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  • Sikh ‘holocaust’ museum

    by Sunny
    26th January, 2009 at 11:32 pm    

    Slightly old news, but a reader sent in this info about……:

    The first museum in the UK to be dedicated to Sikh history has opened in Derby. Hundreds of people gathered yesterday for the official opening of the National Sikh Heritage Centre and Holocaust Museum in Pear Tree. The £25,000-plus project is the first in the world to showcase Sikh history from the perspective of British Sikhs. It also looks at the Sikh holocaust, in which more than a million people lost their lives because of their faith.

    Everybody wants to use the word holocaust these days eh? A good idea to have a Sikh museum though, I guess, as long as its not overrun by the Khalistanis.

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    Filed in: Culture,Religion,Sikh

    26 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. dave bones — on 27th January, 2009 at 9:33 am  

      Has the museum got a website? Sikh history is fascinating stuff.

    2. Rumbold — on 27th January, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      This sounds like a good idea.

      However, there is already this one:

    3. Sid — on 27th January, 2009 at 10:01 am  

      I also think it’s a great idea.

    4. platinum786 — on 27th January, 2009 at 10:16 am  

      apparently they are going to a real cannon there too as well as other stuff from WW1 and WW2….

    5. bananabrain — on 27th January, 2009 at 12:48 pm  

      i’m not commenting on the events of the sikh “holocaust” was because i don’t actually know anything about it. however, i would think it advisable for them to use a different word, i think it would cause confusion. the armenians use “genocide” and the palestinians use “nakba”, if they’ve got sense they’ll link up with the holocaust museum in nottingham and do some joint work. they may even already have done so.



    6. Rumbold — on 27th January, 2009 at 12:58 pm  

      Margaret Beckett’s comment was telling about the way in which the government views minorities:

      “”There’s a tremendous tradition of working together between the Sikh community and the British people.”

      So the Sikhs are somehow different from British people? What about British Sikhs?

    7. Jagdeep (not your regular one) — on 27th January, 2009 at 2:41 pm  

      bananabrain; sikhs already have a word - ghallughara.

    8. persephone — on 27th January, 2009 at 3:01 pm  

      “So the Sikhs are somehow different from British people? What about British Sikhs?”

      Dunno. Last time I looked at my passport it said my nationality was just British Citizen.

      There’s never a civil service diversity officer around when you need them

    9. sonia — on 27th January, 2009 at 7:28 pm  

      6- rumbold, good one¬! (and persephone)

      i suppose its like ‘ the muslim Community and the British people’. .

      well i suppose a lot of it is really the Community leaders fault isn’t it, and the kowtowing to such Community Leaders ‘boundary-fying’ of the citizens/etc.

    10. sonia — on 27th January, 2009 at 7:38 pm  

      took some searching dave bones but here you go

    11. Amrit — on 28th January, 2009 at 11:54 am  

      OMG - agree with Sunny, why does the word ‘holocaust’ have to be involved? Fucking hell, I’m getting sick of different minority communities using it to play the victim.

      Horrific events that involve mass death should, as bananabrain said, be given other names. ‘The Holocaust’ is just that, and nothing can really compare to it.

    12. Dalbir — on 29th January, 2009 at 6:27 pm  


      “I’m getting sick of different minority communities using it to play the victim.”

      I would disagree. Personally speaking and speaking from experiences of mixing with many Sikhs, we generally loathe to portray ourselves as victims. It’s embarrassing.

      But what can you do when genocide really has taken place. Many Sikhs (myself included) struggle with the ambivalence of highlighting real injustice and being proud (in the non BNP way).

      “‘The Holocaust’ is just that, and nothing can really compare to it.”

      The bloodshed at partition and the stuff around 1984 wasn’t exactly a lightweight affair. On a related note, many Muslims I’ve met have complained about their belief that the Jewish community has monopolised this word.

    13. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2009 at 6:50 pm  


      “Fucking hell, I’m getting sick of different minority communities using it to play the victim.”

