| Opinion | Malaysia | 8 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |

By Darshan Singh

History tells us that Sikhs came or were brought over to Malaya in the 19th century. In every article on Sikh migration to Malaysia, it is always proudly claimed that we were brought in by the British to serve in the security forces.

Let us also not forget that majority has come over as mere labourers toiling in the tin mines. It would have been indeed tough to build and sustain life in a completely new environment thousands of miles away. Being resilient, they ensured that the generations to come would have a better future in this land of abundance which we now call home.

Gurdwaras were established wherever we went, acting as the core institution to meet our socio-religious needs. So closely knit was our community that we were able to self-govern, overseeing and supporting each other’s needs.

In the earlier days, many cultural practices , deemed acceptable today, were a taboo. The list topper was mixed marriages. No Gurdwara in the earlier days would allow or condone such an Anand Karaj ceremony to be held within its premises. Mixed marriages were seen as dishonouring the family name. Unfortunately, today, we quite regularly witness or receive invitations to mixed marriage.

It is rather worrying that nowadays mixed marriages are rampant and encouraged not only by families who appear proud of such unions but also by Gurdwara Parbandaks whom we entrust to sustain the essence of Sikhi in its true form. These parbandaks – members of the gurdwara management committee (GMCs) – are setting a sad example by sending an explicit message to the wider community that mixed marriages are accepted in society, encouraging more young Sikhs.

Let us not discuss the clear requirements of the Sikh Rahat Maryada (SRM) on marriages, but apply common sense on its long term social impact on our society. Recent population statistics released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia indicates that current Malaysian population is about 30 million, of which 68.6 percent are Bumiputras, 23.4 percent Chinese, 7 percent Indians while all others at 1 percent.

Sub-ethnic Sikhs account under the wider Indian ethnic group, predominantly represented by the Tamils. What is our exact number in Malaysia remains anyone’s guess but I will say it not more than 75,000 people. And this figure is definitely declining due to various reasons, including migration and low fertility. However, the dwindling numbers due to mixed marriage is certainly avoidable if our Gurdwaras act in unison by declining permission for its premises to be used.

In most cultures, convention has it that a female would take on the faith of her male companion, and weddings solemnised in accordance to the faith of the male partner. But why abuse the Gurdwara, the holy Anand Karaj ceremony and the sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj in the process?

Impact on children of mixed marriages is another concern. A Sikh female who marries a non-Sikh continues to bring their children to the Gurdwara, even encouraging learning of the Punjabi language and following the Sikh culture.  On the other hand, the father would take these same children to practice his institution of faith. How is this fair to the children, who are sadly the victims caught in between?

If we do not set a strong foundation today, we will be crippled tomorrow. What drives mixed marriages? It is high time we identify the root cause, discuss it openly and address matters at hand.

In a society, there is strength in numbers. Our forefathers ensured that we remained united in faith as a community. Are we capable of carrying on their legacy?

Darshan Singh Dhillon is an avid writer on consumerism and also a member of the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council (MGC) executive committee

* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.

 

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25 COMMENTS

  1. I was brought to this article through a link provided in Facebook. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I was reading it. At first I thought it was satire. But then as I continued reading, I was horrified.

    Change some parts of the piece, it could be vvery well be written by Hitler. It is distressing that in this day and age there are still bigots like the writer. Thank God my Sikh friends are not as close minded as him.

    Good to read the comments. The writer is obviously in the minority.

