The danger of rebranding religion into a sub-culture

At Saffron Mic X a few weeks back I asked if Sikhi was getting re-branded as Punjabi, for example a mix of religious and sadly reawakened superstitious practices such as fasting and various wedding rituals. Maybe for some being Punjabi is effectively a cop-out, denial or excuse of who and what Sikhs really are and to the outside world re-enforcing a convenient stereotype.

Should I care that I was born in the UK? Does this make me more British than someone who has not? What do I want to be perceived as and does it really matter in the big scheme of things? Sure, we absorb culture from the countries we are brought up in and this fuses with your mother culture creating something unique. However, for some it  generates an identity crisis. I certainly do appreciate some aspects of Punjabiness, for example, food but not necessarily all of the music…

The presenter suggested that Punjabi culture is one element of life, maybe we should also consider Sikh culture as unique. Interestingly, this implies a grey area between what is religious and what is rooted in the land of origin. For example, is Gatka religious or in this grey area, yet very close to Sikhi.

There are dangers with the definitions of what is culture. For example, is it acceptable to adopt religious practices from other religions under the banner of culture or an excuse of tradition?

The rise of Hindutva
Sadly, dark forces take advantage of these areas of exposure. For example, I recently witnessed a London City based Sikh organisation promoting from its website a link to a Sikh and Hindu dating night. Why pick on these two religious identities. Is this a blatant implication of ‘we’re all the same/human’ or an undercurrent Hindutva (“Hinduness”), a word coined by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in his 1923 pamphlet Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?, i.e: a set of movements advocating Hindu nationalism.

In India, an umbrella organization called the Sangh Parivar champions the concept of Hindutva. The sangh comprises organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bajrang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and others.

According to Vināyak Dāmodar Sāvarkar (28 May 1883 – 26 February 1966 – an Indian pro-independence activist, politician, poet, writer and playwright. He advocated dismantling the system of caste in Hindu culture and reconversion of the converted Hindus back to Hindu religion.)

Hindutva is not a word but a history. Not only the spiritual or religious history of our people as at times it is mistaken to be … but a history in full … Hindutva embraces all the departments of thought and activity of the whole Being of our Hindu race.

Sadly, the current (2014 Indian election) campaign is being lead by those that have themes & connections with thoughts of the latter.

Corrupting the Pure
In the 1995 historic film Braveheart, directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Gibson portrays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England. The story is based on Blind Harry’s epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace and was adapted for the screen by Randall Wallace.

The central character witnesses how typically an English garrison would enter a village to bed girls before their wedding night. Wallace (Mel Gibson) falls in love with his childhood friend, Murron MacClannough
(Catherine McCormack), and they marry in secret so she does not have to spend a night in the bed with the English lord.

Why pick on Sikhs?
Since partition Sikhs have been fighting for all religions for greater autonomy in the state of Punjab (e.g: water, land, profits & investments). Sikhs have fought in world wars, for the freedom of others. A large part of a Sikh’s psyche is to defend the defenseless. Yet, today Sikhs are denied equal opportunities in the land of their origin.

Malcolm X said

“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

He also outlined:

It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What you do? You integrate it with cream; you make it weak. If you pour too much cream in, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it’ll put you to sleep. This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it. They didn’t integrate it; they infiltrated it. They joined it, became a part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. They ceased to be angry. They ceased to be hot. They ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. You had one right here in Detroit — I saw it on television — with clowns leading it, white clowns and black clowns. I know you don’t like what I’m saying, but I’m going to tell you anyway. ‘Cause I can prove what I’m saying. If you think I’m telling you wrong, you bring me Martin Luther King and A. Philip Randolph and James Farmer and those other three, and see if they’ll deny it over a microphone.

What I read & gained from the above is the need to assure purity of message intent, passion and not losing the demand for freedom from its very essence.

Our damaged Nations Eye
It is interesting to view who appears in the nations eye. I’ve coined this phrase to suggest that the same faces appear in the press or events. Today we are creating lists and awards that focus less on our values and world view of being humanitarians and how we work as integrated equals. Lazy journalists head for the same ‘go to people’ for quotes based on misconceptions with no spiritual basis.

The recent revelations of the British involvement in 1984 Genocides is swiftly brushed under the carpet in an attempt to wash the hands of the guilty. Trade is a top priority with nations who’s track record on human rights is questionable.

In summary, Saffron mic X’s event theme was, ‘Reaching for home’. Interestingly, maybe home is where the heart is? However, has your neighbour accepted you as a resident? Has your government been honest about the past? How much have Sikhs been infiltrated and are currently being lead blindfolded into a new form of sub-culture that morphs and corrupts their spirit?

It is not to late to turn the tidy, by being true to ourselves and seeking spiritual guidance from the source of truth.

Categories: 2014, Anti-Fascism, Justice, Media Watch, Sikhs

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