities in Britain a decade ago, there was talk of preparing a composite collection of Guru Ravidas’ hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib and the Pacvani into a separate collection. The Pac-vani is another collection of Bhagat Ravidasi’s works; its authenticity, however, is much debated among scholars.35 This aspired to the eventual replacement of the Guru Granth Sahib in Ravidasi temples and would thus promote the distinct identity of the Ravidasis from the Sikhs. The assassination of the Ravidasi Sant Ramanand (Sant Niranjan Dass’ deputy) by Sikhs in 2009 has provided the sentiment and impetus for the emphasis on distinction that has been on the horizon for at least a decade, if not more, and caused increased tensions between “us” (Ravidasis) and “them” (higher-caste Sikhs). A point to be emphasized, however, is that the Sri Guru Ravidass Sadhu Sampradye Society in Punjab, an association that promotes the teachings and sayings for the Ravidasi community worldwide, has condemned the actions of leaders from Dera Sachkhand Ballan as outrageous.36 Therefore, there is much emotional and political disagreement between different Ravidasi communities in India itself. The consequences for the British Ravidasi community are intriguing in terms of its self-representation and the subsequent transmission of identity to its younger generation. The political allegiance of committee leaders accounts for the varied attitudes towards influential leaders in Dera Sachkhand Ballan from the British Ravidasi community as a whole. Thus, the political agendas of the Informant from the Wolverhampton Ravidasi Sabha on July 10, 2010. S. Mittal and G. Thursby, Religions of South Asia: An Introduction (Abingdon,

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2006), p. 5. 35 See W.M. Callewaert and P.G. Friedlander, The Life and Works of Raidas (Delhi, 1992). 36 Dharmendra Joshi and Amaninder Pal, “Guru Ravidass Sampradaye Rejects Separate Religion,” The Tribune (February 3, 2010), available at http://www.tribuneindia. com/2010/20100204/punjab.htm#3, accessed February 5, 2010.

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Ravidasi leaders in the Punjab have huge implications for the loyalties of diasporic community leaders. The following quotation from a Ravidasi informant in the UK clearly highlights one school of thought, among many: The assassination of Sant Ramanand and Sant Niranjan Dass in Austria, Vienna, was a very serious act. Sant Ramanand, a Ravidasi Sant, was assassinated while preaching from the Guru Granth Sahib [GGS]. Therefore, because of this incident, it is understandable that they compiled a replacement of the GGS, the Amrit Bani Guru Ravidas and claimed a separate religion. Nevertheless, the GGS teaches harmony and love for one another, and that God is one, therefore why should there be separation. But differences between caste and different understanding have led this disaster to happen. The Sach Khand Dera has no other option.37

Due to the recent events, self-representation is a pressing and increasingly urgent matter for Ravidasi committees in Britain. Issues of “blurred” identity have been a problem for the community for decades;38 however, the pressure from central committees is now pushing the committee leaders for a definite statement of distinction which will eventually necessitate adopting Amritbani Shri Guru Ravidass in place of the Guru Granth Sahib. The sentiments of the older generation (mostly migrants) differ radically from the attitudes of British-born generations, or at least those Ravidasis who migrated to Britain as youngsters. The greeting utilized among Ravidasis in general should be “Jai Gurudev,”39 and in temples the harr symbol, rather than the Sikh khanda or ik-onkar signs, is displayed. An exception, however, is the Ravidasi congregation and temple in Derby (Guru Ravidass Gurdwara Derby) which also has the ik-onkar symbol on its nishan sahib rather than the harr emblem.40 Interestingly, a youngster commented that, although she described herself as a “Ravidasi Sikh,” she used the harr symbol for her Facebook page and had never really thought about using the khanda at all since this is what “proper Sikhs use.”41 For this same informant, being a Ravidasi “goes hand-in-hand with my caste identity as a Chamar. I have no problem with Questions were posed to the informant from the Bedford Ravidasi Sabha in an email. The response was obtained on April 3, 2010. 38 See Chapters 4 and 7 of Takhar, Sikh Identity. 39 The Constitution of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK states, “They [should] greet each other with JAI GURUDEV,” which is an indication of the position of Ravidass as the Guru of his followers: Constitution of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK (The Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK, June 1995), p. 1. 40 The Constitution of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK states: “The Religious Symbol is HARR.” Harr refers to the One Almighty nirguna God. The symbol of Harr in Ravidasi places of worship aims to replace the Sikh Khanda: ibid., p. 1. 41 Interview carried out with a Ravidasi youth at the premiere of ‘Hidden Apartheid’ in London on July 18, 2010. 37

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being referred to as a Chamar. I’m proud of it.”42 Nevertheless, she also expressed her confusion about the whole issue of caste and especially caste-based gurdwaras in Sikhism since, as she commented, “I thought there was supposed to be no caste in Sikhism. Isn’t that what it was all about?”43 Increasingly among Ravidasi community leaders is the adamant reference to “an independent society in which freedom from the SGPC is the goal.”44 If this independence is to be sought by removing the Sikh scripture, then for many that is the way forward. In turn, this will lead to all Ravidasi centers having one overall identity and thus issues of self- representation will, it is claimed by activists, be much clearer as a distinct community. The majority of committee members and leaders are strong in their assertions that they will denounce Sikhism in favor of independence. The political autonomy of Ravidasi temples and congregations by the Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK is overwhelmingly favored over any authority exercised (in principle at least) by the SGPC. Again, I reiterate that the removal of the Guru Granth Sahib from Ravidasi temples will have huge implications over political authority, even if the Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK has not yet issued any normative statement on this. The Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK has its own internal conflicts to deal with. Not all committee members and presidents necessarily conform willingly to its aspirations, which are responsible for the existence of many Hindu, Sikh and Ravidasi identities in the community as a whole in Britain. The constitution of the UK Sabha emphatically repeats that a “Ravidassia should place utmost emphasis on the teachings and philosophy of Shri Guru Ravidass, as contained in the Guru Granth Sahib,”45 while it contains no reference to the importance of any other teachings in the Guru Granth Sahib. Many Ravidasis are clinging onto their political identification as Ad Dharmis,46 and it is causing tensions within the community since the promotion of a Ravidasi religious identity is considered more significant in a contemporary sense than the political Ad Dharmi.47 Younger generations of Ravidasis in Britain usually voice that they do not want to be known as Sikhs, but as Ravidasis. Nevertheless, they are proud of their Ibid. Interview carried out with Poonam Sangrey, an undergraduate Ravidasi student

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from the University of Wolverhampton, on April 15, 2010. 44 This expression was repeatedly used by Ravidasi informants in the UK in a number of interviews I conducted between January 2010 and August 2010. 45 Amended Constitution of Sri Guru Ravi Dass Sabha UK (1979) (Birmingham,1995), p. 2. 46 For a detailed discussion of the Ad Dharm movement and its political agenda in raising the status of Punjabi Dalits, see Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 98–101. 47 For a detailed exploration of the effects of the Ad Dharm Movement on Ravidasi and Valmiki communities, including the Ravidasis and Valmikis, see Mark Juergensmeyer, Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchablity in 20th Century Punjab (Berkeley, CA, 1982), pp. 83–91, 169–80.

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Punjabi heritage and culture (even if this entails an attitude of caste supremacy, especially in the lyrics of traditional bhangra). Their cultural ideals of Punjabiyat, that is, a shared culture, language and traditions with other Punjabis, form an important aspect of their social interaction with others.48 Thus, to quote Steven Vertovec, “The heightening of awareness with regard to ‘culture’ is paralleled by new kinds of self-awareness with regard to religious belief and practice.”49 A significant number of youngsters commented, however, that they were “fed up being treated as second class citizens by higher caste Sikhs.”50 They also commented that Sikhs alone do not have ownership of the Guru Granth Sahib due to the inclusion of the hymns of Bhagats in the scripture. One informant also made the point that “We believe Guru Ravidass is our Satguru and according to the bani [hymns] in the GGS this is the only suitable way of believing in Guru Ravidass.”51 The majority of youngsters do not wear the karha and do not have any sentimental feelings towards the khanda, as is the case among Sikh youth in general. The committee leaders are united in their aims towards an “open definition of the declaration of identity,” especially for the sake of self-representation among the younger generation of British-born Ravidasis.52 The running of camps and youth activities in the Ravidasi community is viewed as vital in order to aid cultural transmission and self-representation among the younger generations. A number of Ravidasi communities run Punjabi classes and informants voiced their opinion that Punjabi ethnicity must be preserved in order for future generations to be able to have links with their roots. Thus, bhangra music and traditional Punjabi food, such as mustard-leaf curry (saag) and corn bread (makki di roti) are just as much identity markers for Ravidasis as they are for other Punjabi communities.53 Youth clubs, sports, and sewing classes are in line with general activities within diasporic communities. This process of giving

The “live and let live” aspect of one’s Punjabiyat, especially in relation to the life and teachings of Guru Ravidas has been discussed at length by L.R. Parwana, “Guru Ravi Dass and Punjabi Identity,” in P. Singh, and S.S. Thandi, (eds), Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (New Delhi, 1999), pp. 79–86. 49 Steven Vertovec, “Three Meanings of ‘Diaspora’: Exemplified among South Asian Religions,” Diaspora 6/3 (1997): 16. 50 This is an attitude that has frequently been conveyed by youngsters at both the Valmiki and Ravidasi places of worship that I have visited as a researcher. 51 Interview with an informant at the Wolverhampton Ravidasi Sabha on March 5, 2010. 52 Interview with an informant at the Wolverhampton Ravidasi Sabha on March 5, 2010. 53 For a discussion of the relevance of bhangra among youngsters in the diaspora, see Singh and Tatla, Sikhs in Britain, pp. 198 – 207. 48

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the youngsters a sense of cultural belonging extends to their involvement with political agendas.54 One informant from Bedford was of the opinion that “we are not doing enough to cater for interests of our younger generation. I feel our youngsters need to come forward and get involved in the organizing and running of our organizations.”55 Committee members are eager to attract the support of the youngsters by offering them western dishes in the congregation rather than traditional Indian food, believing that this will have more of a social impact on the youngsters. Thus, at times, ethnicity needs to be modified in the face of the effective transmission of cultural values. When young people are brought together in a place of worship that serves as an identity marker in order to retain a sense of belonging to this community, certain customs such as serving traditional food like pulses (daal) and bread (roti) are replaced by the more favorable pizza and fries. As Arthur Helweg remarks, the result is a modification of the process of transmission in order for the culture to survive in the adopted society without violating the essence of what is being transmitted to the younger generation.56 Thus, a growing number want to see changes in the constitution of the UK Sabha to assert more affirmatively the distinct identity of the Ravidasis from Sikhs. The older generation in this respect tends to be more relaxed with the “blurred” identity. According to an overwhelming consensus of opinion, these direct migrants “are not going anywhere” and are adding to the confusion of self-representation among the younger British generation. Roger Ballard’s statement, written over two decades ago, is particularly relevant to the self-representation among the Ravidasi youth today: “there are now considerable inter-generational differences between parents and their children over just what they expect from their religion and traditions.”57 A youngster from the Ravidasi community remarked that her family, who followed Sikh, Hindu, Radhsaomi and Ravidasi traditions, were concerned with having only one religious affiliation. She remarked that “it is particularly confusing when you need to teach your own children one day about who they are. Thus, there needs to be one identity only and we need to stick to it.”58 Interestingly, another youngster remarked that it was

See the theories of Steven Vertovec for a deeper insight into the extent to which pressure groups and, indeed, influential individuals among South Asian immigrants may be “prompted by their interest in the political plight of a country of origin.” Vertovec, ‘Three Meanings of Diaspora,” p. 4. 55 Questions were posed to the informant, from the Bedford Ravidasi Sabha, in an email. The response was obtained on April 3, 2010. 56 Helweg, “Transmitting and Regenerating Culture,” p. 311. 57 Roger Ballard, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N.G. Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience Beyond Punjab (Delhi, 1989), p. 227. 58 Interview conducted with Amandeep Kaur Mahey, an undergraduate Ravidasi student from the University of Wolverhampton on May 3, 2010. 54

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her family’s adherence to the teaching of Sant Bhagwan Dassji from the Ravidasi community that has: … made me more aware of my identity as a Ravidasi. He has made me realize that Ravidasis are different from Hindus and Sikhs. For me, the only guru is Guru Ravidas. But I still respect the other Sikh gurus because their teachings are also in the Guru Granth Sahib—the Holy book us Ravidasis use.59

The Bedford Committee has been involved in organizing two national conferences on the subject of identity within the Ravidasi community. One of the committee members from Bedford took the viewpoint that “our community needs to have an academic approach. This [that is, identity] is a vast subject and needs to be addressed with stamina and sensitivity.”60 The Namdharis in Britain The Namdhari community in Britain provides an intriguing perspicacity into the transmission of culture and self-representation, especially when addressing the needs of its younger British-born generations. There are four Namdhari places of worship in Britain, with an estimated 10,000 Namdharis in the UK.61 The impact of being born into and brought up in a western society is one of the broader issues that needs to be addressed. The other is the religious philosophy of the Namdhari tradition that clearly marks it as the “other” in its distinction from the mainstream Sikh community worldwide.62 The extremely important belief in the Sikh scripture as the only present guru, expressed through the words “Guru Maniyo Granth,” is strongly contested by Namdharis who adamantly assert that these words were never uttered by Guru Gobind Singh and, therefore, the scripture was not given spiritual authority by the human guru. In the opinion of the Namdharis, the mainstream Sikh community has gone astray by basing its proclamation of scriptural authority on mere conjecture. This leads on to the task of transmitting the Namdhari principles to the younger generation.