      Um, some minorities (or people who were once the majorities but have now been turned into minorities via occupation and genocide) HAVE been victims, and I think it would be completely wrong to not draw attention to that.

      “Horrific events that involve mass death should, as bananabrain said, be given other names. ‘The Holocaust’ is just that, and nothing can really compare to it.”

      The “Holocaust” was not the only instance where there were mass deaths; also, the word ‘holocaust’(not capitalized) does not refer to specifically the anti-Jewish/Gypsie/Gay/political dissents/everyone other ‘undesirable’ pogrom, but massive slaughter.

      And I completely, completely disagree with “nothing can compare to it.” Sure something can. If we follow your suggestion, then we would fail to acknowledge and potentially prevent or halt, say, other mass killings. If we had been alive during the European colonization of North America and I knew about it, you bet your ass I hope that someone would have tried something to halt the holocaust of Native Americans.

    14. Rumbold — on 29th January, 2009 at 7:25 pm  

      Amrit is right about the use of ‘Holocaust’. Yes, originally the word could be ascribed to any number of tragedies, but now it has evolved to usually refer to the Jewish Holocaust during the second world war. It would therefore be helpful to use other words, such as massacre, genocide, slaughter etc. to describe things. It doesn’t detract from the Sikh massacres in the 1980s to use a different description- thousands of Sikhs were still murdered.

      So many words have lost their original meanings, and I don’t really think it matters if ‘holocaust’ does either.

    15. Amrit — on 29th January, 2009 at 7:37 pm  

      Desi and Dalbir:

      I know that Sikhs and other communities have suffered in the past. To claim that I’m saying no other tragic event could come up to the scale of the Holocaust is sheer disingenuousness.

      However, I’m thinking of the Holocaust as a historical event, as Rumbold has already described. It is so evocative of what was done to the Jews that I don’t think that bandying it about - regardless of the scale of the atrocities involved - helps in any way.

      Perhaps there HAVE been many other such historical events where such a minutely-planned and multi-faceted extermination (propaganda, scapegoating, scientifically-sanctioned torture etc.) of minority communities has occurred on such a scale. Slavery in America is perhaps almost, but not quite comparable.

      In the meanwhile, I reiterate that people want to watch their words. It makes me think of when people start bandying around the word ‘fascist’ as well. Get a grip.

    16. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2009 at 7:51 pm  


      “However, I’m thinking of the Holocaust as a historical event, as Rumbold has already described. It is so evocative of what was done to the Jews”

      If I may ask you, I was wondering: do you know who all the victims of the Holocaust were?

    17. Rumbold — on 29th January, 2009 at 7:56 pm  


      Everyone knows that gypsies (amongst others) were also victims of the Nazis. I think that is what you are driving at.

    18. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2009 at 8:02 pm  


      “In the meanwhile, I reiterate that people want to watch their words. It makes me think of when people start bandying around the word ‘fascist’ as well. Get a grip.”

      Who are you talking to? No one used ‘fascist’ here.


      “I think that is what you are driving at.”

      Yeah, I was. Meaning I take offense when someone calls the Holocaust a purely anti-Jewish thing. Deaths and persecution, whether they were Jewish or not, have the same value to me. But it’s really interesting how most people (not meaning you specifically, just in general) associate the Holocaust as only anti-Jewish, even when they acknowledge that others were targeted as well.

    19. Rumbold — on 29th January, 2009 at 8:03 pm  

      And I don’t think that Jews ever try and claim that only Jews were killed by the Nazis. But they were very much the centrepiece of Hitler’s genocidal banquet.

    20. Rumbold — on 29th January, 2009 at 8:06 pm  

      19# was not supposed to be a response to 18#. But it serves just as well.

      Amrit never said that anyone used the word ‘fascist’ on this thread. She was using it as an example of when words can be distorted, or used for other than their original purpose.

    21. Desi Italiana — on 29th January, 2009 at 8:23 pm  

      Thanks for clarifying Amrit’s fascist thingy.

      Nonetheless, I still disagree with both you and Amrit on every count.

