From Matrimonial Ads to Gurdwaras, Caste & Sikhism Co-exist in Punjab. New CM Charanjit Channi is Proof


When headlines on Sunday flashed ‘First Sikh Dalit CM’ in Punjab, many had been stunned by the presence of caste in Punjab, extra particularly Sikhism. The astonishment was not fully unfounded as a result of the faith was constructed on the premise of denouncing variations. However, a better take a look at the society reveals fault traces like every other.

A Dalit face for Punjab’s prime publish, for the primary time, alerts Congress’s push forward of 2022 meeting elections within the state and additional establishes the prominence of caste within the state.

Here’s a short historical past on how caste crept into Sikhism and the way deep are the variations:

Wasn’t Sikhism presupposed to be free from caste?

Sikhism’s holy ebook Adi Granth incorporates a forthright condemnation of caste. In the langar, due to this fact, everybody should sit in a straight line, neither forward to put declare to increased standing nor behind to indicate inferiority. Indeed, the distinctive Sikh langar originated as a protest in opposition to the caste system. Another sign of the Sikhs’ rejection of caste is the distribution of the karah prasad, which is ready or donated by folks of all castes.

What occurred then?

In two areas of Sikh society, nonetheless, caste remains to be noticed. Sikhs are usually anticipated to marry inside their caste: Jat marries Jat, Khatri marries Khatri, and Dalit marries Dalit. In addition, Sikhs of some castes have a tendency to ascertain gurdwaras meant for his or her caste solely. Members of the Ramgarhia caste, for instance, establish their gurdwaras on this means (significantly these established within the United Kingdom), as do members of the Dalit caste.

Recent media experiences state that there are separate locations of worship and cremation grounds for Dalits in most villages. They could enter gurdwaras meant for Jat Sikhs to supply prayers however can’t be part of different worshippers within the langar, the group kitchen, the place meals are cooked for worshippers. Dalits are additionally not allowed to the touch vessels used for non secular ceremonies at these gurdwaras.

More than 60 per cent of Sikhs belong to the Jat caste, which is a rural caste. The Khatri and Arora castes, each mercantile castes, kind a really small minority, although they’re influential inside the Sikh group. Other castes represented among the many Sikhs, along with the distinctive Sikh caste of Ramgarhias (artisans), are the Ahluwalias (previously brewers) and the 2 Dalit castes, recognized in Sikh terminology because the Mazhabis (the Chuhras) and the Ramdasias (the Chamars).

What is the inhabitants proportion primarily based on caste in Punjab? How are Dalits faring?

According to knowledge sourced from state authorities web site, Dalits kind 32 per cent of Punjab’s inhabitants. Of the overall Dalit inhabitants, 59.9 per cent are Sikhs and 39.6 per cent Hindus. Upper-caste Jat Sikhs are fewer in quantity – 25 per cent – however have political and financial clout. Jat agriculturists personal giant swathes of land whereas Dalits possess solely 6.02 per cent of the operational land holdings within the state. Of the 523,000 households residing under the poverty line in Punjab, 321,000 or 61.4 per cent are Dalits.

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