Interview carried out with Poonam Sangrey, a Ravidasi undergraduate student from the University of Wolverhampton, on April 15, 2010. 60 Questions were posed to the informant from the Bedford Ravidasi Sabha in an email. The response was obtained on April 3, 2010. 61 P. Weller, (2007) Religions in the UK 2007–2010 (Derby, 2007), p. 295. 62 Although much debated here by the mainstream, I am utilizing the belief in the ten human gurus and the eternal guruship of the Guru Granth Sahib as important identity markers of a “Sikh.” 59

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In British schools, pupils are not taught about the beliefs and practices of the Namdharis.63 This, in turn, has huge repercussions on the representation of the British Namdhari community among school-aged Namdhari pupils and Sikh pupils in general. It adds to the role of Namdhari parents and community leaders to teach the younger generation of British-born and British-educated children as to what exactly their identity as Namdharis constitutes. The needs of the youth in terms of their distinction from the mainstream community are aptly highlighted by H.S. Hanspal, a prominent member of the Namdhari community. He writes: In his book Travels in Kashmir and the Punjab published in London in 1845, the German traveler Baron Charles Hugel writes, ‘The office of the Guru, however, was not filled up, because the Sikhs long expected the return of Govind Singh, of whose death they never received any certain information’. All these and many more versions of the Nanded incident keep the Sikh Panth disunited. The present generation needs guidance so that they do not deviate from the path of Sikhism. Some intellectuals should devote their energies and provide the right direction to Sikh youth.64

The Namdhari tradition is replete with historical accounts that it utilizes in order to justify that Guru Gobind Singh did not die in Nanded in 1708, as the mainstream Sikh historiography asserts, but lived his later life as Ajapal Singh.65 This justifies, in the Namdhari opinion, that Guru Gobind Singh did not pass guruship to the scripture and did not place a coconut and five coins in front of the text as a ritual to transfer the spiritual authority. Hence, the Namdharis believe in a continued line of succession of living gurus, with the present guru being Jagjit Singh, who has his permanent residence in Bhaini Sahib outside of Ludhiana in the Punjab. Accordingly, the title of guru is not bestowed on the Sikh scripture among Namdharis and it is thus not given the same authoritative position in worship as in the case among the wider community.66

63 I am not aware of any particular Local Education Authority laying stress on pupils being taught about the Namdhari belief in continuing the line of human gurus. Hence, the teaching of Sikhism in British schools very often generalizes the uniformity in Sikh belief and practice. 64 H.S. Hanspal, “Sikh History Requires Authenticity,” in Satyug: 300th VaisakhiKhalsa Issue (New Delhi, 1999). 65 Macauliffe writes an account of Guru Gobind Singh assuming the role of an actor and thus betraying the local authorities into believing he had died. See M.A. Macauliffe, The Sikh Religion: Volume 5 (New Delhi, 1978), p. 245. 66 The historical study of the development of the Namdhari Panth is beyond the remit of this chapter; however, a detailed study of the development of the Namdhari tradition and the justifications for continuing the line of human gurus can be found in Takhar, Sikh Identity, pp. 60–72.

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The South Asia Cultural Heritage Centre UK, based in London, houses numerous manuscripts and constitutions with regard to the transmission of Namdhari tradition and the Namdhari identity among the community in the diaspora. The committee of the Namdhari Sikh congregation has a significant number of youngsters in an active role of promoting a Namdhari identity and the aspirations of the Namdhari sangat worldwide under the leadership of its present guru Jagjit Singh. I was told by a prominent informant and research scholar from within the Namdhari community that the youngsters are “very much aware of their identity” and the style in which their turbans are to be tied.67 Namdharis also have their own religious practices and rituals, such as the rite of passage at birth when the baby receives a secret gurmantar whispered into his or her ear. This gurmantar takes the form of a special recitation and it is considered a very special blessing if it is performed by Satguru Jagjit Singh himself. With regard to self-representation, Namdhari youngsters are initiated into the Khalsa community at around the age of five years old. The highly significant use of classical instruments subsequently entails that youngsters are taught to play classical musical through organized classes, often by Namdhari teachers. Eighty percent of youngsters from the Namdhari community in Britain are taught kirtan as a result of the insistence on classical music.68 Although this is not a practice unique to Namdharis alone, as it is found in almost all kirtan schools within the gurdwaras of Britain, their gatherings place a marked prominence on classical music. This in itself is a process of identity strengthening and transmission of culture among the British-born Namdhari generations. It is indeed rare to find a clean-shaven Namdhari Sikh, even if beard trimming is considered to be as much a problem among their youngsters as within the larger Sikh community. With regard to the reinstatement of traditional values in the Sikh community as a whole, Namdharis insist on reiterating the events of 1857 when, according to their historiography, Guru Ram Singh reinstated the Sant Khalsa in an endeavor to seek individuals of high moral character as members. In Namdhari tradition, this event revived the Sikh community since the morals of the guru’s followers had lapsed. The Namdhari Sikh sangat committees have a significant number of members from the younger generation, the majority of whom are also British-born. This illustrates well the efforts of the community as a whole to engage its future generations in matters pertaining to the preservation of religious and cultural values. In many other Sikh communities, the committees tend to be constituted by oldergeneration Sikhs while the leaders of youth groups tend to be younger. Cultural transmission is, however, considered a problem which is causing concern among the Namdharis in similar ways to that of the larger Sikh community in Britain. The Namdhari style of tying the white turban horizontally is clearly distinguishable from the styles of other Sikhs. For a visual illustration of the Namdhari turban, see Takhar, Sikh Identity, p. 71. 68 Details from an informant at the South Asia Cultural Society via a letter received on March 20, 2010. 67

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Although Namdharis are adamant in repeatedly stating that their identity is Sikh and they are not distinct from the mainstream Sikh community, their tradition of a continued line of succession of human gurus after Guru Gobind Singh, however, causes them to be viewed as heretics by many other Sikhs. From a youngster’s point of view, being a Namdhari means looking to Guru Jagjit Singh as the present living guru and this has caused issues when attempting one overall definition to encompass all Sikhs of the larger community. The comments of Steven Ramey are particularly applicable in this context, as he writes that “while a community presents a particular definition of their religion, the practices within that same community may not correspond exactly to the definition.”69 Here again, one is confronted by the boundaries of defining a Sikh and the question of whether the belief in the guruship of the Sikh scripture can be utilized as a justifiable criterion for a Sikh identity. The term of reference used for places of worship among Namdharis is another important indicator of self-representation in the community. Generally, when a building stores a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib in the ritually prescribed way, it becomes a gurdwara (literally meaning “the house/gate/door of the guru”). However, during my research, there have been many references to the Namdhari place of worship as a dharamsala or simply sangat rather than gurdwara. From a Namdhari perspective, the reasons for this may be two-fold: first, the Namdharis retain the term “Adi Granth” for the Sikh scripture in favor of “Guru Granth Sahib” and claim this is in keeping with the traditional term for the scripture. Namdharis affirm that it is appropriate to refer to the Sikh place of worship as a dharamsala (in line with the living gurus’ period) rather than as a gurdwara. Secondly, the Namdhari place of worship can only be a gurdwara when the guru is present, which in the case of the Namdharis, is when Jagjit Singh is seated under a canopy. Furthermore, according to the interpretation of a Namdhari scholarly informant, the term “gurdwara” was formally instated in the 1925 Gurdwara Act after the first meeting of the SGPC. Issues pertaining to Sikh identity were paramount during this period due to the authority exercised by the mahants and the removal of Hindu idols from gurdwaras. As a result of the events of 1925, Namdharis believe that the phrase “Guru Maniyo Granth” was coined by the leaders of the SGPC in an attempt to remove idol worshipping within the Sikh community. Namdhari places of worship, in line with many places of worship of the world’s faiths, are becoming social institutions as well as centers for religious practice. The Namdhari centers in Britain operate a number of youth activities as well as classes for the community at large, such as sewing and devotional music (kirtan). During the annual religious event of Jap Paryog, the continuous recital of hymns during which initiation to the Sant Khalsa is popular, the Namdhari place emphasis on the attendance of the younger generation at the religious service for two hours every evening. During this program, there is an essential one hour of meditation on the Ramey, “Challenging Definitions,” p. 6.

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divine name (nam simran) every evening for five continuous weeks. The program lasts for two hours and usually takes place prior to the festival of Diwali in the fall. Cultural transmission and self-representation for the younger generation of Namdharis is, perhaps, aptly illustrated through the importance attributed to the annual camp at Bhaini Sahib from June 22 to 30. The purpose of this event is to involve the youth in numerous activities that promote a strong sense of belonging to the worldwide community of Namdharis. Activities during the camp emphasize, in particular, learning to play classical Indian instruments and to practice kirtan. Both these traditions have a special significance to the Namdhari community. Similar camps take place in the UK and are organized by the British Namdhari community (see Figure 12.2.).

Figure 12.2 Young Namdhari boys playing classical instruments and practicing kirtan during a Namdhari camp at Bhaini Sahib. Photo courtesy of Mr. Surjit Singh Jeet of the South Asia Cultural Heritage Centre, London

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The importance of the camps as platforms for the transmission of culture and selfrepresentation among the Namdhari youth is a prominent feature of the activities organized by the Vishwa Namdhari Vidhyak Jatha, that is, the Namdhari youth association, with aims to educate youngsters about the Namdhari tenets of faith. To achieve this effect, the group asserts that their main objective is “to organize the Namdhari youth and spread the teachings of Sri Satguru Ji and imbibe the spirit of Sikhism in them.”70 During the camps, the youth are trained in performing the Sikh prayer (ardas), meditation (nam simran), and are taught to tie the turban in a horizontal fashion in accordance with the Namdhari tradition. The camps are considered important for “training the younger generation so that they are ever-ready to perform their religious duties.”71 Furthermore, the Namdhari Sports Academy in Bhaini Sahib attracts people annually from the global community of Namdharis, especially the younger generations. Concluding Remarks The importance of the places of worship of the three communities, sometimes also labeled gurdwaras (in informal conversations), are important social as well as religious institutions for the transmission of culture across generations. Hence, much of the tensions I have encountered in my research are mainly due to the political orientation of the committee leaders, particularly in the Ravidasi community where a number of political affiliations are possible among the members of a single committee. This, in turn, marks the differing attitudes towards self-representation and has huge implications for cultural and identity transmission with regard to the younger generation. In this respect, “it is not surprising that elections to gurdwara management committees be so keenly and fiercely contested.”72 Cultural transmission among the Valmikis, Namdharis, and Ravidasis must be carefully developed with the younger generations and future British-born generations in mind. This is especially the case with the Valmikis and Ravidasis since a number of religious identities are possible. Indeed, as Pashaura Singh states, “how people define themselves shapes how they develop.”73 However, to what extent the caste identity should be transmitted to the younger generations is an extremely sensitive issue. CasteWatchUK is adamant in its ideals that the caste system’s derogatory 70 Vishwa Namdhari Vidyak Jatha, Sikh History Selective Question Answers (Ludhiana, not dated), p. 42. 71 Ibid., p. 48. 72 S.S. Thandi, “The Punjabi Diaspora in the UK and the Punjab Crisis,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (New Delhi, 1996), p. 231. 73 Pashuara Singh, “Early Markers of Sikh Identity: A Focus on the Works of First Five Gurus,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), p. 69.

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placing of the lower classes need not be taught in schools. Perhaps this is a step in the right direction. Perhaps it is too ambitious a step to obliterate it altogether from the problems of identity that both the Valmiki and Ravidasi communities are currently facing. In this respect, a young woman from the Ravidasi community remarked that “kids should be taught about the caste system since this will help them understand what it means to be a Jat, or a Chuhra, or a Chamar.”74 Another youngster remarked that “I don’t really understand all the fuss about religious boundaries. I am quite happy being a Valmiki/Sikh/Hindu and Radhasoami.”75 This again, seems to necessitate the urgency for one overall definition of identity within each community in order to benefit the young, especially British-born generations. Nevertheless, I agree with Steven Ramey that “viewing syncretism and antisyncretism as processes of power is valid when movements consciously combine diverse elements, but the issue remains complex.”76 The Namdharis are, to some degree, united as a community in terms of their identity and the core cultural and ethnic aspects that are to be transmitted to the younger generation. As Arthur Helweg points out, ethnicity gives the individual a strong sense of belonging by providing “social, economic and emotional support.”77 Nevertheless, the Namdhari community in Britain has other issues to deal with, such as an increasingly lapsed attitude towards the outward form of the Khalsa. Beard trimming is becoming progressively popular among Namdhari youth as it is in the general Sikh community. The process of self-definition for the Valmikis and the Ravidasis is not unique. All religious traditions have had to go through the same process, especially in the development and expansion stage. Furthermore, issues of self-representation become more pressing when the overall community is composed of individuals who have been born into the faith. For a long time, Sikhs have had to struggle with assertions of their distinction from Hindus. For instance, the Sikh reformist, Kahn Singh Nabha, and his influential pamphlet of 1898, “We are not Hindus” (Ham Hindu Nahin), dealt with this transition. A continued blurring of customs across many faiths can be seen as evident in cultural practices, such as the Hindu festival Karva Chauth when married women, including Sikh, fast for the wellbeing of their husbands. One may ask if these particular women have concerns over their cultural and religious identity. The problems associated with attempting to provide notions of clear-cut religious identities are perhaps best illustrated by Carl Olson who remarks that: Religion is an elusive notion to define in such a way that it can be applied crossculturally to all religions. We delude ourselves into believing that we know what 74 Conversation with a Ravidasi undergraduate student from the University of Wolverhampton. 75 Interview carried out with Poonam Sangrey, a Ravidasi undergraduate student from the University of Wolverhampton, on April 15, 2010. 76 Ramey, “Challenging Definitions,” p. 4. 77 Helweg, “Transmitting and Regenerating Culture,” p. 301.

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it is and that we can recognize it when we see it. But our attempts to precisely define it cross-culturally tend to fail.78

In terms of textbook definitions of a Sikh, where does the Namdhari community fit in with its continuation of living gurus? They are ardent upholders of the Khalsa tradition even though they refer more so to the Sant Khalsa of 1857. All these issues are pertinent since they all have repercussions for future generations of Valmikis, Ravidasis, and Namdharis. In this respect, the importance of religious space as serving both social and religious functions can be essential for the transmission of cultural and religious traditions to the younger generation. In the words of Pashaura Singh, “The issue of self-definition may be better understood as the standard gradual process of consolidation of a religious tradition.”79 The subsequent effect, as expressed by a youngster from the Namdhari community, is as follows: “Very much of what I receive about my culture and religion comes from my parents. The rest I get from the Gurdwara. My self-representation is that of my parents.”80 Parental influence in the transmission of culture and self-representation among the youth of the faith communities discussed above, cannot be underestimated. Additionally, places of worship and youth group activities also have an important role to play in the shaping of one’s cultural and religious identity. This goes hand in hand with the assertion of pride in one’s cultural heritage, particularly when growing up in the UK. Bibliography Amended Constitution of Sri Guru Ravi Dass Sabha UK (1979) (Birmingham: Sri Guru Ravidass Bhawan 1995). Anand, Dibyesh, “Diasporic subjectivity as an ethical position,” South Asian Diaspora, 1/2 (2009): 103–11. Bajwa, F.S., Kuka Movement (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1965). Bali, Y. and K. Bali, Warriors in White (New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications, 1995). Ballard, Roger, “Differentiation and Disjunction Amongst the Sikhs in Britain,” in N.G. Barrier and Verne A. Dusenbery (eds), The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab (Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1989). Callewaert, W.M. and P.G. Friedlander, The Life and Works of Raidas (Delhi: Manohar, 1992). Olson, “Contested Categories and Issues in Interpretation,” in Mittal and Thursby (eds), Religions of South Asia, p. 264. 79 Pashaura Singh, The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib: Sikh Self-Definition and the Bhagat Bani (New Delhi, 2003), p. 28. 80 Conversation with a Namdhari student from the University of Wolverhampton on April 14, 2010. 78

