Sunday, May 14, 2006

RESEARCHING SIKHS AMONG CARRIBEAN JAHAJI DESCENDENTS

I have a great respect for the jahajis and their descendents in Carribean.Their struggle to protect their identity against all odds is enormous. Under various pressures, Indo west Indians have lost their language and in smaller communities like St vincent, they have lost their Sanskritised surnames to anglicised names and traditional religions to christianity.

But Trinis, Guyanese, Surinamese have struggled hard and kept the jahaji legacies alive. Let me bow my head to all jahajis who toiled hard in cane fields in carribean in enormous hardships. The interest in jahajis and indo communities was arousen in me by people like Kanhai,Kalicharan, Bacchus, SonnyRamdeen etc. That is how I researched into this indo community in Carribean.Thanks to being a member of a group researching Jahaji past , geneology etc. , I have been able to learn a lot regarding this community

A long felt task in my mind was to research in to sikhs among jahaji's. There could have been a few Punjabis who migrated to carribean as indentured labourers. many have been absorbed into the mainstream hindu community there.Some might have been converted to christianity by missionaries who used various means to convert indentured people as it happened in Carribean, Fiji, South Africa,Ceylon etc.

So, I started this project writing to my friends in the forum. Let us see what they have got to say

Namaste , Sat Sri Akal, Assalam allaikum dear all
Are there sikhs in the carribean originating from Jahajees( I am not refering to later migrations)? I have heard that there is a gurudwara in Trini. There were quite a few punjabis who migrated early in the indentureship. Have they lost their cultural identity and got absorbed to the mainstream indian community. will one of you enlighten me on this ?

There are Sikhs in the Caribbean now, even a Doctor and his family have been iin Dominica for quite some years. Otherwise many names end with Singh amon the indentured descendents... will they have been Sikhs? My father's mothe as raised by a Latxhman Singh... Another interesting suject is the indianorigin of the . Was it influenced by the iindian turban? JS Sahai

Sahai ji
All singhs cannot be sikhs. Singh suffix is added to the names after the amrit initiation ceremony which is equivalent to baptism in christianity. There could be sikhs without SINGH as they are not given AMRIT ( NECTAR).
There could be a lot of singhs in carribean as they are mainly descended from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.Those Singhs if they have Punjabi roots then they may be sikhs.For an example Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Indian cricket team is from Jharkhand North India but not a sikh.
But, I have read that in Trini there were sikhs and Gurudwara( equivalent of mandhir or church) of Jahaji descent and not late migrants.
Turban also may not be specific to sikhs . In India it was worn by many and it was considered as regal to have a turban for so called high castes. Introduction of turban as a mandatory article of faith was intentional as it equalled all beings of all castes. As there could not be a significant influence of sikhs among jahajis, creole cofei" may not be an influence of sikhs . But it could well be an influence of Indians who came from UP and Bihar and Rajastan.


Hello Vijay

You have a famous Namesake who is also a Son of Indenture, the Golfer Vijay Singh whose Grandfather came from India to Fiji in the early 20th Century, i have been to Vijay's home town of Nadi.

Vijay Singh the Golfer isn't Sikh and neither are many with the Name Singh, it is a Name shared by Sikhs and Hindus.

Sikhs have the Name Singh as it was adopted by Guru Nanak ( this should be guru Gobind Singh Ji) as a Surname for all Sikhs, the Name means "Lion".

There are also a few Sikhs who are not Named Singh, Females are Surnamed and others have other Names such as Bamra or Sharma for instance.

Most of the Singhs in the Caribbean are predominately Hindu but there are a small number who have their roots in the Punjab although most have became absorbed into the Hindu Community but there is a few who have retained their Sikh roots.

The Turban is not unique to Sikhs and was also worn by Hindus and Muslims, it had a more practical significance than a Religious one but Sikhs do not cut their hair so it is worn to keep it in place.

Many Jahajis wore Turbans in the Canefields to shield their heads from the blistering sun.

The Creole headware may have had African origins just as much as Indian origins.

Regards

jon

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