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


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 »

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 »

The Church That Remembers

July 7, 2009


LONDON—Years after the British press moved out, one church on Fleet Street remains dedicated to journalists and the industry that once ruled the area until the 1980s. In the front of the church, just left of the altar stands a wooden plaque dedicated to fallen journalists. It’s inscribed with these words: “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

This memorial at St. Bride’s Church honors journalists who are missing or have died on foreign duty. “It is part of the Church which I find to have a particularly powerful emotional impact,” said William Greaves, a former writer for Fleet Street’s Daily Mail, in an e-mail. About 20 framed commemoratory letters and photographs of such journalists line the top of the memorial to remind passersby that soldiers are not the only casualties of war. Read the rest of this entry »