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far we Sikhs are treating our problems symptomatically rather than looking
for a cure or long-term survival as Sikh-Americans and global citizens.
are a very diverse and pluralistic group of people so the same remedy may
not work for all. We need to look for different options in different
settings. Overall I believe that the Americanization of our future
generations is inevitable unless we make Sikhism compatible with American
ways so both can co-exist.
us re-cap what Sikhs have accomplished in
migration started to this new world-America in the1890's. A study of
Punjabi migration reveals that the majority of the early migrants are
already lost in the melting pot. Most of their children were born to
Mexican mothers and these children grew up as Catholics. The documentary
film 'Roots in Sand' captures this period well.
second group of children born to Punjabi mothers after 1948 took more
pride in being East Indians but many of them grew up with no faith since
there were very few Gurdwaras and prejudice against them was rampant.
third larger group migrated post 1965 after liberalization of the
immigration laws. These people were able to establish small islands of
Punjabi community and took pride in their Punjabi roots.
1980 saw the fourth group of Punjabi migration to the
most recent migrants, are very westernized in a
superficial sense and are the least interested in Sikhism. Many of these
new arrivals had cut their hair even before landing in
is a mere generalization of facts for the purpose of simplification and
may not apply to every person.
are a few facts about our community:
of Sikhs in
Majority of Punjabi Sikh-Americans live in the
are many more Sikhs in
Sikhs have many Punjabi Newspapers (except for two all originate from
currently most of the Sikhs watch ZEE TV and or TV ASIA. A few cities
offer Sikh owned limited coverage TV programs but unfortunately these
programs talk little about Sikh or Sikhism and more about Bollywood.
Programs: There are a few very good radio programs but
they only serve the needs of Punjabi Speaking Sikhs.
and Libraries: Very few libraries have quality Sikh
books. Unfortunately very few Sikhs are avid readers anyhow.
Most of our preachers are Indian born or have no experience of dealing
with children being raised in this country. So they can't effectively
communicate with children born in
There are many good web sites - our only hope. But many web sites are too
elite and don't talk about ordinary Sikhs or their day-to-day problems. We
are more interested in the ugly politics of
So far there are none in the
There are a few video's available but only on a very limited scale, with
nothing available in American libraries. There is as yet no DVD on Sikhism
except Shabad Kirtan
or a few mediocre Punjabi movies. We have even failed to make widely
available a quality video copy of the documentary made by BBC in 1999.
This video should be made available to all libraries and schools wherever
Surat Anderson produced the most watched
documentary 'Turbans', which was shown on PBS. However, many Sikhs didn't
feel comfortable with last two minutes of the production.
Encyclopedia of Sikhism by Mr. R.S. Bains, or three more CDs on Gurbani
and one animation CD on Guru Nanak.
is hardly any other computer material for Kids or Adults on Sikhism in
year we experimented by offering a bilingual Punjabi American heritage
program (the seventh annual Punjabi American Festival). Bhai
Dya Singh world music group was our headliner. There were also other
cultural performers. We showed documentaries including 'Sikhs' by the BBC
and we had an audience of 12,000 plus. We were also able to attract many
Americans of other backgrounds, mainly white Americans.
Sikhs criticized us for inviting a religious singer to the cultural
festival. However, at least in
often get criticized for speaking in English. I am trying to find a
compromise, bilingual model. I even looked at a formula from our local
Church offering services in English, Punjabi and Spanish. But our Sangat
is different since many parents speak Punjabi and of course their children
don't know if it is a good idea to segregate our sangat in separate Sunday
divans, as happens in the Church model. Eventually we may have English
speaking Gurdwaras. In any event, we have to find a constructive way to
Americanize our methods to preserve Sikh traditions and make them
acceptable to others without tempering the real essence. At the same time,
we can't go deviate too much from the rest of the Sikh world otherwise our
own community will see us as outsiders.
think we need a lot more discussion on this topic. I am not asking for an
idealistic or a fast forward solution but rather a pragmatic approach
keeping in mind our limitations and our current resources.
am sure Sikhism is universal and we cannot tie it to Punjabi culture.