Sikhi(sm): A Question of Identity?
The University of Wolverhampton’s Director of the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies has given expert commentary on a recent BBC One documentary -Young, Sikh and Proud -exploring identity and the Sikh faith.
Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar talked to journalist, Sunny Hundal, as he explored the legacy of his late brother Jagraj Singh, the most popular Sikh leader in modern Britain, who, after turning from westernised 'party animal' to religious preacher, went on to spark an unprecedented revival of young people returning to the faith.
Sunny and Jagraj fell out very publicly over their opposing religious views and didn’t speak for years. Now Sunny explores what led to that schism and why they each had such different approaches to the faith. Sunny also asks whether what he sees as a rise in religious activism among a minority of young Sikhs points towards a bigger story of identity and belonging.
On this journey Sunny meets people from all walks of the faith, including a young protester, one of the UK’s most senior Sikh policemen and the leader of one of the country’s most outspoken Sikh youth organisations.
In a bid to understand why his brother became so religious, Sunny also spends time with their family and, for the first time, visits a Sikh camp. His brother, like hundreds of other young people, went to one of these camps to learn more about the faith. By learning about his brother’s path through the religion, and by exploring his own identity, Sunny seeks to understand more about what it means to be Sikh in modern Britain.
Dr Takhar said: “Sikh identity has always had multiple layers even from the time of the Gurus and it’s very important that we create a dialogue about faith without being insular or forming isolated groups.
“Sunny’s journey of exploration is a very important one because, whilst it’s very important that young Sikhs do not lose the connection with their faith, we must strive for a balance between ensuring that the Sikh community remains integrated into the wider society without becoming insular and isolated from wider debates and dialogues.”