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Constitution of Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK (The Sri Guru Ravidass Bhawan Birmingham., June 1995). Fletcher, Jeannine, “Religious Pluralism in an era of Globalization: The Making of Modern Religious Identity,” Theological Studies, 69 (2008): 401–27. Hanspal, H.S., “Sikh History Requires Authenticity,” in Satyug: 300th VaisakhiKhalsa Issue (New Delhi: The Satyug Weekly 1999). Helweg, A.W., “Transmitting and Regenerating Culture: The Sikh Case,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999). Jeet, S.S., Brief Remarks about Namdhari Sikhs (London: Namdhari Sikh Sangat UK, not dated). Joshi, Dharmendra Joshi and Amaninder Pal, “Guru Ravidass Sampradaye Rejects Separate Religion,” The Tribune (February 3, 2010), available at http://www. tribuneindia.com/2010/20100204/punjab.htm#3, accessed February 5, 2010. Juergensmeyer, Mark, Religion as Social Vision: The Movement against Untouchablity in 20th-Century Punjab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982). Leslie, Julia, Authority and Meaning in Indian Religions: Hinduism and the Case of Valmiki (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003). Macauliffe, M.A., The Sikh Religion: Vol. 5 (New Delhi: S. Chand and Company Ltd, 1978). McLeod, W.H., Who is a Sikh? The Problem of Sikh Identity (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989). Mittal, S. and G. Thursby (eds), Religions of South Asia: An Introduction (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006). Morny, Joy, “Postcolonial Reflections: Challenges for Religious Studies,” Method and Theory in The Study of Religion, 13 (2001): 177–95. Nesbitt, Eleanor, My Dad’s Hindu, My Mum’s Side are Sikhs: Issues in Religious Identity (Oxford: National Foundation for Arts Education, 1991). Oberoi, Harjot, The Construction of Religious Boundaries: Culture, Identity and Diversity in the Sikh Tradition (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997). Olson, C. “Contested Categories and Issues in Interpretation,” in S. Mittal and G. Thursby (eds), Religions of South Asia: An Introduction (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006). Page, J., “Ravidass Followers Declare Separate Religion, Released Separate Religious Granth” (2010), available at http://www.punjabnewsline.com, accessed February 4, 2010. Parwana, L.R., “Guru Ravi Dass and Punjabi Identity,” in P. Singh and S.S. Thandi (eds), Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999). Ramey, Steven, “Challenging Definitions: Human Agency, Diverse Religious Practices and the Problems of Boundaries,” Numen, 54 (2007): 1–27. Singh, Gurharpal and Darshan Singh Tatla, Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community (Delhi; Ajanta Books International, 2008).

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Singh, Pashaura, The Bhagats of the Guru Granth Sahib: Sikh Self-Definition and the Bhagat Bani (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003). Singh, Pashaura, “Early Markers of Sikh Identity: A Focus on the Works of First Five Gurus,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier, (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999). Takhar, Opinderjit K., Sikh Identity: An Exploration of Groups Amongst Sikhs (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005). Thandi, Shinder, “The Punjabi Diaspora in the UK and the Punjab Crisis,” in P. Singh and N.G. Barrier (eds), The Transmission of Sikh Heritage in the Diaspora (New Delhi: Manohar, 1996). Vertovec, Steven, “Three Meanings of ‘Diaspora’, Exemplified among South Asian Religions,” Diaspora 6/3 (1997): 277–99. Vishwa Namdhari Vidyak Jatha, Sikh History Selective Question Answers (Ludhiana: ArtCave Printers, not dated). Weller, P., Religions in the UK 2007–2010 (Derby: Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby, 2007).

Chapter 13

The Sikh Diaspora in Ireland: A Short History Glenn Jordan and Satwinder Singh

For almost a century the Sikhs have been settling in overseas countries. The earliest destinations were the Far Eastern countries. The latest phase of emigration has been engendered by the traumatic events in Punjab, from where hundreds have fled abroad as their lives have been shattered due to persecution. As a religious community scattered away from its center, Sikhs share a common feeling of displacement, reinforced by several migrations suffered in the twentieth century.1 We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of colleagues who have commented on earlier drafts of this chapter. In particular, we would like to express our appreciation to Dr. Steven Loyal of University College Dublin, Professor Chris Weedon of Cardiff University and Mr. Harpreet Singh of the Irish Sikh Council. Part of this work was commissioned by FOMACS—the Forum on Migration and Communications at the Dublin Institute of Technology. It was part-funded by the Community Foundation of Ireland. 1 Darshan Singh Tatla, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (London, 1999), p. xxi. The concept of a “Sikh diaspora” is now widespread in the academic literature. See, for example, Darshan Singh Tatla, “Sikh Diaspora,” in Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember, and Ian Skoggard (eds), Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures around the World (New York, 2005), pp. 273–85; Kamal Elizabeth Nayar, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations Amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism (Toronto, 2004); Brian Keith Axel, The Nation’s Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and Formation of a Sikh Diaspora (Durham, 2001), and Tony Ballantyne, Between Colonialism and Diaspora: Sikh Cultural Formations in an Imperial World (Durham, 2006). Indeed, there is now a voluminous literature using the concept of diaspora to describe and interpret the experience of various exiled and immigrant peoples. Some early important works include H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People (Cambridge, MA, 1976); on the Jewish diaspora, St Clair Drake, “Diaspora Studies and Pan-Africanism,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC, 1987), pp. 341– 402; St. Clair Drake, Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in History and Anthropology, Vol. 1 (Los Angeles, 1987), St. Clair Drake, Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in History and Anthropology, Vol. 2 (Los Angeles, 1990); George Shepperson, “African Diaspora: Concepts and Context,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC, 1982), pp. 46–53,and Elliott Skinner, “The Dialectic between Diasporas and Homelands,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC, 1982), pp. 17–45 on the African Diaspora; on the Irish Diaspora, Donald Harman Akenson, The Irish Diaspora: A Primer (Belfast, 1993).

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A Sikh Face in Ireland is a project—including an exhibition, website and publications—bringing together ethnography, photography, and oral history to explore the hidden history of people currently living on the island of Ireland whose families are originally from the Punjab and followers of the Sikh religion.2 We worked together on this project from fall 2007 to spring 2010, traveling together and entering Sikh homes and places of worship all over the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, where Glenn took portraits and documentary photographs and Satwinder conducted life-story interviews with nearly a hundred subjects. In the Republic, we photographed and interviewed people in County Dublin, Cork, Galway, County Clare, County Kildare, County Mayo, County Meath, County Limerick, and County Kilkenny. In the North, we photographed and interviewed people in Belfast, Derry/Londonderry, Omagh, Strabane, and Ballymoney. We engaged with Sikhs from different backgrounds—including people who have lived in Ireland for a relatively long time, people from different occupational and educational backgrounds, people with different migration histories, and people from different groupings within the community. Ours was not a study of Sikhism, but of Sikhs—immigrants and their descendants—in the diaspora. We did not begin with a fixed notion of what a “Sikh” is: many of the participants self-identify as Sikhs, while some do not; some identify closely with Sikhism as a religion, while others identify more with the Sikhs as a nation.3 Many emigrated directly from India, while others came from East Africa, England and elsewhere (including one from Malaysia). We also included two people who are converts to Sikhism, some people who are married to Sikhs, and some people who are not Sikh but who are regularly part of Sikh community activities (most of these are immigrants from the Punjab whose families are Hindu).4 We are, perhaps, unlikely colleagues. Born into an African-American family in California, Glenn is a middle-aged ethnographer, oral historian, cultural theorist, and photographer who has lived in Wales since 1987, where he has been engaged for years in collaborative research, publications, and exhibitions on immigrants The exhibition A Sikh Face in Ireland is currently touring. The tour began at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle, where the exhibition ran from May 6 until September 26, 2010. 3 Verne A Dusenbery, “‘Nation’ or ‘World Religion’?: Master Narratives of Sikh identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi, 1999), pp. 127–44. Dusenbery argues that there are two “dominant master narratives—Sikhs as a ‘nation’ and Sikhism as a ‘world religion’—through which Sikhs have commonly represented themselves.” The life stories that we collected are consistent with this interpretation. 4 There is no permanent Hindu temple in Dublin. The Dublin gurdwara serves as a social and cultural institution for people of Punjabi-speaking backgrounds who are immigrants in and visitors to Ireland. Apparently, like many other gurdwaras in the Sikh diaspora, the Dublin gurdwara routinely performs functions such as marriages and firstbirthday ceremonies for Indian immigrants who are not Sikh. 2

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and minorities in Wales.5 Born and raised in a Punjabi-speaking family in India, Satwinder is a postgraduate student in cultural studies and an active member of the Irish Sikh Council6 and the Gurdwara in Dublin. We came together by accident. In March 2007, FOMACS, the Forum on Migration and Communications, was launched at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Somali Elders: Portraits from Wales, Jordan’s exhibition of large portrait photographs and life stories, accompanied the launch.7 Satwinder Singh and some other young Sikhs who attended asked if he would be willing to do such a project in Ireland. Jordan said, “Why not?” That was the beginning of a longterm relationship. This chapter, based on a small part of our work on the project, explores a hidden history of Sikh immigrants and their descendants in the North and South of Ireland. Much of the material derives from oral history interviews, family photographs, documentary photographs, portraits, and other documents that we collected and took in the course of the project. We use the term “diaspora” to engage with the history of Sikhs in Ireland, but our use of the term does not simply mean immigrant settlements outside of a homeland. Rather we wish to retain some association with the classic use of the term. The history revealed in the photographs and life stories in our project is one that includes forced migration, exile and identity crises related to problems of belonging. The identities revealed in the photographs and stories we collected are complex, plural, and fractured, like those of peoples of the African and Jewish diasporas. The relations to the “homeland” revealed are imagined—not least because “return” to the Punjab is not a viable option for most of the subjects in this text. They belong to histories of the West as much as they belong to histories of the East. Their lives and stories are part of Ireland’s history and present, but this is the first exploration of this theme. The history of Sikhs in Ireland, in both the North and the Republic, remains a hidden history: there have been no books on Sikhs in Ireland, no exhibitions and, until very recently, no media programs.8 5 See, for example, Glenn Jordan et. al. Somali Elders: Portraits from Wales / Odeyada Soomaalida: Muuqaalo ka yimid Welishka (Cardiff, 2004); Glenn Jordan, ”Photography That Cares: Portraits from Multi-ethnic Wales,” Journal of Media Practice, 9/2 (2008): 153–69; Glenn Jordan, ”Voices from Below: Doing People’s History in Cardiff Docklands,” in Stefan Berger, Heiko Feldner, and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice (London, 2010), pp. 330–52; and Glenn Jordan and Chis Weedon, ”When the Subaltern Speak, What Do They Say? Radical Cultural Politics in Cardiff Docklands,” in Lawrence Grossberg, Paul Gilroy, and Angela McRobbie (eds), Without Guarantees: Essays for Stuart Hall (London, 2000), pp. 165–80. 6 A discussion of the Irish Sikh Council is included later in this paper. 7 See Jordan et. al., Somali Elders. The book is bilingual in English and Somali. 8 There is a small literature on Indians in Ireland: see Narinder Kapur, The Irish Raj: Illustrated Stories about Irish in India and Indians in Ireland (Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1997). RTÉ has broadcasted short programs about Sikh community in Dublin occasionally.

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This essay, like the touring exhibition A Sikh Face in Ireland, reveals marginalized experiences, images, and stories. It privileges faces and voices that mainstream histories have ignored.9 Migration to Britain and Ireland There are currently around 200 Sikhs in Northern Ireland and perhaps as many as 1,500 in the Republic. Sikh migration to Britain and Ireland can be viewed as consisting of five waves.10 Between the two world wars, there was a wave of Sikh migrants to Britain and Northern Ireland that included businessmen, students, and peddlers. After Partition and Indian independence in 1947, there was a second wave of immigrants—mostly, young laborers—to the UK and Ireland. The third wave of Sikh immigrants, who arrived in the 1960s and 1970s, consisted of immigrants who were related to people already living in Northern Ireland. The fourth wave of Sikh immigrants did not come directly from India but from former British colonies, predominantly from East Africa, after these nations achieved independence. The fifth wave of Sikh immigrants—restaurant workers, students, IT workers, businessmen, doctors, and nurses—came to Ireland as a result of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi and other parts of India and the Celtic boom of the 1990s.11 Those who came in the first three waves all went to Northern Ireland. Thus, we begin the story with the North. The First Settlers Sikh migration to Northern Ireland dates from the early 1930s—and it is closely connected to Sikh migration to mainland Britain. The first Sikhs to come to the North worked as peddlers (that is, traveling salesmen), selling clothes door to 9 This work can be viewed as part of a small but growing literature that features the voices of immigrants in Ireland: see, for example, Susan Knight (ed.), Where the Grass Is Greener: Voices of Immigrant Women in Ireland (Cork, 2001); and Eva Bourke and Borbála Faragó (eds), Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland (Dublin, 2010). 10 This periodization is adapted from Peter Bance, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud, 2007). 11 Although this work is not “social science” in any traditional sense, it can be viewed as a contribution to the growing social science literature on immigrants and race in Ireland: see, for example, Bryan Fanning, Racism and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland (Manchester, 2003); Bryan Fanning, (ed.) Immigration and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland (Manchester, 2007); Alana Lentin and Ronit Lentin, Race and State (Cambridge, 2008); and Steven Loyal, “Immigration,” in Sara O’Sullivan (ed.), Understanding Immigration in Ireland: Ireland in a Global Age (Manchester 2011).

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door. Although some of them stayed, most of them did not. Rather, they moved back and forth between the homeland and the UK, generally intending to acquire enough money to support a better lifestyle in India. As mentioned above, the story of the early settlers is a story of chain migration. The first Sikh to come into Northern Ireland was Ujagar Singh, who was from Pandori Mattoo village in the Jalandhar district of the Doaba region in the Punjab. He came in 1931 and lived in Derry (until he returned to India, due to health problems, circa 1958). Ujagar Singh invited his cousin, Bawa Singh, and two nephews, Dalip Singh and Suchet Singh Nagra, who joined him in Derry in 1935. In 1947, and 1949 Bachint Singh Nagra and Ajit Singh Nagra, both brothers of Suchet Singh Nagra, also moved to Derry (see Figure 13.1).

