Bristol's Sikh soldiers honoured in new book from city author

“I want everyone to understand more about the origin of the Sikh faith, our customs, where they come from, and our proud...

A man whose relatives appear on a memorial plaque commemorating Bristol Sikhs' contribution to both World Wars is further honouring their memory with a book dedicated to the fallen members of the faith.

Mohindra Singh Chowdhry, from Westbury, has written his first book honouring the Bristol Sikhs who died fighting.

The 62-year-old, whose own relatives feature on the plaque in Castle Park in central Bristol, tells the story of the origins of the Sikh faith and the role soldiers played in both World Wars.

The story is something he feels isn’t common knowledge, and he wants to "raise awareness of theses brave men for future generations."...

...In retirement he lives in Westbury, and wants to raise awareness of the Sikh contribution to British society, and in particular its involvement in the military. So, he decided to write a book, one that was accessible to everyone.

Mohindra said: “I want everyone to understand more about the origin of the Sikh faith, our customs, where they come from, and our proud military tradition.

“But I wanted to tell this in a direct and simple way. Not an academic book, but a book that everyone can grasp.”

In India, despite only making up 3% of the population, Sikhs compromise 50% of the military, and have fought alongside the British in several conflicts.

This is commemorated in Bristol, in a new memorial garden and plaque in Castle Park, honouring relatives of Bristol residents, Mohindra’s family among them.

He said: “Sikhs, of course, have a different history than the British, but have been together through thick and thin in many places.

“I am proud that my dad, and uncle were in the British Army. My uncle was a general and my father a military engineer.”

Why are they so associated with the military? Mohindra explained: “Sikhs are a warrior race. Natural soldiers. It all stems back to the origin of the religion and where it started.”...

...There are two audiences in mind for the book, both non-Sikhs and Sikhs themselves, who Mohindra feels need equally educating.

He continued: “Many people aren’t aware of our role. But also our own people don’t always know who we are and where we come from.

“Before talking of our involvement in wars, it’s important to set the context of Sikhism altogether.”

“By doing so we are creating awareness on both sides, and building a community ,” he added.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Sikh religion, and Punjabi people, and with another book also on the horizon, Mohindra wants to set the record straight. He said: “I have fulfilled my personal ambition, and now I want to do something that is remembered for my people. On Sikh culture, who we are, and what we stand for.

“We have stood against fundamentalist religion, caste, and stood for liberty and democracy for all of the last 500 years. In lots of forms. Which is why fighting with the British in the first World War and against the Nazis in the Second World War was inevitable for us.

“We have always been and will always be democratic people.”

Mohindra Singh Chowdhry will be having a launch and signing of his book entitled Defence of Europe by Sikh soldiers in the World Wars at the Bristol Commonwealth Society, Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol on October 10 at 7pm.

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