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General Recalling the Forgotten Sikhs

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by kds1980, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Recalling the Forgotten Sikhs
    Jagmohan Singh in
    Sholapur
    [​IMG]

    SIKHLIGAR GHETTO, SHOLAPUR: Meet Poonam Kaur. 12 years old, wearing a simple salwar kameez with the dupatta over her head, demure, shy but knowledgable. She knows that the Prime Minister of the country is Manmohan Singh. She also knows that the young sons of
    [​IMG]

    Guru Gobind Singh were seven and nine years old when they were bricked alive. What she does not know is how her parents did and forefathers land up in a filthy ghetto in the heart of this city.
    Meet Sonu Singh. He studies in the eighth standard. He uses basic water colours to paint Bolllywood stars and artistes. Besides regular school, he attends National Cadet Corps sessions. He has no spare time. As soon as he returns home, he does not do home work, he works with his father to convert old drums into usable agricultural equipment. He too does not know how his parents landed up in this place, called Dera by the inhabitants and otherwise derogatorily called, Basti.

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    These are two of thousands of such children of Sikhs who form part of a section of the Sikhs, called Sikhligaar Sikhs.
    In Maharashtra alone, their number is nearly six thousand. Just a hundred kilometers from Sholapur is the hometown of Bhagat Namdev, whose Bani is included in Guru Granth Sahib. The other two Bhagats- Bhagat Trilochan and Bhagat Ramanand whose Bani is included in Guru Granth Sahib are also from this region. Takht Hazur Sahib is also not very far away.The Tercentenary Gurta Gaddi celebrations were an opportunity for fifteen of them to go to Hazur Sahib and partake Amrit. Some of them proudly told me that they ‘get up at Amrit vela and do paath.”

    [​IMG]

    Living in abject penury, far from their homeland
    Punjab, with virtually no connection with Sikh thought and the Sikh world, they are ironsmiths who eke out a daily living by making utensils, knives and agricultural implements. Whatever little history is available, tells us that they were weapon-makers since the times of the sixth Master, Guru Hargobind Sahib.
    Learning the skills through the generations, even today they produce excellent hand crafted Kirpans and other hand-fighting gear. While it may not be wise to categorise the martyrdom according to caste or origin, it is said that a number of martyrs were from this section of the Sikhs including Bhai Dayala, Makhan Shah Lubana and Bhai Mani Singh.
    A ‘prosperous’ Sikh community somehow forgot them for some two hundred years or so. They did not forget their roots. Travelling from one part of Maharashtra to Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh to wherever they could get a foothold, they became a nomadic tribe –unsettled, unread and unattached.

    [​IMG]

    Significantly, this became their strength. No amount of Christian or Brahaminical influence could take them away from their roots. Knowing only the name of Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh, they stuck to their fundamentals –their Kesh are intact and they have the crowning glory of Turban on their heads.

    No one knows their exact numbers. From the lakhs to the thousands –described with various nomenclatures -nomadic tribes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Each Indian state has a different categorization for them and the Sikh world simply calls them Sikhligar Sikhs.
    The sheer numbers have been off-putting to some. Others see it as a hope of strengthening the demographic power of the Sikhs. Hopefully, we will have the first-ever official census of Sikhligar, Vanjara and Lubana Sikhs in the coming months thanks to the efforts of the National Commission for Minorities. NCM member Harcharan Singh Josh, told this correspondent that, “it took two years to convince the NCM co-members that Sikhs too are poor, in fact, these Sikhs are poorest of the poor –living below the poverty line.” Extensive field studies have been undertaken by the NCM all over the country and a report is expected soon.
    [​IMG]

    Poverty and pressure of the police have known to subdue many a people in settled societies. Not the Sikhligar Sikhs. In
    Sholapur, the police harass them whenever there is trouble even though they are not even remotely involved in any way. In this particular ghetto, the families living cheek by jowl under tin and thatched roofs do not pick up fights every now and then. One of their coordinators proudly said, “We have no police case pending against any of us.”
    Their temporary habitat is now in danger. Galloping land prices in towns and cities due to a skewed development model of Special Economic Zones and malls has resulted in threats to those Sikhligars who are settled in shanties on the outskirts of cities like Hyderabad. Those living here too do not own the lands though living at this particular spot for more than thirty years.

    [​IMG]

    This chapter of Sikh history is ready by many and flipped over. Not any more. I accompanied Balvinder Singh and Sanmeet Kaur, software engineers from Bangalore and Kulwant Singh -a mechanical engineer and Jaspal Singh –a lab technician from Mumbai, who are part of a silent educational revolution for the Sikhligar brethren. They are optimistic activists who instead of crying over and repeating the problem ad nauseam, are part of a movement called Akhar –Service of Humanity, initiated by young Sikh professionals from Bangalore. Working alongside Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle Maharashtra and Gurmat Missionary College Mumbai, these and other volunteers have ‘adopted’ this ghetto and three other localities in Jalgaon, Ichalkaranji and Srirampur in Maharsahtra catering to the needs of 200 children.

