By Akanksha Sharma
• Rosario de la Frontera, a city in the centre-south of the province of Salta, Argentina is home to the only Sikh temple (Gurudwara) in South America.
• Sikhs originally arrived in Argentina in the early 19th century to work on a British-built railroad.
• In the 1970s, others came along after prohibited entry to Canada and US, the preferred destination for emigrants.
• At that time, they stayed in Argentina as it seemed the most promising nation of South America and later got concentrated in the north, which reminded them of the plains of Punjab.
• Today they run a supermarket and other shops in town.
• The Gurudwara is clean, beautiful and inspires divine feelings. Rituals from the Sikh home of Punjab are observed in the Prayer-room. Traditional vegetarian meals are prepared in Gurudwara’s kitchen.
• Kanwall Jeet Singh, from Sikh community, said, “We’ve had people visit here and they are amazed, happy. They know that what we’ve managed to do with this Gurudwara is very important, very good, for humanity- not only for the community but for humanity.”
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• Mixed marriages with Argentinians are common and their children are already more Argentine than Indian.
• “It’s impossible to keep a distance, we eat beef. Not at home. But at birthdays, parties, there are only steaks, which are beef,” said Bibiana Jasbe Singh Kaur, an Argentine Sikh.
• The Sikh community in Argentina knows that their culture will disappear within 2 generations.
• Sikhs are accepted as the part of the society in Argentina. “We consider them to be people from here,” said Josefa Casasola, a local there.
• Sikhs believe that when their culture fades away, a part of their spiritual heritage will live on in this small part of South America.