Figure 13.1 Ajit Singh Nagra in his living room with picture of his brother Bahint Singh Nagra, Derry, 2009. Photo: Glenn Jordan

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Before they boarded a ship to the UK, all of these early Sikh immigrants traveled from the Jalandhar district or Hoshiarpur district to Bombay or to Calcutta. On arrival in England, they were received by other Indians, Sikhs and non-Sikhs, who were mostly relatives and family members. From England, they came to Northern Ireland. Sohan Singh Kular, who came in 1953 and subsequently became a highly successful and wealthy businessman, recalls the journey from India to the English port of Newcastle: “We came from Calcutta to Karachi, then from Karachi to the Middle East (we stayed there for two days), then from the Middle East to Paris and then we came here. I couldn’t eat the food on the journey. I didn’t like the food; I used to feel like vomiting whenever I saw it.12 These men, who were in their twenties, came with virtually no money, partly because they were not well off in India. They lived in rented accommodations and started working as peddlers, usually within a week after their arrival. They sold clothes, such as t-shirts, trousers, ties, dresses, and so on, in nearby towns and villages. First, they traveled on foot; then, they bought bicycles; and, as their businesses grew, they acquired cars, which enabled them to travel to nearby towns and markets—covering around 40 or 45 miles a day. Almost all of these men removed their turbans and beards either on arrival or before boarding ship. In The Irish Raj, Narinder Kapur has written about this: When the ship was approaching England, some of the Sikhs on the board would use this opportunity to shave off their beard and cut their long hair. The beard and long hair, with the turban over the hair, would have been kept on the outward journey. However, once they were back in [the UK], the Sikhs found that this aspect of their religious tradition would sometimes be a handicap. One of the Sikh businessmen from Northern Ireland, on his journey back from India to Ireland, still kept his beard and turban. A close friend, who had already settled in Ireland a few years earlier and who had called him over to live in Northern Ireland, had decided not to write to him in India to ask him to shave his hair, since this would probably have discouraged him from coming to Ireland. Instead, he wrote a letter to him c/o his ship (Jal Jawahar). The letter in fact reached him when the ship stopped in Port Said, Egypt. In his letter, the close friend in Northern Ireland strongly advised the Sikh gentleman to cut his hair and remove his turban, since this would work against him when he was selling goods to the local Irish people, who might be scared by such an unusual appearance … .13

Migrant Sikhs and other Indians who were already working as peddlers found that the traditional male Sikh appearance with turban and beard was not welcomed in this part of the diaspora, so they often advised incoming Sikhs to cut their hair and remove their turbans—to remove these obstacles to earning a livelihood. For some Interview with Sohan Singh Kular, July 6, 2009. Kapur, The Irish Raj, p. 77.

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of them, keeping a turban in wet weather meant extra hardship. Ajit Singh Nagra, who came to Derry in 1953, recalls that: I used to wear a turban in India … My uncle told me, “It’s very much raining over there. If you will wear turban then it will get wet all time and you will catch cold.” So I got my hair cut in Bombay. After coming here, I used to wear a cap at the time of rain. There was no turban-wearing Sikh at that time. Now there are many, but there weren’t at that time.14

One of the early immigrants was an ex-army man, part of the large number of Sikhs who answered Britain’s call to join the fight against fascism in World War II, but most of them came from farming backgrounds. Shrinking land holdings drove many of these young Sikhs to look for money in western countries. In the 1950s, most of them had a minimal level of education and they couldn’t speak any English when they came. Their family and friends, who had already come to Britain or Northern Ireland, received them at seaports and airports. They normally started working soon after their arrival. Sohan Singh Kular, who came to Derry in 1953 at the age of 23, tells how he overcame his language problem as a peddler: “They told me, ‘You say to them like this: “Buy something please; buy something please … .”’”15 Ajit Singh Nagra, who came in 1951 and was involved in the clothing business until he took retirement in 2008, said: “I didn’t know English, but I knew the numbers in English as well as in Punjabi. I used to write the number [that is, the price of the item] on the label and if anybody asked me the cost, I used to show them the label.”16 Because these early immigrants found people in the North very nice and helpful, they kept working despite the language barrier and hostile weather conditions. These Sikh peddlers, like other Indians, bought clothes from Belfast wholesalers or occasionally from Glasgow. They sold clothes to their customers on credit and collected money every week. Usually they carried a notebook with them to keep a record of the transactions and customers. One, who was illiterate, requested the customers to make entries in the notebook. Some of them later diversified into property and hospitality business, but most did not. These Sikh migrants were very young when they came to Northern Ireland. Some of them were unmarried and others were married shortly before they left for Northern Ireland. The unmarried ones went back to India after a couple of years to get married. Their wives often joined them a few months or a year later. Initially, the women in these early immigrant families did not work outside the home. The ones who did—and they usually worked in factories, especially factories making shirts (collars, cuffs, and so on) and trousers—were ones who had lost their husbands and needed money to survive. Interview with Ajit Singh Nagra, July 7, 2009. Interview with Sohan Singh Kular, July 6, 2009. 16 Interview with Ajit Singh Nagra, July 7, 2009. 14 15

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Until the 1970s, Sikh women in Northern Ireland wore saris when going outside the house, as Punjabi suits were mistaken as night dresses by local people. As there was no Indian shop in the North to buy Indian spices, lentils and other staples of the Sikh diet, purchases were made in Glasgow (one member of the community would go and purchase items for the various families). A few direct descendants of the early immigrants still live in Northern Ireland. There are also some nieces and nephews of these early immigrants: for instance, Ajit Singh Nagra, whose brothers Suchet Singh Nagra and Vachant Singh Nagra came before him; Sohan Singh Kular, whose sister was married to the Ujagar Singh, and Jagir Kaur Nagra, the widow of Vachant Singh Nagra (see Figure 13.2). Most of the members of the Derry Sikh community are relatives of these early immigrants—and they originally come from Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts in the Punjab.

Figure 13.2 Jagir Kaur Nagra playing harmonium and leading hymn singing, Derry Gurdwara, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan Most of the Sikh families in Belfast are from the Bhatra (or Bhat) Sikh community and migrated from Britain in 1960s. They worked as peddlers first in the UK and then went to Belfast. They sold clothes in markets in different towns in the North, such as Newry, Bangor, Antrim, Ballymena and occasionally they also ventured into the South. The forefathers of some of these Sikhs were also peddlers who

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migrated to Britain during 1930s. They filled the vacuum created by the migration of Jewish peddlers from Europe to the US. The Second Wave In August 1947, India became one of the first British colonies in Africa and Asia to attain independence. At the same time, the nation was partitioned into India, West Pakistan (which later became Pakistan) and East Pakistan (which later became Bangladesh). Partition displaced millions of people on both sides of the divide. The Partition line ran through the Punjab, which meant that many Sikhs (and Hindus) suddenly found themselves in a Muslim nation that was hostile to their interests (and many Muslims found themselves in an equivalent situation). Sikhs were raped, killed, forcibly converted, and deported. There were even instances when all of the women of a Sikh village were killed by the men of the village to prevent their being raped by hostile Muslims.17 This led to mass internal migration and external migration—and many of those who migrated overseas came to the UK and Ireland. Most were young laborers who came to work as peddlers and in factories in Britain, and as peddlers in Northern Ireland. The Third Wave A third wave of Sikh immigrants arrived in the 1960s and 1970s. Like most of those in the first wave, they arrived through chain migration—that is, they came through contacts with family and friends who were already living in Britain or Northern Ireland. Some of these immigrants came directly from India; others came after first settling in Britain. Whereas the first two waves went only to the North, some in the third wave settled in the Republic. Our interviews suggest that the first generation of Sikhs in the Republic of Ireland initially came as restaurant workers and small businessmen during 1970s. For example, in 1972, approximately ten people from the Jalandhar district in the Punjab came to Ireland on work permits to be employed as chefs in restaurants in Cork and Dublin owned by Mohinder Singh Gill, who was commonly known as Mark Gill. Mr. Gill, who also hailed from Jalandhar, had moved to Ireland after spending a couple of years in the UK. These restaurant workers from the Punjab—some of them Sikh, some of them Hindu—settled permanently in Ireland, where their families still live. The number of Sikhs in the Republic increased substantially during the “Celtic Tiger” boom, when students and professionals in medicine, engineering, IT, and other fields arrived. See BBC documentary, “The Day India Burned: Partition,” August, 2007.

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The Fourth Wave Substantial numbers of Sikhs did not quite migrate all around the world, but mostly to the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland) and various parts of the British empire—East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda), Australia, the Far East (Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Singapore) and North America. Under British colonial rule in Africa and the Far East, Sikhs held positions of wealth, status, and power. They lived well and maintained their separate identity. Unlike in Britain and Ireland, Sikhs in the British colonies continued to wear turbans and beards. The British Empire disintegrated in the post-war period, with territories around the world achieving independence in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Sikhs experienced a number of difficulties in various former colonies. Here is Sarwaan Singh, who lives in Galway, talking about his family’s experience in Malaysia: My parents moved to Malaysia in 1920 as my father was in the Indian cavalry. I was born in Malaysia in 1921. I remember the Japanese occupation of Malaysia in the Second World War, Indian independence in 1947 and when Malaysia got independence in 1957. My son was studying there but he couldn’t go to university because he did not study Malay. After independence, came nationalization and everybody had to study Malay, so he went to study in Australia and qualified as an engineer.18

In this instance, the son of a Sikh immigrant family that has lived in Malaysia for three generations cannot get a place at university due to state-sponsored nationalism in post-independence Malaysia. He cannot speak Malay—and presumably does not really want to have to learn—so he relocates to Australia. His family subsequently moves to Ireland. In the post-independence period, the situation of Sikhs in former British colonies in East Africa became especially fraught. Thus, the fourth wave of Sikh immigrants came predominantly from East Africa after Uganda and Kenya became independent from the British Empire (in 1962 and 1963 respectively)—especially after the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972 by the Idi Amin regime. These included people currently living in Northern Ireland, an extended family living in Shannon; and two families residing in Galway. These immigrants tended to be highly skilled professionals: Paramjit Singh Neote, for example, became director of quality control for an aircraft maintenance firm in Shannon. Most were secondgeneration East African Asians who were the descendants of bricklayers, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, and train drivers who had been engaged by the British to work on the East African Railways in the early 1900s.19 During the post-war period, a number of Sikh immigrants also came directly from India to Ireland. Interview with Sarwaan Singh Gill, December 16, 2008. See Parminder Bhachu, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain

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(London, 1985).

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The Fifth Wave Whereas most of the Sikhs who came to Ireland were economic migrants, some were exiles and refugees who fled difficult or threatening circumstances in the countries where they lived. The fifth wave of Sikh immigrants to Ireland were both exiles and economic migrants: some came as a result of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi and other parts of India, while others came due to the Celtic boom of the 1990s. These immigrants included IT workers, businessmen (many with small market stalls and shops selling clothes and gift items), doctors and nurses, restaurant workers (many of them chefs) and students. Many of their families—especially those of the restaurant workers—were from farming backgrounds in the Punjab. Some of the immigrants were young men who had been undocumented workers in the UK and then came to Ireland where their labor was in greater demand. They started working with Indian and Punjabi restaurants and got work permits and/or they married Irish women and British Sikh women, which allowed them to stay. Two of our interviewees, Tarsem Singh Sahota and Kewal Singh Cheema, were students in India in 1984. In the following, they recall the circumstances that led to their fleeing from their homeland: I come from Bagana village in Tehsil Phagwara, which is part of the Kapurthala District … I came here on 1st November 1987. The Punjab was risky after the 1984 incident. One morning in November ’84, we were attending study period and we were informed that someone had killed Indira Gandhi. (I was 19 at the time.) A public holiday was declared. There were anti-Sikh riots; my cousin’s hair was cut by rioters. Because of the atmosphere, a lot of Sikhs left India. I flew from Delhi to Shannon via Moscow.20 My name is Kewal Singh Cheema. I belong to a Sikh family from Punjab in India. I was born in 1971 and went to school in India. At school I was an intelligent boy and wanted to be a lawyer or doctor. But when I was in secondary school, I was part of the Sikh Student Federation. This was the time of the Operation Blue Star, which was a bad time for Sikhs in India. We were under army curfew: cops used to shoot without any reason, calling those they shot “terrorists.” If you wore a kesari turban, they would say, “You are a militant!” It didn’t matter if you hadn’t done anything wrong because if a policeman caught a “militant,” they got money from the government. Seventy percent of the young boys left Punjab at the time and my parents decided in 1987 or 1988 that leaving India would be good for me. I had a completely dark future.21

The events of 1984 had tremendous effects on Sikhs throughout the world. Interview with Tarsem Singh Sahota, October 1, 2008. Interview with Kewal Singh Cheema, June 15, 2009.

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Representations of the events of 1984 can still be found not only in oral interviews but in posters and calendars in Sikh homes and gurdwaras in the diaspora. The trauma of 1984 lives in Sikh collective memory in the diaspora (see Figure 13.3). For three hundred years, Ireland exported people to the rest of the world—the Irish diaspora is estimated to include some seventy million people while only six million live in Ireland.22 Since the Celtic boom of the 1990s, and the incorporation of central and eastern European countries (Poland, Romania,

Figure 13.3 Calendar in Sikh home in Dublin depicting Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and events at the Golden Temple, 2009. Photo: Glenn Jordan 22 Mark Bolye and Rob Kitchin, Towards an Irish Diaspora Strategy: A Position Paper (Maynooth, 2008), p. 3.

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Lithuania, Latvia, and so on) into the European Union, migration into Ireland has massively increased. Sikh migrants are among these new immigrants (by 1990, there were as many as twenty Sikh families living in Dublin). Some of these are professionals—doctors, nurses, chefs, engineers, IT specialists, and so on. They have work permits that enable them to invite their families. We interviewed and photographed a number of these immigrants, such as Gurbir Singh Chadha who owns a mobile shop in Dublin (see Figure 13.4).

Figure 13.4 Gurbir Singh Chadha in his mobile phone shop, Dublin, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan A substantial number of the recent immigrants are college and university students, mostly aged 20–30, who have come to Ireland since 2000. The flexible student visa regime turned Ireland into a favorable destination among Sikh young people

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in India. Many of the Sikh students in Ireland work part-time—as taxi drivers and for call centers, computer shops, supermarkets, pizza shops, petrol stations, private security companies, hotels, and restaurants. This group has been particularly affected by the atmosphere of tension that has resulted from the “9/11” bombings in the US (in 2001) and the “7/7” bombings in the UK (in 2005). After the July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in London, which killed 56 people and injured some seven hundred, Sikhs in Ireland, in both the North and the South, became the victims of mistaken identity.23 They found it difficult to get accommodation and jobs—and some were physically attacked (see Figure 13.5).24

Figure 13.5 “Stabbed Sikh Blamed for Attacks,” Irish Examiner, July 15, 2005. Reprinted by permission of Examiner Publications This generation of Sikh immigrants, perceiving themselves to be the frequent targets of unjustified instances of abuse, have become active in the Irish Sikh Council and

Caroline Cullen, “I’m not a Suicide Bomber,” News of the World, April 15, 2007. See Sinead Grennan, “Irish Sikhs Abandon traditional Turbans,” Irish Independent,

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October 28, 2001; Catherine Reilly, “Sikhs ‘cutting beards and removing turbans’ for job search,” Metro Éireann, March 29–April 4, 2007.

