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Above: Sardar Fauja Singh (This and third photo from below - by author.)

    Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh


                          Lord Iqbal Singh




Daily Fix

A Pilgrim Through Sikh-British Heritage:
Part II





The following is republished from our archives: 




Coming to England from North America, one feels like Gulliver in the kingdom of Lilliput.

Everything is smaller and compact. Prim, trim and proper. Small, dollhouse bungalows, narrow lanes, mini cars and vans. And, really - I do not exaggerate - people with very firm opinions on everything, including whether an egg should be broken from the bigger end or the smaller!

Hey, I'm not complaining. Au contraire - this is what makes each visit to the isle such a delight.

It is the eccentricities that make a man or a woman so much more interesting company. And it is equally true for a nation and its people collectively.

London, in particular, is a fun city; and each successive visit is all the more fun, as you discover more of its nooks and crannies ... as long as you're able to suffer through the fact that everything, EVERYTHING, is at least three times more expensive than what you've become accustomed to back home!

You head out of the city and it becomes even more quaint and cute.

A few hours to the North East, and you get to Wales ... a different language, a different terrain, different passions.

Head a few hours north and you enter Scotland. Again, a different language ... even the local English is different ... a different country, almost, with its own parliament, even. And different sensibilities.

But it's all one United Kingdom.

And some of my most favourite people on Earth live here.

In Wirral, near Liverpool, almost a stone's throw from the Welsh border, live the inimitable Singh Twins, Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh, with their sage father ... and Pappu and Bindu, their cousins, who have already been made immortal in print and painting.

Amrit and Rabindra have turned the Mughal miniature over on its ear, by breathing life into it and creating a new genre in modern art.

A few hours further north, Sardar Iqbal Singh, Lord of Butley Manor, presides over Little Castle in Lesmahagow, barely half an hour south of Glasgow in Scotland. The locals tell me that he is more Scot than the Scots!

He looks grand in the Singh tartan, which he sired, as he vies with fellow Scotsmen for offering the warmest hospitality in the highlands.

Back in London, there's Bhupinder "Peter" Singh Bance, who must have the world's greatest collection of Duleep Singh memorabilia. Photo albums, letters, calling cards, clothes, medals ... even a copy of every obituary published around the world when Duleep Singh passed away in Paris in 1893 ... he has them all.

His home is a virtual museum. And his two books, one a photo album on the last Sikh emperor, and the other on the Sikhs of Britain, are a must in every Sikh household.

97-year-old record marathon runner, Sardar Fauja Singh ... still running strong ... is a London icon, as well. I remember when I first met him a couple of years ago. He was late for the appointment because his ride didn‘t turn up. So he jogged all the way to where I was waiting for him!

There's filmmaker Gurinder Chadha. And musician Talveen Singh. Another fillmaker, Tarsem Singh. Spin baller Monty Panesar. The wise and impeccable Mr Justice Mota Singh. Philosopher Simon Singh. Peter "Elvis Presley" Singh.

And then, there's Sardar Harbinder Singh, based in Birmingham.

He's been working for decades as the head of The Maharajah Duleep Singh Centennial Trust in identifying and celebrating everything in Great Britain connected with the great Sikh Royal Family.

That, then, led to the creation of The Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail, which has been busy for a few years now in earmarking all the persons, institutions and landmarks which have a historical nexus with Sikhdom, or carry art and artifacts of historical value to Sikhs.

The inaugural week-long Heritage Tour is Harbinder's baby, put together with vision and commitment by him and his wonderful team.

I've just met at the reception desk of Beit Hall in the Imperial College, where we are all staying for the duration, one of the first to arrive for the occasion.

It's a young man, Guru Sundesh Singh, from Los Angeles. He's a fresh graduate from the famed Miri-Piri Academy in Amritsar, now back home in the U.S. to pursue higher studies.

"I know nothing about all that I'm about to be introduced to in the coming week", he confesses. "In fact, I wasn't even aware that some of our history is entrenched here in the West! I eagerly await with breath abated".



Continued tomorrow ...

First published on July 10, 2008. Republished on October 11, 2014.



Conversation about this article

1: Tanveer (Amritsar, India ), July 14, 2008, 10:46 AM.

I really liked this editorial. It makes one feel very proud and privileged that Sikhs have made such great strides in the diaspora.

2: Kanwilji Singh Anand (Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India), December 28, 2014, 5:14 AM.

Feel very proud to be a Sikh.

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Part II"

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