PATIALA: Contrary to Punjab, where nearly every youth has started adding surname and even the songs are being released glorifying certain castes, not even 1% of Sikhs settled in north-eastern and southern states identify themselves with their gotras.
This interesting fact came to light in a study conducted for National Commission for Minorities (NCM) by Punjabi University, Patiala, which interviewed 1,011 Sikhs, living in southern and north-eastern states, to determine their social, cultural, economic and religious practices. A report based on the study was submitted to vice-chancellor (VC) Jaspal Singh on Wednesday.
Titled “Socio-economic conditions of Dakhani Sikhs in particular and other Sikh minorities in south and north-east India”, the 200-page report also revealed that more than half of total Sikhs of south India didn’t class themselves in castes.
The Dakhani, Sikligar and Banjara Sikhs, scattered over numerous districts in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka and Axomiya Sikhs in Assam and the Mazhabi Sikhs of Meghalaya were included in the survey.
“Interestingly, they are not aware of their ‘gotras’ (sub-castes), but do believe in the caste system. Out of total 1,011 respondents in the survey, I have come across only one Sikh businessman, who was using the ‘gotra’ with his name. The practice is contrary to what we are following here in Punjab. Gotras are not important for them,” said Prof Birinder Pal Singh of the department of sociology and social anthropology, who interviewed the respondents.
Prof Birinder said that the reason behind the trend was that majority of them have never visited Punjab and harbour no memories of their ancestors’ land. “They migrated 100-200 years ago and are still committed to carrying the classical traditions prevalent in the Sikh society of that period. A very positive aspect is that, of the total surveyed Sikhs of south India, around 55% said they didn’t classify themselves in any particular caste. There were only 2-2.5% Sikhs who identify themselves with their caste. About 38% said they were Sikligars and indentify themselves as tribals,” said the professor.
The survey found that the living conditions of majority were not good though 25% of respondents earn more than Rs 14,000 per month. A total of 74% respondents live in pucca houses while 13% neither have toilets nor bathrooms and 19% of them do without kitchen.