Is this a classic case of Perenialism of which even Dr. John Rao was accused? Those of us who have been on traditionalist mailing lists for a while probably recall Larry's Books. Fifteen to twenty years ago, he was selling a strange mix of books on topics pertaining to Naziism, German Militaria, Hinduism, and Traditional Catholicism.
"Cardinal Schönborn like you've never seen him before"-- The Cardinal sitting cross legged with orange head scarf in a Sikh Temple in Vienna
(Vienna) "Cardinal Christoph Schönborn live you've never seen him before: cross-legged with an orange stole as a headscarf. Occasion: Schönborn attended the Sikh temple in Meidling (12th district) on Sunday, in which he paid tribute to the freedom of religion. It was the first official visit to this religious community" reported the Austrian complimentary newspaper Heute.
The Sikh religion was founded just over 500 years ago by their first Guru (master) Nanak in the Punjab. Nanak was born into a Hindu family and belonged to the caste of traders. The Punjab had been subjected in the early 13th century by Muslim sultans. Nanak attempted to overcome this opposition and the Hindu caste system through a combination of Hinduism and Islam in a new syncretic religion. So he gathered the Sikhs around himself, which means "student." Nanak's birthplace is now in Pakistani Punjab, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, the center of Sikhism, in contrast to the Indian Punjab.
Worldwide, the number of Sikhs is estimated at around 25 million. 80 percent of them live in India, and three quarters of them in the state of Punjab. The Punjab is the historic and current center of Sikhism. Only two percent of Indians are Sikhs, but almost 60 percent of the inhabitants of the Punjab. In the partition of British India, which evenly divided the Punjab between India and Pakistan, there was an exchange of populations by expulsion, deportation and resettlement. Since then, there are hardly any Sikhs living in the Pakistani Punjab.
Around 10,000 Sikhs in Austria
The number of Sikh people living in Austria is estimated at 10,000, just over half of whom live in Vienna. The number of almost 3,000 in the last state religious survey of 2001 is long outdated. In the past 15 years, their share has more than tripled.
Because what was written in 2001 about the religion is no longer applicable, there is no certain information about the rapid growth of these and other foreign religions. The lack of surveys, which is based on the fact that religion is a "private matter," makes the quick shifts caused by mass immigration invisible.
Murder of a guru in Vienna
On 24 May 2009 the Austrian Sikh community was put in the spotlight as a guru of the Ravidas sect was murdered in their temple in Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus (15 district of Vienna). Sant Rama Nand was revered by his followers as a "saint." Six Sikhs attacked the worshipers present in the temple with daggers and firearms. The guru was murdered while 15 worshipers and an attacker were injured, some seriously.
The conflict had to do with the caste system. The victims were members of the lower caste Dalits, the untouchables. The attackers, also Sikhs, belonged to a higher class. For them, the Ravidasis are a despicable sect because they adore living gurus as "saints" and not just the ten classical gurus who lived from 1500 to 1800. The Ravidasis are branched mainly from the caste of Dalits, which makes the religious conflicts a caste conflict, although the Sikhs officially reject the Hindu caste system, the Indian legal system also really doesn't recognize it either, daily life in Indian society, which includes the Sikhs, however, continue to be determined by the caste system.
The violence sparked a discussion that cultural, historical and political conflicts are also imported by mass immigration.
No recognized religious community
Sikhs have arrived especially since the 80's, as the newspaper publisher Mediaprint procured exemptions from the Residence Act so it could procure cheap labor for its newspaper distribution. Most remained, brought their families and received Austrian citizenship.
In Vienna there are two Sikh Temples, which Cardinal Schönborn visited, one in Meidling (12th district) and another in Donaustadt (22nd district). Plus, there's the aforementioned Ravidas Temple in the 15th district. The Ravidasis split off after the assassination of the Sikhs and see themselves since then as an independent religious community.
Neither the Sikhs nor Ravidasis enjoy neither the status of a recognized, nor even of a registered religious community in Austria. Both are organized as "religious associations."
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Picture: Today (screenshots)
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