| Indonesia | 21 Nov 2016 | Asia Samachar |
The Sikhs in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, Indonesia, had joined millons of Sikhs to celebrate the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith, last week.
Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan celebrated the event along with other gurdwaras in Indonesia, including Gurdwara Sahib Jakarta Selatan.
The Medan gurdwara is located in an area of the city known to locals as Kampung Keling, according to a news report.
Earlier, the same gurdwara’s Vaisakhi celebration in April 2016 was also attended by the Medan Deputy Mayor Akhyar Nasution and Partai NasDem Medan Dr Geeta chief Dr Geeta. [See Sinar Indonedia Baru (21 April 2016) in a news report entitled entitled ‘Yayasan Missi Gurdwara Medan Peringati Hari Lahir ke-317 Kaum Sikh’].
In a Jakarta Globe (August 27, 2010) article entitled ‘A Subcontinental Slice of Sumatra’, it said:
“For decades, Kampung Keling has been well known among residents as a settlement of ethnic Indian people.
“Although city administrators tried to change its official name to Kampung Madras — the word keling connotes dark skin and is offensive to some Indians — the change didn’t take and the enclave remains popularly known as Kampung Keling.
“Walking through the area, it is hard to miss the Punjabi people who live there. Punjabis are one of India’s main ethnic groups from a northern region straddling the border dividing India from Pakistan.
“The men are tall, dark and handsome, wearing traditional turbans and long beards, while the women have sharp features and often don bright saris.
“The culture and religious beliefs of the Indian residents who live there have added a dimension to Medan’s diversity, yet most Indonesians know little about them.
“Their striking appearance and unfamiliar customs of the enclave’s dwellers have added to their mystique among locals. But, with a little effort, it’s surprisingly easy to lift the veil on Punjabi culture in Medan,” the report added.
The same report added:
“The history of Punjabi existence in North Sumatra can be traced back to Amritsar and Jullundur in Northern India. Sikh-Punjabis first arrived in northern Sumatra in the 18th century through Aceh.
“Most of them came as traders who settled in the area and slowly dispersed throughout northern Sumatra.
“Another group of Punjabis arrived as part of a Gurkha army brought to Indonesia by the British colonial administration. The Gurkhas consisted of various Indian ethnic groups, including a Sikh regiment.
“Some of these troops were sent to Indonesia to supply arms to the Dutch who were struggling to suppress Indonesia’s demands for independence.
“When the Gurkha soldiers saw the way the Dutch were oppressing of the local Indonesian population, many switched sides, taking over Dutch ships and joining the locals in their fight for freedom. Many of these Gurkha soldiers eventually settled in Sumatra.”
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
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