    22. Parvinder Singh — on 29th January, 2009 at 9:29 pm  

      I totally concur with some of the comments here regarding using the world ‘Holocaust’, as people nowadays associate it with what the nazis did from 1938 to 1945, starting with the murder of the handcapped and mentally ill, political disidents, gypsies, Russians and gays, and culminating with the clinical slaughter of millions of Jews in such a short time. And this by one of the most advanced industrialised nations of the West.

      Nevertheless, one could argue Sikhs in periods of history found themselves like the Jews of Tsarist Russia, ie. periodically suffering from pogroms against them. Firstly at the hands of India’s Moghul and Afghan rulers and in 1984 at the hands of politically inspired Hindu mobs. Jagdeep is right. The word ‘ghallughara’ or holocaust has been used by Sikh historians in two periods of their history.

      Firstly, the Chhota and Wada Ghallughara (Small and large holocaust) in the years between 1730-1767 when well over 200,000 were put to death by Mughal and Afghan governors of Punjab, Abdus Khan, Zakariya Khan, Yahiya Khan and Ahmad Shah Abdali.

      Secondly the ghallughara of June and November 1984. In June, pilgrims caught up in the Golden Temple became easy revenge targets by the Indian army, who had suffered badly at the hands of a small group of militants. In November, whole communities were wiped out in New Delhi and other cities following the assassination of Mrs Gandhi. The most concentrated killings took place in Trilokpuri in East Delhi where about 500 Sikh men and boys were bucherered in a matter of hours. One of the largest massacres in a single block post-partition. The total death toll exceeded 5000 throughout India. A dark period followed in Punjab where tens of thousands disappeared. see

      But despite all this, most Sikhs are not sectarian, and want closure. At the same time, they do want some recognition of these events, hence projects like this museum.

      Reading some of the comments in the link below, the vast majority are ashamed of what happened, whether Sikh or Hindu.

    23. Dalbir — on 30th January, 2009 at 1:41 pm  

      Amrit #15

      For me, the fact that this discussion on the mass scale murder of mainly non-combatant Sikhs has been reduced to an argument regarding semantics says a lot.

      Personally I couldn’t give a shite about whether we call it a holocaust, this or that. What does concern me is how it is being swept under a rug in India and perhaps globally.

      I see the old justifications of “we were fighting militants” is rearing its head again. When will you understand that many, if not most of those killed were not militants.

      And no, the Jewish community are not the only ones who have suffered brutality and mass murder. The points made about Native Indians and African American slaves are very valid.

      Parvinder rightfully pointed out that Sikhs have experienced determined state sponsored attempts at annilation in the past. Thankfully they were somewhat prepared for this by their leader(s). Who knows, maybe the Moghuls/Afghans would have achieved their objective, had Sikhs not been given the metaphorical kirpaan? That is not to say that survival came easy or without heavy cost in terms of lives lost.

    24. buddy — on 2nd February, 2009 at 3:25 am  

      How about a museum showing hoow the Sikhs have fueld terrorism,in the Punjab?

    25. Mangles — on 2nd February, 2009 at 2:12 pm  

      Buddy, how about a museum of how a minority community has been mistreated, its rights denied including the right to self -determination both as individuals and as a nation?

      Oh we have a living- working museum already in India- its called Punjab.

    26. Shona — on 4th February, 2009 at 5:06 pm  

      All I can say having visited the museum last weekend is that the Sikh community should be really really proud of this achievement ! This museum actually has real weapons/ cannons/ coins/ stamps/ memorobilia/ medals, etc and not the usual ‘impressionist gallery wannabe museum’. I learnt so much about the Sikhs and feel really inspired by them.

      I think the ‘holocaust’ discussion above is out of context. I certainly know the Jewish community are considering hosting a combined Holocaust memorial event every year with the Sikhs and other groups who have similar experiences.

      If they are Khalistani’s then they are articulate, well groomed, educated, modern and actually quite witty (one of them is quite tall and I like him !).

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