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other initiatives designed to increase the general public’s understanding of Sikhs and Sikhism. Institution Building In the preceding pages, we have explored the history of Sikhs in Ireland by considering five waves of immigration and their aftermath. The history we uncovered began in the North in the 1930s and in the South in the 1970s. In the following, we would like to briefly explore an important aspect of the Sikh presence in Ireland—namely, the building of Sikh institutions. The 2001 census put the number of Sikhs in Northern Ireland at 209. Comparable census results are not available in the Republic as “Sikh” is not a category on the census form. However, it is likely that the Sikh population in the South in 2001 was less than that in the North. In the South, until very recently, there were very few second-generation Sikhs—almost all were immigrants. In the North, generations of Sikhs have lived outside a Sikh community. Many have been to India only once or twice in their lifetime. They know little or no Punjabi and have minimal connection with the Punjab, the birthplace of their parents and grandparents. Most of them married locally to Irish people and other non-Sikhs. They identify themselves as Northern Irish Sikhs but may not look like Sikhs. Few of them have contacts with Sikhs in the South, although they do have contacts with Sikhs in Britain. One interesting phenomenon among Sikhs in Ireland, North and South, has been the development of institutions, including three gurdwaras—one in Dublin (since December 1986), one in Derry (since 1995), and one in Belfast (since 2004)—and the Irish Sikh Council (which was founded in 2004). These institutions provide the bases for religious and cultural activities and also advocacy, bringing together people from different families and communities—and facilitating transmission of culture and identity to the next generation. Prior to their development, Sikhs in Ireland tended to congregate in restaurants and houses—often on the basis of kinship and local ties in India. Thus, there was community, but it was much less focused than it is now. The Making of the Dublin Gurdwara Located on Serpentine Avenue in Ballsbridge, a prosperous area near Dublin’s city center and the sea, the Dublin gurdwara is the central religious and cultural institution for people of Sikh heritage living in Ireland (see Figure 13.6). From 11 a.m. until 3 or 4 p.m. every Sunday, a congregation consisting of up to 300 people comes to participate in the religious service and communal meal. It was not always like this. Earlier generations of Sikhs in Ireland did not have such a center; they did not have such a home away from home.

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Figure 13.6 Flag Changing Ceremony, Dublin Gurdwara, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, the Sikh temple in Dublin, traces its origin to weekly prayer sessions held in restaurants owned by early Sikh immigrants in 1980s. These men, who migrated to Ireland in 1972 as chefs, gradually saved enough to buy the Bharat restaurant in South Richmond Street and began to hold weekly prayer sessions in their restaurant during the summer of 1984. They would also partake in langar, the communal meal after the prayers. In early 1985, this practice of religious and social get-togethers shifted to the Ashoka restaurant in Upper Dorset Street, which was owned by Sukhdev Singh Gill. These prayer sessions were also attended by other Indians who were known or happened to visit the restaurant for meals. One such person was Dr. Narayan, a veterinary surgeon from India. It was Dr. Narayan’s suggestion that Sikh community members should build a place of worship for the next generation, rather than simply meeting in restaurants. So on his initiative, the first meeting was held in the Ashoka restaurant in May 1985 to plan to build a gurdwara. A month later, on June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 crashed near the Irish coast, killing all 329 passengers on board, many of whom were Sikhs. Since there was no gurdwara then, the Indian Embassy in Dublin had

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difficulty in finding a Sikh priest who could possibly perform the final rites for the Sikh passengers. Three days later, on June 26, 1985, a bank account was opened in the name of “Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar” with an initial balance of £326. For the next year-and-a-half, community members continued to gather in restaurants and also looked for a possible place that could be used as gurdwara. In December 1986, the Oscar theater, an abandoned building in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin, was bought for £47,500 with the support of the Sikh community in London. Formerly serving generations of Dubliners as a cinema and then a theater, the Oscar was transformed into a space with a new purpose. The transformation from the Oscar to the Dublin gurdwara of today occurred in three phases. Most of the work was done by members of local Sikh families. Since there were only a few families, the work took many years to complete. The first phase (1987–95) involved transformation of what is currently the kitchen area into a temporary darbar hall (prayer hall) and langar hall (place for communal meals and also educational and social events). The “Oscar” sign in the front of the building was replaced by “Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar.” Iron rods were bought to build the two gates and railings that protect the entrance of the gurdwara building. A small nishan sahib (Sikh flag) was fixed on to the top of the building, thus providing all the features of a Sikh place of worship. A flowerbed was dug alongside the wall at the front of building. Fertile soil was specially brought from Maynooth in a trailer to fill the flowerbeds, and flowers and shrubs were planted in them to make the place more serene and beautiful. Initially, there were no cooking facilities; food was prepared in restaurants and homes and brought in on Sundays. The second phase (1996–2001) involved removal of the old theater chairs and rubbish, leveling the slanting floor space and partitioning the area into two sections—one of which was converted into the prayer hall; the other was left to later become the langar hall. New insulation, central heating, electricity, windows, and an artificial ceiling were installed. The making of the palki—the raised platform covered by a canopy that one finds at the front of Sikh prayer halls—was contracted out to Sikh builders in Leicester. The basic work was done over an intense four-month period in 1996; further improvements were then made. By the end of July 1996, work on the prayer hall was finished. On August 4, 1996, the parkash (opening and reading) of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy scripture) was done in the main hall for the first time. In order to seek blessings for the main hall, the first akhand path (continuous reading of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib) was held on August 16, 1996 in the gurdwara. Two kirtanias (hymn singers), Bhupinder Singh and Avtaar Singh, were invited from the UK to do the kirtan (singing of hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib). The following week another akhand path was held in the gurdwara and the community from Northern Ireland was invited to attend the opening ceremonies of the newly established Dublin gurdwara. Nearly 20 community members participated in the Sunday service. The kirtan was performed by Dr. Kanwarjit Singh Panesar and his wife Iqbal Kaur from Derry.

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The third phase (post-2001), which is still ongoing, has seen the construction of the langar hall and the provision of substantial facilities for preparation. The other change has been a marked increase in the number of people who regularly attend the gurdwara. This group includes large numbers of students. The gurdwara meets spiritual, cultural and social needs. In particular, it is a meeting place for recent Sikh immigrants to Ireland. As can be seen in the life stories, the Dublin gurdwara, like the gurdwaras in Derry and Belfast, is a place where Sikhs in Ireland participate in a familiar, shared culture. Speaking their own language, wearing their Punjabi dress, eating familiar food, singing the hymns that they know from their youth—they feel like they belong. The Irish Sikh Council Whereas the gurdwara focuses on the needs—spiritual, cultural and social—of the Sikh community itself, the Irish Sikh Council is primarily concerned with the position of Sikhs in the larger Irish society. Generations of diasporan Sikhs and their descendants had lived without the apparent need for an organization to advocate on their behalf. In recent years—since 2001—things have changed. In the following passage, Harpreet Singh, a software engineer who came to Dublin as a “fifth wave” immigrant, reflects on how this organization came about and how he personally became involved: My involvement in the community started from the day I came to Ireland. Initially, I just went to the gurdwara and took part in prayers and singing hymns but slowly my involvement increased until on the 4th of July 2004 we formed the Irish Sikh Council. I don’t think I have got a proper eight hours of sleep since then. From 9/11 onwards my life and that of other people of the community changed a lot. It became very difficult to travel in public transport and go to public places because people kept shouting “Bin Laden!” at you. So we thought that an organization could educate others about who we are. There were around 15 of us then—mainly, students and professionals. Now we have around 250 members.25

The Irish Sikh Council was established in Dublin by a group of young Sikh professionals and students, who came to Ireland shortly before or after “9/11.” The organization was developed to address the problems that many Sikhs faced due to their misidentification by local Irish as “bin Laden,” “Muslim terrorists,” and so on. The official aims of the Irish Sikh Council are to: • Advocate, campaign, and make representations on the concerns and aspirations of the Sikh population, primarily of Republic of Ireland, on 25 Interview with Harpreet Singh, July 25, 2009. Harpreet Singh serves as national coordinator for the Irish Sikh Council.

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matters of education, race equality, spiritual development, community relations, and other matters of relevance to the status and development of the Sikhs in Ireland. • Promote good relations and harmony between the Sikhs and other communities in Ireland; and inform and guide Sikhs in Ireland to contribute and participate actively in the life and development of Ireland. • Promote responsible ethical and moral values in society.26 Since its inception, the Irish Sikh Council has undertaken many initiatives that aim to create awareness of Sikhs and Sikhism within Irish society and to carve out a legitimate and respectful place for Sikhs to occupy. As the national coordinator for the Irish Sikh Council said: “We participate in cultural festivals and engage with government bodies and NGOs working for immigrants and multicultural integration. We have organized summer camps for the children to teach them about their roots and their culture.”27

Figure 13.7 Bhangra Dancers, Festival of World Cultures, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, July 2009. Photo: Glenn Jordan The Irish Sikh Council organizes activities within the Irish Sikh Community: for example, it has organized summer camps for children from Sikh families to See Irish Sikh Council, available at http://irishsikhcouncil.com/aboutus.aspx. Interview with Harpreet Singh, July 25, 2009.

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learn Sikh history and the Punjabi language and activities, including the art of tying turbans. The Irish Sikh Council also arranges a range of activities to promote intercultural understanding. For example, they organize visits of schoolchildren and people from local and other ethnic communities to the gurdwara; design, publish and distribute information leaflets on various aspects of Sikhism; organize visits of Sikh Council volunteers to local schools to give presentations on Sikhs and Sikhism; participate in St. Patrick’s Day Parades and the Dún Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures—including the provision of bhangra dancers, martial art displays and workshops on Sikhs and Sikhism (see Figure 13.7); handle enquiries about Sikhs from college and university students; and participate in the annual Soccer Fest organized by Sports Against Racism Ireland (SARI) to combat racism through the medium of sports. The Irish Sikh Council works with other NGOs and government bodies on matters of racial equality and community relations. For example, the Council has consulted with the Garda Siochana on issues related to the recruitment of ethnic minorities in the Irish police force; represented the Sikh community’s viewpoint in the aftermath of the Garda’s refusal to allow a Sikh man to wear a turban as part of the Garda uniform; taken up cases of verbal and physical abuse that members of the Sikh community have suffered in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 and July 7, 2005 bombings; participated in seminars and consultation processes organized by the National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) to devise an intercultural strategy for Ireland; and participated in activities organized by other NGOs like the Immigration Council of Ireland (ICI) and Integrating Ireland. Finally, the Irish Sikh Council represents members of the Sikh community in cases of apparent discrimination or harassment. For example, in 2007, they took up the case of Sikh students working part-time as deliverymen for two local pizza shops who were asked by the area manager to remove their karhas (iron bracelets) or risk dismissal. The case was taken to the Equality Authority and reported to the company headquarters in London. The Council also worked with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and Sports against Racism Ireland (SARI) to resolve the case of Karpreet Singh, a young Sikh footballer who was told by a referee that he could not participate in a football match unless he removed his turban. The Irish Sikh Council does not receive public funds. It is funded and sustained by the contributions of its members, who also work as volunteers. The level of commitment is demonstrated by circumstances involving the participation of local Sikhs in the 2007 St. Patrick’s Day parade. With an aim of promoting awareness of Sikhs and Sikhism within Irish society, more than a hundred members of the Sikh community participated. Bhangra dancers and the local Sikh martial art group practiced for weeks to sharpen their moves. A team of dancers and marital art trainers were invited from the UK to boost the capacity of the local community. Special costumes for dancers and martial art performers were ordered from

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India, while the designing of floats, arranging sound systems, booking training halls and choreography were done locally. The Old Belvedere Rugby Football Club in Ballsbridge was hired for a week so that the hundred participants could practice together. The Irish Sikh Council estimated the cost of participation to be approximately €24,000, half of which came from contributions by Sikh students and young professionals. Our project of photographs and life stories began because some members of the Irish Sikh Council thought that such an initiative could serve to increase understanding, tolerance, and respect for difference. Concluding Comments In the preceding pages, we have provided a brief sketch of the history of Sikhs in Ireland, focusing, in particular, on waves of migration and institution building. We identified five distinct waves of migration (beginning in Northern Ireland in the 1930s) and explored the development of two key institutions, the Dublin gurdwara and the Irish Sikh Council.

Figure 13.8 Darshan Singh, granthi at the Sikh temple in Belfast, 2008. Photo: Glenn Jordan This work is part of our project to produce of a “history of the present” (Foucault) exploring the lives of Sikhs in Ireland. The work began not with a desire to explore the past but as a result of a problem—a problem of mistaken identity—that has occurred in the present, in the aftermath of the September 2001 suicide bombings

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in New York and the July 2005 suicide bombings in London. In his photograph, Darshan Singh (see Figure 13.8.), granthi at the Sikh gurdwara in Belfast, looks troubled. When we interviewed him, here is part of what he had to say: I am frightened while out with this flowing beard. People do not understand us and call us “Paki.” Two or three days ago I went out and they threw stones. Recently they set fire to the back door of our gurdwara here in Belfast. After setting fire, they wrote, “Muslims murder.” Once at night they threw red paint in front of the entry gate and on the wall. It was Sunday, the day of religious congregation here, so I cleaned it before the people arrived so that their feet would not be stained.28

Below is a copy of a document sent by the Irish Sikh Council to the Irish police (the Gardai) in December 2005: Victim: Karanjit Singh Victim, who is member of Management group of Irish Sikh Council for last two years and represents students from Sikh community in Ireland. He is a student and works part time with Esso petrol station (Tymon Castle, Greenhills Road, Tallaght, D24). Incidence Details: On Saturday 17 December 2005 afternoon around 2:20 PM victim was coming out of the petrol station to throw some litter. He was in the courtyard when suddenly 3–4 men came and started harassing him. One of them started pulling beard of victim and started passing racist remarks. When the victim told him to move back he insisted on harassing the victim and pushed the victim. Suddenly they started punching the victim. Victim tried to defend himself but the attackers outnumbered him and overpowered him. He was severely beaten. Victim was constantly punched in face and stomach. In between victim’s turban fell off. Attackers started pulling his long hair and kept punching him. One of the attackers started punching in victim’s head. This went on for long time. A number of members of public were witness to this racist crime. Victim was left severely shaken, beaten and scared. He was later rushed to Tallaght hospital A & E in ambulance. Doctors advised him rest for few days. Victim suffered bruises on face and hands and was left with swollen face. Luckily he survived any serious damage to skull. After this incident two members of public who were witness to this crime came forward and left their name and contact phone numbers with the Supervisor at Esso station. Supervisor provided these to the Gardai who came to the crime scene. Supervisor also provided his own witness to the Gardai. The incident was recorded by Garda Caroline Cullen and Paul Meehan from Crumlin Garda Station. Victim is waiting to hear back from the Gardai.

Inteview with Darshan Singh, July 5, 2009.

