The Diasporic Pursuit of Home among the transnational Punjabi Community

Published Date:   Friday, Apr 12, 2013


Migration in a globalised era has many socio-cultural and economic impacts on the people in the home and host country. Transnational character of the diasporic existence is the fact of life today. A talk by Dr. Steve Taylor, Northumbria University UK was organised by the Panjab University, Chandigarh at ICSSR, North Western Center Region. The talk was chaired by Prof. Manjit Singh and moderated by Prof. Surinder K. Kaur, both from the Department of Sociology of the same University on . His ethnographic study was among the Chammar and Jatt Sikhs in Wolverhampton, South Hall, New Castle in UK and in Eastern Punjab with an sample size of 1200 that includes 200 from UK and 1000 from Eastern Punjab. Dr Taylor was looking at the concept of home, or in other words what is the meaning of home for transnational punjabi community. Are they feeling lost or still feels their Virsa (heritage)  in Punjab? He was analyzing the generational gaps among both Sikh communities. He found that first generation immigrates to UK love to come back to Punjab and want to share their experiences with their fellow villager. They also want to have property at their native place so that they keep themselves rooted and feel a sense of home. The behaviour changes in case of the second and third generation Skihs. The later Generations are sale ancestral properties and leave the native Punjab. There are increasing cases of the property disputes which often make them to leave the place. The home nostalgia reduces among the third and fourth generation that born and brought up in foreign soil.

The concept of home changes over time. Taylor observes that later generations feel UK as their home. There are also twice migrants who leave UK to places like USA etc for job. For these people UK becomes home. Therefore "Home” for them is very much in there feeling and pursuit but never achieved.

Taylor also discussed several case studies which he got from the fields. One such interesting observation is related to the Skihs in Doaba Region of Punjab where maximum number of migration took place that Migration is becomes culture of Punjab. Non Resident Indians (NRIs) make water tanks on the top of their houses that resembles plane or helicopter or eagle etc which symbolizes that they are flying abroad. Many of these houses resemble houses in the Western countries especially in UK. The name plates used in the houses have their name along with the country where they stay. The situation is reversed in UK. The same people who stay in UK built houses  UK they are trying to make their houses in Punjabi resembling their Punjab houses. Today Punjabis are found every corner in the world and the “home” is never a static phenomena. 

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