Statement from the City Sikhs Network
The City Sikhs Network promotes the voice of the British Sikh population and endorses tolerance and community cohesion as advocated by the Sikh faith and British society.
There have been reports from the BBC that individuals from the Sikh faith have been involved in disrupting interethnic marriages at Gurdwaras in an abusive and threatening manner. The City Sikhs Network is concerned by such acts and requests tolerance in such circumstances. The Network also affirms that a nuanced discussion based on evidence and research should take place before decisions are made about who is, and who is not, allowed to marry in a Gurdwara.
The Census data (2011) reveals that there has been an increase in the number of inter-marriages in England and Wales. The Office for National Statistics supports this claim and states that 2.3 million people are now in an interethnic relationship. Additionally, British Future asserts that discomfort with mixed race marriages has now fallen to 15% in 2012 compared to 40% in the 1990s. Importantly, The British Sikh Report (2014) found that the majority of British Sikhs would be comfortable if a close family member married someone from a non-Sikh background.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee states that ‘persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony’. The premise of the Sikh faith is equality and the City Sikhs Network request that assumptions are not made of people entering in a Sikh union or that one individual is given a greater entitlement to the Sikh faith than the other. Importantly, the Sikh Reht Maryada maintains that ‘A Sikh man and woman should enter wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouse’s caste and descent (Article XVIII)’.
Celebrating a marriage in a Gurdwara, where both individuals understand Sikhi, enhances the Sikh faith, teachings of the Gurus and, importantly, advocates community cohesion, integration and tolerance in all societies.