  2. Sat Sri Akal. My father is a Hindu, my mother is a Sikh, (just like Mr. Darshan mentioned) and I know this writer. Seen him in Gurdwara Sahib KAMPAR. Just sharing my experience being in a mixed family. My mom sent us to Punjabi classes (again like Mr. Darshan mentioned) as my siblings and I insisted. Thank Waheguru, we’ve learned Gurmukhi. My father had never discouraged or stopped us from believing in Sikhism. We have even been to Churches, Temples and Gurdwara. As we grew up, we found our own path as nobody influenced us. No one could actually influence a grown up and matured human being. Two of my siblings believe in Hinduism, and I believe in Sikhism. We won’t be or feel like a VICTIM in between two cultures and believes unless people discriminate, look down and corner us. There are many people in Gurdwara, as well as in Temple, who never communicate with us (including you). Not even a smile on face. It is really sad to know and even sadder to experience discrimination. I am not very smart (still learning) but I know that in Sikhism, God is One, we constantly learn, and we are taught to Kirt Karo and Vand Shakko (forgive me if there are spelling mistakes). All I want to say is we should see humans as humans first without judging and discriminating by their race or religion. I truly believe that God chooses us, we don’t choose God. People should know the meaning of ‘Sikhan da maan niva, maat uchi’ and avoid ‘kaam, krod, lob, moh, hangkar’ as written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I don’t think Singh / Kaur in the end of name is enough to be a Sikh. How many Singh and Kaur has Panj Kakkar with them? How many of them have uncut hair, including threading and shaves? How many of them knows Gurmukhi? How many of them are vegetarian? How many of them can do path and understand the meaning of it? It is never easy to be a TRUE Sikh even if you’re born in a Sikh family. It takes a lot time, learning and courage to be a TRUE AND PURE Sikh.

  3. I disagree with you!!!!!!!!…. ek ohm kar…. means one true god/ 1 true waheguru for all…. when guru’s teaching is for the whole mankind,who are u to tell about this… wake up buddy… sardarji ur thinking is very shallow.. ask ur self 1st why are you a sikh…. do you choose sikh or sikh choose you… every child is born naked… we parents decide the race and religion…. were u ask u to born in sikh family…. and yes sardarji… gudwara should also encourage mix marriage beacuse he /she is bringing some1 to Sikhism… that is a good thing wat… again waheguru is for all…

    You jokers don’t allow them to marry..then they will permanently move out of sikh because they think the community dosent care about them…

    And yes…why you worry so much about it????

  4. In a way he has point, to physically add numbers to our population. But on the religion side, i just disagree. Our Guru has proven that by a donkey wearing a tiger’s skin/fur it doesnt become a tiger. The donkey’ truth will surely show sooner or later. To be a sikh is both ways, look like a tiger and be a tiger within. By forcing people to be a sikh by marrying a sikh doesnt make sense in this age. I think first find ways to get the Sikhs back to gurdwaras first. Or settle the Dasam Granth issue. But so called leaders are busy fighting for power, money and fame.
    BTW my wife is chinese, my mom is chinese, my sister in law is a muslim. And we are happily living as a family. God bless everyone!

  5. This publication should not be allowing half wits such as the writer to express an opinion that is factually lacking and colored by prejudice. A self appointed guardian of Sikh values it would appear.

    The writer of the above comment does not appear to have given any views or commented on on the subject of MIXED MARRIAGES DILEMMA. He has given a decision that Sardar Darshan Singh Dhillon is a ‘HALF WIT’ and that his opinion is COLORED BY PREJUDICE.

    By saying that ‘this publication [AS] should not be allowing…’ he may be questioning the very objective of existence of ASIA SAMACHAR and the ‘independent’ status of the Editor and this may not be acceptable to many.
    Majority welcome the AS as a platform to give their views on subjects which can stimulate healthy discussions on day to day matters/problems faced by Sikh community and current realities which will not go away just because some may not want to or like to face the realities.
    CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECTS LIKE THIS NEED OPEN MINDS AND VIEWS FROM OTHERS IF ANY GOOD IS TO BE DONE.

    I for one have been verbally and individually expressing my disappointment by the loss of SIKHI SAROOR and the names SINGH and KAUR both of which are GIFTS FROM OUR GURU GOBIND SINGH JI but have been advised by many against going public as the subject may offend many. APOLOGIES in ADVANCE.
    Gur Fateh

  6. This publication should not be allowing half wits such as the writer to express an opinion that is factually lacking and coloured by prejudice. A self appointed guardian of Sikh values it would appear. If I were him, I would retract and issue an apology.

  7. The writer asks, “What drives mixed marriages?”

    The answer is simple; love.

    Darshan, I highly recommend popping in The Beatles. That’ll clear your doubts and provide a refreshing take on this archaic subject matter.

