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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful collection of photos, 26 May 2007
Bhupinder Bhasin (London) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Hardcover)
From the moment I opened this book I found it hard to put down until I had looked at every picture. Essentially it is a book of photographs, but each is accompanied by a detailed account which doubles as a concise historical record. Many of the group pictures have listings of all the people featured in them and I'm sure many Sikhs will be tempted to pour over the lists looking for familiar names.

Bhupinder "Peter" Singh Bance charts the history of Sikhs in Britain, from the time of the British Raj of India to Monty Panesar becoming the first Sikh to play cricket for England. The first section relates to early Sikh visitors to England and in particular Maharaja Duleep Singh and his family (the subject of a separate book by the same author).

These are followed by pictures of Sikh Maharajas in all their splendour visiting the UK from India as guests of the Queen. The section on Sikhs in the World Wars includes many rare pictures including a few taken in mainland Europe. A memorable picture shows wounded soldiers in turbans at the infirmary at Brighton Pavilion.

The picture from the 1928 Armistice day ceremony at the Cenotaph in London shows The Maharaja of Patiala with King George V and the Prince of Wales. This contrasts with the modern day ceremony where a Sikh representative does now attend the ceremony along side other religious leaders.

The bulk of the pictures are of Sikhs who arrived in the UK after Indian Independence and it is these pictures of everyday Sikhs who came to Britain to work or begin a new life that are most fascinating. Life for these early settlers was full of challenges to say the least. Peter Bance has managed to portray the mood with a mixture of pictures illustrating both the pioneering nature of these young men and pictures showing the hardship they must have suffered. Pictures of early peddlers who would go from house to house selling their wares accompany pictures taken at early Gurdwaras along with accounts of how and when Sikhs started to establish businesses.

The sections on the 60s and 70s include accounts of campaigns for the right to wear a turban working on the busses and riding motorbikes. Pictures of those who first wore a turban as part of the uniform of various public services are proudly displayed.

Sikhs in the UK today take Gurdwaras almost for granted, without realising the long journey from humble temples based in homes to the grand marble palaces we enjoy today.

Traditionally Sikhs have not been very good at recording their own history, but Peter has done a great service in charting the history of Sikhs in Britain from the nineteenth century to the present day where Sikhs have become part of the social fabric that is multi-cultural Britain.
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The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs
The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs by Peter Bance (Hardcover - 19 April 2007)
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