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Sikh/ Hindus in the United States of America Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 18th, 2019

Introduction

Sikhism/Hindu is an Indian religion that emerged in the United States of America in the early 19th century. Hindu can be typically referred to as Santana Dharma and as well as Vaidika Dharma. There was a very tough situation in India due to the British colonial power. This affected the financial systems and the economy, thus making many Indians to migrate. The Indians immigrated gradually to America where they have grown into big numbers.

Many immigrated to avoid problems that prevailed in their nations, as others went to study and to live there. Some problems in their mother countries included poverty, poor economy, security issues, and medical issues. Despite the challenges they face from the hosts, the Sikhs/ Hindus have continued to live and with time have acquired recognition. This has also helped them to emerge into the bliss of great opportunities and advantages. This paper seeks to search the plight of Sikhs/ Hindus in the United States of America.

Challenges faced by the Sikhs/ Hindus

There are several challenges facing the Sikh and Hindu religions at large, which are either internal or external. Generally, as a religion, Hindu has received opposition over years for its beliefs and for its social and political force. In addition to this, some of them are depicted disrespectful in the field of academia (Otto 215). The Sikhs fellow students from other religions have ridiculed most Sikh students although the constitution provides for their civil liberty.

On the other hand, some face the internal challenge of not being conversant with their religion. Others also don’t understand fully their way of life. The Sikh religion cannot be identified on basis of secondary sources but primary sources. It has had a series of challenges since 1708 when its identity began to face opposition seeking to dissolve it completely. With no study up to date to support the Sikh identity, the fight to diffusing it still goes on.

Religious challenges

The major religious challenge of the Sikhs and Hindus in general is the misconception many people bear, that all Hindus or Sikhs are Indians. This is opposed to the rising number of non Indians who are Hindus. The belief by Hindus that in marriage two families get into covenant has received a great opposition. This opposition has led to many Hindus dropping the religious rule and marrying on the partners’ covenant.

Many people have not received awareness on the Sikh/Hindu identity. This continues to be the reason why many still don’t value the Hindu. Comparing the number of the Hindus and other religions existing in America, the opposition was massive. Advocating against such majority would be an extreme task. This made many Hindus to shy off and step back to give way to the majority.

Cultural challenges

The Sikh people faced a great challenge in the United States. Between 2007 and 2010, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) came up with new amendments in these regulations. The regulations provided that when checking headgears, the person was required to remove it. This was against the culture of the Sikh people.

The airport security procedure, metallic and non metallic, are completely against the Sikh culture. According to the Sikh culture, one is only allowed to remove the turban when bathing. No other circumstance should make them remove it. They also count it as inconvenient to remove the turban in public. It is also a dishonor to remove somebody’s turban or touch it with dirty hands or even any person who does not agree with their belief system.

Following the bombing attacks to the United States in the September 11, hate arose against the Sikh people. Every person with a turban on the head was counted a terrorist and therefore was mistreated. The Sikhs/Hindus received mistreatments as mistaken identities. Statistics show that the experience by the Sikh could only be compared to the Chinese Americans after Chinese people attacked the Pearl Harbor. Lack of cultural awareness by other religions has caused the Hindus a great loss, despite the fact that the Sikhs have been there for over 100 years.

The Sikhs, with a great desire and hope that one day awareness about their culture will reign, have paid tribute to the American culture as well as to their own culture. The Sikhs leadership has worked up and down to prevent the advancing of the rough treatment they receive after September 11. This has not born much fruits with the low level of the identity awareness.

Sikhs/Hindus and Other Religions

Both Christianity and Islam do not have a recorded revelation, whereas the Sikh has one, Kartarpuri Bir. The Bible and the Quran are said to be culturally and historically made, since they’ve been written after the death of their Prophets.

Due to envy, Sikh religion has been fought heavily in order to bring confusion among its followers. Another big challenge is that the Hindus are divided and dispersed unevenly in the states. They have different languages and tend to group themselves according to their languages. The languages have been divided into Nahuati and Yucatec Mayan.

History of Hindu

The first four Indians came into the United States on 6th April 1899. Majority of the subsequent immigrants were the Sikhs/ Hindus, who live in the state of Punjab in India. Statistics show that 90% of the immigrants were Indians while Muslims made 10%. Due to the British colonialism, which at that time colonized India, the economy of India deteriorated.

This led to the migration of most of the Indians to America. After settling in America, many of them worked in big farms as others worked as the railway constructors. Their hard work enabled them to gain financial stability within a relatively short period.

Hinduism in America is a small religion which is slowly growing. It originated from India and Nepal. It forms an estimated 0.4% of the American’s population. Hindu began officially in America after 1965 after passing the Immigration and Nationality Services (INS) Act. It was after the act when Hindus with different agendas began to settle in America (Rao 263). Some came to preach the religion as others came to work and settle. Before 1965, immigration of the Hindu to America was a banned case and only students, tourists, and visitors were allowed.

However, historians argue that in the early 1820s several Indians had already settled in America. Up to the 19th century, an approximate of 800 Indians had already moved into America. Several Indians who were working in companies in the America at that time faced opposition by natives who saw them as threat for jobs. Following this, in 1907 many Indians were forced to flee after the natives attacked their places of work.

Successes of Sikh/ Hindu religion

It is said that Indians who settled in America have grown academically more than the natives in all genders and ages. Most of them have completed the undergraduate and graduate studies as well as postgraduate studies (Deyhle 8). This has led to a high level of education in the Indian community within the United States of America.