    Every few weeks, they visit these ghettos, stay there and monitor the education and sanitation programme launched for the kids that live in sub-human conditions.


    It is time to be part of the solution so that as we eye 400 years of Guru Granth Sahib, we are sure that ‘Sikhs being illiterate is a rumour.’ Would you like to join them?

    Jagmohan Singh may be contacted at jsbigideas@gmail.com
    19 November 2008

    WSN-Core-Religion-Recalling the Forgotten Sikhs
     
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    #1 kds1980, Nov 23, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2008
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  3. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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  4. Archived_member7

    Archived_member7
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    thank you very much for this post ..i thank you heartily...Kds ji....well i m very soon coming with some more pics ..i have come to know of a colony in Indore..called Niranjanpur..its full of Sikligars..and have managed to get in touch with a person who knows them...

    My dear sangat ji...i have something in mind..with their skills..take this as a suggestion and correct me if i m wrong..

    they r good iron smiths and make kirpans...if we r able to train them with the upcoming technology , wouldnt they be the best ???

    if you all have all noticed chinese kirpans have flodded the market...people r buying them...i request all of you...do not purchase them...our smiths are getting unemployed ..this has hit the industry badly...even with decorated or assault knives ..purchase local made..i always stick to Made in Huzoor Sahib Nanded...

    I am pasting an article ...you all might have gone through..maybe ...
     
  5. Archived_member7

    Archived_member7
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    Forget batteries & toys, it's now Chinese 'kirpan'
    13 Mar 2007, 0134 hrs IST, Alokparna Das, TNN
    Print Email Discuss Share Save CommentText:[​IMG]
    AMRITSAR: The kirpan glints blindingly in the morning March sun. It is immaculate in its shape and comes in a neat packet. Even the sheath is fetching. But just as you bring the blade closer, to appreciate its cut and contour, something catches your eye. It is made in China.

    In the rows of kirpan shops lining the Golden Temple complex, China has made an incursion unknown to most who carry with them one of Sikhism's five symbols. Mintai, a brand from comrade country, is doing particularly well and local kirpan manufacturers are not at all happy about it. Till recently, the annual turnover of Amritsar's kirpan market was estimated at Rs 50 crore. But the hold it had on global kirpan markets seems set to change, thanks to made-in-China entrants.

    Agitated, Kanwaljit Singh of Jagmohan Kirpan Factory said, "The entry of Chinese kirpans has made a considerable dent in our overseas market. With labour being cheaper in China, the products are cheaper, too. The low-budget overseas market has almost entirely been captured by the Chinese. Our exports have come down by 80%-90%."

    Kanwaljit's company, which has been into exports for the last 45 years, now plans to diversify into businesses that are safe. "With kirpan exports facing a slump, I decided to venture into the hotel business," he said.

    He is not alone in his discomfort. Labh Singh, another exporter of kirpans, said, "If a year-and-a-half ago we did business worth Rs 20 lakh, it has come down to Rs 2 lakh in the past two months."

    It is not merely the exports market, manufacturers rue that even locally Chinese kirpans are edging out native ones. Outside Gurdwara Nada Sahib in Panchkula, shacks selling kirpans and other religious symbols are stacked up with the foreign daggers.

    Shopkeepers said Indians prefer to go for things cheaper and the kirpan is no exception. "A well-crafted medium-sized Chinese kirpan costs Rs 50-100. A similar local kirpan is priced at Rs 150-300. Also, youngsters prefer the foreign variety," one of them said.

    Many of the Chinese kirpan brands find their way into the country via importers based in Delhi's Chandni Chowk. The importers bring them under the 'toys' and 'decorative items' categories. And though none of the importers in Chandni Chowk admit it, importing kirpans as toys or decoration pieces does make a difference in the duty they pay.

    One importer said he paid "better commission" to wholesalers than those dealing in local kirpans. "That ensures Chinese kirpans reach all Sikh centres," he added.

    Incidentally, it is not the first time that kirpans made elsewhere have been launched in India. A Swiss knife-making company launched kirpans in India three years back.
     
  6. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Veer ji

    The entrance of mass-produced Chinese goods has caused bankruptcy and even waves of suicide among Indian artisans in all parts of India. I remember reading an article not too long ago about the plight of silk weavers in Northern India. These are craftsmen whose trade is hundreds of years old, passed down from father to son. The silk weavers create the most amazing intricate patterns and scenes in woven silk - maybe entire scenes of gardens with animals and birds. Yards of beautiful fabric that are actually artworks that are used for sarees and for salwar kameez. The automation of fabric weaving in China made silk weaving much cheaper than the ancient hand-woven fabrics of India. Eventually entire businesses, and sometimes the economic backbone of an entire city, among India silk-weavers was wiped out. This makes me think how impermanent is life -- very sad to see a way of life disappear.
     

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