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A Sikh IN USA 1950's
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Punjabi  Sikh Diaspora (Latin America)


a sort of a ‘dhabha’ in a small town hoping to migrate to USA one day. There are instances of high handedness by the police and immigration authorities but once you have left the country, there is no turning back in most of the cases whether the immigrant likes the situation he or she has got into. There is an instance of a Sikh who had been sponsored by his brothers from USA. This guy was asked to come to Belize where a white woman came from USA for less than a day. In a few hours after arrival, she got married to the Sikh based on which she sought his immigration to USA. This was achieved after prolonged legal battle. The immigrants’ preferred profession originally was to work on farms graduating in time to buying their own farm land. Others worked in Railways in various capacities or in Sugar Mills or as in Panama, at the Canal. Some of them drove vehicles and taxis eventually buying their own wheels eventually buying their own wheels eventually setting up large transport conglomerates. Still others carried out ‘Pheri’ i.e. retail as paddlers and in time set up small size super markets. Others took to money lending and in due course dabbled in real estate. Several members of second and third generation are becoming professionals and entrepreneurs.

Turban, Marriages and Linkage with Punjab
There had been a lot of to and fro traffic of Sikhs between countries they settled in and Punjab. For early migrants the first visit home took several years to materialize. Some even returned permanently to India. Most of them migrated as single males and some returned to get a wife. Others who had left their wives called for them as soon as they were in a position to receive the family. Yet others who were single (and even some who were married in India) decided to take on local wives. In some cases this could have been even the maid working in the house. Acceptance was a critical issue and local marriage was the first step in the process of assimilation. It wasn’t an easy choice though. One hears only good things about Punjabi-Sikh parents (fathers in most cases) once they settled down. The general comments from their siblings and others was that the Sikhs were hard working, honest, generous but rather strict with the family in terms of the siblings’ upbringing. Several of them sent money home, at least, in earlier years of settling down before their local families’ needs became more pressing.

The effort of each migrant was to continue to keep Sikh symbols specially the turban. The British encouraged the post war disbanded Sikhs soldiers to migrate and in some cases paid for their voyages. So far as the British employers were concerned, it was easier to maintain Sikh identity but in other situations it was a problem. There was also security.....

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