Sikhism in France: challenges and innovative practices

Author:   Shubhra Kukreti
Publisher:   GRFDT
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While the Sikh presence in  France is fairly new, the second generation of Sikh immigrants from India has started to take roots in France. Not to mention, most of the Sikhs first arrived as refugees in continental Europe. France was not their preferred destination, however, the tightening of immigration policies in the UK contributed to the increasing strength of Sikhs in France. Apart from the linguistic challenge, France, known for its principle of laicité: a constitutional requirement for the separation of State and religion, makes it difficult for the turban clad immigrants from India to practise Sikhism. After all, a diaspora, aware of the constraints in the practice of its religious identity in a new place, needs to select what is essential in the religion and what is not to adapt and sustain the religion as per the new environment (Vertovec, 1997). On one hand, while the quest is to make place in the host society, at the same time, “the racial and cultural differences and the difficulties of integration or assimilation in the host society pave the way for the longing or excessive concern for the motherland” (Judge Paramjit S. in N.Jayaram, 2011: 45). The question that arises is: Does living in France mean redefining the Sikh identity?By carrying out qualitative research, the researcher attempts to shed light on the following questions: What are the specificities of the Sikh diaspora in France? How does the Sikh diaspora in France organize itself to maintain and actively practise its identity? How does it impact their relationship with their host country, France, as well as with their homeland, India? 
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