Challenge to preserve Sikh heritage for young Singaporeans

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| Singapore| 18 Jan 2016 | Asia Samachar |
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Photos taken from individual Facebook pages – ASIA SAMACHAR GRAPHIC

Some young Sikhs easily identify themselves with their faith, while others either struggle or are lukewarm to that badge.

Two young Singaporeans, when interviewed for an article for a local news portal, gave starkly different accounts of their relationships with the faith into which born into.

Nirmolak Singh Bajaj, who has just completed his national service, says it was very important that the cultural connection is not lost, and that traditions are continued.

“Sikhs are a minority in Singapore. Because of that, many Sikhs, old or young have been bullied due to being outnumbered or because the offenders are not knowledgeable of our religion,” he tells the interview published at Six-Six.com.

Bajaj says that he has no sense of disconnect, nor any difficulty with keeping in touch with his roots.

On the other hand, another young Sikh had expressed quite an opposite view in the article.

“I am proud of who I am but my connection to my ‘roots’ in this sense is weak,” says Manick Kalra, an electrical engineering and business student at Natonal University of Singapore (NUS).

When asked about his ethnicity, he first answers Singaporean, then Northern Indian. Punjabi even comes before he calls himself Sikh when asked, the article says.

The article goes on:

He says that the reason why he is clean-shaven is because of his father, who also made the decision to forgo the turban. “In the environment he grew up in and even today people with turbans are discriminated against everywhere.

“Perhaps he did not want me to face that.”

Even his name, traditionally spelt ‘Manik,’ was changed to Manick at the behest of his father so it could be shortened to ‘Nick,’ Kalra explains. He believes this was all done to give him opportunities where his ethnicity might have denied him.

The writer also spoke to Singapore Sikh Centre vice president Rajeshpal Singh Khalsa.

“Children that come from families who provide the background, teachings and exposures to Sikh history, values and customs have less of an issue,” he says. Conversely, those who do not have this exposure have a much stronger sense of disconnect. For those who have grown up with the connection, their cultural identity is strong.

 

The original article by Thomas Oliver, entitled ‘The Challenge Of Preserving The Sikh Heritage, was published at the Six-Six.com website on 18 Jan 2016. You can read it here.

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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