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sumra
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UK GOVERNMENT "OFFICIALLY" CELEBRATE VAISAKHI FOR THE FIRST TIME

BRITISH MINISTER TALKS ABOUT SIKH NATION

It is changing times as regards Government interaction with the British Sikh community. Almost 225 attended the first ever Vaisakhi celebration hosted by the UK Government at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last month. Apart from the traditional "moderates" - mostly the over 50s from in and around London the attendees included over 100 Sikhs from over 60 different Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations. This was thanks to the efforts of the Sikh Secretariat who were contacted to ensure a better cross-section of attendees. It was good to see a reasonable number of younger Sikhs and around 50 women.

The National Council of Gurdwaras and the Sikh Federation (UK) with its ever increasing influence through a growing membership (individuals and organisations) ensured a good turnout of those with Sikh interests at heart. Representatives from Gurdwaras and Panthic organisations are increasingly prepared to challenge the traditional "moderate" approach adopted by Sikhs and ask difficult questions of the UK Government.

The event at the Foreign Office was jointly hosted by Mike O'Brien the Foreign Minister responsible for relations with India and Fiona Mactaggart the Home Office Minister. Both have considerable links with the British Sikh community and this was apparent from Fiona Mactaggart's speech.

In her speech she spoke of the "values" of the Khalsa - "commitment to equality, to hard work and to service to others." Later in her speech she spoke not only of the Khalsa and the way it works but the "Sikh Nation." She believed the Khalsa was an excellent model of "active citizenship" that the UK Government are trying to promote.

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And what are the 'Sikh interests' according to British Sikhs? Getting 'Sikhs' classed as one of Britains minority ethnic communities? What a joke.... Since when did Sikhs become a nation or ethnic group?

I dont think many people understand the internal damage being done to Sikhism by certain vocal Punjabi Sikhs, who have this perverse agenda of trying to 'hoodwink' the rest of the World into falsely believing that Sikhs are some kind of enslaved race of people who's nation is occupied by a 'Hindu' India...

What these few bastards fail to realize is that they are portraying a wrong image of Sikhism to rest of the World. First and foremost, Sikhs are not a race, secondly, Sikhs are not a 'nation'.

As a religion, Sikhism transcends the boundaries of race, culture, language, nationality... These people who lie through their teeth infront of British MP's and enjoy a 'jolly good time' with them after looking for sympathy vote would be better spending their time by simply being honest or just staying at home.

How can some Sikhs even dream to limit Sikhism by categorizing it as a 'nation' or ethnic community?

People need to learn to separate religion from region. I am against Sikhism being promoted as synonymous with Punjab and Punjabis which is what many Sikhs in the West are doing.

They'd be doing much better service to the faith by translating Sikh texts and literature into other languages so that people from all over the World will have the chance to learn about this religion. Some will no doubt find inspiration and become Sikhs themselves, but does that mean they then need to assimilate themselves into Punjabi culture? No...

All this lobbying for official recognition as a nation or whatever is harmful and should be discouraged.

Limiting Sikhism as something looked upon as being an ethnic group will eventually kill the religion. Sikhism is already facing internal problem with terminally ill societies practicing sicko caste system among other dieased things, and here we have people trying to officially end fresh faces from joining the religion by turning us into a 'nation'.

Regards,

(Not directing this to sumra but a general post for everyone to think about).

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Yoo Akhilesh Hindu Praji,

Let me start by telling you something...Sikhs have always been distinct ...As far as I know Sikhs have always rejected the idol worship of Hinduism...and we have a seperate identity..So why should we not have the right to be called distint. You are telling me that Sikhs are not an ethnic group then why where we hunted down in the streets of Delhi, Kanpur and the whole darn India to be killed, raped and burnt alive...Mmmmm....I hope I hit a point here...

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I wish to add my own little point to this thread.

I had a long and detailed correspondence with Fiona Mactaggart (MP for Slough) about the rights of Sikh employees at Heathrow airport following 9/11. Basically, she could'nt give a stuff, and she stated that she supports ALL measures taken against minorities following some bureaucrat's subjective risk assessment against terrorism criteria. Because of the extremist reactionary measures that were imposed by a government trying to prove that it had cajones, the airport employees were refused admittance when they tried to go to work, and as a result over 30 of them quietly resigned. These were old guys and gals who had come over in the 60s, etc.

