Daily Archives: July 19, 2012

More to Punjabi Sikhs Than Meets the Eye

Beartrix wrote:

Hey Robert, did you hear anything about this murder suicide of a Mr Avtar Singh in Selma, CA?

‘From Kashmir to California: in the footsteps of a wanted killer-Journalist Zahid Rafiq tells how he tried to reach Avtar Singh, a former Indian military man living outside Fresno with a dark past in Kashmir. On Saturday, Mr. Singh killed his family and himself.’

It’s quite interesting, Mr Singh was a former Indian Army officer wanted for ‘atrocities’ committed during his service in Kashmir.

Yes we heard something about it.

What’s funny is that around here most Sikhs are rabid Indian nationalists. They are almost Hindutvas too, because they won’t let you say two words against Hinduism before they get mad and shut you down.

I have tried to talk to a few of them about Kashmir, but they always take a strong Indian nationalist line on that. One family started pounding on their table and ranting about Pakistan. I asked why they cared so much about Kashmir, and they said a lot of Sikhs including their relatives had served in the Army in Kashmir.

Around here, Sikh separatists are quite rare. I have met a few of them, but they are not common. Sikh separatists are critical of their own society, and they really hate India. They are sympathetic to Kashmiri and the separatist rebellions in the Northeast.

I thought I would get somewhere saying shit about India and how Punjab would be better off separate. That typically doesn’t work at all. One guy got mad and started ranting and raving about how great India was, and then he went on this crazy tirade against the West, especially America. He was a Sikh! But he may as well have been a Hindu for all intents and purposes.

Most Sikhs will tell you they don’t believe in caste, that caste sucks, and that Sikhs don’t believe in caste. But that’s as far as they will go against Hinduism. You get the impression that Sikhs think they are part of Hinduism or at least a branch of it.

Sikhs seem extremely cool at first until you scratch the surface a bit. I noticed the same callousness and selfishness that I have seen in most other Indians.

All Sikhs insist that Punjab is very rich, and there are no poor people. I told one guy that there was 25% malnutrition in Punjab, better than 50% in India but still. He shrugged his shoulders and said there are rich and poor in every country. He clearly was not bothered in the slightest that 25% of his own people were starving! Then I started to realize that Sikhs are really Indians first and Sikhs second.

Some of them around here can be friendly enough, but typically anything other than the most casual conversation is quickly shut down. A few will be friendlier than that, but that’s the minority. One guy lied and told me he was a Mexican when he was really a Sikh.

I asked a couple of them about their religion and they just shut me down. They said there’s a temple if you want to go and learn about it. They clearly don’t want converts at all! The truth is that they are pretty difficult people to get to know, and I think they really only want to socialize with their own kind.

I will say that they are model citizens, and they commit almost no crime. They have very strong families with strong emphasis on discipline in children. The men are good family men who work hard and help their kids every day after school with their homework. The kids are quite studious and seem to do well in school. Many around here are either in college or headed to college. You see them in coffee shops crowded around their books.

Punjabi women are very beautiful, and the guys are handsome too. But it seems that they only date their own kind. I haven’t been able to get any Punjabi women to say more than a few words to me in general.

However, there are some young Sikhs now who are born in the US. They are extremely assimilated, and most of the bad qualities of their immigrant brethren are gone. I met a few of the guys, and they are very cool. They are also quite smart and intellectually curious, which is pretty rare around here. They become full-fledged Americans very quickly.

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