According to the results given after a census was conducted, many Indians have high academic qualifications compared to the natives. Statistics show that more than 54% of the Indians have such qualifications.

In early 2000, statistics show that an average Indian worker earned $29,745 with females having an average of $16,078 and males having $40,551. These statistics also depicted the education level difference between the two genders. The living standards for Indian families were also seen to be very high with the fact that many of them lived as families with every one of them earning.

Up to date Sikh/ Hindu have grown in high rate in the United States of America. Statistics show that in 1900 their population was 1700, 387,000 in 1980, and 1.1 million in 1997. Currently, the population of the Sikh/Hindu is two million. Between 20,000 and 30,000 Sikhs/ Hindus are employed creating a market value of $200 billion dollars in the technology sector.

By 1920, the Sikh/ Hindu became great farmers owning 2099 acres of land as well 86340 acres land, which was on lease. This success came as a result of the previous experience with the colonial masters as well as their hard work. The freedom to own this land gave them a motivation to live among the hosts. The fact that they were used to this kind of life in India, made them feel at home thus boosting their familiarity as well as security.

Problems faced by the Sikhs/Hindus without

The major problem that the Sikhs/ Hindus faced and still face is being treated as minorities and outsiders by the hosts. In many circumstances, the hosts, who are the majority, have acted oddly to them excluding them as immigrants (Khushwant 242). They were treated like slaves.

The Sikhs were restricted from marrying from Punjab and even America. If in any case one married an American, the American ceased to be a citizen. In addition, they were restricted from acquiring citizenship. Intermarriage occurred between them and the Mexican Catholic group. In the course of these, the language remained a problem.

Even after going through opposition to get educated, the Sikh/ Hindus received rejection in working places and others were even denied employment and accommodation. The antidiscrimination laws existed just not for them. In majority of interviews, many were asked how prepared they were to abandon the turban and cut their hair. This pushed many of them into self employment and family businesses.

Currently a good number of American natives have admitted to accommodate the Sikh/ Hindus after understanding their culture and value for human rights. However, this still depends on the awareness of their identity. Many Sikhs/ Hindus received employment in big companies and in top positions. An awareness of their identity has circulated in many parts of the United States leading to peaceful interactions.

There also exist ideological and generational differences between the Hindus. This was experienced way back in 1993 when they split into three small groups each claiming to have inherited the Hindu traditions, as discussed earlier.

This was after the people opposing the Sikh / Hindu religion imposed much pressure on them. In addition, the Hindus face variety of problems ranging from poor infrastructure, poverty, poor security, poor medical facilities, illiteracy, and overpopulation. These are problems said to have been inherent also in India.

Problems faced by the Sikh/ Hindu within

The biggest problem was the fear of whether to expose themselves or not. They feared being recognized as a distinct religion by the hosts. According to their tradition, they were supposed to maintain their major values which are the 5ks i.e. kachh (a type of shorts), kirpan (a sword), kes (unshorn hair), Kara (a steel bangle) and kangha (a comb in the hair). This did not depend on the environment or the color of the person.

However, a person had a choice to discard the principles of the traditions and abandon the outward representation of faith. This would mean such a person was to be classified differently. There were three classifications. The first class would include those who absolutely gave up the religion and joined another one.

The second class would consist of those who give in to the pressure and pass the blame to the intolerant people. The third class would cut their hair, remove the turban, and defend that faith was not shown keeping the hair or having the turban. There was enough pressure for many of them to give in. It therefore called for a great faith for one to stand with the principles of the tradition. The pressure sometimes went to the extent of death.

The Hindus faced the problem of not being able to solve interpersonal and family issues, which has led to a great conflict from generation to generation. Such conflicts range from conflicts about sex, marriage, choice of careers, dating, food, and drugs (Barrier and Dusenbery 136).

This has been because of their traditions, which should never be breached, and if one tries to breach them then he/she is liable to die. Most of such traditions are against children and women. The culture prevents the media from exposing this.

Conclusion

The Sikh/ Hindu in America have gone through a gradual change. Though they are few, they’ve worked hard to receive recognition. Their identity awareness remains uncompleted mission with some people still ill-treating them. They hold firmly to the principles of their culture and religion but live an inward looking life. They have paid tribute to the American culture hoping that one day their culture will also receive total recognition.

This remains a dream to be realized in real time. They are currently working hard to spread the awareness of their identity. Moreover, they have established themselves both academically and economically. They are highly educated owners of big businesses contributing greatly to the economy. The September 11 attack gave rise to the desire to know more about the Sikhs and their role in America.

The Sikhs/ Hindu are human beings entitled to full and complete human rights. They deserve to be treated with love and consideration. On the other hand, they also ought to do the same to others. If all people were aware of others identity, then the whole world would be living in peace and gradual development. Everyone should endeavor to know and understand other people’s identity.

Works Cited

Barrier, Norman Gerald and Verne A. Dusenbery. The Sikh Diaspora: Migration and the Experience beyond Punjab. Delhi: Chanakya Publications, 1989. Print.

Deyhle, Donna. “Constructing Failure and Maintaining Cultural Identity: Navajo and Ute School Leavers”. Journal of American Indian Education 31. 2 (1992): 24-47. Print.

Khushwant, Singh. History of the Sikhs, 1839-1974. London: Oxford University Press, 1977. Print.

Otto, Rudolph. An Idea of the Holy. London: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.

Rao, Kelvin. Indian Americans Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. 2003. Web. <>.

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