My impression of Mactaggart is that she does not have the best interests of the Sikh community at heart. In fact, she tends towards a sort of overbearing, autocratic nature towards Sikhs betraying some sort of borderline-fascist instinct. This is borne out by her written statement addressed to me that she believed that only regular gurdwara-attendees who are well-known to the regular local congregation could argue with any force at all that they had the right to carry a kirpan in public places (not including ANYWHERE around an airport), and that the "kirpan" could only be symbolic (i.e. a thing that's supposed to look like a kirpan but is'nt). This is the sort of edict she would dearly love to impose on us (she wrote it before she became a Cabinet Minister). She actually wrote to me that the reason for her belief that only (presumably signing-on) gurdwara regulars should be allowed to carry a kirpan was that it was POSSIBLE for sleeper cells of al-Qaeda or other Muslim terrorists to hide themselves inside the Sikh community!!!!

She is supposed to be the MP for Slough, a place where there is a large Sikh community. This fact does not seem to motivate her to reduce her ignorance about Sikhs. By her statements such as these, I am satisfied that she is in fact an idiot and a minion who has been set up as expendable political cannon-fodder by the ultra-slick Whitehall machinery.

Don't take her comments about the "Sikh nation" seriously. In the light of my experience, I would bet that she did not know the significance of this phrase and the likely effect it would have on Sikhs. There are very few knowledgable people in positions of power in the US and the UK right now. Prominent politicians seem to be mostly brainless buffoons who follow orders. She was just reading a script. She probably thinks she was talking about oil-rich desert-dwelling Arab Muslims who live in a Middle Eastern country called "Khalistan".

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very nice post akhilesh

Yoo Akhilesh Hindu Praji,

Let me start by telling you something...Sikhs have always been distinct ...As far as I know Sikhs have always rejected the idol worship of Hinduism...and we have a seperate identity..So why should we not have the right to be called distint. You are telling me that Sikhs are not an ethnic group then why where we hunted down in the streets of Delhi, Kanpur and the whole darn India to be killed, raped and burnt alive...Mmmmm....I hope I hit a point here...

singviki, i believe akhilesh's point was that sikhism is distinct as a religion, but not as a 'nation' or an ethnicity (correct me if i'm wrong akhilesh!)

& btw, how do u know akhilesh is a hindu?

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Defination of Sikh Nation will be equilavent to nation of Afghanistan due to conditions of the panth right now!!!!!!

Who wants an nation???

Khalsa belongs to the world, world belongs to the khalsa.... Raj Karega Khalsa Akhaie rahaie na koiiiii

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Yoo Akhilesh Hindu Praji,

Let me start by telling you something...Sikhs have always been distinct ...As far as I know Sikhs have always rejected the idol worship of Hinduism...and we have a seperate identity..So why should we not have the right to be called distint.

Did you even bother to read my post?

Don't take her comments about the "Sikh nation" seriously. In the light of my experience, I would bet that she did not know the significance of this phrase and the likely effect it would have on Sikhs.

It is not comments made by a local MP that bother me it is the lobbying done by Sikhs themselves for this "ethnic" and "nation" category that i find disturbing and harmful to Sikhism - a religion for ALL humankind, regardless of their nationality and ethnic/cultural background.

singviki, i believe akhilesh's point was that sikhism is distinct as a religion, but not as a 'nation' or an ethnicity (correct me if i'm wrong akhilesh!)

Yep, you got it.

someone define the term nation for me and then compare it to the term religion... just to clarify and explain to me how Sikhi has become a nation.

Sikhs have not become a nation. I'll try explain as best as i can what some Sikhs in UK are trying to achieve.

The British government occasionally collects statistical information on immigrants to the country. Apart from censuses and those type of questionnaires, you will come across certain forms which ask you to provide your ethnic identity along with other personal information (can be on job applications, college/uni forms etc).

As far as the ethnic categories go, for us "Asians" there are around 4 official classifications we can choose from (Asian - Indian, Asian - Pakistani, Asian - Bangladeshi, Asian - Chinese) and one "other" category for those who do not fit into the above (Asian - Other).

