Caste Away

August 5, 2009

By James King and Derek Quizon

Many members of Britain’s Indian community left their homeland to escape caste discrimination, but some say the problem still lingers

LONDON — In June 2009, at a protest rally in downtown London, 15-year-old Selina Dhanda proudly shows off a scar on her left arm that she received during a fight at the school she attends in a London suburb.

Dhanda is a member of the Ravidassi, a splinter group of the Sikh religion. She said fights like the one that left her with the 3-inch scar are common at her school, which Ravidassi and Sikh children both attend. “Last week a boy at my school from a different caste pushed me and called me a filthy untouchable,” she said, “so I knocked him out.” Read the rest of this entry »


Sikh House of Worship

July 15, 2009


Mistaken Identity — Ravidassi and Sikhs

July 15, 2009


Fighting Irish Stereotype

July 15, 2009


Kirtan … Say What?

July 14, 2009


Earlier this week we went to a Sikh temple, also known as a Gurdwara. While there, we enjoyed the singing of the hymns from the holy book—something called Kirtan. Other than being inspired by hearing it, the passion in the eyes of the musicians really made me want to capture it on film. Hence, one of my stories is a photo essay on Kirtan and the music of the Sikh religion.

Also, while at the Kirtan, we were guided to the Langer hall, where they served us d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s food. Let me just say curry, lentil soup and hands-down-the-best-tea-I’ve-ever-had make Lauren a happy camper.

Snaps to the people at the Gurdwara for their graciousness and patience with us taking endless photos and video while we were there. Snaps to the Kirtan players for vocalizing their connections to God. And snaps to the chefs in the kitchen for making some truly excellent food.

In Search of Truth

July 14, 2009


Click here for Elle Walls’ print story.

A Catholic in Little India

July 13, 2009

A Catholic in Little India
My experiences in a Sikh gurdwara


Southall reminded me of Belfast. A layer of grime seemed to have descended over the London suburb. A gray train station met gray damp streets that met gray buildings under a hazy gray sky. Home to the largest Sikh community outside India, Southall had earned the nickname Little India.

The people looked tired and subdued. Shop owners silently watched as people walked by. The older members of the community cast their eyes upon us, skeptical of the 11 pale American students as we walked down the street with cameras and notepads in hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Sikh Happens!

July 12, 2009



On Saturday, two of my fellow Cronkite-Europers and I spent more than two hours walking around London’s Hyde Park in search of a protest rally that we had heard about on the Web site The site claimed that thousands of Ravidasi Sikhs would be protesting the murder of one of their gurus about a month ago.

We got to the park about 12:30 p.m. and walked around with the assumption that despite the size of the park, there was no way we could possible miss thousands of Sikhs protesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Back Story 3

July 7, 2009


I am officially finished with the Cronkite Euro stories! I have been extremely busy since we have been home, and it has been hard to get back in the swing of things. I have had to tell people stories from the trip, show them pictures and answer the same questions over and over again, such as: What was your favorite city? (Paris) Did you have an amazing time? (YES!) Do you want to go back? (Yes!) Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteer Service at a Sikh Gurdwara

July 7, 2009


LONDON — Inside the Langar, a free community kitchen at a Sikh temple in a London suburb, three men wearing colorful turbans cluster around a giant pot. They’re preparing kara parshad, a cookie-dough-like pudding offered as a blessing from their God. Four other Sikh men are serving food at the counter in front of the kitchen.

Guests form a line in front of these men to receive a traditional Sikh meal. There are no tables or chairs, just rows of rugs where the diners sit on the floor to eat. A woman with a light blue scarf covering her hair washes dishes at the opposite end of the Langar.

None of these men or women is paid. Read the rest of this entry »