UK, OCTOBER 16, 2004
They dont have to wear helmets to ride motorcycles,
the military uniform has been altered to accommodate the five Ks, they
have 200 gurdwaras for spiritual solace, the biggest Baisakhi celebrations
are organised in a city here.
Surprised you may be, because we are not talking about
Jalandhar, Amristar or Ludhiana.
This is sadda England. While showcasing multiculturalism,
Britain has put Sikhs on the mantelpiece. There are about four lakh
of them, the single biggest element in Britains Indian population.
Here Gurinder Chaddha is a blockbuster director, Tavlin Singh is on
top of the pop, Ruben Singh with his million pounds leaves many green
with envy, Darshan Bhuller is the favourite hoofer.
"Who but the Sikhs, and where but modern Britain,
to get an original idea going. Here is the diaspora adapting to a new
way of life, working with local society, new technologies but keeping
their roots alive. Brilliant combination," said UK high commissioner,
Michael Arthur, in his inaugural lecture on Anglo-Sikh relations at
the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Trust function in New Delhi.
The success story that UKs 4 lakh Sikhs are
The tradition of Anglo-Sikh ties has been a "proud
one", he said. In 100 years to 1945, there were 14 Victoria
Crosses awarded to Sikhs. "On per capita basis, given the size
of the Sikh Regiment, that must be a record for the entire British armed
forces. In two world wars, 83,000 Sikh soldiers were killed and 100,000
wounded," said Arthur. The glorious story of the past. But hows
the future? With their £17 million Gurdwara, the biggest outside
India, Bride and Prejudice adaption of Jane Austen, British Sikhs are
central to Englands society. Alright.
But how does Sikhism fare as a minority culture in a wider multicultural
society in Britain?
"Generational changes seems to be speeding up in
Britain, and rather faster than in traditional Punjab. Sikh children
in the UK are exposed to wider range of pressures, temptations and peer
group norms, mobility, media than are their age group contemporaries
in Punjab. British Gurdwaras bemoan that the younger generation do not
come as regularly to the temples as do their parents," Arthur said.