For many of us (Including me) we do not like having to identify our ethnicity as "Indian", so we put down "Asian Other" instead. This is because "Indian" is not an ethnicity, it is a nationality like British or American. Also, "Indian" category includes such ethnic groups like Punjabis, Bangalis, Tamils, Gujuratees etc. I for one, do not want to be lumped together with those other groups. In my experience there is nothing i have in common with gujuratees etc I am proud to be a Punjabi and we have our own language, culture and identity which is distinct from other Asians.

Basically, many others feel the same way as i do. If the British want to classify us on ethnic grounds, then we want real representation for who we are (not some misnomer "Indian" or "Asian" label).

The problem however is that there are certain Sikhs who are lobbying the British to add an ethnic category for "Sikhs". This is absurd considering that Sikhism is a religion. Anyone born into any race or country can become a Sikh. If a Chinese guy became a Sikh he is still Chinese right? He is under no obligation to assimilate into Punjabi culture or call himself a Punjabi. He has his own culture and identity which he can maintain along with his faith (ie, his ethnic identity is Chinese, his religious identity is Sikh).

I feel that any "official recognition" that declares Sikhs to be a 'nation' and 'ethnic group' will be detrimental to Sikhism. Like i explained before, Sikhism is a religion, as a religion it transcends the boundaries of race, culture, language, nationality...

When people look at Sikhism, do you want them to talk about it being a religion which they could find inspiration, knowledge and peace of mind in? Or do you want them to look at Sikhs as just a race of people who all come from Punjab?

People need to understand that Guru Sahib's message was for anyone with an open mind and who is willing to learn from its teachings. We should work to spread this message to all who want to hear it. Not put a brick wall around Sikhism and confine it to Punjab or those born to Sikh parents (Many who are Sikh in name and family history only, not by faith).

Regards,

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Akhilesh, i was bein sarcastic when i made that comment. i agree with everything that u've said so far. Sikhi isn't limited to Punjabi's, it belongs to the world and for neone who seeks the Truth.

my question to all of u is this: what's with the i-dun-wanna-be-called-an-Indian attitude?

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my question to all of u is this: what's with the i-dun-wanna-be-called-an-Indian attitude?

Personal choice. Speaking for myself, i find the term "Indian" to be as misleading as "Asian".

I care about labels because quite frankly this is the type of environment i live in. Also my ancestry is important to me and i am very attached to my Punjabi identity. I enjoy reading and discussing on Punjabiyat and this is something i want to solely identify myself as belonging to.

Like how many Sikhs are trying to maintain their identity as belonging to a religion independent of any other i am also keen on working to preserve and promote our distinct Punjabi language and culture.

I think "Indian" is a misnomer as far as trying to label those of us who were born outside of India or who are not Indian passport holders. Since its a diverse country with many racial, cultural, linguistic and religious identities id rather just keep to my own since i have no interest or feel much in common with the other Indians.

Well, whatever makes you happy, go for it (As long as it does not affect others)...

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so it's more of tryin not to confuse nationality, cultural heritage and religion, eh? hmmm... seems like a nice mish mash of labels...

this leads me to another question (an this is purely a question! i'm not tryin to be witty or clever or intelligent! i want an answer!):

aren't punjabi ppl punjabi because they live in Punjab? so if the Punjabi culture is associated with the geography of where they live and the culture that emerged as a result of it, then wouldn't that same idea apply to India and Indians?

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so it's more of tryin not to confuse nationality, cultural heritage and religion, eh?

Exactly.

i am sikh, punjabi, british, indian, asian & human... i see no conflict between the different labels.

There may be no conflict if you are comfortable being identified under the above terms and that they are representative of you as a person in some way.

Problems occur when people who share the same identity as you try and give a new and false meaning to it, ie, trying to get Sikhs classed as an ethnic group or nation.

I already have my ethnic identity which is with me from birth. I was not born a Sikh and this is not my ancestry, culture whatever. This is a religious philosophy which i have embraced upon myself in order to fulfil my spiritual needs and curiosity. Something i can spend my whole life learning from.

