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But scratch the surface and there are signs of a growing divide between the liberal and more conservative Sikhs here, and the controversy around interfaith marriages goes to the heart of the problem.Until I posted several videos of wedding disruptions to my Facebook page last month, there seemed to be barely any debate about why they were happening.I do believe it’s a faith issue, but it’s also about gender and race.” Her wedding to her partner, Sam, was disrupted earlier this year, even though he had made an effort to learn about Sikhism and adopted Singh in his name, under guidelines laid out by the Sikh Council UK, an organisation set up in 2010 to deal with issues affecting the Sikh community in Britain and Europe.“Isn’t it better,” she asks, “that we teach our partners and their friends and family about this ceremony and invite them in, rather than building a wall and creating a divide? British Sikhs – who number about 400,000 – are largely seen as a model minority who aren’t embroiled in controversies or plagued by extremists as Muslims are.Amardeep Singh, associate professor at Lehigh University in Philadelphia, says that they have a more relaxed approach there, largely because there aren’t such concentrations of Sikhs as there are in London and Birmingham.“Sikh communities in the US are so suburban and spatially dispersed.In 1950, Sikh scholars and priests in India agreed on a code of conduct, after multiple attempts, to define what it meant to be a Sikh and what obligations should be placed on followers.It stated that the Sikh wedding ceremony (the Anand Karaj) could only take place between two Sikhs of the opposite sex.

“They can have prayers inside the gurdwara, they can have part of the function inside a gurdwara, just not the religious ceremony.To them, it is profoundly disturbing that a recent poll of members by City Sikhs, a 6,000-strong organisation representing professional Sikhs in the UK, should show an overwhelming majority in favour of gurdwaras allowing interfaith marriages.To understand this, one must look to the history of Sikhi [the Sikh faith], the youngest of the world’s major religions, founded by Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the late 1400s.They stormed upstairs to the main hall and demanded that the priests end the ceremony, hurling insults at people who objected.One of them told a priest that, if their demands weren’t met, he would get 1,000 of his friends to come to the temple within the hour.

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