    Regards,
    From a fortunate Sikh who is married to a gorgeous Chindian woman and blessed with a baby who still looks wonderfully human.

  8. This appears to be becoming another controversy similar to the ne we hsd on DASAM GRANTH where several individuals provided comments which may be perceived to be against and which may not have been appropriate and thus uncalled for.
    Open minds need differing views which can be discussed and thus comments should be on the subject and no one should call for the writers to go back to Punjab or use any uncalled for or inappropriate remarks.
    Gur Fateh

  9. FYI, Sikhs were brought to Malaya by British to serve as a Police Officer and Army Personnel. Sikhs were in INA forces serve in Singapore and Malaya joined Japanese Army. INA was born in 1942. Sikhs was in Police force was since 1896 brought in by British, that was the earliest I can think and I have proof. Please visit the Police Museum in Kuala Lumpur for reference. The comments that Sikhs was working as a labourers in Tin mine is a false. It might be in 1900’s the children of Sikhs police officer migrated to other cities and work as a labourer in Tin Mines. FYI, Chinese was the first labourers in Tin Mines.

  10. Im sure Asia Samachar can do better than having mindless and baseless propoganda published on your site. Please don’t provide a platform for bigots.

  11. We live in a plural society and mix marriages are a sure thing, we should accept it. Pushing mix marriage couples away from gurdwara isnt going to help sikhi in any way. We should embrace them and show them the love and goodness of the sikh religion. If the thinking is that only Singhs & Kaurs can get married in gurdwara then honestly ask yourself how many of us qualify to be called Singh or Kaur in the true sense. Simply being born in a Sikh family or having a last name of Singh/Kaur doesnt make one a Sikh!

  12. living in a foreign after 1 or 2 generation , Assimillatiin will take place. No ond can stop it .
    Only way to reduce numbers could be strong cultural ties
    during childhoid & good info on our religion during upbringing.
    Otherwise go back to India. However For kind Information
    Mixed marriages are also rampant in Punjab& India

  13. What Darshan has put up here is an opinion matching with two generations that has passed.

    Obviously many of us are failing to accept that the world is getting globalized and human mixture is rampant and is getting inevitable. We cannot anymore stop someone to like or love another from a different ethnic.

    Some one in Perlis told me many years ago, after I had performed a Kirtan and a discourse session, that it’s a shame to see people today avoiding the use of the surfix “Singh” and “Kaurs” after their name and are drifting away from Sikhi. My answer was….The wisdom of SGGS does not confine to we a small bunch of people….perhaps we are going through a phase to play a role of “keepers” and in actual fact the wisdom in SGGS is for the generation to come. This wisdom is suited for the mass who will have no cultural identity…the genetic study of these people would have many roots and ethnicity and that coming time is not for us to see…”so why are you worried”. I told him and said “just do what needs to be done, read and assimilate the wisdom to suit the purpose of your life”. He was in denial. I did not want to say more.

    Yes today it is getting apparent that the wisdom of SGGS need not be confined to the Gurdwara or the bunch of the so-called keepers only..It’s time for globalisation and in the coming of years the next generation is going to tear apart the details and logics of all religious books and are going to condemn ideologies of fear and condone to logical view to attain “inner religion” and the state of inner meditation and spirituality. This wisdom is what SGGS is focusing about. It speaks of no Lawful living, speaks about no future uncertainty, speaks about no return of messiah, no past people speaking to God. Not xenophobic in nature and etc etc. It purely speaks of NOW and the INNER and to see this same INNER in everyone we meet. It is also a book authenticated by the Gurus to say that any ordinary person from any ethnic society can raise to the epitome of spirituality, that the thought process in that state is consistent to nature and love. In that state caste, religion, mix-marriage worries are diminished..

    We are surely making a mess by spreading this sort of fear as that of many alike Darshan. It’s time for us to readily accept mixture of ethnicity. We seem to make the same mistake again and again like the outcry of recent years to condemn celebrations like Holi, Lodi, Diwali, Rakhi, and many more which is so much linked to culture not religion.

