Sikh community may have to evolve and adapt
At the inaugural Singapore Sikh Community Lecture held on 2nd November 2019, Professor Tan Tai Yong (NUS Department of History) discussed the need for the Sikh community to evolve and adapt to ensure that Sikhism will continue to thrive in Singapore. The lecture was part of larger celebrations for the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.
Prof Tan said that the major challenge would be getting Sikh youths to be interested and take ownership in preserving Sikh religion, traditions, and culture. Outlets to express one’s Sikh identity have to be expanded to the arts and creative fields, where film, art, and fiction provide spaces for Sikh youths to negotiate and shape their Sikh identities according to the contexts of their everyday lives.
Prof Tan described Singapore’s Sikh community of 12,000 as a “minority within a minority” in a multiracial population of 5.64 million. Its genesis could be traced to 1881, where 165 Sikhs from Punjab arrived in Singapore to form the backbone of a new police contingent. Prof Tan remarked that this community, as with similar communities over the world, will inevitably face contestations because of changing social cultural environments.
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