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Details of this incident—and four other racist incidents involving physical violence, which happened shortly afterwards—spread rapidly throughout the Sikh community in Ireland. Fear increased among people in the community, especially among young men wearing turbans. They thought, “If this could happen to him—an innocent person simply doing his job—it could also happen to me.” Their fears were increased by the perception that the police did not seem to be terribly concerned. The experience of Sikhs in Ireland, in both the North and the South, can be divided into before and after 9/11. They are victims of an extraordinary case of mistaken identity—analogous to the “mistake” that labels all Muslims as “terrorists.” We sought to understand in what ways and to what extent there has been continuity and/or discontinuity in the lived experience of Sikhs in Ireland. To address this issue, we turned to history. Our life stories suggest that Sikhs, in both the North and South, feel that the Ireland that they encounter in their day-to-day lives is less tolerant than the Ireland that they knew before. Thus, among Sikhs in Ireland, fear and apprehension has increased. We wish to understand the factors—social, cultural, economic, political—that constitute the present conjuncture. We hope in later work to continue to pursue this theme. Bibliography Akenson, Donald Harman, The Irish Diaspora: A Primer (Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University of Belfast, 1993). Axel, Brian Keith, The Nation’s Tortured Body: Violence, Representation, and the Formation of a Sikh Diaspora (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001). Ballantyne, Tony, Between Colonialism and Diaspora: Sikh Cultural Formations in an Imperial World (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006). Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 2007). BBC documentary, “The Day India Burned: Partition,” August, 2007. Ben-Sasson, H.H., A History of the Jewish People (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976). Bhachu, Parminder, Twice Migrants: East African Sikh Settlers in Britain (London: Tavistock Publications, 1985). Bourke, Eva and Borbála Faragó (eds), Landing Places: Immigrant Poets in Ireland (Dublin: Dedalus Press, 2010). Bolye, Mark and Rob Kitchin, Towards an Irish Diaspora Strategy: A Position Paper (NIRSA Working Paper Series No 37, Maynooth 2008), available at http://www.nuim.ie/nirsa/research/documents/WP37_BoyleandKitchin.pdf. Cullen, Caroline, “I’m not a Suicide Bomber,” News of the World, April 15, 2007.

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Drake, St. Clair, “Diaspora Studies and Pan-Africanism,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1982), pp. 341–402. Drake, St. Clair, Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in History and Anthropology, Vol. 1 (Los Angeles: Centre for Afro-American Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, 1987). Drake, St. Clair, Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in History and Anthropology, Vol. 2 (Los Angeles: Centre for Afro-American Studies, University of California at Los Angeles, 1990). Dusenbery, Verne A., “‘Nation’ or ‘World Religion’?: Master Narratives of Sikh Identity,” in Pashaura Singh and N. Gerald Barrier (eds), Sikh Identity: Continuity and Change (New Delhi: Manohar, 1999), pp. 127–44. Fanning, Bryan, (ed.) Immigration and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007). Fanning, Bryan, Racism and Social Change in the Republic of Ireland (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003). Grennan, Sinead, “Irish Sikhs Abandon Traditional Turbans,” Irish Independent, October 28, 2001. Irish Sikh Council, available at http://irishsikhcouncil.com/aboutus.aspx. Jordan, Glenn, “Voices from Below: Doing People’s History in Cardiff Docklands,” in Stefan Berger, Heiko Feldner and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: Theory and Practice, 2nd edn (London: Bloomsbury, 2010), pp. 330–52. Jordan, Glenn, “Photography That Cares: Portraits from Multi-ethnic Wales,” Journal of Media Practice, 9, 2 (2008): 153–69. Jordan, Glenn, with the assistance of Akli Ahmed and Abdi Arwo, Somali Elders: Portraits from Wales / Odeyada Soomaalida: Muuqaalo ka yimid Welishka (Cardiff: Butetown History & Arts Centre, 2004). Jordan, Glenn and Chris Weedon, “When the Subaltern Speak, What Do They Say? Radical Cultural Politics in Cardiff Docklands,” in Lawrence Grossberg, Paul Gilroy and Angela McRobbie (eds), Without Guarantees: Essays for Stuart Hall (London: Verso, 2000), pp. 165–80. Jordan, Glenn and Chris Weedon, Cultural Politics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995). Kapur, Narinder, The Irish Raj: Illustrated Stories about Irish in India and Indians in Ireland (Antrim, Northern Ireland: Greystone Press, 1997). Knight, Susan, (ed.), Where the Grass Is Greener: Voices of Immigrant Women in Ireland (Cork: Oak Tree Press, 2001). Lentin, Alana and Ronit Lentin, Race and State (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008). Loyal, Steven, “Immigration,” in Sara O’Sullivan (ed.), Contemporary Ireland: A Sociological Map (Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2007), pp. 30–47. Loyal, Steven, “Welcome to the Celtic Tiger: Racism, Immigration and the State,” in Colin Coulter and Steve Coleman (ed.), The End of History? Critical Approaches to the Celtic Tiger (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 112–36.

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Nayar, Kamal Elizabeth, The Sikh Diaspora in Vancouver: Three Generations Amid Tradition, Modernity, and Multiculturalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004). Reilly, Catherine, “Sikhs ‘Cutting Beards and Removing Turbans’ for Job Search,” Metro Éireann, March 29–April 4, 2007. Shepperson, George, “African Diaspora: Concepts and Context,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1982), pp. 46–53. Skinner, Elliot P., “The Dialectic between Diasporas and Homelands,” in Joseph E. Harris (ed.), Global Dimensions of the African Diaspora (Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1982), pp. 17–45. Tatla, Darshan Singh, The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (London: UCL Press, 1999). Tatla, Darshan Singh, “Sikh Diaspora,” in Melvin Ember, Carol R. Ember and Ian Skoggard (ed.), Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures around the World, Vol. 1 (New York: Springer, 2005), pp. 273–85.

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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 Darbar Sahib. 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 in its entirety. amritvela—the nectar hours during the last watch of the night. ardas—“petition”: the prayer at the closing of congregational worship. Baba—“father/grandfather”: a term of affection and respect often used for religious figures, including the Guru Granth Sahib. beadbi—“disrespect”, often referring to the disrespect of Guru Granth Sahib. bhagat—“devotee”; usually referring to a saint poet whose hymns are included in Guru Granth Sahib. biraderi – “brotherhood”, extended clan network. Chamars—a low-caste group, traditionally associated with leather work. Chaur (Sahib) – whisk made of yak hair or peacock feathers which is waved over the Sikh scripture to give respect. Chuhras—a low-caste group, traditionally associated with sweeping. Dalits—ex-untouchables, self-designation of people from castes which previously were considered untouchables. 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 created at Guru Gobind Singh’s court. deg tegh fateh—“cauldron, sword, victory”: Sikh insignia, often called the khanda sign which represents the Sikh religion.

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dharmsala—“place for temporary residence”: in early Sikh usage, a place for congregational worship. “five Ks”—The five Ks (panj kakke/kakar) are kachha (pair of shorts), kes (hair), kangha (comb), kirpan (sword), and karha (steel bracelet) constitute five items, which Amritdhari Sikhs (men and women) are required to wear. 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 sub-division of a caste group, family, sub-caste, clan. granth—“book”: scripture. granthi—“keeper 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. 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 Guru Granth Sahib. gurpurb (gurpurab)– “the festival of the guru”: celebration of the anniversary of the birth or death of the gurus. guru—“preceptor”: the mode of Vahiguru as teacher which in the past was revealed to Sikhs in the 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 poet saints with Hindu and Sufi backgrounds. hukam—“order/command”: the command of Vahiguru; the reply from the Guru Granth Sahib to supplication at the opening and closing of worship. Japji—a composition of Guru Nanak which is recited by Sikhs every morning. Jat—landowning caste from a nomadic background, the Jats comprise the majority of the Sikhs. jatha—“military detachment”: an organized group of Sikhs with a particular mission of preaching and reform or political agenda. kachha—pair of shorts: Kachha, kes, kangha, kirpan, and karha constitute five items, which Amritdhari Sikhs (men and women) are required to wear. kangha—comb: See kachha. karha—steel bracelet: See kachha. karhah parshad—blessed food: made of flour, sugar, and clarified butter, karhah prashad is distributed after worship.

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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”: synonymous with Sikh of the guru. 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. See degh tegh fateh. 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. Those who undergo this ceremony constitute an elect group called the Amritdharis. Khatri—a Punjabi merchant caste. kirpan—sword or dagger: See kachha. kirtan—“praises”: devotional singing which is a significant part of Sikh piety. langar—community kitchen: attached to every gurdwara, food is served to all regardless of age, creed, gender, or social distinctions. maryada—See Rahit Maryada. mulmantra—the root mantra, the first hymn which opens the Sikh scripture. nagar kirtan—“town praising”: processions arranged during celebrations of Gurpurbs. Namdhari—“the bearer of the Name”: a nineteenth-century movement started by Baba Balak Singh. Its main base is near Ludhiana. nam simran—the act of remembering the divine name by repetition of the divine name. Nihang—warrior Sikhs. Nirmala—“flawless”, referring to the order founded by the five saints who Guru Gobind Singh dispatched to Varanasi. nishan sahib—“honorable symbol”: a saffron flag with the insignia of degh tegh fateh (see above). nitnem—“daily rule”: the daily discipline of reciting gurbani hymns which particularly Amritdhari Sikhs follow.

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panj kakke/kakar—“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. Panth—“the path”: community. prakash—“the light”: morning ceremony in the gurdwara during which Guru Granth Sahib is installed on a royal throne and opened. qaum—“a people who stand together”: the Sikh usage of this term has connotations of both community and nation. rag—musical mode in North Indian classical music. The major portion of Guru Granth Sahib is arranged in thirty-one ragas. ragi—Sikh musician performing devotional music. ragi jatha—an ensemble of usually three Sikh musicians. ragmala—“rosary of musical melodies”: The name of the last composition in the Guru Granth Sahib. rahit—Sikh belief and practice. Rahit Maryada—Sikh code of discipline, often referring to a specific text on Sikh beliefs and practices that was published by SGPC in 1950. Rahitnama—a manual of Sikh belief and practice. rainsbhai—programs of devotional singing and meditation which start in the early evening and then continue without a break for the whole night. Ramgarhia—Sikhs with a background in carpentry. 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. sahaj path—“easy reading”: an interrupted recitation of the entire text of the Guru Granth Sahib. sangat—“congregation”: congregational worship constitutes the heart of Sikh devotion. 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. sant—“saint”: a title for a Sikh holy person. Sat Sri Akal—“God is truth”: the common Sikh greeting. seva—“service”: service to other people that should be selfless and voluntary. sevadars—a person who performs seva, an attendant in the gurdwara.

Glossary

335

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)—the autonomous Sikh organization that was formed in 1925 to provide a self-reliant system for management of all Sikh shrines and gurdwaras in the state of Punjab. Sikh—“disciple/learner”: follower of the Sikh teaching. Sikhi—Sikhism in Punjabi language. 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. Udasin—“renunciants”: an order of ascetics which began with Srichand, the son of Guru Nanak. Vahiguru—“Wonderful Sovereign”: the most commonly used epithet for God in the Sikh tradition. Vaisakhi—a spring festival during which the Sikhs celebrate new year and the formation of the Khalsa in 1699. Valmikis/Balmikis—“the descendents of Valmik”: people who trace their history back to Valmik, the author of the ancient Hindu epic, the Ramayana. In the past, their caste duties included scavenging and some of them living in the Punjab consider themselves to be part of the Sikh society. zat – position fixed by birth, community or caste group.

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Index

Aarhus, 40 Adi Granth, 298 Afghan Sikhs, 39, 68, 226 agricultural sector, 136–9, 149, 201–2, 205 Ajalpal Singh, 296 Ajit Darbar, Coventry, 237, 238, 240 Akal Takht, 266 Akhand Kirtani Jatha (AKJ), 41, 56, 57, 73, 145, 239, 241, 261–2, 264, 269 akhand path, 27, 73, 127, 246, 321 Albania, 137, 203 alcohol, 10, 42, 103, 183, 208, 236, 262n40 Alitolppa-Niitamo, Anne, 103, 105 Alpha course, 258, 269 Ambedkar, B. R., 179, 185, 186, 196, 288 Amritbani Satguru Ravidas, 196, 288, 290 Amritdhari, 6n24, 27, 47, 48, 56–7, 66, 70, 81, 84, 85, 101, 145, 151, 208, 209, 262n40, 264, 265, 269 amrit sanskar, 27, 127, 246, see also khande di pahul Anand, Dibyesh, 281 Anglo-Sikh Wars, 225 Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, 227 Annobil, Rena Dipti, 230 anti-Sikh riots, 4, 308, 315 ardas, 32, 101, 127, 263, 266, 267, 300 Argolida, 205 Argosaronikos, 205 Arnett, Jeffrey, 255 asylum seekers, 4, 40, 67, 68, 99, 116, 117, 119, 121, 166, 167, 170, 171, 226 Athens, 202, 204, 205, 206, 210 Attiki, 205 Aurora, G. S., 229 Australia, 97, 175, 181, 314 Austria, 14, 291 Baba Balaknath, 237, 239 Baba Deep Singh, 55–6

Baba Ishar Singh, 238 Baba Nand Singh, 238 babas, 186 Babbar Khalsa, 241 Badyal, Tarlochan Singh, 4, 22 Balkans, 201, 203, 215 Ballard, Roger, 41, 46, 235, 242 Bangladesh, 147, 164, 165, 203, 245, 313 Barcelona, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 188, 195 Barrow, Joy, 262 Belarus, 117, 123 Belfast, 306, 311, 312, 319, 322, 325 Belgium, 3, 14, 166–7, 169 Bergamo, 137, 142 Bergen, 27 Bhachu, Parminder, 229 bhagat, 190, 191, 192, 193, 293 Bhagat Ravidas, 191, 285, 290, see also Guru Ravidas Bhagwan Valmik Ashram, Birmingham, 284 Bhaini Sahib, Ludhiana, 296, 299, 300 bhangra, 35, 293, 323–4 Bhatoa, Reena, 230 Bhatra (Bhat) caste, 226, 237, 238, 312 Bhindranwale, Sant Jarnail Singh, 264, 316 biraderi (clan), 167, 172, 174, 175 Birmingham, 227, 229, 237, 238, 240, 257, 262, 284, 285, 288 birth anniversary, Dr B.R. Ambedkar’s, 288 Guru Gobind Singh’s, 27, 49 Guru Nanak’s, 27 Guru Ravidas, 188 birthdays, children’s, 29, 97, 306n4 Bobigny, 167, 168 Boiotia, 205 Bologna, 142 “border control industry”, 170 Bradby, Hannah, 229

