Saturday March 17, 2018

Sikhism in Fiji: Samabula Sikh Temple

Soul is on loan from God, who is ever merciful, and the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes - to help make this life more worthwhile

Inside view of a Sikh temple, Wikimedia commons

Sikhs (belonging to Sikhism community) came to Fiji between 1879 and 1916. Unlike Fiji’s Indian population (most of which are descendants of Indian indentured labourers), Sikhs in Fiji comprised mostly of free immigrants (such as teachers, policemen etc). Sikhs in Fiji are commonly referred as Punjabis.

  • Sikhism is a religion which worships only one god. Originating in Punjab region (sub-continental India), it was formed during 15th The term Sikhism originated from Sikh which was taken from a Sanskrit word Shisya (meaning a disciple) or shiska (meaning instruction). Sikhism is the 5th largest religion in the world.
  • One of the philosophies of this religion (as mentioned in the holy text of Guru Granth Sahib) is that “soul is on loan from God, who is ever merciful, and the follower must dedicate their life to all good causes – to help make this life more worthwhile.”
Sikhism in India, Wikimedia commons
Sikhism in India, Wikimedia commons
  • There are several Gurdwaras established in Fiji in mainly Sikh concentrated regions. Along with worship, these Gurdwaras also provide food and shelter to the poor and needy.
  • The first Sikh temple was built in Samabula (near Suva), Fiji in 1922. Commonly known as Samabula Sikh Temple, it fulfilled the needs of poor Sikh migrants.
  • This spiritual heritage site which comes under the National Trust of Fiji is now expected to undergo a major restoration. Though there were several extension works done earlier but this will be the first major renovation work which will be carried out.

Related article : Britain Sikh community to celebrate Baisakhi with most enthusiasm and hospitality

  • More than Half a million dollars is the projected cost as estimated by one of the secretaries Haridayal Singh Rana. Members of the temple (both from Fiji and abroad) will provide assistance in this major refurbishment.
  • Presently many Sikhs have migrated from Fiji to western regions especially to the United States.

Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is  a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata.Twitter @pritam_gogreen


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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants

banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu. Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created lots of controversies

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyped due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read: Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away from a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull.
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull.

There are three variants to the game. First, when the bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into the open ground. And third, when the bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of the time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena is called Vadi Vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also says that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules vary from region to region.

Also Read: Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sport, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protested by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lot of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court struck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.