    Like I wrote recently…(it’s important I write these views here that is quite akin with this topic)…Rakhi is a symbolic tie between a sister and a brother. It’s culture not religion. Today many so called cultural matters has been linked to religion and many religious matters are being linked to culture. Today things are changing dramatically and at a high speed in front of our eyes. We should allow culture to be an independent entity and be out of religion. The Hindus may have their way…why not let the Sikhs have it celebrated in their own way? Why not make it a Punjabi Culture to dedicate it to the punjabi ethnic root? We should take off the element of religion or pooja out of Rakhi celebration. Then take this day to be dedicated for an auspicious get together between a sister and a brother to further strengthen their ties between each other. A day to get blessings; a day to forgive and be forgiven of any omissions in life. If this is how we the Sikhs are going to be in our forward outlook by restricting and abandoning cultural and social values, then we should stop celebrating father’s; mother’s; friendship and valentine celebration also. Confine to only “Gurpurab” and “Joti Jot”..Sikhs faith believers will become a boring, stereotype bunch soon. Taking off any cultural joy can make life very stale and Sick. Religion alone is getting very boring for the next generation. It is going to be the system of the past generation soon. I know many are going to bombard me for this. But let it be. Let’s make life joyful and rich in culture. We tend to link everything to religion like literature, language, and even music. Very unfortunate indeed. Stupidly we seem to accept “Gatka” an old fashion martial art and they wear armours etc which does not hold water in front of a gunshot. We seem to accept acrobats in the *baana* to break glasses and tubes on our head. All these can take place or be allowed in Gurdwara compound. But “Lodi” or “Rakhi” cannot be celebrated at the Gurdwara compounds. Why not take Lodi as a campfire get together at the Gurdwara Compound?. Are we supposed to be only serious in Gurdwara? Our Creator is not going to be pleased if we laugh and enjoy?

    Years ago in early 90s’ my wife and I developed ladybird books in Gurmukhi Script “Meri Pehli Pustak” for children as a playbook here in Malaysia. I was condemned by many quarters and again then, this language script was linked with religion. I was told not to let these books on floor and kids should not play in toilets etc etc.. I was disappointed. I stopped producing with a thought…”What a forward outlook this bunch of society have??”

  14. Darshan Singh you need to be “in touch” prior to trying to be a writer. Your write up is very much outdated, narrow minded and absolutely tasteless to many, as a matter of fact it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. Unsure what you do for a living, but writing is not your ideal job, As your thoughts are open. It is only because of individuals like you, Our Youth is where it is today.

  15. Dear Darshan Singh,
    Please back up your article with some facts.
    I have seen more Sikh marriages going through divorce than mixed marriages. Do you have any statistics? Have you gone through the data from Jabatan Perkahwinan dan Perceraian and done some research? Asia Samachar how can you aprrove an article to go on your site without any supporting facts? Also would appreciate if you can be transparent by sharing the name and email addresses of your editor and also all the columnist.

  16. With the kind of comments and slurs and derogatory insults used by some against the writer Sardar Darshan Singh Dhillon, I am wondering whether I should give my views. The reason for my reluctance is that I have several close family members who have mixed marriages and their children are all professional but none appear to be practicing the religion of either of the two parents be they Sikh or Muslim or Christian or Buddhist or Hindu.

    I have little problem as today’s leaders of most religions appear to have lost their original values and morals and thus may not be role models whom current Y Gen Professionals may want to follow and the religious institutions appear to be operating as businesses with surplus funds as the main objectives of those contesting for positions of power for which reason there are regular competitions to take control by means, be they fair or foul, of the finances via control of Management Committees Positions.

    Most programms appear to be entertainment and festival orientated to create ‘profits’. Another aspect of concern is the lack of Transparency and Accountability from the highest to middle to lower levels of some Institutions.
    May WAHE GURU JI FORGIVE ME for my comments as no reference is intended against anyone as what is commented is based on personal observations and reports and direct sources.

