The religious lives of Sikh children in Coventry
Nesbitt, Eleanor M.
In the context of earlier studies of Sikhs in the British diaspora and of the nurture of\ud children in their parents' faith tradition, this thesis reports an ethnographic study of the\ud nurture of eight to thirteen year old Sikhs in Coventry. The study develops earlier\ud anthropological insights, notably using the interpretive approach of Clifford Geertz.\ud For the purpose of analysis nurture is classified as informal (unplanned and family\ud based) and formal (supplementary classes in mother tongue and devotional music).\ud Both provided evidence of diversity within the Panth (Sikh community), signalled for\ud example by iconography and dietary norms. They also suggested processes of change,\ud as details of Sikh and non-Sikh cultural practice interacted. The celebration of\ud birthdays and of the Vaisalchi festival serve as exemplars of the complex interactions\ud involved, for which Baumann provides analytical tools.\ud Examination of the data in association with the presentation of the religious worlds of\ud young Sikhs in religious education curriculum books revealed some divergence. This\ud is explored with particular reference to subjects' use of the word 'God', their experience\ud of amrit (holy water) and their understanding of the word 'Sikh', especially in relation\ud to the five Ks.\ud On the basis of these observations of change, diversity and the discrepancy between\ud curriculum book presentation and the ethnographic data, chapter twelve identifies\ud processes at work in the Panth. Fox's dynamic concept of culture 'in the making'\ud strengthens the contention that the Sikh tradition is shaped at the level of individual\ud decisions (eg over language use) by children and their elders. Further it is argued that\ud ethnographic findings have implications for the portrayal of the religious lives of young\ud Sikhs in curriculum books.
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