Cultures, languages are ever changing. This is natural evolution of changing times. But, one thing that will not change and will remain the same until this planet ceases to exist is an established religion like Sikhism. Thousands of years from now people will be practising the same Sikhism we are today.

What truth will be left in the religion if we try to distort it and give it a new meaning?

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i totally agree with u on your views regarding sikhi & ethnicity.

Similary, Indian is only a nationality. There is no Indian culture, language, race... There is however a Punjabi culture, language etc.

i don't know if it is possible to draw a line as to where punjabi culture finishes & indian culture begins. & as u said earlier, cultures change with time &, i believe, never more so than at the present time with globalisation & mass media. we have more & more people in the world & fewer & fewer distinct cultures.

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i agree with guv on this. i don't wanna talk bout blood and ancestry and whatnot or even ethnicity, but rather culture. i believe that the Punjabi culture can be considered a subculture of the Indian culture, which consists of all its subcultures as well as some constant concepts found in all its subcultures. but i could be wrong of course.

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i don't know if it is possible to draw a line as to where punjabi culture finishes & indian culture begins. & as u said earlier, cultures change with time &, i believe, never more so than at the present time with globalisation & mass media. we have more & more people in the world & fewer & fewer distinct cultures.

i agree with guv on this. i don't wanna talk bout blood and ancestry and whatnot or even ethnicity, but rather culture. i believe that the Punjabi culture can be considered a subculture of the Indian culture, which consists of all its subcultures as well as some constant concepts found in all its subcultures. but i could be wrong of course.

My friends, i disagree (You both probably saw that coming).

Alright, i think it is wrong to call Punjabiyat as a 'sub culture' when it is so diverse, distinct and unique. What does culture develop from and what gives it a unique identity? The first thing i can think of is language. Without language, real cultures cannot develop. Punjabi language is like any other language, ie it is unique. Punjabi is not variation or dialect of another language, it is independent on its own.

Now, as you are both probably aware there is not just one culture in Punjab, there are several regional cultures in addition to a number of regional variations of Punjabi language. We could say these all are sub-cultures of a much larger Punjabi culture, since they are all related to eachother yet have their differences.

For example the art/painting traditions of the former Punjab hill states (Kangra, Chamba etc) are apart of Punjabi culture but are specific to that region. Arts and crafts are different as you move around to places like Patiala or Multan. Dress, foods, traditions, dialect vary all over Punjab. You wont find the same Bhangra/Boliyan of Doaba region in Potohar etc Yet despite the variations we are all of the same land, language and culture..

But as far as an Indian culture goes, there isnt one. I see other Indian peoples adopting Punjabi dress, foods, music, words/phrases and passing these off as "Indian" but that does not make it so.

We are not a sub-branch of anyone. We are our own people with our own language, culture, history...

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We are not a sub-branch of anyone. We are our own people with our own language, culture, history...

u know... ppl who are part of the sub-cultures in Punjabi culture can say the same thing

but regardless of this, what ur sayin is makin sense and i'm so glad that u didn't feel the need to insult us on a personal level for disagreeing with u.

historically speaking, India was never really a uniform sorta place neways. it's always been a whole mix of different kinds of ppl living together in an attempted harmony. the move towards a national identity has been a recent phenomena. newho... enough from me. someone else talk for a bit.

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It is those regional cultures which make up the Punjabi culture. Punjabi culture is a combination of what all the people of Punjab have contributed and share with one another.

For the purpose of easier explaining my point i used the term 'sub-culture', altho really they are not sub-cultures but are simply an example of the richness and diversity of our land of five rivers.

Regards,

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ooooooooooh... so ur like... schizophrenic or something... :LOL:

Nah, but i thought i may aswell stick with using a nick rather than my real name.

Names i've used on the net (not all on this site) have been:

Punjabi Nationalist (On all boards i've used and for longest time)

Noor-e-Punjab (Briefly on FFI - I know it sounds feminine, but so what..)

Akhilesh (At apnaorg.com and briefly on this board)

Forum Admin (At Khalsa Network)

Jahan (Current name here and on Sikhpal..)

Yeah ok, maybe i got problems... :P

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