    Gur Fateh

  17. the religion and punjabi culture in malaysia is so ETHNOCENTRIC,ELITIST AND XENOPHOBIC.Open your eyes…it is 2017…cultures,religions and racial labels are not barriers against true love.You are saying that sikhs should just marry their own kind to preserve their so called ‘superior sikh’ pure bloodline-do you know how archaic and bigoted that is?Wow…don’t tell me your so insecure about your faith and culture that you think that mixed marriages will lead to the extinction of the punjabi way of life.Open your eyes and start using your brains….people like you do not belong in our country which promotes unity,harmony and integration among all regardless of colour or creed.My advise to you-pack up..and GO BACK TO PUNJAB

  18. Thankfully this is an opinion piece because if it was written as a matter of fact, the author would potentially have a migraine defending his view point. There are fundamental flaws in this way of thinking.

    Even though this is an opinion piece, as a suggestion from me, asiasamachar should at least request some fundamental facts attached to it, rather than allow a person to use this platform as an avenue to moan and brain dump their thoughts.

  19. This is a retrogressive view..and in this day and age of rapid change, globalisation and multi integratilon this step will ultimately fail.
    I personally know of so many sikh kids who dont believe in god, let alone sikhism.
    Lets focus on getting as many sikh adults and kids into gurdwaras on a regular basis. Lets figure this out first..why we are failing here.
    Meanwhile lets not turn away anyone with less rigid sikh views and cultural outlooks.
    Lets win them over. Lets be inclusive to start with.
    I have Brahmin friends who are more devoted to the Granth Sahib than most professed Sikhs,but are denied the benefits of the practices in the gurdwara .
    God does not discriminate, so who are we to deny?
    Come on..let’s mature. ! Sarbat ka bhelaa.

  20. Dear Darshan Singh, I come from a family of mixed ethnicity. My Nani is Chinese(Buddhist) and my Nana was a Sikh. My entire extended family has since then married other ethnicities. Never once, us the children of these mixed marriages felt like victims nor did we deviate from moral values.we never felt confused or lost in terms of religion. We were taken taken to Hindu temples, Buddhist temple and gurdwaras. We all have all been respectful to each other and never once questioned our belief systems. This is a result of the up bringing that our parents have practiced. In this article that you have written, you have just out right embarrassed yourself and proved that you do not belong in this century.

  21. Yep. I have identified the root problem. The writer of this article, please go back to the middle ages or maybe to the age of the dinosaurs cause clearly you are one. I thought your kind were extinct. And please please refrain from ever reproducing more like yourself. If you unfortunately have already, I pity your children and I hope they have more common sense than you and are able to see that in this world, we are all the same as a human race and there should be no such thing as a ‘pure breed’ Sikhi as what you are ethnocentric-ally and egocentric-ally trying to cultivate. Instead of the Guru Granth Sahib you have clearly been reading the Harry Potter books cause your rant seems eerily like that of the Muggle-Wizard argument. Nope. Educate yourself.

    Sincerely, a Punjabi who stopped going to the Gurdwara to avoid people like you.

  22. Darshan Singh Dhillon – your comments reflect only just how paranoid you are. Children are not born Sikhs/Muslims/Christians, and your assertations contrary to this fact only reveal your own immaturity. Religion is a realisation – parents can only guide their children and expose them to their values and culture. A child is born ONLY into a religious ENVIRONMENT and if they fully claim the religion as their own, then you can label them as Sikhs etc. Intermarriages are commonplace due to migration / mingling with other ethnicities. If you expect purity of culture and religion then your forefathers as well as mine might as well have stayed put in India. You do not get to decide whether a child born out of interracial union gets to be called a Sikh or otherwise. Interracial children are not a burden, nor are they burdened by their mixed heritage. Nor do you have any foundation to your claims that parents would take their children to firstly, different places of worship, and secondly that this is confusing for the child. One may argue that if any of your statements were true, then they are shown the best of both worlds, and if the child decides to embrace Sikhism then it should be celebrated. Sikhism is all welcoming, and being a young monotheistic religion, very modern and enticing. Your thinking and opinions effectively pushes it right into the dark ages, along with other major monotheistic religions. Unless you have personal account of interracial marriage within your IMMEDIATE family with daily exposure, you have no authority to condemn mixed race unions.

  23. Dear Darshan Singh Dhillon, can you please share with us your authoritative sources pertaining to your assertion that the majority of early Sikh immigrants to Malaya were labourers in the tin mines. Thank you.

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