Dating As A Sikh In The 21st Century
- Juggy Sohal
As a young Sikh, dating in the modern age can be tricky when you come from a family of traditional values. How do you uphold your cultural beliefs and try to date at the same time?
I am a 24-year-old Indian lad who was born into a Sikh household. Now, I admit I am not particularly strict, (especially as I eat meat and drink alcohol) but I do follow a lot of the traditions upheld with Sikhism. One thing that comes with the religion is dating. Not just the pressure of dating, but the pressure to date someone who is the same religion and caste as you. In Indian culture we do have a hierarchal caste system, which is still prominent to this day, and while it’s true that there are Indian families who adopt a modern view on dating, my family fall into the old school category …which is where, for me, modern dating gets complicated.
As my parents adopt this old school mentality, they want me to find a girl not only in the same religion but also from the same caste. My mum’s take on the matter is, “Yes, I do want my kids to marry into the same religion and caste, as I want my grandchildren to have the same values and same traditions we have”. This is a fair point because I do believe if I dated a girl of the same caste and religion, then our values would be inherited down to the next generation, ensuring our beliefs didn’t get lost. This would also result in there being no culture clash that could occur if I was to date someone of a different race or religion and any future child having to grow up with two conflicting view points.
On the other hand, I have struggled with this in the past, due to me having been brought up in a diverse, multi-racial country where Indian people are a minority. The infamous Tinder is a good example. I’m on it and most of the people there are any other race apart from Indian. Also, if I don’t follow my religion to the book, why should I have to marry someone from it? It should be about someone’s personality and the chemistry you have with them.
In the world of a British Indian we are closed books when it comes to dating. Unless we are ready to take the next step of marriage, we usually have to be discreet about our relationships, due to the pressures that will come from our elders. Indian culture is based on respect, and girls especially, get it harder as they hold the honour for the family. As my sister says:
“Girls do get it harder with dating as if I mess up it will look bad on my family. Only now that I am happily married do I understand why my parents were so keen on me marrying a Sikh. Everything just clicked into place, he got me like no one else could”.
She found someone through my parents, so you could label it an ‘arranged marriage’, which has many negative connotations around it. But honestly, these days it’s not like it use to be where you only could see your future partner once or twice before you gave a yes or no to marriage. Nowadays, it’s more of a dating pool approved by your family. My parents have modernised a bit and would want to me to date before I committed any further but saying that, the pressure is still there to move faster rather then slower.
“If you can be good friends with someone of a different caste why can’t I have a successful relationship with someone of a different caste as well?”
Another option is dating sites, where a couple (like Shaadi) even go as far as segregating the search into different castes as opposed to other dating sites giving the option of race. Sikhs have divided into castes from birth, which relate to which jobs we did in India back in the day. And while caste issues still exist in dating culture, thankfully, they are slowly dying out. However, one key point to note is that caste discrimination and Sikhism are not hand in hand and are actually two separate entities which just makes the whole thing even more frustrating.
Me and a friend often have discussions about caste. He is a Tharkhan and I am a Jatt, and traditionally, my caste is seen as a higher. Despite that, we have a great friendship, which begs the question, if you can be good friends with someone of a different caste why can’t I have a successful relationship with someone of a different caste as well? My friend has an interesting opinion on the matter:
“My mum would prefer if I got married to a Sikh, and I would want to marry a Sikh but I don’t care what caste. My reasoning is that Sikhism is one of the smallest worldwide communities as it is and I don’t actually see any difference in, culture, morals or traditions between castes like Jatt and Tharkan apart from a few side trends like accent or style of phag (turban) but that’s like my mum banning me from marrying a girl because she has a Mancunian accent and her dad wears collars up.”
He makes a good point. But, he does also highlight that perhaps you can’t change an old school way of thinking and it may take a lot of time and effort to change that.
As time goes on, my parents will surely become more open and accepting of new age dating, but will no doubt be set in their ways and I wouldn’t change them for the world. For me, I would want to marry someone who is of the same caste and religion as it makes for an easier life but also because I don’t want my culture to die out. But saying that, if I did unexpectedly find The One then I may have to consider something different. Only time will tell…