Regarding Alcohol and Sikhs

We brush taboo subjects under the carpet and do not like airing them

Recently there was lots of debate in the media when UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson visited a Gurdwara in Bristol and uttered the word, "Whisky", while promoting a free trade deal with India. The uproar from the Sikh community showed our hypocrisy.

We need to hold a mirror up to our faces and agree that despite our Sikh faith teaching no intoxicants ideology, the majority of our community love their alcohol as gleaned from the free flowing alcohol at wedding receptions and parties.

During election time, we allow politicians to take over our Gurdwaras. Politicians do what politicians do, i.e., campaign for their party from the stage. We should then not complain that the perception is out there that Sikhs are whisky drinkers. Ask any person what they know of Sikhs and alcohol?

We brush taboo subjects under the carpet and do not like airing them, but only debate will bring about solutions to the rising statistics of drug addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, marriage and social breakdown of Sikh communities.  

Small organizations like the Sikh Women's Alliance hold Conferences on these subjects but hardly any Sikh men attend, so our messages that we need to invest Gurdwara donations into making safe places for women facing violence, and Counseling, Mediation and Rehabilitation Centres are falling on deaf ears.

We do not need bigger and bigger Gurdwaras, but investment into our youth who have turned away from Sikh values and need to be brought back into the fold with love, not be judged or condemned.  

So, those sitting on large Golaks, should put the sangat donations towards the needy and vulnerable. A good example is a Gurdwara in Derby, in their community centre, which is running a Rehabilitation Centre to help those wanting to come off alcohol and drug addiction, who are given professional medical support, and befriending help.

Kind regards,

Mrs. Balvinder Kaur Saund, J.P., B.Sc. (Hons), M.A.
Chair, Sikh Women's Alliance, U.K.

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