338

Sikhs in Europe

Bradford, 229, 237, 257, 262 Brescia, 137, 142 Bristol, 237, 257 British Organisation of Sikh Students (BOSS), 242, 262–5, 269, 271–3 see also Sikhi Camp Canada, 40, 167, 181, 204, 262 Captain Matthews, 225 Captain Sir Alexander Burnes, 225 Caserta, 137 caste, 168, 179–99, 238–9, 300–301 discrimination, 12, 184–6, 188, 192–3, 238–9, 286–8 networks, 11, 175 Caste Away Arts, 288 casteism, 188–95 Castelgomberto, 153–5 CasteWatchUK, 286–7, 300 Catalonia, 11, 180, 181, 182, 184, 193 Catholic Church, 152, 179 Catholic religion and identity, 128, 139–40, 156, 179 Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha), London, 227 Central Valmiki Sabha, 283, 285, 288 Chamars, 169, 179, 184–5, 186–93, 197, 198, 281, 292 Chiampo valley, 136, 152 children , camps for, 32–3, 73, 257, 258, 323 language education of, 33, 47, 73, 84,  323, participation in rituals, 28, 31, 54, 63, 212, 255 religious education/fostering of, 7, 21, 26, 30, 75, 77, 128, 155, 255, 257, 294 296, 323 Chohan, Sandip Singh, 242 Christian, 66, 77, 80, 81, 146, 147, 216, 225, 231, 232, 246, 254 ideologies, 80 marriage, 127n28 norms 81, 82 tradition, 233 Christianity, 66, 82, 128, 185, 232 conversion to, 128, 185 Chuhras, 281

Church of Sweden, 64, 65, 76 Cole, Owen W., 1, 228 collective, memory of the Sikhs, 3, 316 representations of the Sikhs, 5, 10, 80, 82 communist regime, 10, 115, 116 conflict, 52, 52–4 “comfort zones”, 8, 74 converts, to Sikhism, 149, 151, 185, 306 cooperation, 51, 52 cooperation and conflict, cycle of, 50–52, 58–9 Copenhagen, 40, 41, 43, 44 counter-narratives, 191, 193 Coventry, 227, 235, 237, 238, 240, 241, 257, 262, 283, 284, 285, 286, 287 criminal networks, 172 Cremona, 137, 156 Cultural Association of Indians of Greece, 210 “cultural commonality”, 124 cultural transmission, 176, 257, 279, 282, 284, 293, 297, 299, 300 parental influence on, 286, 302 Czech Republic, 137 Dalits, 182, 184–5, 186, 197–8, 199, 280, 286, 289 Damdami Taksal, 41, 145, 264 dance, 33–5, 324 Darshan Singh, Professor, 26 Dasam Granth, 26, 101 Davie, Grace, 234 deportation, 69, 170, 174, 313 Denmark, 5, 9–10, 22, 39–59, 67, 74, 88, 262 Derry, 306, 309, 311, 312, 319, 321, 322 detention (of migrants), 69, 170, 174 Danish language, 54 death, ceremonies, 76–7 of Sant Ramanand, 195, 199 dera/deras (religious centers), 186, 187 Dera Sachkhand Ballan, 186, 187, 195, 196, 238, 288, 289, 290 diaspora, 20, 21, 23, 51, 58, 101, 163, 167, 168, 175, 176, 181, 182, 186, 188,

Index 190, 191, 195, 199, 225, 228, 230, 231, 258, 262, 281, 284, 288, 289, 297, 306, 307, 310, 316 Desai, Kiran, 173, 174–5 detraditionalization, 86, 268–9 dharamsala, 240, 281, 298 differentiation of religious elements from cultural customs, 74 discrimination, 28, 70, 71, 140, 184–6, 188, 192–3, 231, 238–9, 281, 286–8, 324 caste, 12, 184–6, 188, 192–3, 238–9, 281, 286–8 gender, 28 religion, 140 strategies against, 28, 70, 324 diversity, 225–47 Doaba, 168, 184, 309 Drammen, 23, 24, 27, 33, 34 Drury, Beatrice, 254, 255 Dublin, 306, 307, 313, 317, 319, 320, 321, 322, 325 Düvell, Frank, 170 Ealing, 237 East Africa, 4, 68, 98, 225, 229, 306, 308, 314 “emerging adulthood”, 255 Emilia-Romagna, 134, 137, 142–4, 155 Emily Eden, 225 employment, 96, 102–12, 136–9, 149, 152, 205–6 England, 32, 168, 227, 237, 283, 306, 310 English language, 102, 209, 239, 243–4, 311 entrepreneurship, 106–9, 182, 206 European Union, 12, 69, 119, 121, 170, 201, 203, 215, 226, 316 ethnicization, 135, 139 ethnocentric views, 216, 217 events of 1984, 100, 264, 308, 315, 316 external religious symbols, 21, 244 factions, 35, 41, 42, 45, 46, 49–54, 241 factional conflicts, 41 factionalism, 241 Falzon, Mark Anthony, 181 family, customs, 236 honor, 236, 255

339

joint, 125 mixed-faith, 235, 245 nuclear, 207 reunions/reunification, 19, 23, 40, 41, 44, 67, 98, 99, 135, 135, 136, 143, 144, 151, 167, 171, 182, 206 social pressure from, 204, 207, 255 values, 124, 209 Fassin, Didier, 170, 171 Finland, 9, 10, 67, 95–112 Finnish language, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 109 first generation, 10, 11, 63, 67, 68, 60, 70, 74, 75–6, 77, 83, 171,182–3, 193, 198, 213, 218, 313 Fitzgerald, Kitty, 229 “five Ks”, 6, 43, 70, 81, 195, 208, 257, 261 Forsander, Annika, 96, 103, 104, 105, 107 France, 3, 10, 11, 123, 164–76 Franco regime, 179 French language, 164, 166, 167 gatka, 27, 86, 87, 241 Geaves, Ron, 233 gender discussions among Sikhs, 78–9, 236 equality, 35 migration organized by, 67, 98 relations, 79 roles of women, 110–11 generational differences, 77, 294 transfer, 20, 30–31, 83–9, 253–73 Germany, 14, 22, 67, 99, 121, 125, 167 Ghagga, Inder Singh, 101 Glasgow, 229, 237, 311, 312 Gluckman, Max, 53 “good migrants/people/savage/workers”, 5, 11, 133, 140, 146, 151, 208 Gola, Lalita, 100 Gold, Steven J., 106, 107 Golden temple, 49–50, 316 Gothenburg, 65, 72, 73, 80 gotra, 168, granthis, 126, 196 Greece, 5, 11, 12, 170, 201–19 Greek language, 209, 213, 215, 218 Greek Orthodox religion, 215, 216, 218

340

Sikhs in Europe

“green borders”, 116 Gurduara Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Oslo (Norway), 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 32 gurdwara, 3, 8, 20, 23, 24, 26, 43–50, 63, 72–5, 77, 80, 125–8, 144, 145, 148, 154–5, 156, 168, 176, 182, 183, 200, 207, 209–13, 237, 238, 240, 257, 298, 319–22 associated with a particular caste, 168, 183–5, 229, 239, 291 election, 46, 47–9, 240 establishment of, 8, 9, 19–30, 43–6, 72–5, 101, 125–7, 144, 148, 154–5, 209–13, 239–40, 319–22 management, 190, 240 “three ladder” pattern for development of, 72 Gurdwara Bibi Nanki Sahib, Stockholm (Sweden), 73 Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar, Dublin (Ireland), 319–22 Gurdwara Nanak Parkash, Coventry (UK), 241 Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, Tullinge, Stockholm (Sweden), 72–3 Gurdwara Seva Sabha (Norway), 23 Gurdwara Shri Guru Nanak, Castelgomberto (Italy), 154, 155 Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Raszyn (Poland), 126–7 Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Gothenburg (Sweden), 73 gurpurab, 49, 54, 255 Gurmukhi, 77, 84, 243 Guru Arjan, 2, 27, 32 Guru Gobind Singh, 26n19, 49, 192, 196, 264n47, 295, 296, 298 Guru Granth Sahib, 23, 27, 28, 47, 63, 72, 73, 74, 76, 77, 85, 89, 191, 196, 197, 211, 236, 240, 246, 282, 283, 284, 285, 288, 289, 290, 291, 298 the use of English translations, 30, 85 “Guru Maniyo Granth”, 281, 295, 298 Guru Nanak, 81, 82, 126, 186, 192, 196, 285 Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Leicester, 227 Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham, 229, 240

Guru Ram Singh, 297 Guru Ravidas, 179, 185, 186, 188, 192, see also Bhagat Ravidas Guru Ravidass Gurdwara, Derby, 291 Hall, Kathleen, 245, 255 “Ham Hindu Nahin”, 301 harr symbol, 291 Haryana, 1n2, 195 Healthy, Happy, Holy organization (3HO), 244, 266n55 Heilman, Samuel, 270 Helsinki, 95, 96, 97, 98, 101, 103, 104, 105, 111 Helweg, Arthur, 229, 279, 294, 301 Hervieu-Léger, Danièle, 234 heterogeneity, 8, 41, 46, 202, 213 hijab, 28 Himachal Pradesh, 1n2, 195 Hinduism, 81, 101, 185, 186, 187, 197, 233, 245, 284, 290 Hindus, 47, 49, 68, 83, 186, 203, 225, 279, 282, 286 Sikh cooperation with, 73 Sikhs distinguished from, 136, 139, 283, 301 Sikh relationships to, 234–5 Holland, 3, 14, 123, 167 homeland, of Sikhs, 1, 44, 70, 176, 225, 307, 309, 315 Hong Kong, 314 Horsens, 40 Hoshiarpur, 97, 226, 310, 312 Hounslow, 237 hukam, 31, 263, 266–7 Hunt, Stephen, 269 identity/identities, blurred, 291, 294 camp, 268–9 caste, 179, 180, 185, 193, 195, 197, 199, 291, 300 Chamar, 186 complex, 307 cultural, 12, 20, 185, 207, 209, 212–13, 214, 219, 301 Dalit, 11, 184, 186, 197 diasporic, 35

Index ethnic, 20, 194, 199, 211, 212, 279 formation of, 21, 35, 36, 141, 145, 283 fractured, 307 Hindu, 181 Khalsa, 9, 27, 70, 81, 83, 85, 145 linguistic, 20 mistaken, 218, 318, 325, 327 multiple, 13, 66, 145, 187, 228, 245–6, 280, 282, 284 Namdhari, 45, 282, 296–8, 301 national, 156, 179, 212, 214–17 negotiations of, 7, 39, 86, 245, 141, 301 normative, 5, 7, 65, 70, 81, 85, 151, 208 plural, 12, 307 policies, 140 politics, 232, 245, 280 preservation of, 20–21, 72, 75, 194, 199, 207, 209, 210, 211, 219 Punjabi, 20, 36, 246 Ravidasi/Ravidasia, 11, 179, 186, 187, 196, 197, 199, 280, 289, 290, 292–5 religious, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 19–20, 27, 35, 66, 72, 84, 85, 139, 141, 155, 156, 185, 187, 195, 197, 199, 211, 212–13, 255, 269, 270, 279, 280, 283, 292, 300, 301 Sikh, 26, 27, 28, 32, 35, 36, 58, 65, 66, 75, 86, 145, 176, 187, 195, 244, 246, 253, 255, 257, 284, 298 situational, 6–7, 12 social, 69, 70 transmission of, 13, 279, 290, 300, 319 Valimiki, 284, 285, 286, Iceland, 13 ik-onkar, 63, 166, 291 India, colonial, 3, 11, 225 emigration from, 23, 68, 95, 99, 100, 117, 306, 310, 313, 314 independence of, 3, 166, 282, 308, 313, 314 Kabaddi teams from, 35 partition in 1947, 180, 181, 308, 313 return to, 99, 173, 208, 309 sants from, 195 Sikh contacts with, 70 Sikh musicians and preachers from, 27, 29, 73, 85, 101, 104

341

Indian, cultural associations, 12, 34, 41n9, 73, 74, 76, 210–13 food, 75, 103, 145, 208, 294 identities, 245 Indian Association (Poland), 126 Indian Welfare Society of Norway (IWS), 19 Indian Workers’ Association, 241 Indian Youth Sports and Cultural Association Norway (IYSCA), 34 Indians, from Madagascar, 143 in Denmark, 39, 41n8 in Finland, 96 in France, 165 in Greece, 203–6, 210, 212 in Ireland, 307n8, 310, 311 in Italy, 134–9, 142–4, 146–9, 151–2 in Norway, 23 in Poland, 115 in Spain, 180–83 in UK, 242, 245, 282, 288 integration, 20, 69–72, 106, 112, 125, 139, 142, 146, 147, 151, 153, 154, 182, 193, 203, 209, 212, 213, 218–19, 227, 323 International Sikh Youth Federation, 241 Internet, 6, 7, 29, 31, 54–8, 87–8, 259, 270 intra-faith diversity, 232–3, 247 invisibility 72, 164, 218 Ireland, 13, 305–27 Irish Sikh Council, 322–5 Italy, 3, 5, 10–11, 123,133–56,166, 167, 169, 170, 171, 172, 181, 234, 262 Italian language, 145n47, 149, 156 izzat (reputation/honor), 236, 255 Jackson, Robert, 231 jaikara, of Ravidasias, 187, 196 of Sikhs, 187n11, 196 Jagat Guru Valmik Ji Maharaj Temple, Coventry, 284 Jalandhar, 97, 184, 186, 226, 288, 309, 310, 312, 313 James, Alan, 244, 255

342

Sikhs in Europe

Jats, 168, 169, 183, 184, 189, 226, 237, 238, 239 Jerome Xavier, 2 Joronen, Tuula, 111 July 7 (2005, in UK), 317, 324 Kabbadi, 34–5 Kahn Singh Nabha, 301 Kalsi, Sewa Singh, 229 karha, 6n24, 293, 324 karhah prasad, 257 Karva Chauth, 301 kathavachaks, 27, 29, 73 Kaur Singh, Amrit and Rabindra (The Singh Twins), 230 Kenya, 226, 314 Kesdhari, 244 keski, 261, 264 Khalistan, 24, 25n15, 45, 47, 53, 56, 167, 241 Khalsa, 227, 245, 246, 281, 297, 301, 302 Khalsa Army, 2 Khalsa Camp, 260–62 Khalsa norm, the, 27, 154 Khalsa Punjabi School, Norway, 33 khanda, 86n61,166, 291, 293 khande di pahul, 66, 73, 89, 127, see also amrit sanskar Khatri, 68 kin networks, 135, 143, 172 Kiran Valmiki, 285 kirpan, 71, 126, 141, 145, 146, 156, 227 kirpan, disputes over the wearing of, 5, 71, 141, 146n52, 156 kirtan, 27, 30, 73, 86, 87, 212, 257, 262, 297 Korkiasaari, Jouni, 97 Kundalini yoga converts, 149 langar, 46, 54, 72, 76, 257, 262, 284, 320 “westernized”, 257–8 Latin America, 180, 182 Latina, 135, 147, 149 Latvia, 316 Lazio, 134, 137, 147–51, 155 Leicester, 227, 237, 245, 257, 262, 321 Leonard, Karen, 49 Leslie, Julie, 285 Lier, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 34

Light, Ivan, 106, 107 literature, on Sikhs in UK, 228–30 Lithuania, 316 “little India”, 206 Łódź, 121, 128 Lohanas, 168 Lombardy, 135, 136, 137, 142, 143, 156 London, 3, 69, 226, 227, 237, 240, 257, 297, 317, 321, 324 Lubanas, 182, 183–5 Ludhiana, 97, 118, 296 Lund, 74, 76 Luxemburg, 69 Maharaja Dalip Singh, 166, 225 Maharaj Ranjit Singh, 2 Majha, 184 Malaysia, 306, 314 Malmö, 63, 65, 72, 74, 76, 85 Malwa, 184 Manchester, 229, 237, 238, 257 Mangoo Ram, 185, 186 Mantua, 137 Marathon, 205, 206, 210, 212 marriage, 6, 67, 68, 69, 87, 98, 100, 118, 122, 123, 127, 168, 171, 207, 209, 236, 245, 256, 282 arranged, 67, 87, 207 as a reason for migration, 67–9, 98, 100, 116, 118 as a means for legalization, 5, 67–9, 123n18, 171, 315 bureau, 240, 282 intercaste, 168 interfaith/mixed-faith, 67–8, 98, 122, 127–8, 235, 245–6, 315, 319 pro forma, 67, 68 martial art, 73, 212, 241, 324 Martikainen, Toumas, 72n25, 100 martyrdom, of Guru Arjan, 2, 27 maryada, 262n40, 264, 266, 267 Mata Gujri Punjabi School, Norway, 34 Mauritius, 165 memorial, Sikh, 166, 227 migrants, colonial, 166, 226 economic, 67, 181, 315

Index illegal/irregular, 11, 50, 116, 117, 119, 123n18, 119 inter-diasporic, 121 labor, 40 marriage, 100 political, 67, 68, 100, 167, 315 skilled, 41, 68, 314 student, 67, 100, 118, 317 undocumented, 11, 117, 167, 169–72, 315 migration, see also family reunification and refugees caste-specific, 237 chain, 138, 167, 168, 169, 182, 309 direct, 99 “drop-in”, 67 female, 100 forced, 13, 41, 307 histories, 2–5, 21–3, 40–41, 66–9, 97–102, 115–21, 134–9, 164–9, 180–83, 203–5, 308–18 illegal/irregular, 4, 69, 116, 117, 119, 121, 122,163, 169–71, 173–6, 202, 226 labor, 21, 22, 41, 67, 98, 118, 138, 181, 204 male, 19, 21, 23, 98, 206, 310–11 marriage, 67 100, 118 net, 97 skilled, 41 undocumented, 117, 134n4, 169, 170 “mini-Punjab”, 26 miracles, and Sikhism, 55, 56 Miss Pooja, 289 Modena, 134, 137, 142, 143 “modern plurality”, 231 Moroccans, 141, 182, 234 Moscow, 10, 13, 125n24, 315 mother tongue, 33, 84, 101, 243 multiculturalism, 140, 218, 231 Muslims, (Sikh relations/comparisons to), 12, 28–9, 133, 139, 180, 199, 218, 234–5, 241–2, 313, 322, 326–7 Nagra, Daljit, 230, 239 nam karan (name-giving ceremony) 89, 128 nam simran, 261, 299, 300 Namdharis, 45, 229, 240, 279, 281, 295–302

343

Nanaksar movement, 238, 240 Nanaksar Gurdwara, Coventry, 237, 238 Nayar, Kamala, 236 neo-assimilationist discourses, 133, 139 Nesbitt, Eleanor, 235–6, 255, 257, 283 Neuve-Chapelle, 166 newspapers, 28, 144–7, 150–51, 153, 239 New Zealand, 175, 181 Nihang tradition, 241, 244, 265, 266, 267 nishan sahib, 27, 240, 291, 321 nitnem, 27, 42, 260, 261, 263, 265, 267, 268 North America, 98, 175–6, 236, 314 Northern Ireland, 308, 309, 310, 311, 319 Norway, 4, 9, 10, 19–36, 40, 67, 88 Norwegian language, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33 Nottingham, 235, 237, 238 Oberoi, Harjot, 280 “official religion”, 233 Olson, Carl, 303 Omissi, David E., 3, 166 one-point-five (1.5) generation, 182, 183, 193, 198, 207n22 “other”/“otherness”, 6, 80, 86, 139, 295 orientalism, 5, 82, 133, 151 Orthodox Church, 211, 215, 216, 217 Oslo, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34 Pakistan, 39, 87, 97, 164, 165, 180, 203, 313 Pakistanis, 169, 171, 181, 183, 245 Panjabiat/Punjabiyat 236, 246, 293 panj piare, 27 “paper market”, 172 “paper trail”, 171–3, 175 Paris, 166, 169 Parma, 134, 137, 142, 143 Parmesan cheese, 142, 143 Patiala, 97 patka, 30 patriarchy/patriarchal, 67, 77, 111 peddlers, 166, 226, 308, 310–11, 312, 313 persecution, of Sikhs, 4, 68, 305 Pettigrew, Joyce, 235 Piacenza, 137, 143 Piraeus, 206, 210 Poland, 9, 10, 67,115–29, 316 policy of ethnicization, 139

344

Sikhs in Europe

Polish language, 125 politics of difference, 5, 82 politics of recognition, 80 “popular religion”, 233 Poros, 210, 212 Portugal, 171, 201 Poznań, 121, 125 prakash (opening ceremony of Guru Granth Sahib), 27, 263 processions (nagar kirtan), 9, 21, 27–8, 133, 141, 153 “Punglish”, 239 Punjabi, language, 21, 33–4, 73, 84, 85, 244, 253, 323 language schools, 9, 33–4 teaching of, 25–6, 33–4, 84 quam, 185, 186, 197 Queen Elisabeth, 227 Radhasoami movement, 187, 239, 246, 280, 284 Radhasoami Satsang, Coventry, 237 ragis, 27, 29 Rahit Maryada, 56, 57, 187, 236, 240, 264 rainsbhai kirtan, 73, 262 Rajasthan, 97 Ramayana, 283, 284, 285 Ramey, Steven, 279, 284, 298, 301 Ramgharias, 168, 225, 226, 237, 238 Raszyn, 126 Ravidasia Chamars, 182, 183, 185–93 Ravidasis/Ravidasias, 168, 179, 182, 184, 185–93, 195–9, 229, 238, 245, 279–83, 288–95, 300–302 refugee status, Sikhs seeking/granted, 24, 40, 41, 68, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 122, 315 regularization, 134n6, 136 Religious Association of Sikhs in Poland (RASP), 126 religious education, and diversity, 230–31, 246–7 curriculum materials, 228, 233 education materials, 81–3, 228, 245–7 remittances, social, 135, 176 Rentis, 206

representations, of Sikhs in media, 5, 11, 50, 80, 144–7, 150–51, 153–4 in practices, 28, 324 in public discourses, 136, 139, 140, 141, 145, 218 in textbooks, 81–3 of young Sikhs, 30–31 on the Internet, 28–9, 31, 87 restaurant industry, 96, 102–12, 174, 313, 315 revitalization of religion, 13, 86, 269 Ricucci, Roberta, 234 ritual, cast pollution, 281 roles, 77 skills, 32 rituals, 29 birth, 297 Catholic, 128 change of, 75–6, 196, 288–90 death, 76–7 festivals, 23, 27, 33, 49, 54, 73, 74, 124, 145, 154, 188, 208, 255, 258, 288, 298, 323 for Guru Granth Sahib, 27, 28, 32, 63, 257, 285, 296, 298, 321 introduction of, 187 instructions of, 77 in the gurdwara, 29, 35, 47, 63, 73–4, 127, 212, 240, 246, 283, 284, 321 name-giving, 89, 128 perceived as stable cultural forms, 75 preserving patterns from India, 74, 79 processions, 9, 21, 27–8, 133, 141, 153 weddings, 125, 127, 217 Romania, 137n22, 316 Romanians, 141, 149, 151 Rome, 147, 148–9, 150 Russia, 13, 117, 123 Sabaudia, 149, 150 Sachkhand Nanak Dham, 239 sahaj path, 27 Sahijdhari, 134, 145 Sambhi, Piara Singh, 228 sangat, 50, 72, 148, 168, 186, 188, 195, 211, 240, 261, 270, 297

Index Sanghera, Jasvinder, 239 Sanghera, Sathnam, 230, 239, 243 sant/sants (venerated spiritual master/s), 186, 187, 230, 238, 240 Sant Khalsa, 297 Sant Niranjan Das, 195, 289, 290, 291 Sant Ramanand, 195, 199, 288, 290, 291 sarbloh bibek, 262 Satguru Jagjit Singh, 281, 296, 298 Schengen zone, 4, 69, 119–21, 170, 203 Schmidt-Leukel, Perry, 232 Scotland, 227 second generation, 20, 33, 64, 66, 70, 83–9, 141, 164, 167, 182–3, 207n22, 242, 243, 245, 314, 319 self-representation, 82, 279–302 September 11 (9/11, 2001, in USA), 317, 322, 324, 327 settlement pattern, 121–5, 143, 147–8, 152, 183, 205–9, 229, 237 seva (selfless service), 35, 76, 78, 88 Seva projects, 31 Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), 26, 41, 56, 126, 127, 145, 292, 298 Shri Guru Nanak Niwas Gurdwara Sahib, Lier, Norway, 23, 24, 25, 26 Shri Guru Ravidas Gurdwara, Vienna, 195 Sikh camps, 32–3, 73, 87, 253–73 Sikh community, right to represent and define, 49 Sikh Cultural Associations, Sweden, 73, 74 Sikh Foundation, Denmark, 45, 46, 50 Sikh Missionary Society, 257, 259 Sikh population, estimation of, 1, 23, 39–40, 64–6, 225, 283, 288, 296 Sikh Retreats, 268 Sikh Student Camp, 265–6 Sikhi Camp, 262–4 sikhi/panjabiat/modernity triangle, 246 simran, 73, 260, 261, 263, 265, 267, 299, 300 “similarity-within-difference”, 5 Simmel, Georg, 53 Sindhis, 126, 180, 181, 279 Singh, Gurharpal, 24, 26, 49, 226, 229, 235, 241, 256, 258, 288 Singh, Jasjit, 230, 244

345

Singh, Pashaura, 191, 300, 302 Singh, Ramindar, 229 Singh Sabha, 188 Single Equality Bill, UK, 287, Siwas Association Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Raszyn, Polen, 126–8 Skeie, Geir, 231 Slough, 237, 262 Smart, Ninian, 233 Smith, A.D., 214 Smith, Christian, 255 Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, 232–3 smuggling (human), 69, 117, 179 Snell, Patricia, 255 social networks, 8, 65, 68, 74, 85, 105, 106, 111, 112, 207, 209 soldiers, Sikh, 3, 146, 166, 175 solidarity networks, 11, 175 Southall, 226, 245, 285 South Asia Cultural Heritage Centre UK, London, 297 Soviet, 201, 203, 217 Spain, 10, 11, 123, 167, 169, 170, 171, 172, 179–99, 201 Spanish language, 182, 183 Spirituality, Identity, Knowledge, Humility (S.I.K.H.) Camp, 267–70 sports melas, 34–5 Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK, 292 Sri Guru Ravidass Sadhu Sampradaye Society, 290 Sri Lanka, 164, 165, 166, 203 stereotypes, of Sikhs, 11, 80, 83, 140, 145, 151 of castes, 238 stigmatization of religious difference, 11, 140, 141, 156 Stockholm, 65, 68, 72, 73, 77, 80, 85, 86, 87 sukhasan (closing ceremony of Guru Granth Sahib), 27, 74 Sweden, 5, 9–10, 63–89, 97, 98, 99 Swedish language, 84, 89 Swedish Organization of Sikh Students (SOSS), 86–7 syncretism, 81–2, 232, 279, 301 Söderling, Ismo, 97 Takhar, Opinderjit Kaur, 229

346

Sikhs in Europe

Tamils, 164, 166 Tanzania, 226, 314 Tat Khalsa, 235 Tatla, Darshan Singh, 24, 26, 226, 229, 235, 241, 256, 258, 288 Tavros, 202, 206, 210, 211, 212 terrorists, 315, 322, 327 Thandi, Shinder, 3, 6, 241, 242, 245 third generation, 33, 58, 83, 243 “traditional plurality”, 231 trafficking, 116, 117 transit country, 10, 12, 68, 99, 116, 117, 123, 147 transnational, activities, 6, 97, 262 diaspora, 230 networks and links, 8, 52, 70, 168, 175–6, 231 Treviso, 137, 142 turban, 42, 122, 126, 133, 227, 230, 244, 261, 263, 265, 271, 310, 314 as a symbol of Sikh identity, 28, 71n22, 244, 245 disputes over the wearing of, 5, 71, 227, 230, 324 female wearing of, 261, 263, 264, 265, 271 political decisions about, 12, 28, 71, 126 styles of, 244, 297 tying ceremony (dastar bandhi), 127 tying of, 29, 32, 300, 323 Turban Day, 20, 28–9 Tuscany, 137, 156 twice migrants , 4, 68, 226 Uganda, 68, 226, 314 unemployment, 10, 70, 100, 104, 105, 108, 152 Unge Sikher, 30–31 United Kingdom, 225–47, 253–73, 309, 313 United Nations, 4, 16

untouchability, 181, 286, 287, 289 upward mobility, 242–3 Vadbhag Singh, 240 Vaisakhi, 19, 27, 28, 33, 72, 141, 146, 150 Valencia, 181 Valmikis, 245, 279, 280, 281, 282–8, 300–302 Valmiki Sabhas, 284 Vasta, Elie, 171 vegetarianism, 9, 42, 262, 264 Veneto, 134, 137, 142, 151–5, 156 Vertovec, Steven, 231, 293 “Vienna incident”, 11, 156, 180, 195–9, 288–9, 291 visa, 4, 118, 120, 124, 168, 172, 204, 317 Vishwa Namdhari Vidhyak Jatha, UK, 300 visibility, 63, 72 Wahlbeck, Östen, 109 Wales, 227, 306, 307 Warsaw, 116, 118, 121, 124, 126, 127, 128 Webster, John C. B., 194 weddings, 125, 127, 217 Weller, Paul, 230 West Bengal, 203, 212 Wolverhampton, 227, 237, 257, 289 women, 77, 109–11, 229, 238–9 “world religion paradigm”, 247 World War I and II, Sikhs who fought in, 3, 146, 166, 311, 314 Wrocław, 121 yoga, 29 Yogi Bhajan (Harbhajan Singh Yogi), 266n55 Yorkshire, 227 youth camps, see Sikh camps young Sikhs, 7, 30, 176, 236, 244, 245, 246, 253–73, 293, 294, 297, 299–301 Ypres, 166